Sunshine Blogger Award

Many thanks goes to Danielle from Life of a Literary Nerd for tagging me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Make sure you go check out her blog, she’s always putting out such great bookish content!

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What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

How Does It Work:

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog

Danielle’s Questions

  1. What is the last book you added to your TBR? The Bell Jar by Sylvia Path
  1. If you could get an ARC of any book that comes out later this year what would it be? They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  1. What is your favorite dessert? Cannolis!
  1. What author do you want to read more of? Stephanie Perkins. I plan on finally reading Summer Days and Summer Nights this month, and I’m so excited for There’s Someone Inside Your House.
  1. What author can you not get into? Cassandra Clare. I tried reading City of Bones a few years ago and I just couldn’t get into it (and I know everyone tells you to power through the first three books but that’s a bit too much commitment for a series I’m not too interested in).
  1. What book do you think everyone needs to read? The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Sidenote: I READ THIS BOOK BEFORE THE TV SERIES AND ALL THE HYPE SURROUNDING THAT #bookhipster #thankfulforhighschoolenglishclass
  1. If you could turn any book into a movie/tv show what would it be?Give me a To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movie please, I need more of the Song sisters in my life after finishing Always and Forever, Lara Jean.
  1. What is your dream vacation spot? San Francisco, California (also my #1 place I want to visit right now).
  1. What is your favorite genre to read? I’m a contemporary girl at heart
  1. What is the last song you listened to? Requiem from Dear Evan Hansen
  1. Who are you top 5 characters (books, TV, movies, anything)? UM UM THIS IS SO HARD SO HERE’S A RANDOM BUT FAVORITE MIX: Ron Swanson (Parks & Recreation), Cath (Fangirl), DJ Tanner (Full House), Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), and Neville Longbottom (Harry Potter)

I tag:

Ally from Ally Writes Things

Judith from Chain Interaction

My questions:

  1. What was your favorite book in June?
  2. Who are your top five fictional crushes?
  3. What are your top three TV shows?
  4. Beach or pool?
  5. What book did you read purely because of the hype?
  6. What is your favorite summertime food?
  7. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
  8. If you could transport yourself into any fictional world, where would you go?
  9. What’s your most anticipated fall 2017 book release?
  10. If you could choose any Funko Pop figure to have, who would it be?
  11. Would you rather only do book tags or book reviews?

A Fangirl Fury Discussion of Star Ratings

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I never really thought about giving books star ratings until I joined Goodreads back in 2015. And by no means am I trashing Goodreads because I lovvvvvveeee it so much. Pre-Goodreads, I didn’t do my best to keep track of all the books I had, mostly just remembering the ones that I had absolutely loved. Lately, star ratings have been giving me a headache, not only as I delve more into the blogging world, but also as I read more and more.

Star ratings are definitely helpful when you’re trying to figure out if you want to pick up a book. For example, if a book reviewer that I often share the same thoughts with gives a book on my TBR a 2 stars, I more often that not rethink about picking up said book (RIP to all of the books that I have taken off of my TBR shelf on Goodreads because of this). Additionally, rating books in general helps you be a bit more critical about what you’re reading. It makes you think about what elements a three-star read has versus what elements contribute to giving a book four stars.

As a blogger, I’ve thought about doing my reviews or my monthly what I read posts without star ratings at all. However, I worry about how anyone will understand how much I really enjoyed a certain novel. On the other hand, will anyone ever be able to understand your true reading experience even with a star rating? In my opinion, the answer is no. For example, in May I read Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Wings and Ruin. Did I have trouble putting it down? Yes. Did I love it? Yes. Did I give it full five stars? No. There were definitely a few things that I didn’t enjoy about ACOWAR (ex: the ending, see my review for more), and I ended up giving it a 4.5/5 stars (which I realize is pretty close to a 5 star). But I still loved it and consider it as one of my favorite books of the year.

Even take my experience with Melissa de la Cruz’s Alex and Eliza. If you read my review for the book, you’ll see that I rated Alex and Eliza a 5 out of 5 stars. I didn’t rate the book a 5 out of 5 stars because it was one of the best books that I ever read or that I was madly in love with Melissa de la Cruz’s writing style; I gave it a 100% because of my experience with it—it was about Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, aka my OTP of Hamilton. It made me want to put Hamilton’s album on repeat, overall reminding me of my love for the show.

In short, star ratings are great for giving your friends and followers a glimpse of how you felt about a book. However, star ratings will never truly capture your experience with a book, and the less you stress about them, the better (something that I’ll just have to keep reminding myself!).

How do you feel about star ratings? I really want to extend this discussion, so please comment below if you have any thoughts and let me know if you’ve had/are having a similar discussion on your own blog!

A Fangirl Fury Q&A of Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Being the Hamilton fan that I am, I knew it was time to pick up Melissa de la Cruz’s young-adult novel Alex and Eliza. Alex and Eliza tells the love story of how Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler met. The Revolution isn’t stopping the Schuyler family, one of the wealthiest families in the young nation, from hosting a ball in honor of their daughters. Peggy and Angelica are ready to dance and flirt the night away, but Eliza can’t help thinking how silly it is to be spending time at a ball when there are soldiers who need her. But when General Washington’s right-hand man, Colonel Alexander Hamilton, arrives with some bad news, Eliza’s mind turns to other matters, including some that include her heart. In honor of Fourth of July week coming to a close here in the US, here’s a spoiler-free Q & A all about Alex and Eliza.

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Mini Q & A:

Q: If I enjoy Hamilton: An American Musical, how much will I like Alex and Eliza?

A: You will LOVE Alex and Eliza. If I had one “disappointment” about Hamilton, it’s that I wish we had more time with Eliza. Obviously, I understand that all of the major components of Alexander Hamilton’s life couldn’t be thoroughly expressed in the show (but if Lin Manuel-Miranda did that, I’d be all for it). Even though the novel isn’t 100% historically accurate (newsflash: Hamilton isn’t either), Alex and Eliza gives us a longer interpretation of how Alexander and Eliza met and everything leading up to their marriage. In addition, I feel that we get to see more of Eliza’s personality (and of course Angelica and Peggy are along for the ride too). I also admit to ignoring Melissa de la Cruz’s physical descriptions of Alex and Eliza and envisioning Lin as Alex and Phillipa as Eliza.

Q:How much is this like Hamilton: An American Musical?

A:While there’s no signing or dancing, we get to interact with a lot of the characters from the first act of Hamilton. Beside Alex and the Schuyler sisters, our favorite commander in chief and some of Alex’s friends (one may be French) make appearances in the novel.

Q: Alex and Eliza is a historical fiction read. What were some interesting aspects of the novel being set during the Revolutionary War?

A: Alex and Eliza takes place from 1778 to 1780. I found it really interesting reading about the characters’ wardrobes choices, from powdered wigs to larger than life ball gowns. Marriage often comes up in the novel as well, as the Schuyler sisters are forced to consider the size of their partners’ fortune. It was a reminder of how marriage was used back then to increase a family’s wealth and power.

Q: Alex or Eliza?

A: Eliza! I enjoyed reading Alex’s parts, but I would have been satisfied (you know there had to be a pun somewhere) if the book solely centered on Eliza. I loved how she was different from her sisters and how she made it a priority to be involved in the war as much as possible. It was also funny to see her not be so impressed with Alex at first sight.

Q: Is there interaction with other characters outside Alex and Eliza?

A: Yes! My favorite side characters in the novel included Angelica, Peggy, and Aunt Gertrude. I loved getting more character development from Angelica and Peggy. Unlike Hamilton, Melissa de la Cruz doesn’t adopt the idea that Alex and Angelica at some point had feelings for each other. Instead, we see Angelica disapproving Eliza’s interest in the poor orphan. It’s Peggy, who has a close friendship with Alex, that cheers the couple on. My favorite side character had to be the Schuylers’ Aunt Gertrude, who was just so unconventional and was such a great role model for Eliza. I loved her humor!

Have you read Alex and Eliza? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments!

Desert Island Discs Blog Tag

I was tagged by the lovely Shanya and Tanya from Twin Bookmarks to do the Desert Island Discs Blog Tag. This tag was originally created by Zuky from BookBumI recently rewatched Moana on Netflix and I’m feeling some island vibes (only if i could have Moana and Pua’s help). 

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The Rules:

You are cast away onto a remote island:

  • You can bring 5 albums, what are they?
  • You can bring ONE book (not including The Bible (or other appropriate religious texts) or The Complete Works of Shakespeare, as they are already provided and NO SERIES), what ONE book is it?
  • You can have one luxury item (it has to be inanimate and can’t help you escape the island), what is it?

The Albums 

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Hamilton: An American Musical– I think we’ve established that Hamilton will forever be my musical obsession. 

After Laughter: Paramore– My current favorite album and my favorite band. 

Fearless: Taylor Swift– Everyone needs some throwback TSwift in their life

Merry Christmas: Mariah Carey– This might be a while, okay?

1989: Taylor Swift– New TSwift is pretty awesome too

The Book

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This answer will change everyday, but for right now, I’m going with Carry On because it’s inspired from another one of my all-time favorite books (Fangirl), BAZ <3, it reminds me of Harry Potter, and ANY EDITION OF THIS BOOK IS BEAUTIFUL. 

The Luxury Item 

A BOOKCASE FULL OF BOOKS (some soap and flashlights could also fit in there, right??). 

If you’re interested in doing the Desert Island Discs Blog Tag, then here: YOU HAVE BEEN TAGGED BY FANGIRL FURY! 

If you could only bring one book to a desert island or maybe to somewhere a bit nicer, like a family vacation, what book would it be? Share in the comments!

Top Five Wednesday: Books Without Romance

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While finding books without romance is a bit difficult, there are just stories that don’t need romantical elements to make them great. Some of the following books may include hints of romance (I wish I could remember everything about my past reads), but by no means does romance first come to mind when I consider these works.

City of Thieves by David BenioffCity of Thieves is a historical fiction novel set during World War II. I read City of Thieves last summer, and I consider it one of my favorite WWII books because of its unique plot. Taking place in Russia, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting, earning a spot in jail next to deserter Kolya. Instead of being executed, Kolya and Lev are given a task: find a dozen eggs for a Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab– One of my favorite books of 2017, I was sold on picking up This Savage Song because there is no romance in it. Yay girl-boy friendship! This Savage Song takes place in a city divided not only by a wall, but monsters. Kate, the darling of North, wishes to be as commanding and threatening as her father. August, on the other hand, wishes to be anything but the monster he is.

Radio Silence of Alice Oseman– Another one of my favorite reads of 2017, Radio Silence contains the slightest bit of romance (there’s discussion about past crushes and the development of some new ones, if I recall correctly), but romance is the last topic I think about when it comes to this book. When she’s not focusing on getting into one of England’s elite universities, Frances spends her time drawing fanart for her favorite Youtube podcast. When the creator of the podcast, not to mention her next door neighbor, Aled, asks her to do artwork for the show, Frances gets to finally experience true friendship.

One by Sarah Crossan– Sisters Grace and Tippi may share some things with one another that you may not share with your siblings, such as a body. Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins and while life hasn’t been exactly easy for the past sixteen years, they’ve got a pretty good hang of it for their situation. But when a major operation begins to come up, Tippi and Grace must face the most impossible choice of their lives.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr– A book that deserves all the hype it gets, All the Light We Cannot takes place in occupied France during World War II. Blind since she was six years old, Marie Laure’s father has a miniature of their neighborhood in Paris for his daughter, so she can navigate herself through the city. When the Nazis occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo, meeting the path of Werner. Werner is an expert with technology, causing him to rise up at his Hitler Youth academy and earn a spot fighting the Allied resistance. All the Light We Cannot See features such beautiful writing and charcters, in addition to teaching readers more about the WWII period.

Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.

Have you read any of these books? Share in the comments!

What I Read in June

June was not only a fantastic reading month for me, but also a great book month in general. Earlier in the month, I attended Book Con 2017, and I recapped my Saturday and Sunday at the convention on the blog. I left Book Con with 18 books (at least I bought another bookcase in advance) and actually came home to more this month! Having read 11 books this month, I’m going to be keeping my thoughts on each book short and sweet. I have full reviews for When Dimple Met Rishi and Eliza and Her Monsters (which I leave links for), and I often write mini reviews on Goodreads.

Leave Me by Gayle Forman | 4/5 Stars

I’m a fan of Gayle Forman’s young-adult duologies,  If I Stay and Just One Day, so I knew I had to pick up her adult novel at some point. While the main character, Maribeth, undergoes a big life change (after having a heart attack she decides to leave her husband and two children), the plot stays pretty mellow as Maribeth tries to figure out life.

Jane Eyre The Graphic Novel by Amy Corzine & Charlotte Bronte | 2/5 Star

I’m reading a Jane Eyre retelling in my English class next semester, so I figured I’d read Jane Eyre beforehand. This graphic novel had the original text and I just wasn’t a huge fan of the artwork and story overall.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon | 4.5/5 Stars

When Dimple Met Rishi was on my TBR since January (insert jealously of anyone with an ARC here), so I was so happy to pick up the book in June and was not disappointed. I loved how Sandhya Menon interwove Indian culture and tradition, web development, humor, family, and more in this young-adult rom-com. I have a full review for When Dimple Met Rishi here.

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A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab | 3.5/5 Stars

A Gathering of Shadows is the second book in the Shades of Magic trilogy.  While I appreciated the world building and character development, things were just moving so slowly and didn’t find myself immersed in this story until the 250-page mark. However, I really enjoyed how there was more from Rhy’s perspective in this installment and I loved following the Games.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen | somewhere between 4 & 5/5 Stars

I was so happy I found out a few months ago that the Queen of YA Contemporary was not only coming out with another book, but a book centered around wedding planning (I’m a Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings addict, okay?). Despite Sarah Dessen’s books tend to follow a similar format (troubled girls meets troubled boy, they like each other but won’t admit it, and then they fall in love at the end ), I really enjoyed this story and the side characters really made it for me, specifically William and Jilly.

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz | somewhere between 4 & 5/5 Stars

Yes, this Hamilton mega-fangirl finally read Melissa de la Cruz’s Alex and Eliza, a historical retelling of how Elizabeth Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton met. This book relaunched all of my Hamilton feels (even though they are quite non-stop). If you’re any level of a Hamilton fan, I definitely recommend checking this one out.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia | 5/5 Stars

Eliza and Her Monsters is the book that my Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell soul needed. It incorporated fandom, fan fiction, family, relationships, anxiety and so much more, and it has become one of my all-time favorite reads. I have a full review of Eliza and Her Monsters here.

Warcross by Marie Lu (ARC) 5/5 Stars

I was so beyond fortunate enough this month to receive an ARC copy of Warcross from Marie Lu at Book Con, and I’m so beyond excited to announce that this book was everything I expected and more! Warcross follows teenage bounty hunter Emika Chen, who’s just glitched herself into the International Warcross Championships. The creator of the hit sensation virtual-reality game that is Warcross, Hideo Tanaka, wants Emika to come to Tokyo and participate in the games, in hopes that she’ll solve a security problem for his company. Warcross comes out on September 12th, and I’ll be posting my full review then!

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Made You Up by Francesca Zappia | somewhere between 4 & 5/5 Stars

After reading Eliza and Her Monsters, I knew I needed another Francesca Zappia book in my life. While Made You Up has a different vibe from Eliza and Her Monsters, following a girl with schizophrenia and her journey transferring to a new school her senior year, I devoured this quirky story featuring mental health awareness and relationships (and some lobsters).

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab | 4/5 Stars

The sequel to This Savage Song and the final book in the Monsters of Verity duology, I was quite satisfied to the ending of Our Dark Duet, as it felt realistic to the story (aka a book where not every character is saved after fighting an epic battle). However, this book was a bit slow-moving for me and I felt a bit disconnected from the two main protagonists, August and Kate.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han |5/5 Stars

The final book in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series, Always and Forever, Lara Jean was everything I could have hoped for in this final installment and I can’t get over all of the Hamilton bits! I’ll have a full review up on the blog soon!

What did you read in June? Share in the comments!