Friday, June 30, 2017

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

Title: What to Say Next
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication date: July 11, 2017
Pages: 272
Source/format: ARC from Emma of Missprint as part of the ARC adoption feature

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

M Y  T H O U G H T S

David Drucker was surprised that Kit Lowell sat next to him during lunch. Although they are complete opposites of one another, they are able to start a meaningful friendship. Julie Buxbaum is able to tell a genuine story about a guy who is on the spectrum and a biracial girl who just lost her father in a car accident. Although there is a loss in the story and Kit is overwhelmed with grief, she finds solace in David.

What to Say Next is told in first person dual narrative. Julie Buxbaum is able to tell a story through the eyes of David and Kit and what obstacles they have to overcome everyday. She describes what David has to go through as the "weird" kid with the super popular sister. Kit, on the other hand, is going through tough times after she lost her dad but she also is having a hard time reconnecting with her current friends. Buxbaum also touches upon what it means to be biracial in an almost all white community and how families interact when races collide through Kit.

I love how David has his quirky moments and how he jots down things in his notebook. Although many people see David as different, he doesn't pay much mind to others. He marches to the rhythm of his own drum and finds ways to occupy his time. Kit finds out that she is a changed person after the death of her father and is trying to find herself. What to Say Next reminds readers that every cloud has a silver lining. Although there are obstacles and tough times in life, there is always something positive that can some out of it.

What to Say Next is a light read that will remind readers that there is always light in darkness and that opposites can be friends and sometimes even something more. Contemporary lovers will enjoy this novel. There is even a dash of mystery for the curious and a slight twist at the end.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Best Books I've Read In 2017 So Far


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to blog about their best books they've read in 2017 so far. Many books listed are contemporary but I did throw in a couple other genres in the mix. The following books are in no particular order.


1. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon celebrates women in STEM and the novel also breaks down stereotypes. The relationship between Dimple and Rishi is too cute. They both balance each other and are supportive of each others' passions.


2. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia is the ultimate fandom novel! Dive into Eliza's popular webcomic as she deals with her own monsters while connecting with the new guy in school who just happens to be a big fan of her webcomic.


3. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han is the last book in the The All the Boy's I've Loved Before trilogy. This heartfelt novel is the perfect read if you love contemporary, sisterly relationships and sweet treats. Also, find out which guy Lara Jean will ultimately end up with.


4. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli is a contemporary novel about finding who you are. With twenty-six crushes and zero kisses in her life, Molly wonders if she needs to step outside of her comfort zone. Maybe it's just because she hasn't found the right person...until now.


5. The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder is the perfect curation of crushes, friendship and finding one self. It's a quirky and delightful read full of nostalgia and innocence. Join Penelope on her adventure of self-discovery.




6. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See is a story about tradition, culture, family, love, loss, sacrifice, perseverance, new beginnings and origins. See takes writing to a whole new level. I highly recommend this novel who are interested in transatlantic adoption, mother/daughter relationships, the origins of Pu'erh and lovers of Lisa See novels!


7. After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat is about the aftermath of Humpty Dumpty's fall and what he has to overcome in order to live his life to its fullest. The picture book is beautifully illustrated in timeless muted colors and has a positive message.


8. I Believe in Something Called Love by Maurene Goo is rom-com that will sweep you off your feet with its heartwarming scenes and hilarious lines. Desi Lee excels at almost everything she puts her heart toward except love. She ends up creating the list "K Drama Steps to True Love" hoping it will help her with her love flailures.



9. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera doesn't release until September 5th, but it is a must read. It makes you think about what if you had less than 24 hours to live. Mateo and Rufus get a call from Death-Cast about their lives ending within 24 hours. The novel is about loss, hope, friendship and what it means to live your life to its fullest.


10. Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco is the sequel to Stalking Jack the Ripper. Join Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell in Romania where not only are they taking classes in forensics but they are hunting Prince Vlad the Impaler. I personally love this novel more than the predecessor. This novel will be released on September 19th.



What are some of your favorite books you've read this year?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Happy 20 Years, Harry Potter!

June 26th marks the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter! Come and share the magic with everything Potter like! Not only has Harry Potter been in my life for over 15 years but Harry Potter was life changing for me. I didn't dive into the fandom until after the fourth book was released when I was a freshman in high school. Who knew that I would still be loving Harry Potter in my adult years. As many of you know, Harry Potter has been a positive influence in my life and has helped me through many tough times. The books have transported me to Hogwarts, Hogsmeade and to a world that I felt comfortable. I could be myself and I didn't have to pretend to be something I am not.

Harry Potter has opened doors for many friendships. I bonded over Harry Potter in college with other Potterheads and it wasn't until after college, I began to attend Harry Potter conventions. Can I say those conventions are life savers! The fandom is so welcoming and it feels like a second family. Every time I go to MISTI-Con, it feels like a family reunion. Harry Potter conventions has provided a safe environment for many Potterheads. Along with conventions, I enjoy local Harry Potter meet ups in Massachusetts. It's a nice way to get together with others when conventions are not in session. 

The relationship between my sister and I has grown stronger through our mutual love for Harry Potter. We often attend Harry Potter conventions and events together. Harry Potter has helped me become a stronger person and to always persevere. After all, “happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."

Bloombury recently launched a new set of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone books in house colors. Definitely check them out! I was fortunate enough to get a paperback and hardcover in Ravenclaw blue and bronze through Book Depository. If you live outside of the UK, definitely check out Book Depository to see if they deliver to your country. They provide free shipping!

Image from harrypotter.bloomsbury.com
Check out some of my favorite Harry Potter related blog posts. I have listed a bunch below for you to check out. I have various posts from Pottermas features to convention recaps.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Teaser Trailer
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Film
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Obscurials
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Connecting Wizarding Worlds

LEVIOSA 2016 


Day 1 and Day 2 Recap
Day 3 and Day 4 Recap

MISTI-CON 2015


Day 1: The Beginning
Day 2 Recap
Day 3 Recap
Day 4 and Day 5 Recap

MISTI-CON 2015


Day 1 Recap
Day 2 Recap
Day 3 Recap
Day 4 and Day 5 Recap


POTTERMAS 2015 


November 13: Pottermas 2015
December 1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
December 3: Harry Potter Trivia Contest + Giveaway
December 4: Harry Potter Gift Guide
December 5: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
December 8: How Did I Find Harry Potter?
December 9: Pottermas Butterbeer Recipes
December 10: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
December 13: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
December 15: Ranking Harry Potter Books and Films
December 17: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
December 22: Harry Potter Gifts I Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree This Year
December 23: Harry Potter Appreciation Letter and Digital Holiday Card
December 24: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
December 29: What Should You Read After Finishing the Harry Potter Series?
December 31: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

POTTERMAS 2016 


December 1st: Pottermas Introduction
December 5th: Ten Underrated Moments in Harry Potter
December 7th: Harry Potter Patronus
December 10th: Ranking Harry Potter Soundtracks
December 12th: Harry Potter Recipe
December 14th: Harry Potter Funko Pop Photoshoot
December 17th: Harry Potter Craft Tutorial
December 20th: Harry Potter Gifts I Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree
December 23rd: Favorite Harry Potter Spells
December 28th: Favorite Harry Potter Character Quotes and Moments
December 31st: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Review

OTHER 


Harry Potter Spells Book Tag
Harry Potter Salem Wizarding Halloween Ball
Pages to Tea: Harry Potter Version
Fandom: Harry Potter Beyond the Books and Movies: A Focus on Fandom
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Midnight Release Recap


Harry Potter has lead us to so much more than the books. With the films, theme parks, merchandise, Pottermore and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I don't see the fandom ever dying. Long live Harry Potter!


Are you doing anything to celebrate 20 years of Harry Potter? How are you involved in the Harry Potter fandom? Please share your experience below.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to blog about top ten series they've been meaning to start but haven't. I decided to highlight several series that I want to start but haven't yet but I also included a few series I've started but want to finish reading. The series are in no particular order.

S E R I E S  T O  S T A R T

1. Delirium series by Lauren Oliver has been on my TBR list forever. I own all three books and have heard great things about this trilogy.


2. The Covenant series by Jennifer Armentrout is a series that I should have already read already but alas, all the books are still sitting in a pile somewhere. I heard great things about this paranormal/mythological series.


3. The Birthright series by Cate Tiernan is a shapeshifter paranormal series. I have read Tiernan's Sweep series about 15 years ago when I was a teenager and I've always wanted to read more books by her. Balefire is another series that I love that she wrote.


4. The Tudor Witch Trilogy by Victoria Lamb transports readers to the time of 16th century England. Fusing historical fiction, the paranormal and magic, I am entranced by the synopsis. I own all three books and I hope to start reading this trilogy soon.


5. The Curse Workers series by Holly Black is a paranormal urban fantasy series that has been on my TBR list for quite a long time. I own all the books as well.


6. Vicarious series by Paula Stokes is a sci-fi mystery thriller series that seems very intriguing. Bent on revenge of her sister's death, Winter won't rest until she finds out what happened to Rose.


7. The Network Series by Katie Cross sounds like the perfect paranormal boarding schools series. For those who don't know, I am obsessed with boarding school books.


S E R I E S  T O  C O N T I N U E

1. The School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani is one of the series that I definitely need to finish reading. I own three of the books but I seriously need to dive back into this fantasy middle grade series about magic and fairy tales.



2. The Casquette Girls series by Alys Arden is a paranormal series set in New Orleans. I enjoyed reading the first book, The Casquette Girls. If you love The Vampire Diaries and The Originals TV shows, definitely check this series out.


3. The Vault of Dreamers series by Caragh O'Brien is a sci-fi series about a girl who attends a prestigious school called The Forge School. All the students are broadcasted on the Forge Show, which is a reality TV show. However,  the school has secrets of its own. I have read the first book and enjoyed it immensely.



What series have you been meaning to start but haven't yet? What series would you recommend me?

Friday, June 16, 2017

I Believe in a Thing Called Loved by Maurene Goo

Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Author: Maurene Goo
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication date: May 30, 2017
Pages: 336
Source/format: Library/hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Desi Lee is an overachiever who is involved with sports, many clubs and has the grades for Stanford University. However, she is a complete klutz. Desi has a plan for everything in her life and she succeeds at almost everything except when it comes to love. She is always caught in the center of a flailure which is a flirt failure. Desi gets tongue tied, is a bit clumsy and always ruins her chances with a guy. Luca Drakos is the new guy at school and for some reason, he likes Desi.

Desi's father, who she calls Appa, means the world to Desi. After the death of her mother, Desi always wants to make sure Appa is living a good life. Appa loves watching K Dramas and Desi soon becomes obsessed with them. She uses what she learns in the K Dramas and applies it to her love life with her own list "K Drama Steps to True Love." I love the relationship between Desi and her father. It's one of the most genuine relationships I've read regarding a single parent. Appa is very involved in Desi's life and Desi treats him with respect and will share almost everything with him.

Maurene Goo breaks down stereotypes. Instead of an athletic, good looking guy, we have Luca, the artist who is more of the sensitive type. He has troubled past and he is that mysterious guy that Desi is intrigued with. Desi might be the valedictorian of the school and is involved in everything, accept anything art related, but she seems to only have two friends. She is not as popular as many people seem she is but Wes and Fiona are very supportive friends.

I had only one issue with the book and that is the ending of the book during the prom scene. It seems unrealistic. I don't want to spoil the book for readers but it was something that felt rushed just for the sake of a happy ending. However, I enjoyed reading about Desi being a quirky nerd, stating random facts at the whim. I Believe in a Thing Called Love is definitely a cute book and I adored reading the interactions between Desi and Luca for the most part.

I highly recommend this novel for readers who enjoy To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han and When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. This rom-com will sweep you off your feet with its heartwarming scenes and hilarious lines.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

BookExpo 2017: Day 2 Recap


BookExpo (previously known is BookExpo America) is book industry trade show that will took place May 31, 2017 to June 2, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City. This is an awesome event to network, to learn about upcoming titles and to immerse yourself in everything bookish. BookExpo is the leading book and author event for the North American publishing industry. I was fortunate enough to attend this year as an educator and blogger. I only attended the expo on June 1st and June 2nd. Check out my recap for Day 1 of BookExpo here.

Day 2 of BookExpo

Selina and I woke up around 7:30, got ready and went to Starbucks for a quick breakfast before gathering all of belongings to bring to Javits. We Ubered to the Javits and checked all of our bags since we plan to head to Penn Station from the Javits in the afternoon. This time we got to the Javits earlier than the previous day and had time to skim through the Show Daily for last minute galley giveaways. I was successful in securing a copy of There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins which was one of the priority books of the day. It was dropped right when the Exhibit Hall opened and I am so glad to be one of the lucky ones to get a copy.

I went to Macmillan to get a ticket for the 10:00 Dan Santat's  signing before heading to Penguin for the 9:30 Celeste Ng signing. Celeste was signing Little Fires Everywhere. Although she is lives locally to where I live, I wanted to meet her for the first time since I wasn't able to attend any of her events when her debut book came out. Her line was fairly long but the wait wasn't too bad. She is so nice too. I was able to chat with her for a bit while she signed my copy.

I went to Macmillan afterwards and stood in line to get a copy of After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again). I was chatting with a librarian behind me who traveled from Virginia for BookExpo. Her sister was also in the city but she was sightseeing. I found out she was planning to head to Boston after the BookExpo on the weekend to visit for a few days. Of course I had to ask what her plans were and gave some suggestions. I love how Macmillan entertained people waiting in line with those cartoon cutouts where you put your head in. We also got After the Fall tote bags too. They are fairly big and have a front pocket.

Afterwards, I went to the Autographing Area to get a copy of You'll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron signed. I met Shelley Michael who wrote All Aboard. Unfortunately, I did not get a ticket for Jan Brett but that's okay since Jan Brett line was super long. The line for Jason Reynolds was too long and apparently Simon & Schuster cut the line fairly early for Long Way Down. Jason Reynolds is pretty amazing. I managed to meet him a couple times at past events. I did manage to stop by to get a copy of The South's Best Butts: Pitmaster Secrets for Southern Barbecue Perfection by Matt Moore. Matt couldn't make it to the signing because his daughter was born the previous day. Congrats to Matt!

I ended up taking a lunch break and went to retrieve my left overs from the previously day from my suitcase after I dropped off my books. I met up with Selina in the food court to relax, eat and to chat for a bit. I had a lot of free time since my next thing on my schedule wasn't until 1:30ish.

MarcyKate signing Shadow Weaver
I went to the Exhibit Hall after eating and just walked around until about 15 minutes before the Shadow Weaver signing at Sourcebooks. MarcyKate Connolly was signing galleys of her upcoming MG fantasy novel called Shadow Weaver. This title is my second priority book of the day. I have met MarcyKate several times and it was nice seeing her again. I wasn't able to meet Kerri Maniscalco in person at BEA because of her signing line being so short. I was hoping to see her on the floor between signings but no avail. I have a copy of her upcoming book, Hunting Prince Dracula, and I didn't want to take time away from those who want to get an ARC signed. Kerri will be attending the Boston Teen Author Festival in September so I will definitely have a chance to chat with her then.

I probably stood in line to see Anna-Marie McLemore for awhile. That line was fairly long but I wanted to say hi and also to obtain a copy of Wild Beauty. I was surprised Anna-Marie said I looked familiar and asked if we met up sometime in the past. We did meet for the first time last year at ALA Midwinter in Boston. Crazy how she vaguely remembered me. She is too sweet and I love how she signed galleys with a teal sharpie!

Julie Dao signing Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
The next and last thing I did for the day was to meet Julie Dao who wrote Forest of a Thousand Lanterns! That's my last priority for the day and every minute waiting was worth it! Marci, Ashley and I didn't have to wait too long. Julie is oh so nice! She remembered me on twitter and we chatted about the upcoming title and I mentioned about how Melody kept raving about the book.

Selina had one more signing while I retrieved my bags and reorganized my books in my luggage. I
met up with Selina and after she got her bags and we Ubered to Penn Station for our train that was departing around 4:40ish. We got there at 4:00 to give us time to get food and do a bathroom trip. Unfortunately, our train was delayed an hour or so so we chilled in the waiting room the whole entire time. I couldn't wait to arrive at South Station in Boston. I felt like the trip home took forever. Selina and I hugged and said our farewells before I took the silver line to the airport where by boyfriend picked me up to head home.

Overall, BookExpo and NYC was a memorable trip even though Selina and I were only there for about 50 hours. I thought it might be my last trip to BookExpo but I might end up going next year since it will be in NYC once again. Some of my favorite moments including new people in lines and chatting with them and having mini chats with Emma from Miss Print and Nicole from The Bookbandit Blog. I am glad I was able to see Emma and Nicole at least a couple times during BookExpo even though it was for a short time.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer Essentials

It's not even summer yet and the temperatures are rising. With this increase number of days in the 90's, it is important to try to stay cool and to protect yourself from the sun. I am definitely not a summer lover like most people. I absolute love the fall and I am counting the days until September. However, as I wait for fall to approach, here are some some of my favorite things I use during the summer.


1. Hydroflask // $29.95 - $59.95

I use this water bottle every day year around but it's so helpful in the summer due to the insulation feature. I can fill up my Hydroflask with water and ice the night before and still have cold water the next morning even without the AC on. During the summers, I spend 3 weeks living in a college dorm for work without AC. My Hydroflask becomes my lifesaver. Also, the best part is that the Hydroflask prevents condensation! No more sweaty bottles.

2. Bionaire Whole Room Air Circulator fan // $49.99

I love this fan. It's a table top fan that circulates the air throughout the room to keep the room cool. I use this fan all the time and it's probably my favorite fan that I've used. I know many people complain how noisy it is but personally I love the noise because I need white noise to help me sleep at night. The fan has three speed settings and has a breeze and sleep mode. The remote controller is a bonus.


3. Moisture Wicking Socks // Varies in cost

This type of sock is amazing for the feet as the sweat is wicked away from the body. Your feet will be less sweaty when you take off your shoes which is a plus. Dry feet = happy feet!

4. Sunscreen 

Sunscreen is super important to wear every day outside. I have super sensitive skin and finally found a few face sunscreens I can use that won't break me out in hives. Asian sunscreens are more watery/milky and they spread on easily. Also, they are non-greasy on my oily/combination skin. I found one American spray sunscreen that won't break me out for the body.

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ // 50 ml



Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 42 for Face // 30 ml


Missha All Around Safe Block Soft Finish Sun Milk SPF 50+/PA+++ // 70 ml


Coppertone Sunscreen Spray Clearly Sheer Broad Spectrum SPF 50 // 142 ml


5. Havaianas Flip Flops // Varies in cost

These flip flops are my favorite ones since they don't wear down every year where the heel of the foot is. The pattern usually retains and they are super comfy. They are my go to every year despite to higher cost compared to other flip flops. I usually opt for the slim ones.
6. Zeroll Original Ice Cream Scoop // $18.64

This is the holy grail of all ice cream scoops. I used this ice cream scoop when I worked at Brigham's and at Ben & Jerry's during the seven years when I worked in the ice cream industry. The heat from your hand will warm up the handle of the ice cream scoop and the heat eventually travels to the scoop section to make scooping easy.



What are some of your favorite summer essentials to stay cool and protected?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Title: Once and For All
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication date: June 6, 2017
Pages: 358
Source/format: ARC from Emma of Missprint as part of the ARC adoption feature

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Louna is your average high school senior but she helps out with her mother's wedding planning business. However, it's ironic how Louna does not believe in true love. With all of these weddings that she helps plan, she tries not to express her feelings about what she thinks about love. With newly hired Ambrose, Louna is rethinking the principles of love. Ambrose is the complete opposite of Louna. He is spontaneous, carefree, a serial dater and a bit arrogant. Louna is organized and hasn't had much of a love life. Ambrose and Louna makes a deal to challenge one another about love, commitment and relationships. 

I haven't read all of Sarah Dessen's novels but I have to admit that Once and For All took me awhile to get invested with the story plot line and the characters. I felt like the plot was a bit slow at first. I did enjoy reading about the inside scoop of weddings. Learning more about the planning side of weddings and how the emotions gets tangled with the wedding planning made the story unique. Also, planning weddings as a teenage must be rough too. Louna was very invested into wedding planning to help her mother out. 

I liked how Dessen touched upon Louna's background history about her family and how the family dynamics worked. With the shaky relationship between her parents and then the loss of her father, Louna's view on love might have been shaped from a young age. Louna becomes a bit more open minded when it comes to love by the end of the book. Loss is a big theme in Once and For All from loss of a father to loss of a significant other.

Dessen adds a sense of humor to the contemporary novel and of course has Once and For All situated in Lakeside and surrounding areas, just like her other novels. If you are looking for a summer contemporary read, Once and For All might be a book for you to pick up.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

BookExpo 2017: Day 1 Recap


BookExpo (previously known is BookExpo America) is book industry trade show that will took place May 31, 2017 to June 2, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City. This is an awesome event to network, to learn about upcoming titles and to immerse yourself in everything bookish. BookExpo is the leading book and author event for the North American publishing industry. I was fortunate enough to attend this year as an educator and blogger. I only attended the expo on June 1st and June 2nd.

Off to NYC

BookExpo went by so fast but I had so much fun meeting people and reuniting with friends. On Wednesday, May 31st, Selina and I met up at South Station and took the Amtrak to Penn Station. The trip felt fairly quick. After we arrived at Penn Station, we ended up Ubering to the Javits Center to pick up our badges and then headed to our Airbnb. I got to see the Warcross banner go up when I was wandering around the Javits for a bit which was pretty awesome.

I totally forgot how small NYC apartments are but it was doable for our needs for the next couple of nights. Our Airbnb host was super nice and her apartment was located in a good location of Hell's Kitchen. It was very convenient to get around the city. We ended up getting some Italian food at 44 Southwest Ristorante & Bar near by the apartment and I ended up picking up a milk tea at the Vivi Bubble Tea shop. Both of us were excited about the first day of BookExpo and unfortunately for me, I didn't really get much sleep.


Day 1 of BookExpo

Selina and I woke up around 7:15-7:30 and went to a diner down the street for some breakfast. We didn't get to the Javits until a bit after 9:00. I believe we were on the floor by 9:04 and it's nuts how most of the galley giveaways were gone in minutes. We unfortunately didn't get anything in the morning and we decided to focus on our signings for the AM. I ended up going to Macmillan to get a ticket for the Katherine Applegate Wishtree signing at 10:00. I love how Macmillan paired up with First Book to give a book per wish initiative. For every wish written on a paper leaf sticky, a book is donated to a child.

After that I went do a quick round of the show floor to familiar myself with my surroundings before heading to the Autographing Area for the Margarita Engle and Mike Curato signing. It was so nice to see Mike again and he let me page through his upcoming Little Elliot book, Little Elliot, Fall Friends, while he signed my copy of All the Way to Havana. Everyone also got a Little Elliot signed print.

I proceeded to HarperCollins for a drop of Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire. The novel sounds interesting and it's a retelling of the Nutcracker. Some how I found Marci from The Plot Bunny wandering around the exhibit hall and I met her friend Ashley from The Tattered Page. We ended up chatting for a bit before heading to Macmillan for a galley drop for Girls Made of Snow and Glass. Then we proceeded to Bloomsbury for a drop of The Unicorn Quest: The Whisper in the Stone. Afterwards, the three of us went to the Rules of Magic signing line to meet Alice Hoffman at Simon & Schuster. I was so excited to meet Alice and the Rules of Magic is one of my most anticipated books to get for Thursday. The novel is the prequel to Practical Magic.



The Warcross line was super long but so worth it! The Penguin Random House are was swamped with people but I know Warcross is on a lot of people's TBR list. Disney was having a drop of The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken which is MG novel. Marci, Ashley and I were able to get a copy. I had a quick lunch afterwards before heading toward HarperCollins for a drop of They Both Die at the End. It was interesting that the drop was during the same time as Adam Silvera's signing of the very same title. Since I've seen Adam so many times before and he will be at the Boston Teen Author Festival in Cambridge, MA in the fall, I didn't need to be in the signing line. I heard the signing was quite lengthy and some people couldn't meet Adam.

After the drop, I went to the Autographing Area to meet Rossella Rago and to get a finished copy of Cooking with Nonna. I cannot wait to try these fantastic Italian recipes at home. One of the adult fiction novels on my list was The Twelve-Mile Straight. I couldn't wait to meet Eleanor Henderson and she was super nice. I was excited that she recognized me from Twitter. Next on the list is Ringer by Lauren Oliver. I am looking forward to reading this sequel in the Replica series. Also, It's nice to see Lauren again. I had my ARC personalized to Elizabeth and Lauren told me how her sister got named after Elizabeth Bennet and how she got named after a neighbor. Lauren is always a pleasure to chat with.


I stopped by Sourcebooks for a drop of The List by Patricia Forde and totally forgot that Tamara Ireland Stone was signing Click'd at Disney. I had to meet Tamara since I loved Every Last Word and I definitely wanted to tell her how much I liked the book. I succeeded and was able to see her at 2:50. I can't believe I almost missed the chance to meet Tamara! 

Bloomsbury had a drop of Reign the Earth at 3:00 so when I was waiting in line for the Meg Kassel signing, I was able to get a copy. Entangled Teen had a booth for the first time at BookExpo and I was excited that Meg Kassel was going to be signing copies of Black Bird of the Gallows. This book has been on my TBR list for quite sometime and I wasn't sure if it was ever going to be published since it was dropped from Egmont when Egmont closed. I am so happy Entangled Teen picked it up! Meg is such a sweetheart too. She was definitely enthusiastic to be at BookExpo and I don't blame her :).

My last thing of the day was the pick up a cocktail and a finished copy of The Wildcrafted CocktailI have to say that the drink was delicious and very smooth. Cheers to the end of the first day of BookExpo!

I went to get my bag and met up with Selina. We caught an Uber back to the apartment and then we took a nap for an hour or so before we headed out for dinner. Selina and I met up with Josh, one of the MISTI-Con staff members who also happens to be Selina's friend. We ended up eating at Southern Hospitality BBQ for some pulled pork sandwiches. Selina wanted some Pink Berry so she got some froyo afterwards. Let's say we spent a good amount of time talking about the MISTI-Con that occurred last month and we came up with some ideas for MISTI-Con 2019. I can't wait for the next MISTI-Con!

After a long day, we got some sleep for the next day, which happens to be our last day in NYC. We had to make sure all our bags were pretty much packed before hitting the hay.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Ten Fantasy Books That I've Recently Added To My TBR List


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to blog about 10 books from X genre that they've recently added to their TBR list. I am usually more of a contemporary reader but I do enjoy paranormal and low fantasy out of all the fantasy genres. Occasionally I will read high fantasy. I am very picky about the fantasy titles that I usually read but based on the synopsis, I added quite a few fantasy titles to my TBR list. Hopefully, I'll enjoy most of these titles! I have to admit that at least half of these titles are middle grade and I love middle grade fantasy! The titles are in no particular order.



Title: Ned’s Circus of Marvels
Author: Justin Fisher
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Publication date: June 30, 2016
Pages: 448

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

From exciting debut author, Justin Fisher, comes this rip-roaring, page-turning new magical adventure. Perfect for fans of House of Secrets.

Ned Waddlesworth has always considered his world to be exceptionally ordinary. Until the day he discovers it ISN’T. AT ALL. Because on Ned’s thirteenth birthday he discovers that everything magical he’s ever read about or imagined is REAL.
And without him, the world will soon be engulfed in monstrous beasts and beings.

So with the help of a robot mouse, a girl witch and a flying circus unlike any other, it’s up to Ned to swoop in and save the day!

Roll up, roll up, and prepare to be AMAZED by Ned and the marvellous, magical, monstrous flying circus!

Title: Aru Shah and the End of Time
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Publication date: April 2018

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The main character is 12-year-old Indian-American girl who unwittingly frees a demon intent on awakening the God of Destruction. (As Percy Jackson might say: “Oops.”)

The author's agent, Thao Le of Sandra Dijkstra & Associates, calls it “Percy Jackson meets Sailor Moon with a great wealth of wonderful Indian mythology'.

Title: The Wizards of Once
Author: Cressida Cowell
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Publication date: September 19, 2017
Pages: 384

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

From the bestselling author of How to Train Your Dragon comes an exciting high-adventure series - set in an ancient, magical time, full of Wizards, Warriors, Giants and Sprites.

This is the story of a young boy Wizard and a young girl Warrior who have been taught to hate each other like poison; and the thrilling tale of what happens when their two worlds collide.

Perfect for boys and girls who love fantasy adventure ...

Once there was Magic, and the Magic lived in the dark forests.

Wizard boy, Xar, should have come in to his magic by now, but he hasn't, so he wants to find a witch and steal its magic for himself. But if he's got any chance of finding one, he will have to travel into the forbidden Badwoods.

Xar doesn't realise he is about to capture an entirely different kind of enemy. A Warrior girl called Wish.

And inside this book, at this very moment, two worlds collide and the fate of the land is changed forever.

In a whirlwind adventure, Xar and Wish must visit the dungeons at Warrior fort, and face the evil Queen.

But something that has been sleeping for hundreds of years is stirring ...

Title: By A Charm and A Curse
Author: Jaime Questell
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication date: 2018

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Pitched in the vein of Maggie Stiefvater meets Tim Burton, in which a teen girl is entrapped by a cursed carnival when a kiss turns her into a living doll, and must figure out how to break the decades-old curse so she can become human again — without destroying the carnival (and the boy) she's growing to love in the process.

Title: Ace of Shades
Author: Amanda Foody
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: April 2018
Pages: 448

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.


Title: Wishtree
Author: Katherine Applegate
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: September 26, 2017
Pages: 224

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Trees can't tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this "wishtree" watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.

Title: Forest Queen
Author: Betsy Cornwell
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 2018

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The Forest Queen is a gender-swapped retelling of the Robin Hood legends set in Esting two hundred years before the events of Mechanica and Venturess. It follows young noblewoman Silviana Loughsley as she founds a haven for the destitute in Woodshire Forest. Mechanica readers may remember Fin and Nick talking about the Forest Queen in one of their secret meetings.

Title: Whisper in the Stone
Author: Kamilla Benko
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication date: February 6, 2018
Pages: 320

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Claire Martinson still worries about her older sister Sophie, who battled a mysterious illness last year. But things are back to normal as they move into Windermere Manor... until the sisters climb a strange ladder in a fireplace and enter the magical land of Arden.

There, they find a world in turmoil. The four guilds of magic no longer trust each other. The beloved unicorns have gone, and terrible wraiths roam freely. Scared, the girls return home. But when Sophie vanishes, it will take all of Claire's courage to climb back up the ladder, find her sister, and uncover the unicorns' greatest secret.

Title: The Carnival of Wishes and Dreams
Author: Jenny Lundquist
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/ Aladdin
Publication date: 2019

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Alyson Heller at Aladdin has bought world rights to Jenny Lundquist's coming-of-age middle grade novel, The Carnival of Wishes & Dreams. Pitched as The Night Circus for younger readers, the book follows three former friends in a struggling factory town, who each receive an anonymous note to meet at the town carnival's Ferris wheel, where they discover new truths about each other. Publication is set for spring 2019; Kerry Sparks at Levine Greenberg Rostan was the agent.

Title: Whichwood
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication date: November 14, 2017
Pages: 368

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A new adventure about a girl who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead in this companion to Furthermore.

Our story begins on a frosty night…

Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.

But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.


What are some fantasy titles that are on your TBR list? Do we share any of the same?