Monday, January 20, 2020

Beat the Backlist 2020 Reading Challenge

Welcome to the detail and progress page for the 2020 Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge that I'm participating in this year 

I will list each book as I read it, along with the date read and the link for my review. Click the logo above to join the challenge yourself!

1. The First Mistake by Sandie Jones | Read: Jan. 19 | (REVIEW HERE)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

REVIEW: A Curse So Dark & Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Retelling
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Acquired: Purchased for my collection
Goodreads: ADD

Fall in love, break the curse.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she's pulled into a magical world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what's at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Logic dictates that it should be easier to write a review for a book that you adored. That the words needed should flow forth from the very veins of your heart. The same heart that was captured and held and squeezed for literally every emotion you possess. But it's quite the opposite for me, and for many of you, I'm sure. I need to ensure that the words I use aren't simple words. I need to use words that will clearly convey how immediately you need to have A Curse So Dark and Lonely in your hands.

Harper was only trying to help a distressed stranger on the streets of DC, but success is futile as she is instead magically transported to the fantasy-land of Emberfall, where a cursed Prince is on a mission to reverse his unfortunate predicament. Prince Rhen has been reliving the 18th year of his life for more than 300 seasons, and with no family left alive, the only person he shares his misery (and his curse) with is his commander, Grey. Harper's accidental arrival in Emberball is met with frustration and confusion, which soon gives way to something Prince Rhen never thought he'd feel again: hope. Is the curse finally going to be broken? And if it is, will it be enough to save them all?

Intensely popular reads in the book community never fail to make me weary. Will I love it as much? Is the hype worth it? Let me be the millionth person to tell you, IT WAS WORTH IT. I have not been this invested and in awe of a YA fantasy book/series in a very, very long time. I went into it expecting to be entertained, but what I could have never predicted was writing that was purposeful and smart; a representation of a physical disability that was respectful and overwhelmingly empowering. Kemmerer did such a brave and interesting thing by bringing Harper's cerebral palsy into a fantasy world where this condition was unheard of and had the potential to be condemned, or scorned. But how she allowed the secondary characters to view it, and then subsequently how she allowed Harper to explain it was fiercely admirable. Her character work on a whole was satisfyingly layered and complex. No two sounded the same; I could have identified each one with my eyes closed and just their voices to guide me. The world of Emberfall was all-consuming and perfectly introduced, leaving just the right amount of room for more exploration in further installments. 

I would have been deeply content in my little beating heart if Kemmerer just ended A Curse So Dark and Lonely as a standalone before the last chapter, but OH how happy I am that she didn't. I literally cannot wait to get the next book in my hands. I may or may not have already ordered it as I type this (spoiler: I did).

Read if you like:

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
fairytale retellings  

Key themes: 
courage, strength, trust, physical disability, friendship


credit: (author page)

Brigid Kemmerer is the New York Times bestselling author of dark and alluring Young Adult novels like A Curse So Dark and Lonely, More Than We Can Tell, and Letters to the Lost (Bloomsbury), as well as paranormal YA stories like The Elemental Series and Thicker Than Water (Kensington). A full time writer, Brigid lives in the Baltimore area with her husband, her boys, her dog, and her cat. When she’s not writing or being a mommy, you can usually find her with her hands wrapped around a barbell.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Nerd Daily 2020 Reading Challenge

Welcome to the detail and progress page for the 2020 The Nerd Daily Reading Challenge that I'm participating in this year! 

I will list each prompt, and then the book I read that fulfilled that prompt. I will also leave links to the reviews I write for each book. Click on the image above if you would like to participate in this reading challenge yourself!

  1. Author starting with "A" - 
  2. Female author - 
  3. Purchased on holidays - 
  4. 2020 film adaptation - 
  5. Fantasy or sci-if - 
  6. Recommended by us - 
  7. Under 200 pages - 
  8. Six word title - 
  9. Written by two authors - 
10. Mystery/thriller - 
11. Green cover - 
12. Recommended by a friend - 
13. Set in the past - 
14. 2019 Goodreads choice winner - 
15. A book you never finished - 
16. Protagonist starting with "H" - 
17. Reread - 
18. Non-fiction - 
19. Released in February -  
20. Part of a duology - 
21. New York Times bestseller - 
22. Recommended by family - 
23. Over 500 pages - 
24. An award-winning book -
25. Orange cover - 
26. Bookstore recommended - 
27. A number in the title - 
28. An audiobook - 
29. Debut author - 
30. Inspired by mythology/folklore - 
31. A retelling - 
32. One word title - 
33. Bought based on a cover - 
34. Author starting with an "M" - 
35. Start a new series - 
36. A book released in 2019 - 
37. Male author - 
38. 2020 TV adaption - 
39. A book gifted to you - 
40. Author with hyphenated name - 
41. Released in September - 
42. Purchased years ago - 
43. A standalone - 
44. Author with the same initials - 
45. Told from 2 perspectives - 
46. Romance or thriller - 
47. A protagonist starting with an "S" - 
48. Two word title - 
49. Set in a foreign country - 
50. Animal featured on the cover - 
51. Written by your favourite author - 
52. Based or inspired by a true story - 

POPSUGAR 2020 Reading Challenge

Welcome to the detail and progress page for the 2020 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge that I'm participating in this year! 

I will list each prompt, and then the book I read that fulfilled that prompt. I will also leave links to the reviews I write for each book. Click on the image above if you would like to participate in this reading challenge yourself!

☐ A book that's published in 2020 - 
☐ A book by a trans or nonbinary author - 
☐ A book with a great first line - 
☐ A book about a book club - 
☐ A book set in the city that has hosted the Olympics - 
☐ A bildungsroman - 
☐ The first book you touch on a shelf with your eyes closed -  
☐ A book with an upside-down image on the cover - 
☐ A book with a map - 
☐ A book recommended by your fav. blog, vlog, podcast or online book club - 
☐ An anthology - 
☐ A book that passed the Bechdel test - 
☐ A book with the same title as a movie or TV show but is unrelated - 
☐ A book by an author with flora/fauna in name - 
☐ A book published the month of your birthday - 
☐ A book about or by a woman in STEM - 
☐ A book that won an award in 2019 - 
☐ A book on a subject you know nothing about - 
☐ A book with only words on cover, no imgs - 
☐ A book with a pun in the title - 
☐ A book featuring one of the 7 deadly sins - 
☐ A book with a robot/cyborg/AI - 
☐ A book with a bird on cover - 
☐ A fiction/nonfiction book abt world leader - 
☐ A book with gold, silver, or bronze in title - 
☐ A book by a WOC - 
☐ A book with at least 4-star rating on Goodreads - 
☐ A book you meant to read in 2019 - 
☐ A book about or involving social media - 
☐ A book that has a book on the cover - 
☐ A medical thriller - 
☐ A book with a made-up language - 
☐ A book set in a country starting with "C" - 
☐ A book you picked because title caught your attention - 
☐ A book with a three-word title - 
☐ A book with a pink cover - 
☐ A Western - 
☐ A book by or about a journalist - 
☐ Read a banned book during Banned Books Week 
☐ Your favourite prompt from a past POPSUGAR challenge - 

Bonus (10) prompts:

☐ A book written by an author in their 20s - 
☐ A book with "20"/"twenty" in title - 
☐ A book with character with vision impairment/enhancement - 
☐ A book set in Japan, host of 2020 Olympics - 
☐ A book set in the 1920s - 
☐ A book by an author with 20+ books - 
☐ A book with more than 20 letters in title - 
☐ A book published in 20th century - 
☐ A book with series with 20+ books - 
☐ A book with main character in 20s - 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

REVIEW: Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

Title: Lucky Caller
Author: Emma Mills
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release Date: January 14, 2020
Acquired: Edelweiss Approved
Goodreads: ADD

With the warmth, wit, intimate friendships, and heart-melting romance she brings to all her books, Emma Mills crafts a story about believing in yourself, owning your mistakes, and trusting in human connection in Lucky Caller.

When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.

The members of Nina's haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she'd hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.

The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina's family is on the brink of some major upheaval.

Everything feels like it's spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?

I'm trying to figure out if my first delve into Emma Mills' work should have been with her latest book. The year 2019 had me hearing, reading and seeing literally nothing but shining praise for her backlist titles, so much so, that I added a couple of them to a Black Friday book purchase in anticipation of checking them out. But I didn't, and I chose to read this one first, and I'm sad to admit that there was a lot I didn't like about it, but there were definitely aspects that warmed the very depths of my winter-affected soul.

Lucky Caller opens as a major family moment for Nina is interrupted, and we are immediately introduced to the second main character, Jamie, with whom Nina has a seemingly tension-filled history. Skip to the first days back at school, where both Nina and Jamie (uh-oh) are in a radio broadcasting class together. Their semester project is to form a team of four, come up with a radio show name, and start broadcasting live shows for the student body, and the public, from the school's in-house studio. Fate would have it that Nina and Jamie end up in the same group (duh), along with Sasha (volleyball team member), and Joydeep (class goof). Between her home life, her awkward relationship with Jamie, and the radio show, Nina is overwhelmed, to say the least. But everything will work out without her having to do anything to fix it, right?

This was a super quick read, with very surface-level dilemmas. What I appreciated more than I can ever thank Mills for was her inclusion of different ethnicities with her characters. Sasha was a strong black female and Joydeep (I love, LOVE that she gave him an East Indian name) was reminiscent of so many of the boys I remember from my own high school, where it was predominately populated by people of colour. It was these secondary characters that kept me reading, and most importantly, laughing! The dialogue was witty and the comedic bits had near-perfect timing. I wish I could say that these sentiments extended to the main characters but I, unfortunately, found Nina to be insufferable, and Jamie way too perfect. At times I had to remind myself that Nina was a senior, she read like a much younger and childish teen.

The heartwarming bits came at the end, and I'll admit that I smiled the whole way through. It was here that I found it easy to imagine why others have found a favourite in Mills' backlist work, and I'll hopefully be joining that camp soon.

Read if you like:

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han  
10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Sarah Dessen
Morgan Maston
Rainbow Rowell

Key themes: 
family, friendship, love


credit: (author page)

Emma Mills is the author of First & Then, This Adventure Ends, Foolish Hearts, Famous in a Small Town, and Lucky Caller. She lives in St. Louis, and has recently completed a Ph.D. in cell biology. 


Thursday, January 2, 2020

January 2020: To Be Read

I'm already so gosh darn proud of myself this year, and it's only been 2 days.  I prepped real hard pre-January, and because of that, I'm on track to finish TWO books in this first week. I also poured my entire creative soul into a reading bullet journal this year, and I can't wait to show you all the finished beginning pages *happy sigh.

I'm also super excited to announce that I will be bringing back GIVEAWAYS to this blog! I'm going big this year guys, going big but also staying very much snug and warm and comfy at home. Going big FROM home! Haaa. 

Keep an eye on my blog at the end of the month for the January giveaway announcement!