Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Foodie Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is...

Ten Book Featuring Foodies!

I have read many books, which featured food, and made me hungry, but these books didn't only feature food, but also featured characters who were foodies and prepared food.

North of Happy
Adi Alsaid
Series: n/a
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Carlos was supposed to join the family business, but after his brother's murder, he set out to chase his dream of being a chef. Each chapter in this book starts with a recipe, and there is a LOT of cooking. I really wished I was there to taste some of the food described in this book.

Sarah Ockler
Series: n/a
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Hudson was a once figure skater and the cupcake queen. She would create these amazing cupcakes for her family's diner, and each one was described at the beginning of the chapter. Cupcakes are my favorite, so I really loved reading about all her creations.

Kids Like Us
Hilary Reyl
Series: n/a
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

Martin loved cooking, as it was a way he connected to his father. With his father out of the picture, he found great comfort in preparing the dishes he once made along side his father. He cooked both savory and sweet with inspiration from Julia Child, and it all sounds mouthwatering.

Artificial Sweethearts
Julie Hammerle
Series: North Pole, Minnesota,
Publisher: Entangled: Crush

Tinka was an budding baker, and she would bake when she was stressed or trying to atone for some of her actions. I loved seeing what she would whip up, but totally got the feels when she recreated a dessert that was very special to Sam, as it reminded him of his mom.

Kissing Max Holden
Katy Upperman
Series: n/a
Publisher: Swoon Reads

Jill aspired to attend a culinary school, and was always honing her skills in this book. Girl baked A LOT, but food also served to sooth the characters and as a way for them to bond.

Who's That Girl
Blair Thornburgh
Series: n/a
Publisher: HarperTeen

This group of teens were holding weekly bake sales in order to raise money for their alternative prom. Therefore, we got to spend quite a bit of time in Zach's kitchen as he created sweet confections for the sales. These scenes not only let us observe his kitchen skills, they were also where Nattie and Zach had some real heart to hearts.

Wicked Like a Wildfire
Lana Popović
Series: Hibiscus Daughter, #1
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

This book features a magical family bakery, and Popović describes the treats so vividly. These are not your normal, everyday baked items either. They were high-end and unique and sounded ah-mazing.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before
Jenny Han
Series: To All The Boys I've Loved Before, #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books

Lara Jean was always baking something up for us in these books. She knew the way to anyone's heart was through their stomach, and she obliged with cakes and cookies and lots of sweet treats.

The Art of Lainey
Paula Stokes
Series: The Art of Lainey, #1
Publisher: HarperTeen

Micah was employed by Lainey's family as a cook, but he aspired to be a pastry chef. Between Micah's dreams and many scenes taking place in a restaurant, we heard about quite a bit of food.

What Happened to Goodbye
Sarah Dessen
Series: n/a
Publisher: Penguin

McLean's father traveled around the country trying to save failing restaurants. Therefore, a large portion of this story takes place in the restaurant discussing among many things, the food prepared there.

Do you have a favorite foodie book?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: Warcross - Marie Lu

Marie Lu
Series: Warcross, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I knew pretty much nothing about Warcross going into it, except that I thought it kind of sounded like a similar concept to the movie Summer Wars (which I highly recommend watching, just saying) and that Marie Lu wrote it (so basically I had to read it). Just like Summer Wars, I absolutely loved Warcross!

Warcross follows Emika Chen, a hacker from New York who works as a bounty hunter to try and make ends meet. When she gets recruited by Hideo Tanaka, the inventor of Warcross, she is thrown into the Warcross championship tournament as a spy, uncovering secrets she never would have expected.

I absolutely LOVED the characters in Warcross! Emi is an absolutely brilliant character, and I think I just really enjoy hacker characters in general because it's so cool!!! She made me think of Mr. Robot. Emi is a strong and crafty heroine with a lot of heart, and she went through a lot of personal growth, figuring out what was important to her, throughout the story.

While the other characters were not as prominent until the end, I thought her teammates were really interesting and I'm looking forward to reading more about them in the next installment. Hammie, in particular, was awesome (I have a bias toward strong female characters). Since Emi is more of a loner type of character, there wasn't a lot of friendship built with these characters, but I have faith that there will be more in the next book!

The romance in this book was so swoony and sweet. I enjoyed that even though there was an element of instant connection, it took a while for the characters to break down the walls they built around themselves before letting each other in. Marie Lu, as always, did an incredible job making me feel all the feels about this relationship.

In terms of the world building, this world is so cool!!! It's extremely well thought out and fabulously executed. Marie Lu was able to built a world similar to ours but fully enhanced by technology and virtual reality. It in no way felt forced, and it was so well described that I felt like I was using the technology. I even nerded out a little bit at the end with talks of algorithms because it reminded me of some of the machine learning I'll be doing soon. #nerdlife.

Overall, Warcross was a thrilling first installment to this new series. Marie Lu, once again, has delivered with a book that pulled me in and kept me reading until the end. Even though I thought this was a standalone until I got to the end (that was a tough blow), I am so excited to see where this book goes after the shocking end. It's not a cliffhanger, but it definitely left me craving more.

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced reading copy!

What's your favorite video game?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sundays with Sam - The Sunday Post

Sundays with Sam is a combination of Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

My Week in Review

I am writing this post from North Carolina, and very happy to be spending time with my lovely daughter. She has been showing me all the work she has been producing here at the Institute (sounds a little dystopian, eh?), and it's quite impressive. Funny airline security story. Being from the tristate area, we take our bagels seriously. I was tasked to bring some with me for this visit, but since I was only coming for the weekend, I have to squeeze them in my carry on. Sure enough, I was pulled from the TSA line, and the bagels were tested for gunpowder residue. I asked, and they advised that I should NOT individually wrap each bagel, but rather, leave them loose in the bag. That's your travel tip for today.

And I have a fun reading story too. One of the women I work, who's mother is a librarian, was looking through some books and recognized When Dimple Met Rishi as one I gushed over, so she read it, and she loved it, and she told her mother to read it. When we were talking about it, we both looked sort of like this:

This never happens to me IRL, so I was really excited.

Some things that delighted me on the internet this week:
The cover reveal for Sandhya Menon's next book!!! You can read the first chapter here.

The Simon movie is getting closer, and this is one I really want to see, because that book was near perfection.

And we had the cover reveal for the last book in the Ruined series, and I am dying to see how it all ends.

On the Blog:

The trend for me is, when it rains, it pours. A bunch of approvals I had given up on came through, and I was really excited about them, but I think my Can't-Wait Wednesday has some sort of magic mojo, because I post it, and BOOM! Approval.



What I Read Last Week

I read a lot of romance last week, but I did get a few different types of books in there too, so I am proud of myself. My best read was Warcross. The hype is real.

  • The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott (audio): I loved the MCs in this book. They were so wounded, and I was glad they were able to find some solace in each other. There were some really lovely developments that I didn't expect, and Scott knows how to give me an epilogue I will love. 
  • Kids Like Us by Hilary Reyl: A beautiful coming of age story through the eyes of an neurodiverse teen. I learned so much from this book, but also felt a whole lot of feels. 
  • The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook: My mood with the general social climate is not great, so the politicizing in the book rubbed me the wrong way, but it was a good mystery-thriller, and although I saw one of the twists coming, it still was a good reveal. However, I did think the ending was weak. 
  • Warcross by Marie Lu: The story, the characters, the world -- I loved it all! 
  • All He Wants for Christmas by Jill Shalvis: A short and sweet romance, where a big hearted hero is able to win the reluctant heroine. ★ 1/2
  • Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis: I loved Sean's story. It was my favorite kind - second chance romance, and I have always known there was more to Sean than met the eye. This one left me really happy. 
  • Seeing Double by Tamra Baumann: A second chance romance with a murder plot and a paranormal twist. Sometimes I felt like Baumann was trying to get too much into this story, but when she focused on Michael and Dani, I forgot all those feelings, because I loved the couple so much. ★ 1/2
What I Am Currently Reading

I started Everything Must Go this morning, and so far, I am enjoying it. It is told through blog posts, diary entries, and letters, which is a format I enjoy, plus, the whole alternative school setting is quite amusing. The Final Score is the 12th (!!) book in this series, and I love that Burton is still able to find some connections. This one is special, in that the hero was a teen in the first book, and now he is taking over his father quarterback position in the NFL. Also, this is another merging of some Play-by-Play families, which I always enjoy.

What I Plan to Read

How was your week?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Discussion: I Goodreads, Do You Goodreads?

As I go from blog to blog, I see discussion threads that catch my eye. One thing I have seen is the love/hate relationship some bloggers appear to have with Goodreads.

Well, I am here to say, I am a Goodreads kinda girl. Why, you ask?
  1. I have discovered more books via Goodreads than any blog. Let me explain, as I am guilty of the things I am going to tell you. I find that most blogs tend to feature the same books, the hyped books. They also tend to feature newer or unreleased books. On Goodreads, I will see reviews on my feed for older books or less popular books, and I have discovered some real gems that way. 
  2. The giveaways are so easy to enter on Goodreads. If a book on my TBR has an associated giveaway, I get a notification, and I can enter the giveaway in three easy clicks. **I have actually won some books too, which is a plus. Some books I won:

  3. I find it easier to have a back and forth conversation with people about a book on Goodreads. When you comment on a blog, you have so many different places to check for responses. Some send emails, some don't, but with Goodreads, I get a little notification, and can continue the discussion. 
  4. Every time I finish a book, Goodreads makes a big deal and sends me an email. It's good for my ego. 
  5. They have improved the format to match that of other popular social networking sites, and I like it. Now, if they will give us a "like" option on replies.... 
  6. You can find book deals right there on the site based on your various shelves. It helps me not miss a deal. 
  7. You can get a quick picture of your reading via the "stats" option. 

Now it's your turn!

Do you Goodreads? Why or why not? 
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

In a Nutshell Reviews

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights.

Lauren Oliver
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, SciFi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Like its ambitious companion novel, Replica, this far-reaching novel by powerhouse bestselling author Lauren Oliver digs deep into questions of how to be a human being in a world where humanity cannot be taken for granted.

In the world outside the Haven Institute, Lyra and Caelum are finding it hard to be human—and neither of them knows where they belong or who they can trust. When Caelum leaves without warning to pursue the dream of a place he belongs, Lyra follows him, convinced that together they will hunt down a cure for the illness that’s slowly consuming her mind. But what they uncover is a shocking connection to their past—even as their future seems in danger of collapsing.

After discovering the uncomfortable truth about her connection to the Haven Institute, Gemma struggles to return to her normal life. But when she learns that her controlling and powerful father has new plans for Lyra and Caelum, Gemma and her boyfriend, Pete, leave in the middle of the night to warn them of the danger they face.When an untimely accident derails them, they are mistaken for the escaped replicas and seized by strangers hired to capture them. The Haven Institute wasn’t destroyed after all, and now Gemma is the one behind the walls.

Lyra’s and Gemma’s stories can be read separately—with either story first—or in alternating chapters, but no matter which way you turn the book, the two distinct stories combine into one breathtaking experience for both heroines and readers alike.
  • Pro: Action packed
  • Pro: We learn all the whys and whats regarding Haven
  • Con: There was a little bit of politics thrown in, and I am so over everything being politicized
  • Pro: The exploration of what defines our humanity was very interesting
  • Pro: I was really interested in the bioethical discussions that took place
  • Pro: I was pleasantly surprised by some of the characters
  • Pro: Oliver gave Gemma and Lyra the love they were seeking, both familial and romantic
  • Con: Not sure this needed to be a series. 
  • Pro: The format was used quite well, as there were a few great reveals. (I read Gemma first)
  • Pro: Both Lyra and Gemma get satisfying endings

Overall: An enjoyable and action packed journey of self discovery. I appreciated many of the themes explored - love, family, humanity, but not sure we actually needed a second book.

Kids Like Us
Hilary Reyl
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Neurodiversity
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Martin is an American teen on the autism spectrum living in France with his mom and sister for the summer. He falls for a French girl who he thinks is a real-life incarnation of a character in his favorite book. Over time Martin comes to realize she is a real person and not a character in a novel while at the same time learning that love is not out of his reach just because he is autistic.
  • Pro: The author takes us to France, delights our senses with delicious food, and even interacts with locals. 
  • Pro: Martin just touched my heart. He was so genuine, and being in his head was pretty interesting. 
  • Pro: I learned so many things about neurodiversity that I did not know. It wasn't done in an info dump way, it was told through Martin's self reflections. 
  • Pro: Martin's sister, Elisabeth was pretty special, and so was their sibling bond. She loved Martin for Martin, and they shared some really beautiful moments in this story. 
  • Pro: I really loved the Skype session with Martin's friends from the center, but my favorite was Layla. The way she expressed herself with Martin, how she did not feel the need to adopt neurotypical ways, and the fact that she kept asking, "Do you think our phones are instruments of communication or torture?"
  • Pro: This book's tagline hints at romance being the focus of this story, but that short changes this story. The romance is so secondary to Martin's summer of coming into his own, his journey, and it's a wonderful one. 
  • Pro: This one gave me a lot to think about. There is this awesome scene between Martin and his mother, where he is trying to express his autism is a part of who he is, not a disease to be cured, and I think neurotypical people lost sight of that. 

Overall: A beautiful and touching coming of age story, which filled me with warm-fuzzies and made me look at autism in a different light.

A Messy, Beautiful Life
Sara Jade Alan
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: EntangledTEEN
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Life is funny sometimes.

And not always the ha, ha kind. Like that one time where a hot guy tried to kiss me and I fell. Down. Hard. And then found out I had cancer.

I’m trying to be strong for my friends and my mom.

And I’m trying so hard to be “just friends” with that hot guy, even though he seems to want so much more. But I won’t do that to him. He’s been through this before with his family, and I’m not going to let him watch me die.

So, I tell myself: Smile Ellie. Be funny Ellie. Don’t cry Ellie, because once I start, I might not stop.
  • Pro: Improv! I can honestly say, this is the first YA book I have read that features improv, and it was really fun. Plus, I got a good education on improv too. 
  • Pro: I felt a lot of feels. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, my heart raced from excitement. Alan did an excellent job bringing me on this journey with Ellie and her family. 
  • Pro: Ellie was fabulous. I found her funny and so real. She had wit, charm, and a great attitude, but she was also vulnerable. 
  • Pro: This is a cancer story written by a cancer survivor. 
  • Con: I swear, this is going on my tombstone. The ending was ok, but I wanted a little more. This was such a fabulous story, and I was left somewhat wanting. 
  • Pro: Alan kept this story from entering melodrama land, and it made it more enjoyable for me. 
  • Pro: Ellie and Jason were so good together. I was shipping them after their very first meeting. 
  • Pro: The way Craig and Ellie's relationship blossomed filled my heart with joy. I like that there was a lot more to him than met the eye, and I am a fan of non-traditional type families too. 
  • Pro: Ellie's mom is a star. 😘
  • Pro: Friendships! So many great friends in this one, and they really stepped it up in Ellie's hour of need. 

Overall: This was a beautiful and funny story about something not funny. It made my heart ache and made my heart fill with joy. Alan gave us a story with depth and weight, but kept us from drowning in sadness by tempering it with humor and lots of love. 

**I would like to thank the publishers for the advanced copies of these book.

Have you read any of these books?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Love, Life, and the List - Kasie West

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I can't wait for Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West!!

Love, Life, and the List
Kasie West
Series: n/a
Release Date: December 26, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Waited on by: Sam
Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.
If this is not your first visit to WLABB, you are probably well aware of my Kasie West obsession. She is one of my go-to authors, because she just knows how to write the cute, fluffy contemporary romances that I adore.

Why I want to read this book:

  1. Obviously, because it is written by Kasie West. 
  2. Friends to more is amongst my favorite type of romances. 
  3. The heroine is on a quest to find her passion in order to save her art. 
  4. I really like books with lists of challenging tasks. I have had great success with this books (see A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares, Since You've Been Gone, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares - just to name a few)
  5. Crossover characters!!! This was the most exciting part for me, because there are so many KWest characters, who I would love to see more of, and I am glad West is exploring this option. 

What are you waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!