My Fall 2017 TBR List

Hello friends!Top Ten TuesdayHappy Tuesday! How is your week coming along? I’m still finding a rhythm — deciding when I study best, navigating the gym and yoga classes, attending rehearsals and club meetings — but I’m slowly getting the swing of things and, more importantly, have plenty to look forward to throughout the semester. The complete control over my schedule is certainly a shift from my high school mindset, but take no complaints from me: it’s my favorite part of college so far.

In my few free hours before class today, for example, I wanted to share my Fall TBR List! These seasonal posts have become somewhat of a tradition, at least on my end; I love scouring Goodreads for the newest releases, and it’s always fun to plan my reading, however loose of an idea, for the season ahead. This time around, I doubt I’ll get to all ten books — I’m still learning the best way to carve out personal reading time in between assignments — but when is one’s TBR list not growing?! :) What books are you hoping to read this fall?

And as always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the amazing team behind The Broke and the Bookish. Pop on over if you too would like to join in the TBR-making fun!

Race to the Bottom of the SeaFirst up, I have Lindsay Eagar’s sophomore release, Race to the Bottom of the Sea. I adored her magical realism debut The Hour of the Bees I actually consider it one of my favorite middle grade novels — but her newest book takes on a different genre: adventure! Following the protagonist Fidelia after her parents die, the story has everything from a greedy pirate’s kidnapping scheme to treks beneath the sea to find treasure. With a stellar illustrated cover and high praise to boot, this will surely serve as a lovely literary escape next month. {out October 10}

There's Someone Inside Your HouseWhile I feel as if it was just yesterday that I graduated from high school, fall is moving full steam ahead: the school year is well under way and Halloween is just around the corner! And with a creepy, glowing cover and a chilling synopsis, Stephanie Perkins’ There’s Someone Inside Your House seems fitting for the Halloween season. Though she is best known for her sweet, romantic contemporaries, in her newest release, Perkins puts her own spin on the “classic teen slasher.” I typically don’t go for such stories, but what’s October without a spooky read to keep you on your toes? {Out September 26}

Echo After EchoMystery! Theatre! Relationships! You don’t need to ask me twice to read a book with those elements. Amy Rose Capetta’s debut, Echo After Echo, had me sold from the synopsis alone, in which the protagonist Zara heads to New York for her stage debut, only to find herself following a mystery and falling in love. With early reviews praising it as “gorgeous, intense, romantic, [and] mysterious,” you can bet I’ll be reading this as soon as a copy comes in at the library. {Out October 10}

Shadow of a PugWhen I read the first book in the Howard Wallace P.I. series, I had no idea the treat for which I was in:  a wisecracking narrator, a smart schoolyard mystery, and an homage to all things noir. Since devouring it in one weekend, I’ve recommended it more times than I can count; you can then only imagine my excitement over the release of Shadow of a Pug. In this second installment, Howard and his partner Ivy are on the case for their missing school mascot, Spartacus the Pug, only to encounter complicating classmates along the way. It’s the middle-grade mystery genre at its finest. {Already out}

Dear MartinI’ve seen nothing but praise for Nic Stone’s debut, Dear Martin, but I take that it’s for good reason: the novel, due out in October, tackles and confronts the issues of police brutality and racial profiling, topics both rare, but entirely necessary, to see in YA lit. As the title suggests, the main character Justyce finds solace in writing a journal to Martin Luther King Jr., an exercise that proves all too timely when he is entangled in an unwarranted encounter with the police. It’s been recommended alongside Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, so I’ll be sure to grab both at the library next month. {Out October 17}

MoxieIf the cover of Moxie doesn’t have you running to the bookstore to purchase it, I’m not sure what will; the strong, black and white illustration of a girl in control is the only indication I need that this is the feminist title the YA world has been looking for. The story? Spurred by her mother’s “Riot Grrrl” past and a number of sexist administrative decisions, main character Vivian creates a feminist zine for her classmates. It hit shelves today, so it’ll only take a quick walk to the campus bookstore before I have a copy of my own (!). {Out today}

One Mixed-Up NightThe premise of One Mixed-Up Night, the debut from author Catherine Newman, is, simply put, just good fun: taking a cue from From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, main characters Frankie and Walter decide to run away to spend one night in IKEA. My sister and I often joke that there is no better store to get stuck in — with a bountiful supply of Swedish food and plenty of places to sleep, what more could you need? — and From the Mixed-Up Files remains one of my favorite classics, so this is already shaping up to be one of the best reads of the season. I can’t wait. {Already out}

Here We Are NowThough I haven’t read the debut from author Jasmine Warga, I couldn’t resist the fun and beautifully designed cover that graces her next release, Here We Are Now. Thankfully, the synopsis is equally interesting: Taliah never thought she’d meet her rock star of a father, much less travel with him, until he one day shows up at her doorstep and requests she’d come with him to meet her grandfather. Already my interest is piqued by the complex family dynamics and road trip plot, so here’s hoping I can sneak a read of it in between preparations for finals. {Out November 7}

Bad Girls with Perfect FacesWhen reading slumps hit {and I’m expecting plenty this fall given the college schedule and lack of time}, I tend to turn to psychological mysteries, stories that are fast-paced, full of revenge, and made up of deeply flawed characters — it’s hard to put down a book with those elements! My choice of such a read this season? Lynn Weingarten’s Bad Girls with Perfect Faces, said to be “a love triangle that takes a turn for the dark” when Sasha’s best friend Xavier goes back to his ex and she takes it upon herself to end the relationship. It comes out on Halloween, so you can be sure I’ll have my own copy come November. {Out October 31}

PatinaFinally, I have yet to read a Jason Reynolds book I didn’t thoroughly enjoy; time and time again, he makes me smile, cry, and think a little more about the world around me — all in the span of one novel! I think the trend will continue to hold true when I read Patina, the second installment in Reynolds’ Track series. While the first novel focused on the sprinting accomplishments of Ghost, Patina shifts the attention to fellow runner Patty, whose home life has her turning to the track after school. In the hands of Reynolds, I expect nothing short of an excellent read. {Already out}

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

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Do Tell / Dorm Tour

Hello!Do TellHow are you? How are things? I myself have had my eyes glued to the news as of late. The recent string of hurricanes have been devastating to watch, and I’ve kept all affected by these consequences of climate change in my thoughts. It’s easy to feel helpless in situations like these, but articles like this one remind me that my best course of action is to offer support and donations as much as I can.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 3In other news, I’m so excited to be posting again — Ciao Bella has been too quiet recently for my liking, but I thank you for your patience and understanding as I settle into my college routine and begin my first semester (!!). It’s been a roller coaster of emotions so far — I’d be lying if I said homesickness didn’t hit me hard — but I’m grateful for the number of friendly faces on campus and for the classes I’m taking, everything from Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology to Stephen Sondheim and the American Musical. I don’t think I could ask for a better schedule.

Another thing I love? My dorm room! It’s a single, in a wonderful location, and truly starting to feel like a second home; it’s a warm and cozy place to return to after long days spent on and around campus. I had my sister Lulu (who I miss dearly) snap a few photos of it after moving in, so I thought I’d pop in today to share a dorm tour. It’s a bit cliché of a post, I realize, but I have really enjoyed reading them across other blogs (and found them helpful while planning my own!) and wanted to do the same here.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 2I did my best to link to the stores and companies where I purchased my supplies and decorations, should any items catch your eye and you’d like them for yourself. With that said, I recognize how fortunate I am to have parents willing to help pay for some items, as well as a steady summer job and July birthday that provided funds for additional purchases. I think the best dorm rooms and small spaces are ones that show personality and cohesiveness, and thankfully, that can be done at any cost :)

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 6{Other sources: Pink Skies Up Ahead is sadly out of stock, Wire Letter BDo More of What Makes You Happy, Color Palette}

To start, one of my favorite parts of my room is my art wall. I made it a priority when dorm shopping to plan space for prints and posters galore, and I’m so happy with how it came out! Setting up a gallery wall can be costly, so I did my best to include magazine cutouts, calendar artwork, and free printables alongside the posters I bought throughout the summer. A few examples? Teen Vogue’s new and taller format makes for excellent wall decoration; Design Love Fest did a collaboration with artist Maddy Nye last year to produce color-in posters, which can be blown up and printed out at a cheap cost; and old calendars from Rifle Paper Company and Kate Spade make easy pretty art.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 5For personal touches, I taped up polaroids of me and my friends, in addition to a record signed by the cast of the musical I stage-managed over the summer and a “Be Kind” banner sewn by my sister. I’m so happy I brought them, as they are nice, thoughtful mementos of home.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 1With so much colorful artwork lining my walls, I decided to keep my bedding fairly neutral; this duvet was the perfect fit for the black-and-white color palette I had in mind. Of course, a firm dorm bed needs a few pillows for comfort, so I brought a number of bright, well-designed numbers: a larger than life pencil, a daisy, a typography-themed one made by my sister, and an embroidered face from the artists at Aelfie.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 4On the opposite wall are my fridge and desk. If you’re a stationery fan like myself, you’ll notice my poster of pencil shavings from NYC based CW Pencil Enterprise. Cataloguing various types of pencils, it brings my school supply loving self much joy, and I think it fits in the room well! In the basket atop my fridge, I’ve been keeping a few necessary staples: granola, graham crackers, and bags of popcorn, all for late afternoon snacks.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 8{Other sources: Lamp, Read Books Bookends are a PBTeen item from years ago}

On my desk, I have numerous pens and pencils lined up next to my box of “love notes:” cards from friends, letters from my sister, compliment sheets from past shows, and other small items that remind me of home. Additionally, you’ll find my felt letter board. They may be a splurge, but I personally can’t get enough of mine.

Ciao Bella Dorm Tour 7Finally, my dorm wouldn’t be complete without a few novels from home! I’m lucky enough to live fairly close to Brown, so packing a few boxes of books wasn’t an issue when moving in (I even brought along three novels from my local library!). Among my favorites shelf, I have the complete collection of Morgan Matson books, the entire The Mother Daughter Book Club series, and all four Rookie yearbooks. You know you’re a bookworm when a shelf of novels can make you feel at home.

If you moved in for the first time, how’s college life going? It’s a transition, that’s for sure! For everyone else, is your September off to a good start? Do you have any other suggestions for relief for families and individuals affected by Hurricane Irma?

With lots of love, B

Recent Reads / 02

Hello, and happy Monday, friends!

What a weekend that was. I have the residents of Texas on my mind today, and I’m hoping those I know from the blogging community have found shelter and remain safe. I applaud the efforts of first responders and reporters covering the storm and found this list helpful for anyone, like me, who wants to send support from other parts of the country. A few other links of note, if you’re in the browsing mode (that’s what Mondays are for, surely :)): if you missed the bestsellers scam that dominated YA Twitter last week, here’s a recap; a guide to why pardoning Joe Arpaio is a horrifying move; and a newsletter addressed to the white population that I have found informative and to-the-point.

When I haven’t been catching up on the news and social media, I’ve been taking day trips across New England with my family; wishing teary good-byes to my friends (almost all of whom have already moved in); and reading the last of my library books – the plentiful reading time that summer provides will be sorely missed, that’s for sure! I have a number of reads I hope to discuss and review in some manner throughout the fall, but today, I thought I’d take a cue from Rachel, blogger at Elephantine (her site is an absolute gem if you want to take a peek), and share a small sample of the books I enjoyed this summer. Any good recommendations on your end?

Recent Reads 02[1] First on the list is Anthony Marra’s collection of short stories, The Tsar of Love and Techno. Set in Russia and spanning from 1930s to the modern day, the book is a lyrical masterpiece, asking questions of humanity, hope, and art among backdrops of war and failing industry. Alone, the stories are haunting and well-written, but when paired together, readers will see what threads Marra draws to connect the characters and their narratives. This was the freshman reading selection at Brown, and since I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it, I’m looking forward to hearing the reactions of others too!

[2] Morgan Matson is without a doubt my favorite YA author (I’ve recommended Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour more times than I can count), but even so, her latest release had been sitting in my bookshelf for over a year before I sat down to read it. Why? Blame the always-growing TBR pile. Nevertheless, The Unexpected Everything was, quite literally, everything I’ve come to expect from Matson: a pitch-perfect story of friendships and romance and teenage summer fun. It’s a large book, particularly for the contemporary genre, but I, admittedly, didn’t want my time with Andie and company to end. Sneak it in before the summertime comes to a close.

[3] While I have far grown out of the middle grade audience, I still keep tabs on new releases in the genre, which led me to Ellie Terry’s debut – and novel-in-verse! – Forget Me Not back in July. The cover is charming, and the story even more so: Calliope June has Tourette syndrome, a fact she feels the need to hide until she befriends her neighbor. It’s a quiet read, but what it lacks in action is easily made up for in superb character development and strong writing. I read it in an afternoon, and were I not devouring a copy from the library, I would have a pencil in hand for underlining any and all passages that stuck with me.

[4] Finally, one of my goals this year is to take a more active interest in the authors I’m reading from; in other words, I’ve tried to diversify my choices, an effort made all the easier thanks to the slew of new releases from #ownvoices authors. Among them is sophomore novel from writer Maurene Goo: I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a sweet, hilarious romance that had me smiling from beginning to end. Taking inspiration from the rich world of K-Pop dramas, the story follows high school senior Desi in her attempt to find love and redeem her numerous flirting failures. If you need a little silly joy this week, this will certainly fit the bill.

Wishing you all a lovely week,
B