Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Make Me Smile

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is books that make me smile. I am someone who loves to read fun, light-hearted contemporary books, so I am never short on books that make me smile. Here are some of my favorites:

  • P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
P.S. I Like You

P.S. I Like You is like your favorite, feel-good high school movie. Even though it is a little cliche and tropey, it is still easy to read and fun. P.S. I Like You follows Lily, who writes letters back and forth to a classmate who responds to lyrics that she writes on her desk in science class.

  • The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
The Unexpected Everything

The Unexpected Everything is a cute summer read with a fun cast of characters and really cute dogs! Morgan Matson always writes great coming-of-age stories, so if you enjoy that type of story, you will appreciate the character development within this book. The Unexpected Everything follows Andi who takes a job walking dogs when her summer internship falls through due to her father’s potential involvement in a political scandal.

  • The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
The Truth About Forever

The Truth About Forever has a memorable cast of characters with a lot of heart. It makes me smile to see how Macy grows as a character and watching her family come back together after the death of her father. The Truth About Forever follows Macy, who lives a very controlled life after her father’s death when she encounters a catering company full of imperfectly perfect friends.

  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

This is the first fantasy book on my list, but I had to include it because I found myself smiling so many times during the interactions between Feyre and Rhysand. A Court of Mist and Fury is the second book in the A Court of Thorn and Roses series where Feyre, a poor human, is taken captive by a faerie after she shoots and kills a faerie disguised as a wolf.

  • Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Love, Life, and the List (Love, Life, and the List, #1)

All of my favorite Kasie West’s books make me smile, and while this one is a little more angsty than most, happy endings always make me smile. I also smiled when the main character, Abby, finally stood up for herself to Cooper. Love, Life, and the List follows aspiring artist Abby who creates a list to gain more life experience in order to improve her art which she completes with her best friend Cooper, a boy that she likes but her doesn’t like her back.

  • Cress by Marissa Meyer
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

Cress and Thorne are two of my favorite characters from The Lunar Chronicles, so of course, the story that focuses on their story would have to be one of my favorites in the series. I especially liked one of the ending scenes in this book, which made me smile, because it came full circle from a line earlier in the book. Cress is part of The Lunar Chronicles which follows Cinder, who is part cyborg, after she is forced to participate in a study by her evil stepmother to cure a deadly plague.

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)

Like with P.S. I Like You, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the perfect high school romantic comedy. The movie version of this book especially makes me smile because it is a great adaptation of the original story. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows Lara Jean, a shy high school student whose secret love letters get sent out to boys at her school.

  • This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
This Lullaby

There are so many aspects of This Lullaby that make me smile. I enjoy Dexter’s character and how Remy and Dexter compliment each other so well in a relationship. This Lullaby follows Remy, whose relationship rules are threatened when she meets Dexter, a sweet and clumsy musician.

  • Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita
Secrets of My Hollywood Life (Secrets of My Hollywood Life, #1)

When I was younger, I absolutely loved this series by Jen Calonita. Not only does the writing make me smile, but like many other books on this list, it was like reading a high school romantic comedy movie. Secrets of My Hollywood Life follows Kaitlin Burke, a famous actress who goes undercover as a normal teenager in high school.

  • It’s a Mall World After All by Janette Rallison
It's a Mall World After All

No matter how many times I read this book, I find myself laughing every single time, which I don’t typically do in books. It’s a Mall World After All follows Charlotte, who spies on her best friend’s boyfriend when she suspects him of cheating, but she keeps running into the boyfriend’s annoying, but cute best friend who is also her rival.

What are some books that make you smile?

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Kindle Book Haul (July 2020)

Over the past few months, I have downloaded several books to pass the time that I’ve been spending at home. Here’s what I downloaded (any book with a book review on my blog will be linked to the book’s title):

  • How to Draw Manga: Basics and Beyond by Manga University
How to Draw Manga: Basics and Beyond!

Over quarantine, I started watching a lot of drawing videos because I recently got an iPad and downloaded Procreate, a digit art app. While I was having fun exploring the app and corresponding tag on Instagram, I was struggling to draw pieces that I liked.

As a result, I searched for drawing books on Amazon and this fit the style that I wanted to learn to draw more successfully. This book definitely helped me with proportions as well as learning how to draw some specific aspects of this style. While I can’t say that I reference this book every time I draw, it was beneficial for me to download. However, I do think I would have preferred a print version, as it is difficult to navigate on my Kindle and difficult to switch back and forth while I’m drawing on my iPad.

Front Desk (Front Desk, #1)

Front Desk has received many positive reviews and I’ve been interested in reading it for awhile. I’ve been looking forward to picking up middle grade again, so I decided to download it. As I expected, I really enjoyed this middle grade novel and look forward to reading the next installment in the series.

Front Desk follows Mia Tang, an immigrant to the United States from China, who moves with her parents to California where they manage a hotel under a mean owner. Through her experiences as the hotel, Mia learns to stand up for herself and others when she sees discrimination. She also refuses to give up on her dream, which is to become a writer.

Beach Read

I heard nothing but positive review about Beach Read, which was marketed as a summer romance about two rival writers who challenge each other to write in the other’s preferred genre. I definitely suffered from expectations vs. reality for this read because it is very different in tone than the synopsis and marketing suggests, as it much darker and serious than expected. As a result, this book was only an average read for me.

Starry Eyes

I picked up Starry Eyes because the main characters go camping and I wanted something summery, but not beachy to read. This is one of Jenn Bennett’s earlier books and I much prefer her later books, so there were some elements in this book that fell flat for me. However, I was looking for a very atmospheric read, which this book delivered.

Starry Eyes follows ex-best friends Zorie and Lennon who get roped into a camping trip with some frenemies. When abandoned on the trip by the others, Zorie and Lennon decide to hike their way to a stargazing event through the California wilderness.

  • Live by Sadie Robertson
Live

This is an advice style book by Sadie Robertson. In these types of books, she usually discusses situations that she’s faced in her life and how her Christian faith has played a role in those situations. I do have the other advice style books she has written, so I decided to pick this one up as well.

  • The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

I’ve seen the cover of this book as well as a few positive reviews of this book, although I do not know much about it. From reading the synopsis, there are some elements that I will probably like, such as a rag tag crew of characters. However, it also gives me Kate DeCamillo feelings, which is a style that I’m not really a fan of, so I don’t know what my expectations are regarding this book. That being said, I usually really like books that I least expect, which makes me excited to read this one.

This book follows Coyote, who tries to secretly get her father to drive them back to where she used to live, which is also where her mom and sisters died in an accident, before their neighborhood is demolished.

What books have you hauled recently?

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The Baby-Sitter’s Club Netflix Series Review

Need a new show to watch?

Netflix’s newest books-to-movie adaptation, the 10-episode The Baby-Sitter’s Club serves as the perfect modern adaptation of the beloved children’s book series. When Kristy’s mom needs a sitter, but can’t find one, she comes up with a great idea: one place for parents to call where they can reach several babysitters at once. The series follows Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn as they take on challenging babysitting jobs and major life changes during their middle school years.

Was the series adapted well?

Whenever a book is adapted into a movie or television series, readers always wonder how everything they love about their favorite series will translate onto the big screen. The Baby-Sitter’s Club, a series that lasted between 1986 and 2000, brought excitement to many readers when the series was announced, as well as many questions. Could this series reach a modern audience?

This Netflix series perfectly balanced playing homage to the original characters and storylines of the original series, but also updating the characters and the content for a modern audience. Every character maintains true to their personality in the book, especially how they react to current events, such as activism. Every episode of the series, each thirty minutes long, follows one of the original series (however, I can’t remember if episodes 9 and 10 appear anywhere in The BSC timeline) with slight plot changes to make the series more relevant.

How is the casting?

There are few book-to-movie adaptation where I can say every single member of the casting is spot-on. In fact, the only time where I’ve ever thought the casting was near perfect was The Hunger Games franchise. Like with The Hunger Games, the casting for this Netflix show set the bar high for other book-to-movie adaptation.

Every actor, from the main members of the BSC to the side characters like Karen and Kristy’s stepfather, completely embodied their role and brought the characters from the book to life. As each episode balances humor and emotion well, every actor balances the humor and emotion of their characters as well. For me, each character felt like a real person, not like someone just playing a part on a television show. I also appreciated that Netflix diversified the cast of main characters.

My Last Thoughts

This book-to-movie adaptation will please fans of the original series, as well as children in the show’s target audience. I can see the original Baby-Sitter’s Club series, as well as the graphic novels, growing in popularity after the release of this series and many young children wanting to be like the characters on this show. I give this series five out of five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is my most read authors.

How do I find my most read authors?

Unfortunately, it seems like Goodreads has deleted this feature off of its website. However, after playing around with some of the existing features, I discovered a way to find your most read authors. Below, I have a Twitter thread where I explain step-by-step how to now find your most read authors on Goodreads (click on the tweet to see the thread):

My Top Ten Most Read Authors

Now, here’s my top ten!

  • Meg Cabot (24)

I am not surprised that Meg Cabot tops my list of most read authors. During middle school and high school, I primarily read and reread books by Meg Cabot and Sarah Dessen. The Princess Diaries series alone takes up about half of the books that I’ve read by this author.

I have great memories of reading books by Meg Cabot. Mia Thermopolis was one of the first book characters that I really related to and her books were always light and funny, which I really enjoyed. Although I’m not particularly drawn to any of her recent releases, I will always have fond memories when I look back at books by this author that I really enjoyed.

My favorites: The Princess Diaries series, All-American Girl, Avalon High

  • Sarah Dessen (14)

Like I mentioned with Meg Cabot, I read and reread many of Sarah Dessen’s books in middle school and high school. Some of those first books I read by this author, Just Listen and The Truth About Forever, still are some of my favorite YA books.

The Rest of the Story

I think I enjoyed Sarah Dessen’s books so much, because like with The Princess Diaries, I could relate to the characters, even if they weren’t exactly like me. While there was a period was I wasn’t a fan of Dessen’s newest releases, I recently read The Rest of the Story, which was one of my favorite books of the year.

My favorites: Just Listen, The Truth About Forever, This Lullaby, Along for the Ride, The Rest of the Story

  • Kasie West (12)

I had never heard of Kasie West until I started blogging, which surprises me, since I love contemporary and she is such a loved YA contemporary author. While Kasie West’s most recent releases have been a miss for me, I enjoy her books for being lighthearted and easy to read. While I really enjoyed some of Kasie West’s books now, I feel like they would have been books that I would have reread countless times in high school.

My favorites: P.S. I Like You; Love, Life, and the List, The Fill-In Boyfriend

  • Miranda Kenneally (9)

It doesn’t surprise me too much that Miranda Kenneally is on this list as I have read the entire Hundred Oaks companion series. While I wouldn’t consider Miranda Kenneally one of my all-time favorite YA contemporary authors, her books are light-hearted and easy to read, which is my favorite type of book to read.

Catching Jordan

My favorites: Breathe, Annie, Breathe; Jesse’s Girl; Racing Savannah

  • Marissa Meyer (8)

It also doesn’t surprise me to see Marissa Meyer’s name on this list because I loved the Lunar Chronicles, so with that series combined with the two graphic novels that followed, that’s already quite a large number of books. I will always look back fondly on the Lunar Chronicles series because it was a series that I picked up because of reading book blogs and watching book videos on Youtube.

My favorites: Cinder, Cress

  • Jenny Han (7)

I was actually surprised to see Jenny Han on this list, but it makes sense considering I finished both her To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series and the Summer series, as well as a short chapter book by this author. Jenny Han’s books just encompass everything that you hoped high school would be, which is why I think I love her books so much. I particularly enjoyed her children’s book, Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream.

My favorites: Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream; To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before; Always and Forever, Lara Jean

  • Janette Rallison (7)

Like with Meg Cabot and Sarah Dessen, I read many books by Janette Rallison, particularly in middle school. Janette Rallison’s books made me laugh out loud, no matter how many times I read them, which doesn’t usually happen for me with books.

My favorites: Just One Wish, It’s a Mall World After All

The Lonely Hearts Club (The Lonely Hearts Club, #1)
  • Elizabeth Eulberg (7)

Elizabeth Eulberg was another surprise on my list. Even though I’ve read books by this author over the years and I have enjoyed several of her books, she’s never been on my all-time favorites list so I didn’t realize how many books I’ve read by her over the years. For Elizabeth Eulberg, her writing is always solid, but the stories themselves are always hit-or-miss for me.

My favorites: The Lonely Hearts Club, Prom and Prejudice

  • Kiera Cass (6)

This doesn’t surprise me too much, considering I read the entire Selection series. Kiera Cass is by no means my favorite author, but The Selection series was just a lot of fun and quick to read. I don’t have any particular favorite books by Kiera Cass, but I can say that I wasn’t a huge fan of one of her standalone books, The Siren.

  • Sarah J. Maas (5)

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Court of Thorns and Roses series despite not being a huge reader of fantasy. This series motivated me to pick up other fantasy books, like The Folk of the Air series, which I also really enjoyed.

My favorites: A Court of Mist and Fury

Who are some of your most read authors?

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Front Desk by Kelly Yang Review

Check in to this heartfelt and relevant middle grade novel.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang follows Mia Tang after she immigrates to the United States from China with her parents. When Mia’s parents are offered to be managers at a hotel, Mia’s family thinks they will finally live the American Dream. However, many roadblocks stand in the way between Mia’s family and their dreams, like a mean hotel manager who constantly changes the rules.

Front Desk (Front Desk, #1)

I have heard a lot of positive reviews surrounding Front Desk, and after reading the synopsis, I knew this was a book that I wanted to pick up. I always love reading middle grade because I think middle grade books perfectly balance exploring tougher issues but also containing a lot of heart. Front Desk perfectly balances those two elements and is an extremely relevant book for readers of all ages.

Although this book is based off the writer’s experiences from when she was a child, all of the issues presented in this book are still relevant today. This book covers a lot of topics, such as immigration and racism, through a young girl’s eyes. Mia, the main character, isn’t afraid to confront other characters in the book when they are discriminatory to other people, and when people are discriminatory towards Mia, she refuses to let go of her dreams. Mia acts as a great role model, from readers in and out of the target audience. Additionally, this book can open many readers to discussions about important topics.

Even though I’m someone who does enjoy middle grade books, they aren’t my go-to when looking at my TBR. Front Desk prompted me to research more middle grade books and read them immediately after finishing this one. I give Front Desk five out of five stars.

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Independence Day Book Tag

Happy Fourth of July to all of my American followers! Since today is Independence Day, I thought I would celebrate by completing the Independent Day Book Tag. Here are my answers (I am not sure who started this tag. If you know, please link to their social media down below so I can credit them!):

  • Show three books you have already read (one red, one white, and one blue)
Tweet Cute

How about one with all three? Tweet Cute was one of the first books that I read this year due to all the hype surrounding this 2020 contemporary release. While this book was only average for me, it has been one of the most buzzed about contemporary books this year.

Tweet Cute follows Pepper and Jack, the children of two rival food companies who start a Twitter war using their respective family’s business accounts.

  • A book with your favorite “rag-tag” band of revolutionaries
Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2)

A “rag tag” band of revolutionaries is one of my favorite tropes. This year, I’ve read the first two books in the Aurora Cycle which definitely features a cast of unlikely heroes who try to save the galaxy. While I loved the first book a lot more than the second book, I’m still interested to see the adventures that this group goes on in the next installment of this series.

Aurora Rising, the first book in this series, follows Aurora who wakes up 200 years after she was cryogenically frozen for a mission to space. However, when she wakes up, all the history of the colony that she was supposed to land on has been erased.

  • Show a book that takes place in one of the 13 original colonies
The Rest of the Story

All of Sarah Dessen’s books take place in fictional places in North Carolina, which is one of the 13 original colonies. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book after being disappointed by a couple of her other recent releases. This is the perfect book to read during Independence Day: it is set a lake during the summertime!

The Rest of the Story follows Emma Saylor, who visits the family on her mother’s side at the lake where the live, years after her mother passed away.

  • Show a book that takes place in England
Again, but Better

I bought this book several months ago… and still haven’t gotten around to reading it! I am always interested in picking up books by Booktubers, so I’m excited to give this one a try (eventually).

Again, But Better follows Shane, who lives a life that is way too predictable, so she decides to spend a semester abroad.

  • Time for fireworks! What book(s) end with a bang?
The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)

The Folk of the Air series has plenty of twists and turns, but the end of this book was the most shocking to me. I couldn’t believe that I had to wait to see how the series ended!

The Folk of the Air series, starting with The Cruel Prince, follows Jude, a human girl, who lives in a world of faeries. It angers Jude that the faeries see her as lesser than, so she will do whatever she can to get a place at court.

  • Show three books you would like to read (one red, one white, and one blue)
The Parker Inheritance

Once again, I have selected a book with all three colors! I’ve been starting to read more middle grade and I’ve heard a lot of positive reviews for The Parker Inheritance, so it definitely has a high spot on my middle grade TBR.

The Parker Inheritance follows Candice, who discovers a letter that leads to a fortune for whoever can solve the puzzle.

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July 2020 TBR

I had a great reading month in June, so I’m hoping my reading streak continues into July. Here’s what I plan on reading!

  • Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade *
Spoiler Alert

I received Spoiler Alert as an eARC via NetGalley. For this book, the artwork on the cover definitely drew me in. Looking at the synopsis, I was a little uneasy heading into this book. Typically, I do not enjoy books set around fandoms, however, I’m always looking for a book that will change my opinion. I actually started this book in June and I’m liking it so far, so I hope my feelings don’t change as I continue to read it.

Spoiler Alert follows Marcus, who stars on a popular television show based on book series. While Marcus acts indifferent in interviews, he actually is a popular fanfic writer of the series online where he disagrees a lot with the show’s takes. Meanwhile, April Whittier also writes fanfic for the show online, and after a picture of her cosplay goes viral, Marcus asks her on a date… neither knowing they talk regularly online and beta read each other’s stories.

  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0)

I was so excited for this book. Around the release date, I was rewatching clips from The Hunger Games and watching as everyone received their copies in the mail. While I started this book awhile ago, I just didn’t have the motivation to finish it in June. While I love The Hunger Games, I normally only read books outside of contemporary sporadically, and when I received this book I was already in the middle of Aurora Rising, which is a long book outside of the contemporary genre. Since I’ve read quite a few contemporary books again, I think I will be ready to invest in a dystopian.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows a young Snow who acts as a mentor in the Hunger Games.

  • In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren *
In a Holidaze

Although I was holding off to read this book until the end of summer, I thought I would give myself a Christmas in July by picking up this book towards the end of the month.

In a Holidaze follows Maelyn, who is distraught over leaving her family’s cabin for the last time ever, after she gets in an accident and must relive that day over and over again.

What books do you plan to read in July?

Any books marked with * were sent to me by the publisher as an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2020. For my list, I will include books that have released in June until the end of the year. Here are my picks:

  • Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer
Instant Karma

I love the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, so I was so excited to see her release another book, especially since this is a contemporary with some magical elements. I enjoy when authors branch out into different genres, so I am excited to see one of my favorite authors tackle my favorite genre.

Instant Karma follows Prudence, a judgmental overachiever, who gains the ability to cast instant karma on those around her. However, Prudence grows frustrated when her powers backfire against her lazy classmate, Quint.

  • Love and Olives by Jenna Evans Welch
Love & Olives (Love & Gelato, #3)

Jenna Evans Welch isn’t my favorite contemporary author, but I absolutely love she describes the settings in her books. Since I won’t be going on vacation this year, I’m going to enjoy living through the main character in this book as she explores Greece.

Love and Olives follows Evie, who receives a postcard from her estranged father to join him in Greece as a documentary is being filmed about his theories on Atlantic, which is a love that they shared before he left.

  • Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey
Tools of Engagement (Hot & Hammered, #3)

I received an ARC of this book, so I won’t have to wait until the September release date to read this one. I haven’t read a book by Tessa Bailey before, but I know that she is a well-loved romance author, so I’m excited to see how I like this one. The plot of this really reminds me of 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne, which I wanted to love, but didn’t really like at all, so hopefully, I have a better experience with this book.

Tools of Engagement follows Bethany Castle, who wants to step outside her design role in her family’s real estate business and flip a house completely on her own. However, her brother who controls the business is not so fond of Bethany’s idea. When a television show hears about their disagreements, they are recruited for a house flipping competition and the only person willing to help Bethany is Wes, a member of her brother’s construction team.

  • Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
Rent a Boyfriend

I tried to read American Panda by Gloria Chao, but I just couldn’t get into the story. However, I always love going back to authors that didn’t work out for me personally the first time around. This book has the fake dating trope, which I do enjoy, so I hope I will have a better experience reading this book than my attempt at American Panda.

Rent a Boyfriend follows Chloe Wang, a college student who rents a fake boyfriend to impress her very traditional Asian parents.

  • 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon
10 Things I Hate About Pinky (Dimple and Rishi, #3)

I had actually already read this book a couple of months ago since I received an ARC. However, I am excited for this book to finally release so I can hear other people’s thoughts on the story. This wasn’t my favorite Sandhya Menon book, but it wasn’t my least favorite either, so I’m wondering how other people will feel about it.

10 Things I Hate About Pinky follows Pinky Kumar as she spends summer at her family’s house on the lake. Pinky’s parents disapprove of Pinky’s causes, but she is determined to save a butterfly sanctuary near the lake. To stay in her parents’ good graces, Pinky enlists the help Samir, a goody two shoes, to pretend to be her boyfriend.

  • In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

I haven’t had the best luck with Christina Lauren books, usually I love the ideas but not the execution, but I was intrigued when I saw their upcoming release on Goodreads. I’m a huge fan of books about Christmas, so this one sounds right up my alley.

In a Holidaze follows Maelyn Jones who is upset that this is the last year she will spend Christmas at her family’s cabin. Then, after an accident, Maelyn must repeat the same day over and over again.

  • Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston
Bookish and the Beast (Once Upon a Con, #3)

I’m not typically a fan of books that follow bookish characters or books that center on books. However, I am someone that likes when a book proves me wrong and something about the description of this book compels me to read it.

Bookish and the Beast follows Rosie, who experiences a lot of grief after her mother’s death, especially since her mother’s prized Starfield novel collection was sold. Rosie’s world collides with Vaughn Reins, a rich actor, after he finds himself hiding out in Rosie’s small town following a scandal.

What are your most anticipated releases for the second half of the year?

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June Reading Wrap-Up

I always read more books during the summer time and June has proved to be no exception. This month, I not only tackled some books from my TBR, but also started picking up some more middle grade again which I really enjoyed. Here’s what I read (book reviews will be linked to book titles):

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes is an earlier Jenn Bennett book, where I tend to have some issues with the characters or plot, but I still overall enjoyed this book. Starry Eyes largely revolves around camping, which made it the perfect book to read in the summertime, especially with Jenn Bennett’s excellent descriptions of the outdoors.

Starry Eyes follows ex-best friends Zorie and Lennon, who are recruited to go on a camping trip with sort-of friends who later ditch them. In order to attend a stargazing party, Zorie must trust Lennon to lead her through the wilderness to their destination.

Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2)

I loved the first book in this series, Aurora Rising, but I had a lot of issues with this installment that echoed many of the issues other readers had with the first book. My biggest issue with this book was how repetitive much of the plot and dialogue was throughout the book, as well as the pacing, which really dragged in the middle.

Aurora Rising follows Tyler’s squad as they try to save the galaxy. However, their plans are interrupted when Kal’s relatives show up and try to get him back, no matter the cost.

Beach Read

I think I would have enjoyed Beach Read a little more if the marketing accurately reflected the book inside. While I expected Beach Read to be a light-hearted summer romance, it is a lot darker than I expected. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think anyone who expects a story similar to what I did will need to take away their expectations to full enjoy this book.

Beach Read follows January Jones, a romance writer, who spends the summer at her recently deceased father’s beach home in order to write her next novel. There, she encounters August, a college rival and literary fiction author, and creates a challenge where they will both write a novel in the other’s preferred genre.

  • Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Along for the Ride

Along for the Ride is one of my favorite Sarah Dessen books and it’s always fun to revisit this book again in the summer. The characters in this book are so well-developed and I have always related to the main character, Auden, which makes the book even more special for me.

Along for the Ride follows Auden, who spends the summer at her father’s house with his new wife and their baby. There, Auden meets Eli, who helps her experience everything she missed out on in her childhood.

  • Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey
Tools of Engagement (Hot & Hammered, #3)

Tools of Engagement is another average book that I read in June. I received this book as an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley, so my full review won’t be shared until closer to the release date in September. While there were some things in this book that I really enjoyed, like the main character’s growth, there were other’s that I didn’t enjoy, like some of the love interest’s behavior.

Tools of Engagement follows Bethany who steps aways from her family’s real estate business to flip her own house, much to her brother’s dismay. When their argument attracts a television producer, the siblings are featured on a television show and the only person on Bethany’s side is an ex-member of her brother’s crew.

  • Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Smile

Smile is the first graphic novel that I really remember seeing from my elementary years, although I never read it. I’ve read a few other graphic novel memoirs, and while this isn’t my favorite of the bunch, it was a quick read with a good message.

Smile follows Raina who needs extensive dental work after an accident just as she starts middle school. Raina’s braces greatly affect her self-confidence, but as she gets older, she learns what is really important.

  • Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Front Desk (Front Desk, #1)

I’ve heard a lot about this book, and since I was getting back into middle grade, I thought that I would pick it up. Front Desk is a great middle grade novel that is extremely relevant and doesn’t shy away from tough topics.

Front Desk follows Mia Tang after her family immigrates to the United States from China. Mia’s parents take a job working as hotel managers for a mean boss and Mia works at the front desk in order to help out her parents. Mia’s life grows even more complicated when parents hide immigrants in the unused hotel rooms and her mother discourages her dream of becoming a writer.

  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
From the Desk of Zoe Washington

I picked up this book because I after reading Front Desk, I wanted to read more middle grade books. This book appeared as a Kindle Daily Deal recently and the plot sounded interesting, so I couldn’t pass it up. Like Front Desk, this book is extremely relevant and doesn’t shy away from covering tough topics, which I enjoyed.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington follows Zoe, an aspiring baker, who receives a letter from her biological father on her twelfth birthday. Zoe secretly corresponds with her father, who is in prison for murder, and discovers that he may be innocent. As a result, Zoe searches for a way to prove her father’s innocence.

What was the best book that you read in June?

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Jessica Darling’s It List #2 Review

In Manda and Sara’s word, this book isn’t a Hot, but it’s not a Not either.

Jessica Darling’s It List #2: The (Totally Not) Guide to Friends, Foes, and Faux Friends by Megan McCafferty focuses on Jessica’s changing friendships during her first year of middle school. In this installment of the series, Jessica struggles to balance her old friends with her new friends which may lead to disastrous results.

Jessica Darling's It List 2: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Friends, Foes & Faux Friends

I read the first book in the It List series a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I think the first It List book contained all the successful elements of a middle grade novel: humor with a lot of heart. Jessica Darling was a laugh-out-loud protagonist and the book offered a lot of great advice to the target audience. For me, this installment of the series wasn’t as fun as the first novel, but it was still solid and offered encouragement to readers in a similar situation as Jessica.

Compared to the first book in this series, this book was off to a slow start. I enjoyed the first chapter, which was a summary of the first book, because I think it will help younger readers remember what the It List is and how it as affected Jessica’s relationships with those around her. However, I found the items on the new It-List introduced in this book not as exciting or as interesting as the first book. There are definitely less landmark events in this read, which makes the first half move slowly. That being said, the book definitely picks up and offers more of that laugh-out-loud humor that I enjoyed in the second half.

One of my favorite aspects of the It List books is how it offers practical advice to the target audience without being blatantly obvious. There are things that Jessica thinks and feels that brought me back to that time in my life where friendships were constantly growing, changing, or completely disappearing. I think a lot of readers, young and old, will relate to Jessica’s situation and I appreciated how the author conveyed that what the reader may be experiencing in this own life is completely real and normal.

While this book didn’t completely wow me like the first book in this series, it was still a solid read and I continue reading the next book in this series. I give this book three out of five stars.