Q & A Friday: Morgan Matson on Change, Weddings, and the Grant Family

Hi, there! Welcome to my last post in this series. If you wanted to read the previous posts I had in this series, you can read them here and here.

Today I’m going to talk about the swoon-worthy novel Save the Date by Morgan Matson. This was the second Matson book I read, and it was such a sweet read. I found the characters so relatable, and I loved the Grant family so much! If you wanted to know more of my thoughts on this book, be sure to check out my review. I can’t wait for you to read this interview I did with Morgan!

A little about Morgan:

morgan dog.jpg

Morgan Matson was born in New York City and grew up there and in Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College as a theater major, but halfway through, switched her focus to writing and never looked back. She received an MFA in Writing for Children from the New School, and then a second MFA in Screenwriting from USC.

She is the New York Times bestselling author of five books, all published by Simon & Schuster. 

She currently lives in Los Angeles with her rescue terrier, Murphy, in a house with blue floors that’s overflowing with books.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Want to know more about Save the Date? Here’ the synopsis!

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster. There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo. Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractedly cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Interview

Hi, Morgan!! Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me about Save the Date. I can’t wait for everyone else to read it. It was such a fun read!

To start things off, why don’t you start by describing your book in 10 words or less.

Okay, I’ll give it a shot! I don’t write short books, so brevity is always a challenge for me. But how about this:

Wedding disaster, little sister, cute boys, unexpected dog, happy ending?

Perfect!! Weddings are so much fun. What made you want to write about one?

Aren’t they? I feel like there’s so much inherent drama in a wedding! All the family members coming together, and people from two different families joining up.  I’ve never been to a wedding where there wasn’t at least one last minute crisis, and so I thought it would be a great setting for a novel. And I also thought it would be fun to write about a wedding not from the POV of the bride or of a planner, but the younger sister, who’s both a part of the wedding and seeing it from the outside. It let me have my (wedding) cake and eat it too!

Charlie’s sister’s wedding goes through quite a few classic wedding disasters. What was the most fun one to write about?

I think the most fun one to write about was the decorations mishap. I thought to myself, what would be the worst event to have your wedding decorations mixed up with? And a nine-year-old’s Australia-themed birthday party seemed to be just the perfect amount of terrible. Nobody wants a wedding with koala decorations!

Yes! That scene was hilarious!! Who doesn’t love koalas anyway 🙂 Do you have a favorite part of a wedding (both fictional and in real life)?

I have two favorite parts of any wedding. The first is the moment when the officiant asks if anyone knows a reason why the couple should not be married, to speak now.  The part of me that loves drama is always holding my breath at that moment, even though I’ve never been to a wedding where anyone has ever said anything.  But we’ve all seen so many movies and TV shows that we’re primed for high drama at that moment!

And my other favorite is the couples’ first dance. It always makes me well up! I love that moment when these two people, who’ve been through this whole ceremony together, are now able to exhale and dance together as a married couple for the first time ever.  In every wedding, you can kind of see the couple look at each other like, “We did it! We’re married!” It’s just my favorite moment.

The dance is so touching! I love it too. I loved the Grant family! They reminded me of mine. Do you have a lot of siblings too? Does the Grant family remind you of your family?

Oh, I’m so glad you liked them! They were such a blast to write. I do not  have a lot of siblings – I have just one older brother, so we were a smaller family. But maybe because of that, I always wanted a ton of siblings and a big family.  I was even jealous of my friends who had three siblings in their families – it just seemed like there was always more going on!

So the Grant family was more of what I’d imagine a big family to be – lots of coming and going and drama and fights and laughter.  I wrote the big family that I always wanted to have! But of course, bits of my family made it in there too – the little sayings and rituals that are totally normal to your family that nobody else understands.  My mom, like Mr. Grant, is a really accomplished gardener, so that’s where that came from.  And parts of the Grant house, especially the front hall and the kitchen, were based on my family’s home in Connecticut.

I also noticed a lot of Easter eggs hiding within your book. How many did you include? What was your favorite part of writing them in?

Good eye! I love including little Easter eggs in my book – it’s one of my favorite parts of writing a new book, getting to check in with characters from other books.  My favorite part was probably getting a bunch of characters from Unexpected Everything in there, especially because in the past, many of my Easter eggs have just been passing references or little hints.  When I saw a way to actually have these characters engage with the Grants, in a way that didn’t feel forced, I got really excited.  I felt like I actually got to reconnect with the characters from Unexpected Everything, and catch everyone up on what they’d been up to.

There’s also a pretty quick reference to Amy from Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, and most of my books now have had a long-running reference to something first set up in Second Chance Summer, and it pops up again here too.

Charlie struggles a lot with change throughout the book, whether it be moving houses or choosing which school to go to in the fall. Is this something you struggle with yourself? How did your own experience help you shape Charlie’s?

This trait, of struggling with change, is absolutely something that Charlie and I both share.  I hate change, and have ever since I was little.  And Charlie’s feeling regarding going to college in the fall – her ambivalence about it – was my exact same feeling.  All my friends were so excited to be going to college and I just didn’t feel that way. It was like I could sense that what we’d had during our high school years was going to be very different very soon and I just wanted to hold onto it a little longer rather than rushing onto the next chapter.  But like Charlie, I soon realized that life moves only forward and if you can (it’s hard to do) it’s better to think of change like an exciting adventure rather than something to be dreaded.

But since I had this feeling that I hadn’t seen expressed much in books or movies, I wanted to give this to Charlie – and maybe someone else who feels this same way will see their feelings reflected!

I love this! Thank you so much for your time!

Big shout out to Morgan for being amazing! Her interview was awesome, and I had so much fun coming up with questions. Be sure to check out Save the Date if you haven’t already.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

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Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope you’re having a good week so far. This remember when I said I would make a longer list of books that are coming out this year with Asian characters? Well today is that day! I’ve been looking forward to this day for so long, and I can’t wait to make this compilation for you. I will be including ones that have been or will be released in 2019, so get ready.

1. Descendant of the Crane by Joan He | April 2

Described as Chinese Game of Thrones, He’s debut follows Hesina as she’s thrust into her crown when her father, the king, is murdered. As she investigates her father’s death with illicitly retrieved information, Hesina must protect her court and navigate the deception.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

2. The Girl King by Mimi Yu | January 8

Lu and Min are betrayed when their father, the king, names their male cousin the heir to the throne. The sisters descend on two very opposite paths, but both pursue what they believe to be their rightful place in the kingdom: the throne.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

3. Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo | May 7

K-pop idol Lucky is on a sole mission to find a burger after her performance in Hong Kong, and tabloid writer Jack sneaks into her hotel on assignment. When the two accidentally bump into each other, sparks may catch fire.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

4. Hungry Hearts ed. by Elsie Chapman & Caroline Tung Richmond | June 18

This anthology chronicles lives through one of the best parts of culture: food! While it’s not particularly Asian focused, it does include many tales written by Asian authors, and I can’t recommend this enough. I can’t wait to read it myself!

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

5. There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon | May 14

Ashish Patel gets dumped and loses his mojo, so he grudgingly agrees to be set up by his parents. Sweetie Nair, a formidable track and field athlete, is tired of her parents telling her that her fatness makes her lacking. In a turn of events, the two find themselves together and sparks may be flying.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

6. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim | July 30

Maia’s dream of becoming the best tailor in the land is suddenly rocketed forward when she answers a summons from her father at the court. Posing as a boy, Maia weaves her way through court intrigue, and will face the ultimate challenge of sewing the gown of the emperor’s bride-to-be.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

7. Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim | June 11

Returning to her childhood home in San Francisco’s Chinatown upon the news of her mother’s passing, Natalie Tan find the transformation of businesses that were once booming. Natalie also finds that she inherits her grandmother’s restaurant. Facing the choice of helping her community grow and her own harbored resentment toward it, Natalie finds help in unexpected people.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

8. I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn | May 28

Fashion enthusiast Kimi Nakamura is determined to turn everyday things into her own original projects. As things become a mess at home, she jumps at the chance to visit her grandparents in Kyoto and is swept up in the gorgeous new-to-her city. Unbeknownst to her, Kimi may just find things are closer to her heart and discover more about her mother than she thought she would.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

9. The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala | April 23

Esha moonlights as the Viper, the top assassin combating the fallout of what she lost in the coup. Kunal has been a trained soldier his whole life, and he has never strayed from his path under the watchful eye of his uncle. When their paths cross, their worlds are blown apart with both vying to be the one on top.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

10. Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye | January 22

Sora and Daemon seek to set themselves apart in their society and become part of the elite warriors Society of Taigas. During one of their scouting missions, Sora and Daemon encounter a mysterious group of soldiers and decide the best way to help is to infiltrate them.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

11. 96 Words for Love by Rachel Roy and Ava Dash | January 15

Raya Liston feels bound to her path with her acceptance to UCLA. When her grandma passes and the opportunity to spend the summer in India with her cousin in the place her grandma spent many of her formative years, Raya jumps at the chance. What surprises her the most is the abundance of love and herself.

Add on: Goodreads Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

12. Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao | June 4

With an affinity towards blood, Anastacya Mikhailov has learned that she is a monster. An accident in the middle of the night results in the death of her father, and she is sentenced for his murder, but Ana flees with the truth. On the run, Ana must find allies and uncovers the deadly world that would kill her father to stage a coup.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

13. Caster by Elsie Chapman | September 3

Aza Wu has been burned by magic before — it has taken her sister from her, and she knows to stay far from it. In the shadow of her sister’s loss, Aza must save the legacy of her family’s teahouse, Wu Teas. Stumbling upon a secret invitation, Aza decides to take a chance and enters an underground casting ring, where the stakes may be higher than what she bargained for.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon| Book Depository | IndieBound

That was an awfully long list, I know, and that doesn’t even cover half of what I want to read. I’m sure that I will come out with another list once more releases are announced, especially toward the middle of the year. I hope that you make sure to check them all out this year and support this amazing community.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Chat: 13 Anticipated Reads ft. Asian Characters & Authors

Posted in Blog Tours, Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Sneak Peek Sunday ft. Blog Tour: Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Soloman

I’m so excited to be on this blog tour! Here is one of my highly anticipated reads, Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Soloman. Last year, Soloman debuted with her novel You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, which was also featured right here! Check that out here. I was lucky enough to win an ARC in Rachel’s newsletter.

Title Our Year of Maybe

Our Year of Maybe

Author: Rachel Lynn Soloman

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Expected publication: January 15, 2019

Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult

My rating: 4/5 Goodreads stars

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | iTunes

About the Author

Rachel Lynn Solomon lives, writes, and tap dances in Seattle, Washington. Once she helped set a Guinness World Record for the most natural redheads in one place. She’s the author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (out now from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse), Our Year of Maybe (1/15/19), and Today Tonight Tomorrow (2020). A short story of hers will appear in the anthology It’s a Whole Spiel (Penguin Random House/Knopf, fall 2019).

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook| Pinterest

Review

This was such a fun read!! I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I absolutely loved Rachel’s debut, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone and I had high hopes for this one. One of the main characters and I even share a name!

I love the dual POV in the book. I felt that Rachel really got into their heads, and it was well written. Sometimes I felt more connected to Sophie, but other times I felt more connected to Peter. I wish I could meet them IRL! I especially liked the new dance friends that Sophie makes. They reminded me a little of Bebe and Denice from Eleanor & Park.

There are a lot of different elements in this book, from religion to sexuality, Soloman writes in a respectful but real way. I’m always captivated by her writing. Each piece is woven in with skill that I admire greatly.

I really like her realistic portrayal of sexual health and masturbation in this book. This is also done in You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, and it needs to be done much more often in YA. This fights against the stigma, especially for women, in a positive way, and this definitely won points in my book.

Religion is another theme embedded within this novel. I like how Peter wants to find his and what it means to him while Sophie doesn’t really practice. It provides a good picture of how people approach this topic. I related to Peter when he talked about being caught between worlds, how he didn’t feel like he was enough of something to really claim the label. I often feel this way toward my race (Asian) because there is such a stigma and discussion about what makes someone “truly” something.

For the sake of keeping this from getting too long (seriously, I could wax poetically about this book all day), I’m going to wrap it up here. I really hope you guys read this amazing book!

Playlist

Here’s a playlist I created for the book! Unfortunately, I don’t know much Rufus Wainwright, much to Peter’s chagrin. I did include a lot of angsty songs (this book is so angsty and I love it), and one BTS song that I felt really fit the book!

Favorite Quotes

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the books!

He is the earth, and I am the moon.

I have never been enough, and he has always been too much.



There’s something else, though, something that takes me a few moments to identify—a pang of missing. Like I miss Sophie even though she’s right here, gliding along the ice in her gray beanie, fiery hair peeking out from beneath it.

Giveaway

Prize: One (1) SIGNED copy of Our Year of Maybe.

Terms & Conditions: US only, please read the terms on the rafflecopter

Run time: January 9-20th

Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d9681b86336/

Tour Schedule

January 9th

The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club – Welcome Post

January 10th

Charis Rae – Review | It Starts at Midnight – Review + Favourite Quotes | The Clever Reader – Review + Dream Cast + Favourite Quotes

January 11th

Read.Sleep.Repeat.org – Interview | A Court of Coffee and Books – Review + Favourite Quotes | Kait Plus Books – Review + Favourite Quotes

January 12th

Literary Meanderings – Guest Post | Sinfully Wicked Book Reviews – Review | Morgan Vega – Review + Playlist + Dream Cast

January 13th

The Mind of a Book Dragon – Review + Playlist + Favourite Quotes | Blunt Book Blog – Review | Amy’s Booket List – Review + Favourite Quotes

January 14th

Utopia State of Mind – Guest Post | Camillea Reads – Review | We Live and Breathe Books – Review

January 15th

The Heart of a Book Blogger – Interview | Blossoms and Bullet Journals – Review | Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Playlist | The Layaway Dragon – Review

Q & A Friday: Brendan Kiely on Tradition

Hi guys! In the spirit of continuing my mini-series on some fabulous 2018 reads, I have an interview with the great Brendan Kiely, the acclaimed co-author of All American Boys. In 2018, Kiely published his latest novel, Tradition. This book tackles tough topics in an accurate yet sensitive manner. I devoured this book once I started it! I hope you love it as much as I did, and be sure to keep an eye out for a review of it on the blog soon.

Here’s some things you might want to know about Brendan:

Brendan Kiely

Brendan Kiely received an MFA in creative writing from The City College of New York. His writing has appeared in Fiction, Guernica, The AWP Writer’s Chronicle, and other publications. Originally from the Boston area, he now teaches at an independent high school and lives with his wife in Greenwich Village.

Find Brendan here: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Want to know more about Tradition? Here’s the synopsis below!

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep

school where history looms in the leafy branches over its brick walkways. But some traditions upheld in its hallowed halls are profoundly dangerous.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. She wants freedom, but ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends are determined to keep her in place.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us.

When Jamie and Jules meet, they recognize in each other a similar instinct for survival, but at a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks, athletes stack hockey pucks in dorm room windows like notches on a bedpost, and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and remain silent about the school’s secrets intensify, they see Fullbrook for what it really is. That tradition, a word Fullbrook hides behind, can be ugly, even violent. Ultimately, Jules and Jamie are faced with the difficult question: can they stand together against classmates—and an institution—who believe they can do no wrong?

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Interview

Hi, Brendan!! Thank you for taking time to sit down to answer some of my questions. I loved Tradition, and I can’t wait to discuss it!

Thank you so much for reading it, and caring, and thank you for this interview!

To start things off, why don’t you give a brief overview of your book.

            Tradition is about two outsiders, Jules Devereux, a whip-smart, confident, rabble rouser, and James Baxter, a tough, and sensitive kid on a hockey scholarship, who become friends as they learn just how dangerous the school’s old-boy, misogynistic traditions can be. When Jules is assaulted by an ex-boyfriend, she and Bax risk everything they’ve spent their entire high school careers working for to break the school’s culture of silence and complicity.

This is a very heavy, but important topic that you cover, and you write it in such a lovely way. What was it like trying to tackle it?

            Thanks for this question. It means a lot to me. I write contemporary realistic fiction, and though this is a novel, and Jules and James are characters, not people, I try to be as careful as I can because their stories are so viscerally similar to real people’s stories, and so, when I write, I try to listen to the characters with as much care and consideration as if they were real people sitting in front of me, telling me their stories.

I think writing, like living, is all about practicing empathy.

Did you write this book with a certain intention or message?

            All my books begin with a question that is deeply affecting me. In this case it was this: How can our community better listen to and support women, especially those who have been speaking out about misogyny, harassment, and assault for so long, and in particular, how can men become better feminists? I tried to address that question by writing Tradition.

Jules is so awesome. Can you talk a little about where the characters came from? Do you start with characters or a place?

            Thank you! I think Jules is awesome too, because she reminds me of some of those awesome students I had the honor to teach, advise, and watch soar out into the world. I worked in a high school for ten years, and the students who peered around the school’s walls and stared out into the wider world, are the students who inspired Jules. And Bax too. So many young men (myself included) grow up with so much pressure to try to be tough athletes, and when those some of those boys get together, in order to prove to each other how tough they are, how much of a “man” they are, they say terrible things about women, or worse, sometimes act in disrespectful or even harmful ways towards women. But then there are the guys who witness all this and think to themselves, “this isn’t right.” I remember those students too—the guys who did want to listen, the guys who turned around to the other guys and said, enough is enough. Bax and his big, soft heart reminds me of those guys who are out there too.  

I always start with characters. I write scene after scene after scene getting to know them, and though most of those scenes get thrown out, I do it because it takes time getting to know someone—just like in real life!

How did writing these characters and this story contrast from your other works?

I love this question, because I think Jules in particular is so different and unique. As a man writing a book in which half of it is from a woman’s perspective, it was essential for me to get feedback from women along the way. In order to try to be as accountable as possible, I asked nine women to read over my shoulder as I wrote Tradition—while I’ve always asked for feedback from readers while working on a project, I’ve never had so much feedback at once, and I’m forever grateful for the time, attention, and care!

There’s a distinction between a harmful tradition and a fun, silly one. Is there a fun one that you enjoy?

            Yes! Absolutely. Tradition itself isn’t a bad thing, it’s only when the tradition is used an excuse to protect some people while others are being harmed that it’s a problem. Every year in Barcelona, on April 23, couples exchange books and roses with each other, the tradition is called the festival of St. Jordi. It’s been going on forever, and no one really knows how it started, but it’s awesome and still continues today—it’s like a super bookish Valentine’s Day! And closer to home, right where I grew up, it was a tradition for many years that many of the neighborhood families would gather at my friend Adam’s house for Christmas Eve, and his father would make the same calzone every year, and we’d all sit around the piano and sing while another friend’s father played the songs. But what makes these traditions fun is that they are inclusive—everyone feels a part of it. The traditions that bother me are those designer to make some people feel excluded, or insignificant, or disrespected in some way. Those are the kinds of traditions Jules and Bax want to tear down and expose for their ugliness.

Is there anything you’re currently working on that you can share a little about?

            Ahhhh!!! This is always the hardest question because when I’m in the middle of something I never know what it really is until I get to the end of the first draft. I will say this though, I love telling stories that are full of heart and emotion and people learning how to better listen to each other, and my next project follows in the same… well… tradition. Ha! Thanks so much for asking!

Thank you so much to Brendan for taking the time to speak with me on the blog! I encourage you all to go out and get yourselves a copy of this excellent novel.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

I know, I know. There are just about a bajillion lists like this out there already, but not one from me. I’m going to make more categorical lists in the future, but for now I’m going to stick to a big list overall.

2019 is going to be such a huge year for YA! There are more and more books with #OwnVoices rep coming out every year, and I’m so excited for the ones we have in store, especially the Asian-American ones! I’m going to write one specific list on that bad boy, but for now here are 4 of my highest anticipated ones.

1.Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy — March 5

Gender bent King Arthur? Nonbinary rep? A badass cast of characters? If that’s what you’re looking for check out this lovely novel! I love Cori and Amy Rose, they are my favorite writing duo, and my favorite duo in general. Keep an eye out for this gem come March!

Add it on: Goodreads Pre-order from: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

2. We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia — February 26

Set in a gorgeous world where people are discriminated against by their proximity to the unlivable conditions near the sea, this book brings political intrigue and mystery to your front door. This book has excellent rep and multiple badass women. Prepare to scream at that cliffhanger! Read my review of it here.

Add it on: Goodreads Pre-order from: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

3. Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Soloman — January 15

Best friends Peter and Sophie are inseparable, so much so that Sophie gives a kidney to Peter. No, really. Peter has been on the kidney donor list for years, and when Sophie turns out to be a match, she becomes his donor without hesitation. As they navigate their worlds post-surgery, they find that their relationship may not be what the other hopes and thinks. This book is an unrequited love gone bad, and I absolutely love that.

Add it on: Goodreads Pre-order from: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository Pre-order incentive: Rachel’s Website

4. The Wicked King by Holly Black — January 8

I read The Cruel Prince over break, and I was SCREAMING! I think that everyone and their mother has been ready for this book, and I can’t wait for my copy to come in!

Add it on: Goodreads Buy from: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

What are you hoping to get your grabby hands on as soon as it comes out?!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Chat: 4 Anticipated Reads of 2019

Posted in Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Sneak Peek Sunday: We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope the holiday season has treated you well. I’m here with a new review of one of my anticipated reads of the year. Seriously, guys, if you haven’t added this to your TBR, you need to right now. Thank you to the publisher for sending a copy for review! This had no influence on my reading and reviewing of this book.

Title: We Set the Dark on Fire

Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Expected release: February 26, 2019

My rating: 5/5 Goodreads stars

In this daring and romantic fantasy debut perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Latinx authors Zoraida Córdova and Anna-Marie McLemore, society wife-in-training Dani has a great awakening after being recruited by rebel spies and falling for her biggest rival. 

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.

Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.

And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.

Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

Review

Once I opened this book it was really hard to set it down. I was swept up into the world of Medio immediately, and I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen.

Dani was fun to watch grow. Her strength and evolution throughout the bus was compelling. I love how she wasn’t afraid to stick up for herself, but knew when to back down. She knew her weaknesses, and while they seemed like a setback, they proved to be a strength in the end.

I didn’t know what to think of Carmen the whole book. She seemed on the fence, never truly committed the whole time. That’s all I’ll be able to say about her without giving much away.

One of my favorite parts of the book were the Latinx elements. They were rich within the story, and slipped in flawlessly and respectfully. I couldn’t imagine a better setting.

There were so many twists and turns in the plot. I didn’t know who to trust! Everyone seemed suspect, and I didn’t even know who I wanted to win. I wish we got to know Alex more, and I hope that we do in the second book. I loved it so much, I am already dying to read book two!!!!!!

Make sure to get that pre-order because you’ll want to read it as soon as it comes out.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Wow, can you believe it’s already 2019? And this is the FOURTH volume of my small updates. I can’t believe the time has flown by so fast. It feels just like yesterday that I had started this blog with my fellow book lover Maiya. I was but a wee sophomore in high school. Flashforward, and I am not writing from my fourth semester in college.

I want to apologize for the lack of posting. I always say that I will be more active every year, and it honestly just slips by the wayside as I get busier. It’s harder when I have so much on my plate and I’m out of a regular habit of writing. I’m going to try in earnest this year to write more on here. I want to document more moments of my life in writing, and this is going to be my way in!

2018 Review

I read 79 books last year! My goal was to read 100, but once I started the fall semester I really hit the ground running. It didn’t bode well for my reading. That being said, I did get quite a lot in there! I’m doing a mini series of books I loved featuring author interviews, and you can see the first post here.

I also started my second fall semester of college! I was really excited to go back — I missed my best friends so much! It was a hard semester for me. I joined three groups on campus, and am finally facing a lot of personal questions I didn’t know I had. I feel that I’m getting know myself better through this entire process though. Shout out to my two best friends, Abby and Haley, (and my family!) for letting me ugly cry so much in front of them!

Here are some of my absolute favorite memories of the fall:

2019 Resolutions

I’m not much one for sticking to resolutions. I’m quite terrible at it to be honest, but this year I want to set just a few to see it they’ll stick better.

  1. Blog three times a week
  2. Read 80 books
  3. Complete a third year of bullet journaling
  4. Complete a spring and fall semester with at least a 3.5 GPA

They may be small, but I’m ready to focus all my energy into them.

What are some of your resolutions? Tell me in the comments below!

Current Obsessions

Currently Listening: I’m still so in love with K-Pop, and I’ve expanded who I listen to! I also recently started listening to C-Pop, mostly Mandopop. There are so many great artists out there, and I’m so impressed by their talent.

Here’s a playlist of my current K-Pop faves that no one asked for:

Do you listen to K- or C-Pop? What groups do you follow? Any suggestions?

Currently reading: I’m reading so many books right now it’s not even funny.

Currently Watching:

  • The Memories of Alhambra, it’s a kdrama currently being updated on Netflix, and I’m obsessed! I can’t wait to see what happens
  • Fresh Off the Boat, I loved Constance Wu so much in Crazy Rich Asians that I decided to watch her tv show!

I hope you liked this update! I don’t know how often I will do a life update, but maybe if I stick to blogging it’ll be once a week. I can’t wait to see what 2019 holds for us, and thank you for sticking it out with me over the years.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

My Bookish Life, pt. 1, vol. 4: New Year’s Resolutions & 2019 Updates

Posted in Bloggers, Q & A, Sophie

Q & A Friday: Siobhan Vivian Talks Stay Sweet

Hi there! I hope you’ve had a good new year so far! I’m going to feature a few authors whose books I read and absolutely loved last year. I had the chance to interview them thanks to their amazing publicist.

Today I’m talking with Siobhan Vivian, author of Stay Sweet, and many other novels. (Read my review of Stay Sweet here.) Siobhan was actually the first author who did an interview on my blog here! You can read that here.

Here’s a little more about her formally:

Siobhan Vivian

Siobhan Vivian is the author of THE LAST BOY AND GIRL IN THE WORLD (April 2016), as well as THE LIST, NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL, SAME DIFFERENCE, and A LITTLE FRIENDLY ADVICE. She also co-wrote BURN FOR BURN series with her best friend JENNY HAN. She currently lives in Pittsburgh.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

I absolutely loved Stay Sweet, and couldn’t put it down when I took it with me over spring break! Here’s some more info about the book.

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—

Stay Sweet

the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository |IndieBound

Interview

Hi, Siobhan! Thank you so much for taking time to sit down and answer my questions. It’s lovely getting to work with you again, but this time forJustine! I wish you the best with Stay Sweet, and I’m already looking forward to your next book We Are the Wildcats.

Thank you so much for the great questions, Sophie! It’s always a pleasure to “speak” with you! J

Let’s start with you describing your book in ten words or less.

Simply put, it’s about sisterhood, summer, ice cream, and romance.

A big part of this novel is about Molly Meade, a self-made woman who owned her own business. Where did you come up with the character of Molly?

Molly is based in large part on a teenage version of my grandmother, who was very resourceful, ambitious, and driven, particularly for a girl in the 1940s. And the more research I did about that time in American history, I realized that many of the challenges young women were facing back then parallel the issues of our time.

If you were the proprietor of your own business, what would it be? Why?

I would love to run a small coffee shop with homemade baked goods, because coffee and baked goods are fundamental to my daily existence. 

While it’s written in third person, this follows mainly Amelia. What was it like writing in her headspace? Did you think about writing a little from Cate’s perspective too?

I actually wrote several drafts of Stay Sweet in first person, and it just never felt right. I found it very difficult to capture the timelessness and history of Meade Creamery through Amelia’s contemporary perspective. I also didn’t like how the story transitioned from Amelia’s POV into Molly’s diary entries in first person. There wasn’t enough POW to the change in perspective. Once I made the decision to change it to third person, I felt more deeply immersed in the storytelling.

I love the best friendship in this book. It reminded me of all the girls who have been there for me in the same way. Did you draw on your own relationships to help build the friendship between Cate and Amelia?

Oh absolutely. I’m extremely lucky to have befriended several strong, successful, sparkly women throughout my life and I used lots of different facets of them to build the friendship between Amelia and Cate.

Have you ever worked in an ice cream shop yourself? If so, what was your favorite part?

I never did! But one of my former students at The University of Pittsburgh worked at a small ice cream parlor and she gave me many incredible details.

How did you come up with the flavor Home Sweet Home?

I had a really in-depth conversation with Katie Heldstab—one of the founders of Pittsburgh’s Leona’s Ice Cream (www.leonaspgh.com) –about what ingredients someone might use to sweeten ice cream if they didn’t have access to sugar. Katie is a graduate of the infamous Penn State Ice Cream program and super well-versed in the science and chemistry of ice cream making. Her input was beyond helpful!

Alright to wrap this up, is there anything you can share about your upcoming novel with us?

Yes! It’s a 24-hour clock, which is a device I’ve always wanted to use in a book. And I’m returning to a mutli POV ala my book The List. Finally, the story allows me to explore one of my favorite themes—all the complicated and magical ways that girls form friendships with each other.

Thank you so much, Siobhan, for taking the time to answer my questions! I can’t wait to read We Are the Wildcats!! Please be sure to check out all of her books — they’re divine!!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Sneak Peek Sunday: The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

Hey there! I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season. I’m writing from my home in West Michigan, and I’m glad to finally be home after such a long, hard semester. I’m super excited to bring this review to you of Maureen Johnson’s newest book in the Truly Devious series — The Vanishing Stair which is set to come out January 22 of 2019. If you wanted to read my review of Truly Devious first, look no further than this link! Without further ado, here is more about the book.

Title: The Vanishing Stair

Author: Maureen Johnson

Publisher: Katherine Tegan BFYR

Expected Release: January 22, 2019

My rating: 5/5 Goodreads Stars

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but

instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.

The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

Review

This book was so epic! I couldn’t put it down once I got into it. I got it when I was in the middle of homework, and it took everything in me to not stop what I was doing and dig right in. I absolutely loved getting back into this world and re-familiarizing myself with the characters.

The book picks up right around where Truly Devious finishes. I was anxious to see what had happened to Stevie after that jaw-dropping ending. I thought this book would be the end in a duology, but there definitely will be a third book, and OH MY GOD THAT ENDING!!!!!!!!!!!!

One of my favorite parts about this book is how well it does with representation and how respectful it is of it. You can tell this was written sensitively, and all of the characters are genuine. There is pan rep, Asian-Am rep, and so many others. I really love how this is not The Thing, but A Thing. There needs to be more stories with characters doing things and living their lives — not just about their race/gender/sexuality/etc.

I also really liked how openly Stevie deals with her mental health. There is one part where she has to give herself points for doing small tasks, and that’s a really healthy coping mechanism discussed. I think this part is well written and written true to experience.

Overall, this was an amazing book! I cannot wait for the third book, and I can’t believe it’s going to be about a year until the next one!!! I highly, highly recommend you get yourself a copy. I would not miss out on this sequel!

Author Tour

Did you know Maureen Johnson is going on tour for this book?! I’m so sad this isn’t coming anywhere near me, but be sure to check out the stops and dates along with the other authors going with her! Check it out here.

Happy reading!

Sophie 🙂