My Winter 2018 TBR List

Top Ten TuesdayHappy Tuesday! For my American readers, did you have a nice Thanksgiving? One with lots of turkey and parade floats and pie? My own Thanksgiving break was just what I needed: I was able to catch up with friends while we were all home, watch a few seasonal favorites (I’m partial to the original Miracle on 34th Street this time of year), and get ahead on a few assignments before the final push of the semester.

I was also able to scope out the reading landscape of 2018. It’s something I’ve let slide in favor of schoolwork, extracurriculars, and the like, but as a result, I feel sorely out of the loop on what debuts and sequels and other titles are coming out next year! Thankfully, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt – winter TBR lists –  gave me the perfect excuse to browse Goodreads for hours on end. In this case, I’ve limited the new releases of my TBR to the dates of the winter season, so all of the books below will have hit shelves by March 20, if they are not out in bookstores already. What are you hoping to read in the next few months?

And, of course, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the amazing team of bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish. Head on over to see the posts of others or to write and link a TBR list of your own!

Meet CuteI have yet to find a cuter cover in the slew of 2018 releases than that of Meet Cute, a short story anthology about first instances of love. The brief descriptions already warm my heart: Emery Lord has a story about two girls stuck in an airport, Nina LaCour writes about two girls who bond over customer service and social media, and Julie Murphy reinvents a reality dating show competition in her piece. With contributions from these authors and numerous others, I’m expecting nothing less than a wonderful collection. The perfect read for Valentine’s Day? I sure think so. {Out January 2}

The Nature FixAs I look ahead to the new year and start planning for the coming semester, I’ve really taken to Hurry Slowly, a podcast devoted to mindfulness, productivity, and time management (listen HERE, if you’d like). Tangent aside, one speaker featured on a recent episode was Florence Williams, author of the well-received book The Nature Fix. It’s my nonfiction pick for the winter months, exploring what positive effects nature has on our brains and explaining the modern research that aims to find out. I’m excited to dig in, though I admit: I’ll be reading it indoors. {Already out}

All's Faire in Middle SchoolRoller Girl is a graphic novel done right; its vibrant and relevant illustrations are matched only by the empowering, realistic text. All of this is to say that I will read any release from author Victoria Jamieson, so naturally, her newest book, All’s Faire in Middle School, has landed a spot on my TBR list. Following the narrator’s transition to public school after being homeschooled for years (and growing up with her parents at the Renaissance Faire), it sounds like it strikes a similar balance between humor and heart. I’m hoping to fit this one in before the holidays hit. {Already out}

Being FishkillI haven’t heard much about Ruth Lehrer’s YA debut, Being Fishkill, on the YA circuit, but one look at the synopsis and it seems to have everything I look for in a contemporary: a strong, well-drawn main character, an intriguing plot, and themes of family, love, and the ubiquitous “coming of age.” From a recent review at Forever Literary, Being Fishkill “tackles an array of issues, but gives proper attention and care to each one, creating a multifaceted emotional roller coaster of a story.” When it receives such a glowing endorsement from Emily, I know I’m in for a good read. {Already out}

Foolish HeartsIf there is one author I’m kicking myself for not having checked out yet, it’s YA contemporary writer Emma Mills. I’m determined to remedy the situation this winter break, a task fortunately made all the easier with the release of Foolish Hearts in December. In Mills’ third novel, main character Claudia faces drama, first love, and new friendships as she participates in her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In other words, it’s a book that’s right up my alley. Here’s hoping a library copy will be waiting for me when I return home. {Out December 4}

You Bring the Distance NearI left the Boston Teen Author Book Festival earlier this fall with a number of titles I couldn’t wait to research. Among them? Mitali Perkins’ You Bring the Distance Near, an immersive, relatable story that spans the course of three generations. Family is a recurring theme in the novels I’m choosing this season, but how could I pass up a gem that offers five different characters to speak about their experiences with identity and culture? It took far too long for me to put a copy on hold at the local library, but I think or rather, know, I’ll devour it in days once it comes in. {Already out}

A Taxonomy of LoveI read The Revenge Playbook on a whim a few years ago and absolutely adored it. From its developed cast of characters to its themes of feminism and friendship, the novel proved that Rachael Allen is one heck of an author. My excitement is thus sky-high for her next release, A Taxonomy of Love, a sweet-sounding story that follows protagonist Spencer as he navigates a friendship that has the potential to be something more. (It helps that the novel also champions diversity and sports a stellar cover). Catch me reading this under a blanket and hot cocoa in hand come January. {Out January 9}

The Hazel WoodIf there’s one book I’ve seen praised again and again this winter season, it’s Melissa Albert’s debut The Hazel Wood (One reviewer called it the “most mesmerizing, creepy, and creative stories” she has ever read). As far as I can tell, however, it’s deserving of such hype, inviting readers into the ominous “Hazel Wood” alongside narrator Alice and classmate Ellery through its lush, innovative writing. Though I was cautious to add it my TBR list at first – series weary me and I’m not a fan of high fantasy – this YA novel seems to be neither. In other words? Count me in! {Out January 30}

Long Way DownI’m never not impressed by the rate at which Jason Reynolds releases his novels – he always seems to have a new one hitting shelves! That said, I’m making room in my schedule next month to read his newest book, Long Way Down, released earlier this fall. A novel-in-verse, it is set over sixty seconds in an elevator as the narrator debates taking revenge after the murder of his brother. From previous experience, I know to expect powerful writing and interesting characters, and it sounds like no different of a case here. I’m so excited. {Already out}

Not Now, Not EverFinally, I’m not typically one to award such praise to school-required reads, but I’ll be the first to admit: I adored reading The Importance of Being Earnest last year in English class. The sharp satire had me laughing with each turn of the page! Unfortunately, I hadn’t seen it adapted into a YA narrative, that is, until I came across Lily Anderson’s Not Now, Not Ever, a novel that involves academic decathlons, new identities, science fiction, and heavy doses of humor. What a delight. (And to note: this is a sequel, so include The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You on the TBR list too!). {Already out}

Have a lovely Tuesday!

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!

My Favorite Books of 2017 (So Far!)

Hi friends!Top Ten TuesdayIs your week off to a good start? I’m making my way though Adele Griffin’s Be True to Me — who can resist a ’70s set story of romance and betrayal? Not I, clearly — and whipping up a recipe with fresh fruit from the farmer’s market before popping some popcorn for tonight’s iZombie finale. It’s the pattern of my summer thus far: relaxing and reinvigorating, just how I like it!

In addition, I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that we are now halfway through 2017, as evident by this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic: Best Books We’ve Read in 2017 So Far. With college and other extracurriculars on my mind during senior year, I didn’t read as much as I usually do, so you’ll find below the eight novels I did read that I consider current favorites. What books have you enjoyed so far this year?

Before I begin, a reminder: Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the always wonderful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish. Pop on over to read posts from others or to add your own!

The Upside of UnrequitedTo start, Becky Albertalli’s sophomore novel, The Upside of Unrequited, is nothing short of a gem. It was the first book I read this year, giving me ample time throughout the winter to suggest it to friends and family alike ahead of its release this past April. I’ve continually recommended it for good reason: the characters are drawn with humor and plenty of heart, and Albertalli shapes the story with her knack for teen romance. A book is good when it has me smiling from beginning to end.

How to Break a BoyI’ve read quite a few young adult debuts this year, but none have stood out to me so much as Laurie Devore’s How to Break a Boy. Taking the typical “mean girl” narrative for a spin, Devore delivers a compelling and realistic story that packs an emotional punch and develops characters who are certainly flawed, but who also force readers to listen, think, and reflect. I’m only bummed that the novel has flown under the radar since its release, as I, for one, can already tell it will be one of my favorites by the year’s end.

We Are OkayLike any form of art, there are some books that enter your life at the right time.  My list of such novels is long, but among them is Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay, which I read and fell in love with this past spring. Weaving together such emotions as grief, love, and loneliness after the narrator’s family has been lost, it is quiet and simple and right up my alley. The lyrical, pensive, and oft-melancholic style won’t appeal to all readers, but I myself plan to read it once or twice more through, along with the rest of LaCour’s collection.

Flying Lessons and Other StoriesOn the middle grade end of things, one book comes to mind from what I’ve read this year: the anthology Flying Lessons and Other Stories, compiled by one of the founders of We Need Diverse Books. That the book showcases kids of such a wide range of backgrounds, abilities, and interests is reason alone to recommend it, but I consider it a favorite of the year because not one story fell too short from the bar, a rarity with short story collections. Is it too much to hope for another one in the works?

The Names They Gave UsI absolutely adored Emery Lord’s 2017 release, The Names They Gave Us, but that should come as little surprise, for Lord has consistently written novels with well-developed characters, strong familial and friendship dynamics, and plots that make me cry, not because they are sad, but because her writing can prompt a cathartic release. The Names They Gave Us follows in the same tradition, as readers follow the protagonist Lucy’s summer as a camp counselor and her mom’s battle with cancer. In short? I loved it.

The Importance of Being EarnestIt’s not often that I share the books I’ve read in school here on Ciao Bella, if only because I typically found my English classroom curriculum rather dry {or, on the flip side, found no reason to review a classic already loved and adored by so many, myself included!}. With that said, however, this list wouldn’t feel complete without Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, a play I read for AP literature. I rarely laugh out loud while reading, and yet, Wilde’s satirical look at Victorian society had me giggling with each flip of the page. A winner, no doubt.

The Things They CarriedSimilarly, The Things They Carried also hails from my AP Lit syllabus, though its setting and subject are a far cry from Wilde’s English drama. A collection of stories linked by the Vietnam war and the experiences of the author Tim O’Brien, the novel effortlessly moves between fact and fiction to produce what has been rightfully called a “classic work of American literature.” As someone who generally avoids “war stories,” for lack of a more specific term, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, nor did I expect the stories to linger in my mind for so long.

The Careful Undressing of LoveFinally, for someone who has felt unsatisfied with Corey Ann Haydu’s work in the past, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed her latest release, The Careful Undressing of Love. With thanks to Haydu’s dreamy and descriptive writing, readers are invited into an enchanting, reimagined world where the Devonnaire girls reside. From the eye-catching cover to the stunning last chapter, I was captivated from beginning to end. Magical realism fans would do well to pick it up.

Have a lovely Tuesday!