Recently Received ARCs (from July 2020)

Recently on NetGalley, I found myself getting approved more and more from romance books, but less so for young adult books. However, this month, it seems like the opposite is true: I was approved for a few young adult titles that I’m excited to read and share my thoughts on! Here are some of the books that I was recently approved for:

  • Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
Rent a Boyfriend

While I wasn’t extremely invested in Gloria Chao’s first book (which I DNF’d around the 50% mark), her next book sounded a little more up my alley. This book has the fake dating trope, which I enjoy, so I am excited to pick this one up.

Rent a Boyfriend follows Chloe, who hires a fake boyfriend to impress her parents.

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

Love & Olives is by Jenna Evans Welch, the author of Love & Gelato and Love & Luck, both of which I enjoyed, so I knew I had to request this book as soon as it appeared on NetGalley. While I’m never completely drawn in by the plots of these books, I am always completely sucked in by the descriptions of the scenery.

Love & Olives follows Liv, who travels to Greece to assist her estranged father with a documentary.

  • You Have a Match by Emma Lord
You Have a Match

I had no idea that Emma Lord, the author of Tweet Cute, was releasing another book this year. While it isn’t my all-time favorite contemporary, I did enjoy Tweet Cute, especially the dialogue between the two main characters. After reading the synopsis of this book on NetGalley and based on my previous reading experience of a book by this author, I requested it right away on NetGalley. Since this author has been pretty popular this year, I wasn’t expecting to get approved, but I was extremely excited when I did!

You Have a Match follows Abby, who learns that she has a sister after taking a DNA test. Abby and her sister decide to meet at a summer camp and figure out why her sister was given up for adoption.

What upcoming releases are you excited to read?

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**I was sent Rent a Boyfriend, Love & Olives, and You Have a Match as eARCS via NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review.**

Goodreads Alternative?: The Story Graph

Over the past few weeks on Twitter, I have seen so many posts on two new websites that people are suggesting as an alternative to Goodreads: The Story Graph and the Book Sloth. As someone who loves many features of Goodreads, such as how my Kindle will automatically update that I am reading a book and the community threads, there are other features that are in desperate needs of an update. For example, all of my books recommendations are either inaccurate and do not feature recently released books.

However, I am always willing to try something new, so of course, I immediately created accounts on both The StoryGraph and Book Sloth. It is important to know that these new websites and apps are either in the beta stages or the beginning phases of their launches. As a result, there are many features promised to be developed later on into the future compared to Goodreads which has more permanent fixtures. As a result, when I discuss both the StoryGraph in this post and Book Sloth in a later post, I am going to focus on what I enjoy now and what I hope to see in the future.

What I Like Right Now

One of the most attractive aspects of The StoryGraph for me was the recommendations feature and the graphs that described my personal reading tastes. Upon signing up for this website, each user takes a survey about the books they like to read. You can also import your Goodreads library, which also gives the site an idea of books that you like to read. This also helps you to establish your presence on the site with books you’ve already read. For me, the only hiccup with this feature was in the reads for the year: it duplicated some of the books so it looks like I’ve read more books this year. With the site still in the beginning phases, I could not figure out how to stop the duplication. However, this wasn’t extremely frustrating to me as I know this website is only in the beta phase.

How accurate are the recommendations/reading statistics?

The Ordered for You Page

While I’ve seen many users have success with the Ordered for You page, for me, this feature was hit-or-miss. While there are some books that I saw by authors I have read in the past or books that I heard of that I was possibly interested in, there were quite a few that I thought missed the mark on my tastes. The creator of this site explained that they are still uploading books into their library, so it is possible that as time goes on or if I can just adjust my filters when searching on the ordered for you page.

The Reading Statistics

On the other hand, I was extremely impressed with my reading statistics as I feel it perfectly described by reading tastes. The StoryGraph described my ideal book as a fiction book that is light-hearted, emotional, and funny as well as fast-paced and under 300 pages… which is exactly what I like to read!

The StoryGraph, as its name suggests, provides even more detailed graphs about books you read in terms of mood, pacing, page number, and fiction vs. nonfiction. I know a lot of people in the past have created different tables and and graphs on their own because this is a feature that Goodreads lacks, so I think many book bloggers will be pleased with this feature on the website.

What I Would Like To See In the Future

Easier to Navigate and More Complex Community Features

Currently, there is only a community tab on The StoryGraph. You can see the activity of everyone on the site, or choose just to look at people you follow. Compared to Goodreads, this is a very basic community feature that doesn’t allow much interaction between users. In the future, I hope that The StoryGraph can make the community aspect of this site a little more uder-friendly and extensive.

Easier To Edit Books Read

Like I mentioned a few times in my post, I have had a difficult time navigating and changing books that are added or duplicated. For example, sometimes when I click on my number of books read in a year, it won’t let me see a list of the books that I read in a year. As the website becomes more established, I hope that some more of these little details are worked out to make it easier to edit and change books that I have read.

Overall Thoughts

The StoryGraph promises some interesting features that current book websites lack. That being said, this website is still in the Beta stages, so there are some little details that need to be worked out in order to make the site easier to navigate.

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Summer Lovin’ Book Tag

Since summer vacation is about halfway over, I thought it would be the perfect time to complete the Summer Lovin’ Book Tag. I am not sure who started this tag, but if you know, please tell me in the comments so I can give them credit. Here are my answers:

  • Start of Summer: Pick a book with an attention-grabbing first line
Beach Read

This book didn’t have a memorable first line, however, I do think the first chapter did a great job of introducing the main character and pulling me in with a strong voice. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the rest of the novel, I did think the first chapter was strong.

Beach Read follows January, a romance writer, who spends the summer at her recently deceased father’s beach home in Michigan where she encounters August, a literary fiction writer and former college rival. After they run into each other, January and August hold a competition to see how can write better in the other’s genre.

  • Too Hot to Go Out: Pick a book for a day in
Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle, #1)

Aurora Rising is a long book, so it is the perfect book to spend the day inside reading. I really enjoyed Aurora Rising for the fun cast of characters and Guardians of the Galaxy-esque style story, however, I was less impressed with the sequel, Aurora Burning, released earlier this year.

Aurora Rising follows Aurora, who wakes up 200 years after she was cryogenically frozen on her way to a space colony. In the future, Aurora learns that the government is keeping the colony a secret for unknown reasons.

  • Summer Road Trip: Pick a book you’d take on the road
Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes doesn’t feature a road trip, but it does feature a hiking trip with some breathtaking descriptions of the scenery. While I’m not the biggest fan of aspects in Jenn Bennett’s earlier works, I always appreciate her attention to detail in the setting.

In Starry Eyes, Zorie and Lennon, once best friends and now enemies, go on a camping trip with friends. When abandoned by their friends, Zorie and Lennon decide to hike in the California forests to reach a stargazing event.

  • Ice Tea Goodness: Pick a book with a cold setting
Tweet Cute

I don’t think it is necessarily cold in this book, but it does take place in New York City, which does get cold and this book did release this past January. That being said, Tweet Cute is a fun contemporary that is perfect to read any time of the year.

Tweet Cute follows Pepper and Jack, the daughter and son of rival business owners, who battle it out on Twitter after the chain restaurant owned by Pepper’s family steals a recipe from the small business of Jack’s family.

  • Nasty Sunburn: A book you really disliked (so far) this year
The Wedding Party (The Wedding Date, #3)

I had high hopes for The Wedding Party because I read The Proposal the year before and really enjoyed it for being a realistic romance. Unfortunately for me, I was disappointed by the inconsistent characters, underdeveloped romance, and all-over-the-place plot in this one.

The Wedding Party follows Maddie and Theo after they are chosen to be in a mutual friend’s wedding party. Although Maddie and Theo claim to dislike each other, they start a secret relationship.

  • Sizzling Summer Reads: Recommend one of your favorite books (this year)
Always Never Yours

I am not someone who typically enjoys books about acting or plays, so I was pleasantly surprised when this became one of my earliest five star reads this year. I especially appreciated the main character in this book, who was extremely outgoing and bold.

Always Never Yours follows Megan Harper, who inadvertently lands the lead role in her school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. However, Megan more identifies with Rosaline, as she always dates guys right before they find their true loves.

What activity do you love to do in the summer?

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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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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Tier Ranking Series that I’ve Finished

Tier ranking posts and Youtube videos have been circulating around for awhile now, so I thought I would give it a shot at ranking all the series that I’ve finished. Tier ranking is where you take a certain category, like series you’ve finished, and rank them into different levels. I first saw tier-ranking books on Hannah at Clockwork Reads channel (see here), although tier-ranking has been popular on various social media sites before this video.

Disclaimer: Protect Your Privacy

Just as a note, I watched Peyton Reads video (see here) where she tier-ranked books by Sarah J. Maas and she gave some advice that I thought was worth sharing. While reading some fine print of tier ranking websites when in the process of creating an account, which makes you connect the website to your Twitter, she saw some questionable permissions, like blocking people that follow you or changing your Twitter settings. This is a little bit of a red flag, as Peyton noted, that they could go into your account and mess with settings completely unrelated to the purpose of the website.

While Peyton made a different Twitter to use to make an account, I just decided to make my own tier-ranking system using a document on my computer. If you want to participate in this trend, but think those permissions are a little fishy, I would recommend opting for the strategy that Peyton Reads used or making your own system using a program on your computer.

The Series

With those disclaimers out of the way, let’s move onto the ranking! After I scoured my read list on Goodreads, I discovered that I finished the following series:

What counts as a series?

I used the following criteria to determine whether or not I finished a series:

  • It can be a “typical” series or a companion series. A typical series may follow the same character or the same group of characters for all of the books in the series. Also, I will count companion series, where the books may follow a different character than in the first book, but also includes characters from the first book. I only counted companion series that were listed as series on Goodreads. In all, I have 26 different series that I will be sorting into my tiers.
  • It can be an ongoing series. This means, it is a series where I have read all of the current books in the main series. However, additional books may be added later on by the author. For example, the main series in A Court of Thorns and Roses is finished, but several books following different characters will be added on in the future. This means that when this series appears on the list, it only applies to the main trilogy that has currently been released.
  • It can be a duology. I’m not sure if duologies technically count as series. However, I haven’t read enough duologies to rank them aside from series, so they will be counted in this list.

How will I rank the series?

There are six tiers that I will use to rank the series that I’ve finished. Here’s my criteria for each tier:

  • All-Time Favorites: I thought about these books for a long time after reading them. I probably recommended these books to everyone I know and was crushed when they didn’t love them as much as I did.
  • Like, but not Love: These series were enjoyable or well-written, but there is just something that holds me back from making them an all-time favorite.
  • Fun, While it Lasted: These series may not be the most well written, however, I had a great time reading them. I may not pick up and reread them in the near future, but I will always have fond memories of these books.
  • Average: I don’t have strong feelings for this series either way. There are probably aspects that I really love about this series and others that I don’t really like (but don’t hate) either.
  • Why?: Maybe I liked the first book in this series, but it went downhill from there. As I continued this series, I kept asking, “Why?” in my head after certain plot points.
  • Did I Really Read This?: This is a series that I read. Whether it was a long time ago or it just didn’t capture my attention, there is little that I remember about this series outside the synopsis.

The Rankings

  • The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg (Fun While It Lasted)

I read The Lonely Hearts Club way back in high school. I read the first book in this series so many times that the spine looked dreadful and I could practically recite several sections. That being said, the second book was only okay. While I enjoyed reading about the same characters, it just wasn’t the same experience as the first book. Overall the books in this series were fun, especially for when I was in high school.

The Lonely Hearts Club follows Penny Lane Bloom who creates a pact with a few other girls in her grade to not date after her boyfriend cheats on her.

  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (Average)

There are so many books in this series and many of them are average. While I love The Princess Diaries movies, the book don’t have the same charm. These books were easy to read back then, but I found some of the books unnecessary. Also, the last book which was released years after the original, was only okay.

The Princess Diaries follows Mia Thermopolis, a geeky girl who discovers that she is the heir to Genovia.

  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (Did I Really Read This?)

I read this duology WAY back in high school. While I remember a few minor details, I can’t remember much of the story besides what is on the synopsis. I remember that these books were okay, but obviously that wasn’t enough for me to remember them.

13 Little Blue Envelopes follows Ginny who follows envelopes placed around Europe by her aunt who recently passed away.

  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski (All-Time Favorites)

I was so invested in this series when I read it near the beginning of my book blog. I wasn’t a huge fan of fantasy books at the time, so it was a big deal that I committed to this series and finished. To this day, I think the final book, The Winner’s Crime has some of the best war strategy that I’ve seen included in a young adult series.

The Winner’s Curse follows Kestrel, the daughter of a general, who is given two options: marry or join the army. Kestrel’s musical aspirations strikes a bond between her and a slave who plans to overthrow Kestrel’s father.

  • Divergent by Veronica Roth (Why?)

I actually loved the first Divergent book when I read it shortly after I finished The Hunger Games. The series, however, went downhill quickly for me in the second book. Insurgent was slow and confusing for me. And don’t even get me started on Allegiant. I found myself constantly asking, “Why?” to everything that was happening in the second and third books because they made no sense to me.

Divergent follows Tris Prior who must leave her family and choose one of the five factions in her world, each that abides by a different ideology.

  • Fraternize by Rachel Van Dyken (Did I Really Read This?)

This is a two book companion series that I picked up as a Kindle Daily deal. I could tell you that it centered around cheerleaders and football players but not much else. I do remember that I found these books only to be average.

Fraternize, the first book in the series, follows Emerson who finally made a professional cheerleading squad and is the only plus-size cheerleader on the team.

  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (Fun While it Lasted)

The Kiss Quotient is a companion series by Helen Hoang. For me, the first book was only average, but I really enjoyed the second book, The Bride Test. These books are definitely fun contemporary adult books, so it fits best in the fun while it lasted tier.

The Kiss Quotient was pitched as a gender-swapped Pretty Woman and also features a main character with autism. There is also a character with autism in The Bride Test and both are extremely well done as this is an own voices story.

  • Letters to the List by Brigid Kemmerer (Like, but not Love)

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Letters to the Lost because I usually steer clear of drama-heavy contemporaries. I especially loved the second book in this companion series, More Than We Can Tell, which has Rev who is an incredibly well fleshed out character. While I do like this series, it is not one of my all-time favorites.

Letters to the Lost follows Juliet after someone responds to a letter that she left at her mother’s grace.

  • Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West (Why?)

I actually loved Love, Life, and the List… I just wish it was a stand alone rather than the first book in a contemporary series. I use series loosely with the books in “series” because they have less and less of a connection as the series goes on and I think each book would have been much stronger as a stand alone. This goes in the “Why?” tier because “Why are we forcing so many contemporary companion novels in young adult and adult fiction?”

While each book in this companion series has a vastly different plot, Love, Life, and the List follows Abby who creates a list of experiences that she wants to have in order to give her art more heart along with her best friend, Cooper, who she not-so-secretly loves.

  • Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer (Why?)
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Like, but not Love)

When I read Six of Crows, I really enjoyed it. The books in this duology have many twists and turns as well as my favorite trope, a ragtag teams of sort of heroes. While I liked this book, I can’t say that I became as invested in it as some of my all-time favorites.

Six of Crows follows a group of six outcasts who try to pull off a large heist in a fantasy world.

  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (Average)

The When Dimple Met Rishi series has been hit or miss for me. I really liked There’s something About Sweetie, but I found When Dimple Met Rishi average, and wasn’t as into 10 Things I Hate About Pinky. While I like the concepts of Sandhya Menon’s books, the execution isn’t always there for me.

When Dimple Met Rishi companions follows three Indian-American teens either in the same friend group or family. When Dimple Met Rishi follows Dimple who goes to a coding camp where she meets Rishi, who her parents want her to marry. There’s Something About Sweetie follows Sweetie, an athletic girl who faces scrutiny from her mother because she is plus-size. 10 Things I Hate About Pinky follows Pinky, an outspoken teenager who tries to please her parents by fake-dating a guy that she can’t stand.

  • The Folk of the Air by Holly Black (All-Time Favorites)

This is a series that I find myself constantly recommending to other people. The writing style in this book is amazing and each time I read a book in this series, I couldn’t put it down. If you like faeries, this is definitely a series that you need to check out.

The Folk of the Air series follows Jude, a human forced to live in a world of faeries after her parents are murdered. Although Jude despises the faeries, and the power that they hold over her, she will do anything to gain power in their courts.

  • Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg (Average)

Shelby Holmes is a middle grade mystery series. While both books are solid in terms of writing style and character development, sometimes the mystery aspect of the stories frustrated me, for either being too repetitive or being too difficult to solve based on the information given.

Shelby Holmes follows John Watson after her moves into a new neighborhood where he befriends aspiring sleuth Shelby Holmes and they solve mysteries together.

  • Love & Gelato (Average)

Like with many of the other series in this round, the Love & Gelato companion series is average. While I love the descriptions of scenery in these books, I’m always looking for a little more in terms of plot. Additionally, I don’t think these books even need to be a companion series.

Love & Gelato and Love & Luck follow two different girls (one who goes to Italy, the other to Ireland) and discover more about their families and themselves.

  • The Selection by Kiera Cass (Fun While It Lasted)

The Selection seems to be one of those series that a lot of people admit isn’t technically well-written, but it is still very fun to read. As someone who is a fan of the Bachelor franchise, this book was basically made for me because it has all of the ridiculous drama of the show with a loose dystopian element.

The Selection follows America Singer, a poor girl who is selected to compete for the prince’s heart. This book is currently in development to become a Netflix series.

  • Hundred Oaks by Miranda Kenneally (Average)

The Hundred Oaks series is hit-or-miss for me. While there are some books in this series that I absolutely love and other that I don’t like at all. As a result, that balances out to be average. Overall, these books are apart of fun and easy companion series to read.

The Hundred Oaks series follows students who live in the Hundred Oaks area, often times involved with a competitive sport. For example, Catching Jordan follows Jordan, the female quarterback for her school’s football team who must compete for her spot when a male quarterback moves into town.

  • The Superlatives by Jennifer Echols (Why?)

I bought The Superlatives series on a whim at Half Prince books because you could get the whole companion series for around $6. Unfortunately for me, these books were not my cup of tea, with the exception of the last book, Most Likely to Succeed, which was only average for me. Overall, this book series is riddled with unlikeable characters doing many, many unlikeable things. That is why it ended in my “Why?” category–many times while reading these books, I was asking myself that question about what was going on.

The Superlatives follows the dramatic aftermath when school superlatives are released for the senior class at a high school.

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses (All-Time Favorites)

If I read these books again, I’m not sure if I would love them as much as the first time around because I would probably look at them a little more critically. That being said, when I read this series for the first time, I was completely invested even in the most ridiculous parts (which there are many). I have a lot of nostalgia for this series which is why it made it’s way to to my all-time favorites.

A Court of Thorns and Roses follows Feyre Archeron, who kills a faerie disguised as a wolf. She is forced to go live in the faerie kingdom with the faerie’s master where dark secrets threaten to emerge.

  • Lewis Creek by Michelle Smith (Did I Really Read This?)
  • The Hunger Games (All-Time Favorites)

For The Hunger Games, I will just be referring to the original trilogy. Of course, this series is an all-time favorite. I don’t think I ever have been or will be invested in a trilogy like I was invested in The Hunger Games. Some people loved Twilight, some people loved Harry Potter, but I was always a Hunger Games girl. Was the last book not that great? Yes. But will I always have nostalgia for this series? Absolutely.

The Hunger Games follows Katniss Everdeen who volunteers to take her sister’s place in a televised fight-to-the-death.

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (Like, but not Love)

I love To All the Boy I’ve Loved Before, but I didn’t get an invested in this series as I did my all-time favorites. However, I did like this book enough to visit the sandwich shop mentioned in the third book when I went on vacation to Williamsburg a few years ago!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows Lara Jean, who writes a love letter for each boy she has a crush on, after the letters are mailed out.

  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Fun While it Lasted)

The Anna and the French Kiss companion series is definitely a fun while it lasted series. Looking back, a lot of people see how problematic some of these stories were. However, when I was the same age as the characters in these books, I was completely hooked on this series, specifically with Lola and the Boy Next Door.

Anna and the French Kiss, the first book in this companion series, follows Anna who is shipped off to a boarding school in France.

  • Summer by Jenny Han (Fun While It Lasted)

The Summer trilogy is another fun while it lasted series. This series reads like a CW show. It has ridiculous drama and all the tropes that you hoped for at the time it was released. That being said, it’s a fun and easy series to speed through during summertime.

The Summer series by Jenny Han follows Belly during her summers at a beach house where she finds herself caught in a love triangle between two brothers that she grew up with.

  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (All-Time Favorites)

Like with the other series in my all-time favorites, I couldn’t stop thinking about this series after I read it and I recommended it everyone that I knew. I still love the characters in this series and I know if I read these books again, I would love them just as much.

The Lunar Chronicles follows Cinder, who is volunteered by her stepmother to take part in trials to solve a deadly plague. However, when Cinder starts to interact with the country’s prince, she uncovers some dark secrets about her past.

  • Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins (Why?)

It is so sad for me to place Rebel Belle in this category. But, I found myself asking “Why?” to a lot of the story after the first book. The first book in this series was strong for me, but it quickly went downhill. The last book was the worst, containing little plot, and the plot it did was riddled with tropes and plot twists that I don’t like.

Rebel Belle follows Harper, a Southern belle, who accidentally becomes a Paladin and must protect her worst enemy.

How would you rank series that you’ve read?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday Turns 10! (Favorite Books that I Read from 2011-2020)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is a freebie to celebrate Top Ten Tuesday’s ten year anniversary! I’ve been doing Top Ten Tuesday since I started my own blog, so it is cool to celebrate something that I’ve been with for so long.

For my post, I decided to list some of my favorite books from the past ten years. These dates do not necessarily reflect when the book was published, but when I read that particular book. Here are my choices:

  • 2011: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)

I read Lola and the Boy Next Door multiple times a year whenever I was in high school. I loved this book so much that I was so upset when I misplaced it that I went out and bought another copy, which I’ve never done before. I think one of the reasons that I loved this book was because of Cricket, the love interest. At the time in YA, very moody and brooding bad boys were the most prominent love interests, and Cricket is the complete opposite of that type of character.

  • 2012: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Bittersweet

Bittersweet was a very timely book for me, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. At the time, I was really getting into hockey (Let’s go Pens!), so it was fun to read about a sport that I was growing to love from an author that I already loved. This book also featured cupcake baking which was huge at the time, and since I avidly watched DC Cupcakes, that aspect of the story was also right up my alley.

  • 2013: Re-Reads of Sarah Dessen
The Truth About Forever

When I can’t remember a particular book that stood out to me at the end of my high school career, I can remember a particular author. I started reading Sarah Dessen’s books in middle school, but every year, I checked out each one of her books again. This is the year when I graduated high school and headed off for college, which made The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (which was released in 2013) a very relevant read to me. In fact, many of Sarah Dessen’s books feature girls during the summer after high school.

  • 2014: 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)

When I read To All the Boys I Loved Before, I didn’t realize how big it would become. I loved Lara Jean’s character because, at the time, dystopian/fantasy books with the “strong female character trope” dominated the YA market, and while I liked those characters, I couldn’t necessarily relate to them. Meanwhile, Lara Jean was more girly and interested in the same activities as me. Little did I know back then, but I would eventually see this book turned to a movie and do a book merchandise haul for this series.

  • 2015: Re-Reads of Sarah Dessen
Along for the Ride

In 2015, I was in the middle of college and so focused on school that I did very little reading for fun. Little did I know at the end of this year, I would recommit to reading and make my book blog on WordPress, and at the beginning of 2016, I would start posting on it. During this time, when I was reading for fun, I was mostly re-reading some of my favorite books from high school.

  • 2016: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
The Unexpected Everything

This year was a great reading year for me. I only expected to read around 25 books, which I considered a stretch, but I ended up reading 66 books. One of my favorite books from this year was The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson. I remember actually going to Target and buying this book, and then going straight home to read it. I hadn’t done this in a long time and it felt great to be reading books for fun more consistently again.

  • 2017: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

This year was a huge year for me. In 2017, I graduated college and I read the most books that I had ever read in a year (107 books!). This is the year I really hit blogging hard and discovered a lot of new books that I really enjoyed. I even branched out and tried some genres that I typically didn’t read, like fantasy, which led me to the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. A Court of Mist and Fury is a huge book, but I really enjoyed it from start to finish. If you asked Brittany in 2013 if she ever thought she would read a book like this, she would probably say, “No.” I’m glad that in the past ten years, I have expanded my reading outside of contemporary, even though that still is my favorite genre.

  • 2018: Love, List, and the List by Kasie West
Love, Life, and the List (Love, Life, and the List, #1)

I had read a few Kasie West books in years before this, but I absolutely loved Love, Life, and the List and it still remains one of my favorite books by this author. I don’t usually sit and finish a book in one sitting anymore, but I didn’t put this one down until I finished it.

  • 2019: The Wicked King by Holly Black
The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)

Another fantasy book! The Wicked King is one of the most solid sequels that I have ever read. I remember as I read this that I appreciated Holly Black’s writing style so much, which isn’t something that I’ve necessarily focused on in the past. I remember just clicking on words in my Kindle to read the definitions because she picked such strong, descriptive words and I just wanted to know everything about the way she phrased certain sentences.

  • 2020: The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
The Rest of the Story

This year isn’t over yet, but one of my five star reads of the year so far is The Rest of the Story. I bought this book when it was released, but I never got around to it. Recently, I decided to pick it up and I wasn’t disappointed. It has so many of the elements that I enjoyed from books I read by this author in high school, which I hadn’t really seen in Dessen’s last few books. I related to the main character Saylor and loved the characters in this book so much that I didn’t want it to end.

What are some of your favorite books that you’ve read over the past ten years?

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