Recent Reads / 03

Hello!

Happy Tuesday! How is your week coming along? I had a wonderful and restful long weekend with my family—it was just what I needed, especially now that my winter break has come to a close! I move back to Brown today for the new semester; classes start next week, but over the next few days, I’ll be in non-stop rehearsals for my next stage management project: an all-femme production of Julius Caesar in February.

I’m excited for the coming months, but I admittedly wish I didn’t have to swap my young adult novels for course textbooks. I may not be able to read as much as I did on break, but I can at least share a few reviews that have been sitting in my drafts! I did a similar format back in the summer, and I loved how it allowed me to highlight a few favorites from my recent reading pile. What books have you read (and would recommend!) as of late?

Recent Reads 03[1] To start, anyone in the literary world would have to be living under a rock not to have heard about Angie Thomas’ stellar debut, The Hate U Give, at this point. It has been on my feeds since it was published last February, it continues to dominate the NY Times Bestsellers list, and filming for its big picture adaptation has already begun! Such praise is wholly deserved. While I felt it was a touch too long, the areas that plod – and there are few – are readily made up with dialogue that immerses you in every scene, an authentic and touching family dynamic, and a plot that speaks to the injustice of police brutality. This is a book that the YA community needed years ago. I’m only glad it’s found such a large following now.

[2] For middle-grade readers, let me recommend Greenglass House, a wintery, adventure-filled mystery from author Kate Milford. It was the first book I read this year, and I can’t think of a better note on which to start. It’s modern, yet timeless, charming, yet distinct, existing in a world where winter storms are reason to share stories around the fireplace, inn guests are not who they always claim to be, and attics hold trinkets and decades-old secrets (If you couldn’t guess, Milford has a way with atmosphere). You can be sure that my next snow day will be devoted solely to reading the newly released sequel, if only because I’m anxious to return to main character Milo’s story.

[3] Have you read anything by Emma Mills yet? If you haven’t, can we remedy that? I myself waited until this past Christmas to read a book from the well-established YA author, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t check out one of her novels sooner. Foolish Hearts, her latest work, is nothing less than pitch-perfect contemporary. Following narrator and high school senior Claudia as she works on a school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it has a plot that had me grinning from beginning to end and characters that I want as my very own friends. If that all isn’t enough to convince you, grab it simply for the stunning cover. In short: love, love, love.

[4] Finally, another book I read on my winter break was Being Mortal, a thoughtful and sobering meditation on modern aging from surgeon Atul Gawande. In just under three hundred pages, he deftly switches from an explanation of nursing homes and current elderly care practices to recounts of his experience with patients nearing the end of life to finally, a reflection on his own father’s passing. At times, it felt intense, but that’s less a fault of Gawande’s skillful prose than a result of a culture that so rarely discusses death. If the subject piques your interest, I think you’d do well to read it alongside When Breath Becomes Air and What Makes Olga Run?. 

Have a terrific Tuesday!
Bella

Psst. In December, The Hate U Give was banned from school shelves in Katy, Texas. Fortunately, as I write this post, it’s back for students to read, but it nevertheless highlights how stories can be taken from and made inaccessible to the very readers who need them most. That in mind, and if budget allows, consider donating a copy to the campaign above and/or to your own local Little Free Library. It’s a book that deserves to be in the hands of high schoolers.

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!

Twelve Anticipated Releases for 2017

Hello!

Top Ten TuesdayHappy Wednesday, friends! I won’t lie: between a draining cold and an abundance of mid-term projects, winter break is looking all the more appealing. I love the holidays, but I think the vacation is also an opportunity to refresh and plan for the year ahead. Of course, the new year is only what one makes of it, but nevertheless, I love the figurative fresh start the comes with the turn of the calendar.

Blame the avid reader in me, but one of the things I like to plan for most is my TBR list, adding to it the new novels released by my favorite authors. I’m not alone; one of the most popular topics in The Broke and The Bookish’s weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday, happens to be this week’s prompt: Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward To For The First Half Of 2017. I’m a day late, but I still wanted to share the novels I can’t wait to get my hands on in 2017 – I’ll talk books any day of the week :) I’ve limited this list to novels I don’t already own {that means the wonderful Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited isn’t included}, and the titles are listed in rainbow order, naturally. What books are on your TBR list?

the-last-of-augustFirst on my list is Brittany Cavallaro’s The Last of August, the sequel to her humorous modern take on Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Charlotte. In this installment, detective duo Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson team up once again to solve a case on their winter break: what secrets lie behind Charlotte’s uncle’s disappearance? {the title hails from character August Moriarty}. The novel comes out on Valentine’s Day, so I think I’ll be buying it as a personal treat. {out February 14}

this-would-make-a-good-story-somedayIf you haven’t yet read The Misadventures of Family Fletcher, let me be blunt: you’re missing out. A sweet family-centered contemporary at its finest, the Family Fletcher – and its sequel, The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island – make me smile, as the next book from author Dana Alison Levy, This Would Make a Good Story Someday, is sure to do as well. Who can resist a summer road trip story, complete with rambunctious siblings and embarrassing parents? Not me, that’s for certain. {out May 16}

yours-trulyAs if I needed another reason to look forward to the new year, Heather Vogel Frederick is releasing a new novel, the companion to the adorable Absolutely Truly. Book Two, named Yours Truly, sounds just as heart-warming: someone sabotages the town’s annual maple festival and it is up to Truly to find out why. I’d move to Pumpkin Falls in an instant – consider it the literary version of Stars Hollow – and so, I’m oh-so excited to revisit Truly and the entire Lovejoy gang. Is it bad to admit I’ve already carved out a spot for it in my bookshelf? {out January 31}

dreamland-burningWhile I haven’t read Jennifer Latham’s debut, Scarlett Undercover, one look at the cover of her sophomore release, Dreamland Burning, and I was sold. Further research into the synopsis has me even more excited: tying together two different settings – one from today, the other from 1921 – the protagonist attempts to uncover the truth behind a brutal murder. Early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive – fingers crossed I’ll soon be able to add my own to the bunch! {out February 21}

first-class-murderYou may sense a growing trend: I love me any mystery or middle grade fiction. Robin Stevens’ delightful series, Wells & Wong Mysteries, then, is a match made in heaven, as young sleuths Daisy and Hazels go about England solving various cases. In their third installment, the detectives find themselves solving a murder upon the Orient Express; my UK friends may have already read it, but I’ll be patiently awaiting its release in April. It couldn’t come soon enough! {out April 4}

the-names-they-gave-usEmery Lord has yet to disappoint: Open Road Summer had my heart swelling; The Start of Me and You remains a favorite; and When We Collided beautifully explored a topic not often seen in YA. Her success is sure to follow in her next release, titled The Names They Gave Us. From the synopsis, it sounds like yet another story using Lord’s winning combination: family and friend dynamics, a blossoming romance, and a summery setting. I’m already counting down the days until it hits shelves. {out May 16}

the-pearl-thiefWhen it comes to YA historical fiction, there’s only one author I continually recommend: Elizabeth Wein, the writer behind World War II narratives Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire. She returns to the same characters in the prequel, The Pearl Thief, sharing just how Julie satisfied her taste for adventure as a teen before the war. Like any bookworm, I’ll never pass up the chance to revisit a beloved protagonist. In other words? It’s only a matter of days before I preorder my own copy. {out May 2}

ramona-blueAfter reading the delight that is Dumplin’, I’m convinced that Julie Murphy can craft female narrators like no other author; her protagonist, Willowdean Dickson, is sassy, funny, and all-around wonderful, as Murphy’s next main character, Ramona, is likely to be as well. Furthermore, if anyone can delicately handle the topic of sexual fluidity, it’d be Julie Murphy. To put it simply? Ramona Blue sounds like a winner. May, come sooner please. {out May 17}

flying-lessons-and-other-storiesEntering into the new year, I hope the literary community can agree on one thing: diverse books are not only needed, they deserve to be celebrated. For that reason, I’m looking forward to picking up Flying Lessons and Other Stories, an anthology by the founded of We Need Diverse Books, Ellen Oh, in the coming year. With contributions from authors like Tim Federle, Jacqueline Woodson, and newcomer Kelly J. Baptist, it’s sure to be a stellar collection. I personally can’t wait. {out January 3}

history-is-all-you-left-meIf Adam Silvera made me cry with his debut, More Happy Than Not, I can only imagine the emotions that will arise with the release of History is All You Left Me. Exploring themes of loss, love, and mental illness, the book follows the protagonist as he enters a downward spiral, “losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices.” Fortunately, it’s mere weeks until it comes out, so I’ll be devouring Griffin’s story before I know it, tissues in hand. {out January 17}

always-and-forever-lara-jeanIf you’re searching for some sweetness and sincerity to add to your reading pile, look no further than Jenny Han, whose To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is as cute as they come. What was originally planned as a duology has grown into a trilogy – to the delight of fans everywhere, myself included – so as to allow the chance for Lara Jean to go to college and decide what that means for her relationships. More of Lara Jean, Peter, and the Song family? Who could say no? {out April 4}

bad-romanceFinally, while it’s only been two years since Heather Demetrios’ last release, I’ll Meet You There, I feel as if I’ve waited forever for the publication of her third novel, Bad Romance. Not only does it sport an eye-catching cover, it also has a compelling synopsis: the main character’s life changes, for better of for worse, when she meets Gavin and they enter a relationship. I’ll be grabbing a copy soon after I graduate – what craziness. {out June 13}

Have the most wonderful Wednesday!
Bella