Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Things on my Reading Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic Ten Things on our Reading Wishlist, which is basically ten things that I want to see in books.

  1. Characters who belong in the LGBTQIA+ community. Even in books in which the main character is part of the community, it’s uncommon for anyone else (aside from their love interest) to be a part of the community as well. I want that to change.
  2. Girls who support girls. The popular mean girl trope is so overdone, and for some reason it’s way more present than girls who don’t see other girls as competition. Give me girls being nice to each other, sticking up for each other when people bring up the “you’re not like other girls” cliché (in whatever form), uplifting them instead of putting them down, girls being friends and girls supporting girls they don’t even know. Give me all of it.
  3. Soft boys. I want to read about smart boys, nice boys, shy boys, boys supporting boys, boys who have feelings and don’t think they are less masculine because of it, feminist boys, boys who shut down toxic masculinity, etc.
  4. Music in books. Give me all of the musicians, their life on tour and in the studio or on a theater stage.
  5. Acting in books. I also want more actors in books! I’ve only seen things like, “Our characters are lovers and we’re falling for each other” and “Normal person falls for a famous actor.” But I want books that deal with the process of creating shows, movies and plays. I want acting as a real thing, not as the background for a love story.
  6. Respectful diversity in books. Books need people of color, people who belong in the LGBTQIA+ community, various religious backgrounds, people who are not able-bodied or neurotypical, various cultures, etc. I want to see all of these things being normalized in books, and not just to create a “problem” for the main character or to help characters realize that their lives are good or that other people need saving. Give me books with badass people who are not all white, straight, cis, able-bodied, allosexual, alloromantic, etc.
  7. World-building. It’s very common for the world in a book to be completely brushed over, which is sad because there are some really great fictional worlds out there. I want to know more about them.
  8. Politics. I took a History class at university this semester and realized I really enjoy political topics. So yes, I want more politics in books.
  9. Underwater setting. The ocean is so vast and mysterious, yet there are so few books set in the ocean. Imagine all of the creatures (mermaids!!!), the atmosphere, just… everything. I’m so desperate for a book that takes place in the ocean and is about the ocean that I started planning to write one years ago. Yep.
  10. Puerto Rico. I almost forgot this one, but it’s extremely important to me: I want books set in Puerto Rico, with Puerto Rican characters, preferably by Puerto Rican authors. I’ve only ever read two YA books (or series, in one case) with Puerto Rican characters: More Happy Than Not, which I didn’t love, and Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan, which I love but doesn’t actually have a lot to do with Puerto Rico. I need a book set in Puerto Rico almost as much as I need air.

I hope you enjoyed this post! What’s at the top of your reading wishlist?

April Wrap Up + May TBR

If you saw my March wrap up, you know I didn’t read a lot. April was that kind of month as well. I barely read anything, even on the occasions when I had free time. These are the two books I read in April:

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  1. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate: This book was a fun story about a girl who pretends to be a boy so she can join an a cappella group. I really liked it! There were a lot of things that, realistically, do not make sense. I tried to put that aside and managed to enjoy the book a lot. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. You can check out my review of Noteworthy here.
  2. Better At Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra: Unfortunately, my reading month went downhill when I picked up this book. I borrowed it from the Kindle Owner’s Library. It was getting so many good reviews and I love wedding planning. What could go wrong? The answer is a lot. I didn’t like the main character, Daphne, at all, the love interest was so-so, and the side characters weren’t very interesting. The wedding planning aspect was not very prevalent in itself; it was only there to bring Daphne and the love interest together. Additionally, Daphne was supposed to be the best wedding planner around  but… she kind of sucked? She had this obsession with convincing her client to get married, even though she knew her client was not in love with her fiancé and didn’t want to admit it to herself. Every time her love interest tried to talk to Helen (the client), Daphne chastised him and went on about how Helen realizing she didn’t want to get married would ruin the wedding and Daphne’s career. She had zero compassion for her client and never even saw her, which makes no sense because she’d just taken over planning her wedding. They should have to at least talk to each other on a regular basis. *takes a deep breath* Can you tell I really didn’t like this book? I gave it 2 out of 5 stars.

On to my TBR for May! I’m almost done with classes for the semester and I’ve started trying to read at least 25 pages every day, so May is bound to be a better reading month than March and April. I’ve already read one book, which is exciting. Here are the books I want to read in May:

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  • The Traitor’s Tunnel by C.M. Spivey: This is actually a fantasy novella, and it’s #1 on my TBR this month. I just started reading it and here’s what I know so far: it’s about an engineer who has moved to a new town to start an apprenticeship; it has two points of view; the second point of view belongs to Bridget, who reminds me a lot of Lila Bard so far. It’s coming out in June, and you can expect a review of it closer to the release date.
  • Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally: Coming Up for Air is #2 on my TBR. I don’t remember exactly what it’s about, but the main character is a swimmer who dedicates her time to nothing but her sport. I think this is the story of how she realizes there’s more to life than just swimming. It sounds like it’s gonna be really cute.
  • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab: I’m buddy-reading this book with my twin. We started reading it a while ago, but I got busy with university and put this book on hold. Maybe this month we’ll get to read a bit more?
  • Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas: This is another book that I started months ago, this time by myself. I also put it on hold because I would get annoyed every few pages. All I want to do is read Chaol’s chapters. Is that too much to ask for? (Spoiler: Yes, it is.)
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Ah, this book. I’ve owned the entire trilogy since 2015 and been meaning to read it for longer than that. Yet, for some reason, I haven’t. I have a habit of putting off reading books I want to read for fear that I won’t like them. But, if I get to all the other books on my TBR, I’m reading Shadow and Bone this month. I can’t keep putting it off any longer.

I hope you enjoyed this post! What was your favorite book in April? What book do you want to read the most this month?

Rapid Fire Book Tag

Hi, everyone! Kayla from kdrewkthebookworm tagged me to do the Rapid Fire Book Tag, so that’s what I’m doing today! This tag was created by GirlReading.

Questions:

EBooks or physical books?
Physical books for sure! I trend to gravitate towards my Kindle more than towards physical books it’s easier to carry around, but I have a better time reading physical books.

 

Paperbacks or hardbacks?
Paperbacks are my life. I mostly own hardcovers, but I struggle a lot with reading them. I put them down a lot and pick them back up for quite a while. Paperbacks, on the other hand, are so easy fun to read, especially when they’re floppy. I also have a habit of tapping the cover of a book with my nails while I read, which can get painful when it’s done on hardcovers.

 

Online or in-store book shopping?
Ideally, I would shop for books in-store. I don’t have a bookstore near me ever since Borders closed, so I do all of my book shopping online. I haven’t bought a book at a bookstore since January 2013.

 

Trilogies or series?
Trilogies are great; I’ve had more favorite trilogies than favorite series. But there’s just something so special about series… I don’t know, though. I love both series and trilogies equally.

 

Heroes or villains?
Depends on which heroes and villains we’re talking about. I love villains for sure. And heroes are obviously great. Some villains make no sense, though, and some heroes are annoying. I’m leaning a little bit towards villains but, at the end of the day, I’ll always love heroes.

A book you want everyone to read?
The Diviners by Libba Bray. That book is sooo good, yet not a lot of people talk about it. (I think everyone knows about it, but a lot of people haven’t read it.) Everyone should read it, though. It’s amazing and creepy.

 

Recommend an underrated book!
I can’t think of an underrated book… Most of the books I read and enjoy are well-known. SORRY. I need to give more love to underrated books.

 

The last book I finished:
I finished Girl out of Water last night. It was very cute. You can check out my review here.

 

Weirdest thing you have used as a bookmark?
I can’t remember for sure, but I think I once used hair as a bookmark? As in, actual hair that was attached to my head. I honestly don’t know if I actually did that because I have very vague images of it in my mind. Maybe it was a dream. Who knows? I usually only use actual bookmarks. Anything else I might use is only around for a few minutes until I can find a bookmark. I did use a receipt as a bookmark for about two months last semester. I was borrowing a book and didn’t have a bookmark in my dorm room, so I used a receipt that I got from a gas station.

 

Used books: yes or no?
Yes. I don’t have anywhere to get used books, but I wouldn’t mind having them as long as they were in decent conditions.

 

Top three favourite genres?
      1. YA Fantasy – I barely even read fantasy but I love it.
2. YA Contemporary – I used to say I didn’t like this genre, but it’s what I read the most.
3. …Memoirs? I don’t even know. I like listening to memoirs as audiobooks.

Borrow or buy?
I’d like to say “borrow” because how cool would it be to read books without 1) spending money on them and 2) committing to keep them on my bookshelves even if I don’t like them? But there are no libraries in my country (academic ones don’t count in this case) and most of my friends aren’t readers or don’t read the same books as me. (We don’t even read in the same language.)

 

Characters or plot?
Both are very important to me. Characters are the most important, but my enjoyment of a book heavily depends on the plot as well.

 

Long or short books?
Both! I tend to gravitate towards shorter books, but I also love longer books. They’re a struggle to get through, but they’re worth it.

 

Long or short chapters?
Short chapters for sure. I’m always counting down the pages until a chapter ends. With shorter chapters, a book doesn’t seem as daunting.

 

Name the first three books you think of:
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Books that make you laugh or cry?
Laugh… unless they make me cry of happiness. My heart has been broken my books way too many times already.

 

Our world or fictional worlds?
Fictional worlds. I don’t need to read about our world because I live here. ☺

 

Audiobooks: yes or no?
Only if they’re memoirs/non-fiction. I’ve listened to two fiction books on audiobook and didn’t particularly enjoy either of them.

 

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?
ALL. THE. TIME. I try not to buy books just because the covers are pretty, but it has happened before. I’ve also put off reading good books because the cover wasn’t up to my standards (but to be fair, I didn’t know they were good until after I read them).

 

Book to Movie or Book to TV adaptations?
Book to movie adaptations are my favorite. I don’t have the time to watch several TV adaptations of books! Movies tend to be more similar to the books than TV shows, anyway.

 

Series or standalones?
I prefer series because it takes a while for me to get attached to the characters. While reading standalones, I don’t get to care about the characters that much. That’s why it’s unusual for me to give 5 stars to a standalone.

That’s it for the Rapid Fire Book Tag! I hope you enjoyed this post! If you want, leave a comment with the first three books that come to your mind.

ARC Review: Girl out of Water by Laura Silverman

Title: Girl out of Water33226621

Author: Laura Silverman
Genre: YA Contemporary

Publication date: May 2, 2017
Purchase links: Kindle Edition | Paperback

Rating: ★★★★

Distinctive qualities: Surfing; skateboarding; Samoan side character; black love interest who is adopted (and has a Vietnamese father) and has one arm; family dynamics (father-daughter relationship and cousins who love each other a lot); road trip; f/f side couple.

Summary:

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?

 

Review:

“Why do so many people equate growing up with leaving?” 

Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC of Girl out of Water!

Girl out of Water is a stunningly-written novel. The prose flows smoothly and slowly. It creates the illusion of calmness and imitates the feeling of a lazy yet happy summer day. I like taking my time with books, to process and absorb each sentence carefully. Girl out of Water was the most perfect book to read that way; it seems to be naturally made to be read like that.

Anise is a relatable character. Even though we’re very different, I could empathize with her feelings, her decisions and her fears. It was so realistic that she wanted to help her family but she also yearned to be home with her friends, even if it made her feel selfish. She was struggling with wanting the best for both her family and herself, knowing that she couldn’t have both things at the same time. I also appreciated her struggle with missing her friends, but not wanting to talk to them because she felt left out of everything they were doing. That felt very realistic as well.

Another great thing about this book is how diverse Anise’s group of friends is. Her best friend, Tess, is Samoan. Two of her other close friends are girls in a relationship. Her love interest, Lincoln, is black, adopted and has one arm. His dad is Vietnamese and his brother is also adopted. This world is way more realistic (do you see a theme in the things I’m pointing out?) and amazing than one in which everyone is white, straight and able-bodied. The real world doesn’t look like that. It’s nice whenever an author makes an effort to include different identities in their work and does it respectfully.

I don’t have anything to say else to say about Girl out of Water aside from this: Read it! It’s beautiful and meaningful without being sad, and it’s the perfect summer read. It’s my favorite YA contemporary of the year so far.

ARC Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Title: Noteworthy32933947

Author: Riley Redgate
Genre: YA Contemporary

Publication date: May 2, 2017
Purchase links: Kindle Edition | Hardcover

Rating: ★★★★

Distinctive qualities: Bisexual Chinese-American main character, who pretends to be a boy so she can join an a capella group, amazing friendships, set in a performing arts high school.

Summary:

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped… revered… all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Review:

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC of Noteworthy!

“But,” she went on, “remember. It’s the greatest strength to know your weaknesses. It just means you have a question to answer: How hard will you work to get what you want? And that’s the heart of it: from your career, from your time here, from everything, really—what do you want?” I stayed quiet. The world, I thought. The whole world, gathered up in my arms.

The main two words I would use to describe Noteworthy are “relatable” and “fun.” While the relatable part might not apply to everyone, I think anyone who enjoys reading YA contemporary might end up laughing a few times while reading this book. The book had the kind of sense of humor that’s understated and needs context but is still amazing. I kept wanting to update my Goodreads status with all of the quotes that I found funny, but they wouldn’t have made sense without context.

The characters were by far the best part of the story. It took me a little while to get to like Jordan, but as she grew more and more comfortable and confident in who she was, the more I rooted for her. The Sharps were great characters too, and I loved every single one of them. My only complaint is that I wish we’d gotten more backstory on some of the characters, but they were still fleshed out enough that you kind of got a sense of who they were and why they were that way.

 Kensington, probably because it was an arts school, was such an overwhelmingly liberal place when it came to social issues—I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have that sort of opinion around campus. Or anywhere, really. It was a strange thing to have an opinion on somebody else’s existence.

Something that I appreciated a lot about Noteworthy is that it is more diverse than most books. Most of the students at Kensington are white (around 55-60% of them, judging by something Jordan thought about near the beginning). However, Jordan herself is Chinese, bisexual and poor. One of the members of the Sharps that is more involved in Jordan’s story is Indian, Sikh and gay; another has a Japanese surname (Nakahara), so I’m guessing he is Japanese (though it’s never specified). Jordan’s father is paraplegic. And, very importantly, while Jordan is a girl pretending to be a boy, trans identities are recognized.

The plot of the story was interesting and unique (I mean, had you ever heard of a book in which a girl pretends to be a boy to join an a cappella group?). Some moments were kind of hard to believe, but the story was so engaging that I just did not care. I’m a slow reader, but I read most of the book in one day; it was too good to stop reading. I thought Noteworthy was going to be a five star book.

There came a point, though, at around 60% of the book, where I lost interest. I didn’t feel as excited to read and had to force myself to keep going. I stopped reading for the night with only one chapter left because I was no longer interested enough. This is actually a normal thing for me with most books, so maybe other people won’t have this problem. Ultimately, I gave it four of five stars.

If you love YA contemporary and are interested in music (or even acting) at all, this book is a must-read. Oh, and I totally recommend listening to the soundtrack either before reading the book or when you reach the scenes in which the songs are mentioned!

“It’s kind of funny,” Isaac said.

“What is?”

“It…” He paused. “I mean, we’re so comically, laughably tiny. You know? The universe is expanding forever, and there are nebulas a hundred billion miles away, like, spectacularly shitting out stars, and suns collapsing every twenty seconds, and essentially what I’m trying to say is that we’re the tiniest speck of dust on an infinite space plain and our lives are these insignificant little minuscule pinpricks on the timeline.”

Tiny March Wrap Up

Hi! You may be looking at the title of this post and thinking, “March wrap up? It’s almost May!” My answer to that is: …yep. *hides* University has been really challenging and time-consuming these past two months, and so I’ve fallen behind on both blogging and reading. (I’ve even fallen behind on university too. I don’t know how this is possible since all I’ve done is schoolwork.)

Anyway, let’s talk about books.

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The first thing I read in March was The Paths We Choose by M. Hollis. The Paths We Choose is a novella about a romance between two girls: Lily and Mayte. It follows Lily during her day-to-day life, and we see her as she enters into a friends-with-benefits relationship with Mayte and goes through a situation that forces her to confront her past. You can check out my review of The Paths We Choose here.

The second (and sadly, last) book I read was Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. It takes place during the biggest fandom convention in the country and follows a group of friends: Taylor, who is obsessed with Queen Firestone and wants to meet the author during the convention; Jamie, who loves comics, and Charlie, who is a YouTuber and actress, promoting her movie at the convention. Queens of Geek was a mixture of fun and serious (one of the characters deals with anxiety, and it is present a lot during the story). I’m still a little confused regarding my feelings about this book. Overall, it was good and I gave it four out of five stars. You can check out my review here.

Thanks for reading! What was the best book you read in March?

“What Cats Do” Book Tag

Hi, everyone! Today I will be doing the “What Cats Do” book tag. This tag was created by Kate from meltingpotsandothercalamities and I was tagged to do it by Tiana from The Book Raven. I don’t actually have a cat (I’m more of a dog person), but I figured I’d do the tag anyway.

Here are the questions:

PURR: As cats do this when they’re happy or relaxed, what is the book that makes you happiest or relaxed?
The book that makes me the happiest is, hands down, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I’ve read this book three times, I think, and I love it more and more every time I read it. It’s one of the most lighthearted books I’ve ever read, plus Simon and Blue represent two different parts of my personality so well. This is one of the books that I will love forever.

SLEEP: What is a book that put you to sleep or was just boring?
A book that I found really boring was Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. I read it because a friend of mine recommended it to me, but I did not care about the characters at all. There were two plots going on at once–one set in the past and one set in the future, if I remember correctly. The past and future aspect was the main reason I thought I would love this book, but nope. It was incredibly disappointing. Incarceron was my least favorite book of all time for a few years, until a classic came along and took its place. More on that later, though.

TWITCH WHILE DREAMING: Have you ever dreamt of a book you read?
Yes, I have! I think I’ve dreamt about many books, although I don’t remember most of them. The most recent dream I’ve had involving a book had to do with Queen Levana, from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. But I don’t remember anything that happened in the dream, except that she was there.

SEEMS TO PLAY NICE… UNTIL THE CLAWS ARE OUT: Which book had the biggest plot twist(s)?
I’ve never actually read a book that had a huge plot twist… I either see them coming from a mile away or notice after they’ve happened how predictable they actually were. But if I had to pick one with a big plot twist, I’d pick The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan. Now that’s something you wouldn’t expect a writer to do to his characters.

CUDDLES: Which book character would you give a hug to?
Let’s be real, I would hug a lot of characters! But the main one is Cress from The Lunar Chroniclesaka one of the book versions of myself (minus the hacking. I’m not that cool). She’s so cute and innocent and just wants to be free and have friends. I would hug her and be her friend; she deserves the world.

CATNIP: What’s a book that made you have warm and fuzzy feelings?
I didn’t want to repeat any answers, but Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is the best answer for this. It’s so cute and adorable! It’s impossible not to feel warm and fuzzy while reading it.

CAT BREEDS: What are your favorite books?
I don’t have a set favorite book, but my go-to answer for this question is usually Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (yes, again!), Hamilton: The Revolution and Cress. For some reason I always put off reading the books that I think I will like, so I don’t have more favorite books to add to the list. Some of my old favorites (which I have to reread to see if I still love them) are The Infernal Devices and Shatter Me.

GETTING THE CAT: How did you find your favorite book(s)?
I found all of them through the recommendations of other people on social media (except for Hamilton, which I found because, well, I love Hamilton).

THE VET’S OFFICE: Your least favorite book.
My least favorite book is one of the books I feel the guiltiest for not liking… That book is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I got this book as a Christmas gift from one of my friends a few years ago, and I was hoping I would love it (I did ask for it, after all). However, I ended up disliking it so, so much. I wasn’t expecting it to be so flowery and uneventful. Even though I wasn’t enjoying it at all, I forced myself to finish it and ended up in a reading slump for an entire year. (I’m technically out of that reading slump, but I think it still affects me in some ways.)

BEING IN PLACES THEY SHOULDN’T: Least favorite cliché.
“YOU’RE NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS.” This is unnecessary and implies other girls are bad, which they are not. Girls are amazing. (There are other clichés that I don’t like, but this one is at the top of the least. I also really dislike the whole “good girl, bad boy” thing most of the time.)

THE GOOD OLD CARDBOARD BOX: Most underrated book series.
For this final question, I am going with The Diviners by Libba Bray. I’ve only read the first book but I loved it. The romance was not good at all, but almost everything else was really good. Clearly this series is underrated, since it just had its second cover change (and they only get worse and worse with time). It’s a little creepy and has a cool cast of characters. I think many people would enjoy this series.

That’s it for the “What Cats Do” Book Tag! Have you read any of the books I mentioned? If so, which one was your favorite? And which one was your least favorite?

I tag: LivLilivetteAmy and anyone else who wants to do this tag.