Currently Reading: I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Title_ I Believe in a Thing Called Love (1)

What It’s About:

Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and never had a B. But in her charmed school life, there”s one thing missing-she”s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she”s a known disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet.

When the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides it”s time to tackle her flirting failures. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has watched obsessively for years-in which the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos. All”s fair in love and Korean dramas, right? But when the fun and games turn to feelings, Desi finds out that real-life love is about way more than just drama.


Currently Reading...Reboot


I am halfway through rereading this book, and it is just as hilarious and fun as the first time I read it.

Each character feels unique and interesting (sidenote: Even Wes in his infinite grossness).  Desi is one of my favorite things about this book.  She’s smart, funny, and ridiculously human.  Not everything can go right all the time and many things are out of our control.  Romance can be especially tricky.

Her Dad is another favorite thing for me.  His character is so charming and I adore the fact that he loves kdramas and isn’t shy about it (sidenote: my own mum watches her own dramas from the home country every day without fail).

The book is so funny and wild and just the thing I needed right now.  Thank you, Maurene Goo.    I’m going to read some more of this novel tomorrow.

On a Theme: Space Travel in YA

ON A THEME - redesign

Hello and welcome to the second part of this On a Theme series of transportive books.

This time we’re going to space!  You will read about ships and stars and the quiet horrors of space.  Maybe you’re not so excited about that last part but it’s there.

I think it’s time we blow this scene. Three, two, one, blast off!


spaceships & other planets


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Title: Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1)
Written by:  Beth Revis

What It’s About:  A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone—one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship —tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.


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Title:  The Loneliest Girl in the Universe
Written by:  Lauren James

What It’s About:  A surprising and gripping sci-fi thriller with a killer twist.

The daughter of two astronauts, Romy Silvers is no stranger to life in space. But she never knew how isolating the universe could be until her parents’ tragic deaths left her alone on the Infinity, a spaceship speeding away from Earth.

Romy tries to make the best of her lonely situation, but with only brief messages from her therapist on Earth to keep her company, she can’t help but feel like something is missing. It seems like a dream come true when NASA alerts her that another ship, the Eternity, will be joining the Infinity.

Romy begins exchanging messages with J, the captain of the Eternity, and their friendship breathes new life into her world. But as the Eternity gets closer, Romy learns there’s more to J’s mission than she could have imagined. And suddenly, there are worse things than being alone…


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Title:  The Disasters 
Written by:  M.K. England

What It’s About:  Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours. But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy.

Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run, Nax and his fellow failures plan to pull off a dangerous heist to spread the truth. Because they may not be “Academy material,” and they may not even get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.


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Title: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1)
Written by: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

What It’s About:  The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch . . .

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

NOBODY PANIC.


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Title:  Ignite the Stars (Ignite the Stars #1)
Written by: Maura Milan

What It’s About:  Everyone in the universe knows his name. Everyone in the universe fears him. But no one realizes that notorious outlaw Ia Cocha is a seventeen-year-old girl.

A criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, Ia has spent her life terrorizing the Olympus Commonwealth, the imperialist nation that destroyed her home. When the Commonwealth captures her and her true identity is exposed, they see Ia’s age and talent as an opportunity: by forcing her to serve them, they will prove that no one is beyond their control.

Soon, Ia is trapped at the Commonwealth’s military academy, desperately plotting her escape. But new acquaintances—including Brinn, a seemingly average student with a closely-held secret, and their charming Flight Master, Knives—cause Ia to question her own alliances. Can she find a way to escape the Commonwealth’s clutches before these bonds deepen?


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Title:  Brightly Burning 
Written by:  Alexa Donne

What It’s About:  Stella Ainsley leaves poverty behind when she quits her engineering job aboard the Stalwart to become a governess on a private ship. On the Rochester, there’s no water ration, more books than one person could devour in a lifetime, and an AI who seems more friend than robot.

But no one warned Stella that the ship seems to be haunted, nor that it may be involved in a conspiracy that could topple the entire interstellar fleet. Surrounded by mysteries, Stella finds her equal in the brooding but kind nineteen-year-old Captain Hugo. When several attempts on his life spark more questions than answers, and the beautiful Bianca Ingram appears at Hugo’s request, his unpredictable behavior causes Stella’s suspicions to mount. Without knowing who to trust, Stella must decide whether to follow her head or her heart.


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Title:  Empress of a Thousand Skies (Empress of a Thousand Skies #1)
Written by:  Rhoda Belleza

What It’s About:

Empress
Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Fugitive
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

Madman
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly must confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.


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Title: Defy the Stars (Constellation #1)
Written by:  Claudia Gray

What It’s About:  She”s a soldier–Noemi Vidal is willing to risk anything to protect her planet, Genesis, including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she”s a rebel.

He”s a machine–Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel”s advanced programming has begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he”s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they”re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they”re forced to question everything they”d been taught was true.


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Title:  Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1)
Written by:  Scott Reintgen

What It’s About: What would you be willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune?

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.


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Title: Tarnished are the Stars
Written by:  Rosiee Thor

What It’s About:  A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: An illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog — donning the moniker Technician — to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner’s tyrannical laws.

Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner’s son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father’s respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father’s elusive affection is worth chasing at all.

Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner’s secrets at any cost — even if it means betraying her own heart.

When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic — before the Commissioner ends them first.


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Title:  Pitch Dark
Written by:  Courtney Alameda

What It’s About:  Lost to time, Tuck Morgan and his crew have slept in stasis aboard the USS John Muir for centuries. Their ship harbors a chunk of Earth, which unbeknownst to them, is the last hope for the failing human race.

Laura Cruz is a shipraider searching the galaxy for the history that was scattered to the stars. Once her family locates the John Muir and its precious cargo, they are certain human civilization is saved.

When Tuck’s and Laura’s worlds collide-literally-the two teens must outwit their enemies, evade brutal monsters that kill with sound, and work together to save the John Muir . . . and the whole human race.


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Title:  Star-Crossed
Written by:  Pintip Dunn

What It’s About: Princess Vela’s people are starving.

Stranded on a planet that lacks food, Vela makes the ultimate sacrifice and becomes an Aegis for her people. Accepting a genetic modification that takes sixty years off her life, she can feed her colony via nutrition pills. But her best friend is still getting worse. And she’s not the only one.

Now the king is dying, too.

When the boy she’s had a crush on since childhood volunteers to give his life for her father’s, Vela realizes her people need more than pills to survive. As tensions rise between Aegis and colonists, secrets and sabotage begin to threaten the future of the colony itself.

Unless Vela is brave enough to save them all.


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Title:  These Broken Stars  (Starbound #1)
Written by:  Meagan Spooner & Amie Kaufman

What It’s About:  It”s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they”re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.


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Title:  Starflight (Starflight, #1)
Written by:  Melissa Landers

What It’s About:  Solara Brooks needs a fresh start, someplace where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. The outer realm may be lawless, but it”s not like the law has ever been on her side.


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Title:  The Pioneer
Written by: Bridget Tyler

What It’s About:  When Jo steps onto planet Tau Ceti e for the first time, she’s ready to put the past behind her and begin again. After all, as a pioneer, she has the job of helping build a new home away from Earth.

But underneath the idyllic surface of their new home, there’s something very wrong. And when Jo accidentally uncovers a devastating secret that could destroy everything they’ve worked for, suddenly the future doesn’t seem so bright.

With the fate of the pioneers in her hands, Jo must decide how far she’s willing to go to expose the truth—before the truth destroys them all.


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Title:  Bonds of Brass  (The Bloodright Trilogy #1)
Written by:  Emily Skrutskie

What It’s About:  Ettian’s life was shattered when the merciless Umber Empire invaded his world. He’s spent seven years putting himself back together under its rule, joining an Umber military academy and becoming the best pilot in his class. Even better, he’s met Gal—his exasperating and infuriatingly enticing roommate who’s made the academy feel like a new home.

But when dozens of classmates spring an assassination plot on Gal, a devastating secret comes to light: Gal is the heir to the Umber Empire. Ettian barely manages to save his best friend and flee the compromised academy unscathed, rattled that Gal stands to inherit the empire that broke him, and that there are still people willing to fight back against Umber rule.

As they piece together a way to deliver Gal safely to his throne, Ettian finds himself torn in half by an impossible choice. Does he save the man who’s won his heart and trust that Gal’s goodness could transform the empire? Or does he throw his lot in with the brewing rebellion and fight to take back what’s rightfully theirs?


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Title:  Glow (Sky Chasers #1)
Written by:  Amy Kathleen Ryan

What It’s About:   The Empyrean is the only home 15-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband. Everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Still, there’s a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage, and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean’s sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon’s leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster.


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Title: Mirage (Mirage #1)
Written by:  Somaiya Daud

What It’s About:  In a world dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated home.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty-and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.


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Title:  Heart of Iron (Heart of Iron #1)
Written by:  Ashley Poston

What It’s About:  Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?


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Title:  Honor Among Thieves (The Honors #1)
Written by:  Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

What It’s About:  Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.


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Title:  Rogue Princess
Written by: B.R. Myers

What It’s About:  Princess Delia knows her duty: She must choose a prince to marry in order to secure an alliance and save her failing planet. Yet she secretly dreams of true love, and feels there must be a better way. Determined to chart her own course, she steals a spaceship to avoid the marriage, only to discover a handsome stowaway.

All Aidan wanted was to “borrow” a few palace trinkets to help him get off the planet. Okay, so maybe escaping on a royal ship wasn’t the smartest plan, but he never expected to be kidnapped by a runaway princess!

Sparks fly as this headstrong princess and clever thief battle wits, but everything changes when they inadvertently uncover a rebel conspiracy that could destroy their planet forever.


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Title:  Sanctuary (Sanctuary #1)
Written by: Caryn Lix

What It’s About:  Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.

As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.

But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.

At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.

As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.


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Title:  Last of Her Name
Written by:  Jessica Khoury

What It’s About:  Sixteen years ago, rebellion swept the galaxy known as the Belt of Jewels. Every member of the royal family was murdered–down to their youngest child, Princess Anya–and the Union government rose in its place. But Stacia doesn’t think much about politics. She spends her days half-wild, rambling her father’s vineyard with her closest friends, Clio and Pol.

That all changes the day a Union ship appears in town, carrying the leader of the Belt himself, the Direktor Eminent. The Direktor claims that Princess Anya is alive, and that Stacia’s sleepy village is a den of empire loyalists, intent on hiding her. When Stacia is identified as the lost princess, her provincial home explodes into a nightmare.

Pol smuggles her away to a hidden escape ship in the chaos, leaving Clio in the hands of the Union. With everything she knows threading away into stars, Stacia sets her heart on a single mission. She will find and rescue Clio, even with the whole galaxy on her trail.


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Title:  The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World #1)
Written by:  Rin Chupeco

What It’s About:  Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon-until one sister’s betrayal split their world in two. A Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in eternal night, the other scorched beneath an ever-burning sun.

While one sister rules the frozen fortress of Aranth, her twin rules the sand-locked Golden City-each with a daughter by their side. Now those young goddesses must set out on separate, equally dangerous journeys in hopes of healing their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.


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Title:  Light Years (Light Years #1)
Written by:  Kass Morgan

What It’s About:  Reeling from a devastating attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is opening its doors to a new class of cadets from every planet in the solar system.

Hotshot pilot Vesper dreams of becoming a captain, but when she loses her spot to a wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, she begins to question everything she thought she knew. Trapped on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can to join the Academy–even if he has to steal someone”s identity to get there. Arran was always an outcast on icy Chetire and is looking for a place to belong. He just never thought it would be in the arms of the hottest guy in the galaxy. And Orelia has infiltrated the fleet to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone around her. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it”ll be her life on the line….

As worlds collide at the Academy, these four cadets will have to learn to work together if they want to survive. But how do you begin to trust the very people you”ve spent a lifetime learning to hate?


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Title:  Starglass (Starglass #1)
Written by:  Phoebe North

What It’s About:  For generations, those aboard the Asherah have lived within strict rules meant to help them survive the journey from a doomed Earth to their promised land, the planet Zehava—which may or may not be habitable, a question whose imperative grows now, in the dwindling months before touchdown.

Sixteen-year-old Terra’s situation is tough. A dead mom. A grieving dad. A bitchy boss, and a betrothed who won’t kiss her no matter how bad she wants it. She’s doing her best to stay afloat, even when she gets assigned a vocation she has no interest in: botany.

But after Terra witnesses the Captain’s guard murder an innocent man, she’s drawn into a secret rebellion bent on restoring power to the people. The stakes are higher than anything she could have imagined. When the rebellion gives Terra an all-important mission, she has to decide where her loyalties lie for once and for all. Because she has started to fall for the boy she’s been sent to assassinate…


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Title:  Contagion  (Contagion #1)
Written by:  Erin Bowman

What It’s About: After receiving a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is sent into deep space to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

When they arrive, they find the planet littered with the remains of the project—including its members’ dead bodies. As they try to piece together what could have possibly decimated an entire project, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.


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Title:  Salvage (Salvage #1)
Written by: Alexandra Duncan

What It’s About: Ava is the captain’s daughter. This allows her limited freedom and a certain status in the Parastrata‘s rigid society—but it doesn’t mean she can read or write or even withstand the forces of gravity. When Ava learns she is to be traded in marriage to another merchant ship, she hopes for the best. After all, she is the captain’s daughter. But instead, betrayal, banishment, and a brush with love and death are her destiny, and Ava stows away on a mail sloop bound for Earth in order to escape both her past and her future. The gravity almost kills her. Gradually recuperating in a stranger’s floating cabin on the Gyre, a huge mass of scrap and garbage in the Pacific Ocean, Ava begins to learn the true meaning of family and home and trust—and she begins to nourish her own strength and soul.


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Title: Queen’s Shadow
Written by:  E.K. Johnson

What It’s About:  When Padmé Naberrie, “Queen Amidala” of Naboo, steps down from her position, she is asked by the newly-elected queen to become Naboo’s representative in the Galactic Senate. Padmé is unsure about taking on the new role, but cannot turn down the request to serve her people. Together with her most loyal handmaidens, Padmé must figure out how to navigate the treacherous waters of politics and forge a new identity beyond the queen’s shadow.

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Title: Queen’s Peril
Written by:  E.K. Johnson

What It’s About:  When fourteen-year-old Padmé Naberrie wins the election for Queen of Naboo, she adopts the name Amidala and leaves her family to the rule from the royal palace. To keep her safe and secure, she”ll need a group of skilled handmaidens who can be her assistants, confidantes, defenders, and decoys. Each girl is selected for her particular talents, but it will be up to Padmé to unite them as a group. When Naboo is invaded by forces of the Trade Federation, Queen Amidala and her handmaidens will face the greatest test–of themselves, and of each other.


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Title:  Rebel Rising
Written by:  Beth Revis

What It’s About:  When Jyn Erso was five years old, her mother was murdered and her father taken from her to serve the Empire. But despite the loss of her parents she is not completely alone-Saw Gerrera, a man willing to go to any extremes necessary in order to resist Imperial tyranny, takes her in as his own, and gives her not only a home but all the abilities and resources she needs to becomea rebel herself.

Jyn dedicates herself to the cause-and the man. But fighting alongside Saw and his people brings with it danger and the question of just how far Jyn is willing to go as one of Saw’s soldiers. When she faces an unthinkable betrayal that shatters her world, Jyn will have to pull the pieces of herself back together and figure out what she truly believes in… and who she can really trust.


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Title:  The Stars We Steal
Written by: Alexa Donne

What It’s About:  Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, has only one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love, Elliot, returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one who got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself falling for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.


ya-graphic-novels


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Title:  Voices of a Distant Star
Written by:  Makoto Shinkai
Illustrated by: Mizu Sahara

What It’s About:  Mikako Nagamine is recruited as a pilot to fight in the interstellar war against a force of alien invaders, leaving behind her one true love. Mikako’s only connection to Noboru Terao, who continues living the life of an ordinary student, is through cell phone text messages. As Mikako travels light years away, it takes longer and longer for Noboru to receive her messages, until finally one arrives eight years and seven months after she sent it…


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Title:  Voices of a Distant Star: Words of Love/ Across the Stars
Written by:  Arata Kanoh & Makoto Shinkai

What It’s About:  The word, “world”…

I vaguely thought it meant anywhere there was cell phone reception.

It’s the year 2046. Mikako Nagamine and Noboru Terao are middle school classmates, tentatively sharing an unspoken first love—but unbeknownst to him, Mikako has been recruited into the UN Space Force, and instead of going on to high school, will join the spacecraft Lysithea to search for alien Tarsians. As she travels further and further to the outer reaches of the solar system, the time it takes for a text message to reach the Earth grows longer and longer. Back on Earth, time passes normally for Noboru, but as the years pass he still can’t forget the voice on the other side of the cell phone…


Note: The above title is a light novel based on the original story by Makoto Shinkai. 


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Title:  Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Glory of the Losers  Vol. 1
Written by: Katsuyuki Sumizawa
Illustrated by:  Tomofumi Ogasawara

What It’s About:  In the year A.C. (After Colony) 195, humankind had flown its nest, the Earth, to search for new hope while living in space colonies. However, the United Earth Sphere Alliance has used its military might under the guise of “justice and peace” to seize control of some colonies, and those colonies have lost their autonomy and have been forced into silence. But the seeds of resistance have not been entirely crushed. “Operation Meteor” is about to take flight…


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Title:  ASTRA LOST IN SPACE, VOL. 1: PLANET CAMP
Written and drawn by: Kenta Shinohara

What It’s About:  What starts as a pleasant class trip to a planet five light-years away becomes a nightmare survival trip to get back home.

In the year 2063, interstellar space travel has become the norm. What sort of adventure awaits on the new frontier?

It’s the first day of Planet Camp, and Aries Spring couldn’t be more excited! She, along with eight other strangers, leave for Planet McPa for a weeklong excursion. Soon after they arrive, however, a mysterious orb appears and transports them into the depths of space, where they find an empty floating spaceship…


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Title:  On a Sunbeam
Written by:  Tillie Walden

What It’s About:  Two timelines. Second chances. One love.

A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together.

Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love-only to learn the pain of loss.

With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love.


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Title:  STAR WARS: DOCTOR APHRA VOL. 1: APHRA
Written by:  Kieron Gillen
Illustrated by: Kev Walker

What It’s About: Following her time in the clutches of Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra has barely escaped with her life. If he ever learns of her survival, he’ll hunt her to the ends of the galaxy. But for now, it’s time for a return to what she does best. With the droids 0-0-0 and BT-1 in tow, she’s off in search of rare artifacts from the galactic center to the Outer Rim and everywhere in between. Aphra’s got debts to pay after all. Just as long as she can stay one step ahead of the Empire, some Bounty Hunters and just about everyone else in the galaxy!


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Title: STAR WARS: POE DAMERON VOL. 1: BLACK SQUADRON
Written by: Charles Soule
Illustrated by:  Phil Noto

What It’s About:  Poe Dameron, former Republic flyer turned Resistance fighter, is the best pilot in the galaxy. Hand-picked for the resistance by General Leia Organa to lead a squadron on a top secret and vital mission…Poe sets off investigating sites of historical importance to the Force.


39668119. sy475 Title:  Star Wars: Lando – Double or Nothing
Written by:  Rodney Barnes
Illustrated by:  Paolo Villanelli

What It’s About:  Lando isn’t one to stick his neck out…unless there are credits to be had. So when oppressed workers in a droid junkyard need his help, they’d better hope their freedom is worth something to him.

But one of their number is out to turn Lando over to his enemies — and there are plenty of those. Will a galaxy of bad guys finally get their due against the ultimate thorn in their side?


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Title:  Joyride Vol. 1
Written by: Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly
Illustrated by: Marcus To

What It’s About:  Earth Sucks. Steal a Spaceship.

Earth sucks. The stars have been blocked out for so long that people have forgotten there was anything else besides the World Government Alliance watching over them. Uma Akkolyte is a girl who shoots first, leaps before she looks, and is desperate for any means to leave her planet behind. And so she does. When Uma jacks an alien spaceship and punches through the stratosphere she sets forth on an adventure with an unlikely crew who are totally not ready for all the good, bad, and weird the universe will throw at them.


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Title:  Cosmoknights (Book One)
Written and art by: Hannah Templer

What It’s About:  For this ragtag band of space gays, liberation means beating the patriarchy at its own game.

Pan’s life used to be very small. Work in her dad’s body shop, sneak out with her friend Tara to go dancing, and watch the skies for freighter ships. It didn’t even matter that Tara was a princess… until one day it very much did matter, and Pan had to say goodbye forever. Years later, when a charismatic pair of off-world gladiators show up on her doorstep, she finds that life may not be as small as she thought. On the run and off the galactic grid, Pan discovers the astonishing secrets of her neo-medieval world… and the intoxicating possibility of burning it all down.

Finished Reading: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Title_ Stalking Jack the Ripper

What It’s About:  Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege, stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine.

When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.


Finished Reading...Reboot


In Stalking Jack the Ripper, Kerri Maniscalco transports readers to 1888 London during the horrific time of Jack the Ripper’s crimes.  Secrets, horror, blood, and madness abound in this novel as Audrey Rose Wadsworth races to catch a murderer.

I picked up this novel because a friend of mine recommended the book to me.  However, I found myself disappointed by this book.  The description had me so interested and it had elements that hooked me.

My two issues with this novel are 1) the characters were underdeveloped and unlikable and 2) it wasn’t exciting.  Make no mistake though, there were parts of the book that I did enjoy.

From Audrey Rose to Thomas Creswell to the Uncle to Nathanial.  There felt like there was very little character development here for many characters.  Thomas Creswell felt like an unoriginal love-interest and heavily influenced by a version of a character that already exists. I would have enjoyed their relationship more if there had been any sort of actual build-up rather than an instant love.  And the fact that Audrey Rose’s mother was of Indian heritage and yet the book did not address how this affected her life.  Audrey Rose is a bi-racial character and it should have been more important to her character during that time period.

I did love Audrey’s Rose’s passion for forensic science though and her determined pursuit of it was incredibly strong.  The moment she stood up to her father and verbally tore him to bits is one of my favorite parts of the book.  However, I did not enjoy her “I’m not like the other girls” schtick.  Many women of status and wealth during this time had interests but couldn’t pursue them because they were women, and so independent and private study was their only option.

The Jack the Ripper mystery is supposed to be exciting because it is so prolific.  I found that each step we took towards the conclusion wasn’t coming across as tense or as frightful as the author wanted to make it.   I guessed who the murderer was after a few chapters but would have enjoyed the book more if it had kept me guessing.  I like that about reading mysteries.  You, the reader, gather clues and create your own suspect list, and it is only at the end that you find out if you were right or wrong.  I think the final reveal of the murderer was very interesting and was terrifying and easily the best part of the book.  The overall story?  Disappointing.

I do want to check out the next book in the series though.  We’ll see what I think about that one when I get to it.

Rating_


If you are looking to read more about the victims of Jack the Ripper’s crimes, who deserve more attention, the following book would be a good start.

Title:  The Five: The Lives of Jack the Ripper’s Women
Written by:  Hallie Rubenhold

What It’s About: Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London-the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper

Polly, Annie, Elisabeth, Catherine, and Mary Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffeehouses, lived on country estates; they breathed ink dust from printing presses and escaped human traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that the Ripper” preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, but it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness, and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time-but their greatest misfortune was to be born women.

On a Theme: Travel in YA

ON A THEME - redesign

For the next few On a Theme posts, I’m going to focus on some YA books that take readers away on a trip.  Whether it is to a different country or a different time or a different world or on the road, I’ll be making a reading list to take you there.

This On a Theme post, specifically, will focus on travelling outside of North America.  There is a mix of contemporary stories here, some fun and adventurous, some emotional and painful, and some that journey to the past for a time.

I hope we can enjoy the journey together!


Destination_England


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Title:  Again, but Better
Written by:  Christine Riccio

What It’s About: Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents.sounds ideal — but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance.what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change — there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic – the possibilities are endless.


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Title:  The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Written by:  Jennifer E. Smith

What It’s About:   Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having just missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother, Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?


11721314Title:  Meant to Be
Written by: Lauren Morrill

What It’s About:  This spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love. Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.


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Title:  A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow
Written by:  Laura Taylor Namey

What It’s About:  For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart.

Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.

A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.

Sidenote: This novel is scheduled to be released on October 6, 2020.


Destination_ France


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Title:  Anna and the French Kiss
Written by: Stephanie Perkins

What It’s About: Anna can’t wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?


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Title:  Vidalia in Paris
Written by:  Sasha Watson

What It’s About:  When Vidalia wins a scholarship to study art abroad for the summer, she can’t believe her good fortune. Paris is filled with surprises, including Julien, the nice bookstore clerk Vidalia should like as more than a friend, and Marco, the mysterious art dealer she can’t stay away from. By the time she finds out the truth about the paintings Marco sells, she’s fallen for him too hard to really care. But when his crimes threaten to involve her directly, Vidalia has to separate reason from passion.


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Title:  Romancing the Dark in the City of Light
Written by:  Ann Jacobus

What It’s About:  Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on the right track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can’t shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth.

When Summer’s behavior manage to alienate everyone, even Moony, she’s forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living.


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Title:  Revolution
Written by: Jennifer Donnelly

What It’s About:  Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And her father has determined that accompanying him to Paris for winter break is the solution for everything.

But Paris is a city of ghosts for Andi. And when she finds a centuries-old diary, the ghosts begin to walk off the page. Alexandrine, the owner of the journal, lived during the French Revolution. She’s angry too. It’s the same fire that consumes Andi, and Andi finds comfort in it—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs, words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes terrifyingly present.


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Title: Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know
Written by:  Samira Ahmed

What It’s About:  It’s August in Paris and 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is at a crossroads. This holiday with her parents should be a dream trip for the budding art historian. But her maybe-ex-boyfriend is probably ghosting her, she might have just blown her chance at getting into her dream college, and now all she really wants is to be back home in Chicago figuring out her messy life instead of brooding in the City of Light.

Two hundred years before Khayyam’s summer of discontent, Leila is struggling to survive and keep her true love hidden from the Pasha who has “gifted” her with favored status in his harem. In the present day—and with the company of a descendant of Alexandre Dumas—Khayyam begins to connect allusions to an enigmatic 19th-century Muslim woman whose path may have intersected with Alexandre Dumas, Eugène Delacroix, and Lord Byron.

Echoing across centuries, Leila and Khayyam’s lives intertwine, and as one woman’s long-forgotten life is uncovered, another’s is transformed.


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Title:  The Paper Girl of Paris
Written by:  Jordyn Taylor

What It’s About: 

NOW:  Sixteen-year-old Alice is spending the summer in Paris, but she isn’t there for pastries and walks along the Seine. When her grandmother passed away two months ago, she left Alice an apartment in France that no one knew existed. An apartment that has been locked for more than seventy years.

Alice is determined to find out why the apartment was abandoned and why her grandmother never once mentioned the family she left behind when she moved to America after World War II. With the help of Paul, a charming Parisian student, she sets out to uncover the truth. However, the more time she spends digging through the mysteries of the past, the more she realizes there are secrets in the present that her family is still refusing to talk about.

THEN: Sixteen-year-old Adalyn doesn’t recognize Paris anymore. Everywhere she looks, there are Nazis, and every day brings a new horror of life under the Occupation. When she meets Luc, the dashing and enigmatic leader of a resistance group, Adalyn feels she finally has a chance to fight back.

But keeping up the appearance of being a much-admired socialite while working to undermine the Nazis is more complicated than she could have imagined. As the war goes on, Adalyn finds herself having to make more and more compromises—to her safety, to her reputation, and to her relationships with the people she loves the most.


Destination_ Ireland


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Title:  Love & Luck (Love & Gelato #2)
Written by: Jenna Evans Welch

What It’s About:  Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding and hoping she can stop thinking about the one thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.


Destination_ Scotland


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Title: Royals
Written by:  Rachel Hawkins

What It’s About:   Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part-time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond.

While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.


Destination_ Italy


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Title:  Love & Gelato (Love & Gelato #1)
Written by:  Jenna Evans Welch

What It’s About:  A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure.

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything Lina knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.


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Title:  Flirting in Italian (Flirting in Italian #1)
Written by:  Lauren Henderson

What It’s About:  Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!


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Title: Love, Lucy
Written by:  April Lindner

What It’s About:  While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food…and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her “vacation flirtation.” But just because summer is over doesn’t mean Lucy and Jesse have to be, does it?


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Title:  Instructions for a Broken Heart
Written by:  Kim Culbertson

What It’s About:  Top 20 Reasons He’s a Slimy Jerk Bastard Jessa: To help you get over your train wreck EX, I’ve enclosed 20 envelopes. Each one has a reason why Sean is a jerk and not worth the dirt on your shoes. And each one has an instruction for you to do one un-Jessa-like thing a day. NO CHEATING! Ciao! -C When Jessa catches her boyfriend, Sean, making out with Natalie the Boob Job” Stone three days before their drama club’s departure to Italy, she completely freaks. Stuck with a front-row view of Sean and Natalie making out against the backdrop of a country that oozes romance, Jessa promises to follow all of the outrageous instructions in her best friend’s care package and open her heart to new experiences. Enter cute Italian boy stage left. Jessa had prepared to play the role of humiliated ex-girlfriend, but with Carissa directing her life from afar, it’s finally time to take a shot at being a star.


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Title:  The Juliet Club
Written by:  Suzanne Harper

What It’s About: Kate Sanderson has been burned by love. From now on, she thinks, I will control my own destiny, and I will be reasoned and rational. But life has other things in store for Kate. Namely, a summer abroad studying Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the very town where the star-crossed lovers met, Verona, Italy. Kate is thrown together with two other American teens and three Italians for a special seminar—and for volunteer duty at the Juliet Club, where they answer letters from the lovelorn around the world. Can Kate’s cool logic withstand the most romantic summer ever? Especially when faced with the ever-so-charming Giacomo and his entrancing eyes . . . ?


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Title:  One Italian Summer
Written by:  Keris Stainton

What It’s About:  Milly loves her sisters more than anything—they are her best friends. But this holiday is different. The loss of their dad has left a gaping hole in their lives that none of them know how to fill. Heartbreak is a hard thing to fix. Still, there is plenty to keep the girls busy in Rome. A family wedding. Food, wine, parties and sun. And of course Luke. Luke is hot, there is no way around that. And Milly will always have a crush on him. But this summer is about family, being together, and learning to live without Dad. It isn’t about Luke at all—is it?


Destination_ Greece


Love & Olives (Love & Gelato, #3)

Title:  Love & Olives (Love & Gelato #3)
Written by:  Jenna Evans Welch

What It’s About:  Liv Varanakis doesn’t have a lot of fond memories of her father, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight. What Liv does remember, though, is their shared love for Greek myths and the lost city of Atlantis. So when Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father explaining that National Geographic is funding a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and will she fly out to Greece and help?—Liv jumps at the opportunity.

But when she arrives to gorgeous Santorini, things are a little…awkward. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. And yet Liv doesn’t want their past to get in the way of a possible reconciliation. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo—her father’s charismatic so-called “protégé”—to witness her struggle.

And that means diving into all that Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the hidden caves, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.

Sidenote: This novel is scheduled to be released on November 10, 2020.


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Title:  Sophmore Year is Greek to Me
Written by:  Meredith Zeitlin

What It’s About:  High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowned-journalist father. But when he announces they’re moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she’s devastated— he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona’s mother married an American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she’s supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks . . . but no thanks.

In the vein of Anna and the French Kiss, Zona navigates a series of hilarious escapades, eye-opening revelations, and unexpected reunions in a foreign country—all while documenting the trip through one-of-a-kind commentary.


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Title:  Cruel Summer
Written by:  Alyson Noel

What It’s About:  Having recently discarded her dorky image–and the best friend that went with it–Colby Cavendish is looking forward to a long hot season of parties, beach BBQ’s, and hopefully, more hook-ups with Levi Bonham, the hottest guy in school. But her world comes crashing down when her parents send her away to spend the summer in Greece with her crazy aunt Tally.

Stranded on a boring island with no malls, no cell phone reception, and an aunt who talks to her plants, Colby worries that her new friends have forgotten all about her. But when she meets Yannis, a cute Greek local, everything changes. She experiences something deeper and more intense than a summer fling, and it forces her to see herself, and the life she left behind, in a whole new way, in Alyson Noël ‘s Cruel Summer.


Destination_ All Over Europe


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Title:  I See London, I See France
Written by:  Sarah Mlynowski

What It’s About: Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and a half weeks travelling through Europe with her childhood best friend Leela. Their plans include Eiffel Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers.

Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug of war.

In this hilarious and unforgettable adventure, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Mlynowski tells the story of a girl learning to navigate secret romances, thorny relationships, and the London Tube. As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera…wearing only her polka dot underpants.


9 Days and 9 Nights

Title:  9 Days and 9 Nights
Written by:  Katie Cotugno

What It’s About:  Molly Barlow isn’t that girl anymore. A business major at her college in Boston, she’s reinvented herself after everything that went down a year ago… After all the people she hurt and the family, she tore apart.

Slowly, life is getting back to normal. Molly has just said I love you to her new boyfriend, Ian, and they are off on a romantic European vacation together, starting with scenic London. But there on a tube platform, the past catches up to her in the form of Gabe, her ex, traveling on his own parallel vacation with new girlfriend Sadie.

After comparing itineraries, Ian ends up extending an invite for Gabe and Sadie to join them on the next leg of their trip, to Ireland. And Molly and Gabe can’t bring themselves to tell the truth about who they once were to each other to their new significant others.

Now Molly has to spend 9 days and 9 nights with the boy she once loved, the boy whose heart she shredded, without Ian knowing. Will she make it through as new and improved Molly, or will everything that happened between her and Gabe come rushing back?


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Title:  13 Little Blue Envelopes
Written by:  Maureen Johnson

What It’s About:  Ginny Blackstone never thought she’d spend her summer vacation backpacking across Europe. But that was before she received the first little blue envelope from Aunt Peg.

This letter was different from Peg’s usual letters for two reasons:

1. Peg had been dead for three months.

2. The letter included $1000 cash for a passport and a plane ticket.

Armed with instructions for how to retrieve twelve other letters Peg wrote—twelve letters that tell Ginny where she needs to go and what she needs to do when she gets there—Ginny quickly finds herself swept away in her first real adventure. Traveling from London to Edinburgh to Amsterdam and beyond, Ginny begins to uncover stories from her aunt’s past and discover who Peg really was. But the most surprising thing Ginny learns isn’t about Peg . . . it’s about herself.

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

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Title:  The Last Little Blue Envelope
Written by:  Maureen Johnson

What It’s About:  Ginny Blackstone spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how the adventure was supposed to end.

Now a mysterious boy has contacted Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure, and Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time there are no instructions.


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Title:  Wanderlust
Written by:  Jen Malone

What It’s About:  Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.

Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.

But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.


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Title: The Land of 10,000 Madonnas
Written by:  Kate Hattemer

What It’s About:  Which would you choose: a long, quiet life, or a short, heroic one?

Jesse Serrano has always been drawn to this question, but he’s never really had a choice. He’s known since birth that a hole in his heart would render his life a short one, whether he likes it or not.

As his dying wish, Jesse sends his cousins, best friend, and girlfriend on a trip across Europe—a mysterious mission that seems more harebrained with every leg of the journey. Following Jesse’s vague instructions, they trek across the continent, unsure if they should be basking in a backpacking trip before heading off to college or searching for something deeper. Through the museums, ancient ruins, landmarks, and more religious iconography than could fill a Holy Ark, they begin to wonder if they’ll ever be able to complete the passage that Jesse laid out for them—and if they even want to without him along for the ride.

In turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Kate Hattemer chronicles an unforgettable journey of lost and found, laughter and tears, and a myriad of Madonnas.


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Title:  Royally Lost
Written by:  Angie Stanton

What It’s About:  What would it be like to fall in love with a prince?

Dragged on a family trip to Europe, Becca wants nothing more than to go home. Trapped with her emotionally distant father, overeager stepmother, and a brother who only wants to hook up with European hotties, Becca is miserable. Until she meets Nikolai.

Nikolai has everything—he’s a crown prince, heir to the throne, and girls adore him. But the one thing he doesn’t have is freedom . . . so he flees his kingdom and goes on his own European trip.

And when Nikolai and Becca meet, sparks fly. But Becca’s family vacation ends in a matter of days. Will Nikolai and Becca be forced to say good-bye, or will they change history forever?


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Title: The Wonder of Us
Written by:  Kim Culbertson

What It’s About:  Riya and Abby are: Best friends.  Complete opposites. Living on different continents.  Currently mad at each other.  About to travel around Europe. Riya moved to Berlin, Germany, with her family for junior year, while Abby stayed behind in their small California town. They thought it would be easy to keep up their friendship-it’s only a year and they’ve been best friends since preschool. But instead, they ended up fighting and not being there for the other. So Riya proposes an epic adventure to fix their friendship. Two weeks, six countries, unimaginable fun. But two small catches: They haven’t talked in weeks. They’ve both been keeping secrets. Can Riya and Abby find their way back to each other among lush countrysides and dazzling cities, or does growing up mean growing apart?


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Title:  The Summer of Us
Written by:  Cecilia Vinesse

What It’s About:  American ex-pat Aubrey has only two weeks left in Europe before she leaves for college, and she’s nowhere near ready. Good thing she and her best friend, Rae, have planned one last group trip across the continent. From Paris to Prague, they’re going to explore famous museums, sip champagne in fancy restaurants, and eat as many croissants as possible with their friends Clara, Jonah, and Gabe.

But when old secrets come to light, Aubrey and Rae’s trip goes from a carefree adventure to a complete disaster. For starters, there’s Aubrey and Gabe’s unresolved history, complicated by the fact that Aubrey is dating Jonah, Gabe’s best friend. And then there’s Rae’s hopeless crush on the effortlessly cool Clara. How is Rae supposed to admit her feelings to someone so perfect when they’re moving to different sides of the world in just a few weeks?


Title:  No Holding Back
Written by:  Kate Evangelista

What It’s About:  Everyone knows that Nathan is in love with his best friend, Preston.  Everyone except Preston. Nathan has always accepted that Preston was too focused on his swimming to worry about love. But Preston is heading off to train for the Olympics soon, so if Nathan wants his chance at love, he has to speak up now. But saying “I love you” is surprisingly difficult, even for someone as confident as Nathan. Could a whirlwind vacation in Europe bring them together? Or if it doesn’t work out, will Nathan lose the best friend he’s ever had?


Destination_ Japan


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Title: I Love You So Mochi
Written by:  Sarah Kuhn

What It’s About: Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement. She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi’s entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

When she arrives in Japan, she’s met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival — and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies. In I Love You So Mochi, author Sarah Kuhn has penned a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel that will make you squee at the cute, cringe at the awkward, and show that sometimes you have to lose yourself in something you love to find your Ultimate self.


Destination_ china


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Title:  Somewhere Only We Know
Written by:  Maurene Goo

What It’s About:  10:00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully, a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11:00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

Sidenote: This novel takes readers to Hong Kong.


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Title:  Loveboat, Taipei
Written by: Abigail Hing Wen

What It’s About: “Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zero supervision.

And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turnGone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.

But not every student is quite what they seem:

Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.

Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.

Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.

And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.

When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.

Sidenote: This novel takes readers to Taiwan.


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Title:  The Astonishing Color of After
Written by:  Emily X.R. Pan

What It’s About:  Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

Sidenote: This novel takes readers to Taiwan.


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Title:  My Summer of Love and Misfortune
Written by:  Lindsay Wong

What It’s About:   Iris Wang is having a bit of a rough start to her summer: Her boyfriend cheated on her, she didn’t get into any colleges, and she has no idea who she is or what she wants to do with her life. She’s always felt torn about being Chinese-American, feeling neither Chinese nor American enough to claim either identity. She’s just a sad pizza combo from Domino’s, as far as she’s concerned.

In an attempt to snap her out of her funk, Iris’s parents send her away to visit family in Beijing, with the hopes that Iris would “reconnect with her culture” and “find herself.” Iris resents the condescension, but even she admits that this might be a good opportunity to hit the reset button on the apocalyptic disaster that has become her life.

With this trip, Iris expects to eat a few dumplings, meet some family, and visit a tourist hotspot or two. Instead, she gets swept up in the ridiculous, opulent world of Beijing’s wealthy elite, leading her to unexpected and extraordinary discoveries about her family, her future, and herself.

Sidenote: This novel takes readers to Beijing.


DESTINATION_ PHILIPPINES


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Title:  Patron Saints of Nothing
Written by:  Randy Ribay

What It’s About:  Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it.

As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.


Destination_ Bangladesh


Title:  The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali
Written by: Sabina Khan

What It’s About:  Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali has always been fascinated by the universe around her and the laws of physics that keep everything in order. But her life at home isn’t so absolute.

Unable to come out to her conservative Muslim parents, she keeps that part of her identity hidden. And that means keeping her girlfriend, Ariana, a secret from them too. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life at home and a fresh start at Caltech in the fall. But when Rukhsana’s mom catches her and Ariana together, her future begins to collapse around her.

Devastated and confused, Rukhsana’s parents whisk her off to stay with their extended family in Bangladesh where, along with the loving arms of her grandmother and cousins, she is met with a world of arranged marriages, religious tradition, and intolerance. Fortunately, Rukhsana finds allies along the way and, through reading her grandmother’s old diary, finds the courage to take control of her future and fight for her love.


Destination_ Qatar


Title:  Love from A to Z
Written by: S.K. Ali

What It’s About:  A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.


DESTINATION_ iran


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Title:  Darius the Great Is Not Okay
Written by: Adib Khorram

What It’s About:  Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian—half, his mom’s side—and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.

Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.


Destination_ All Over the Globe


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Title:  For Real
Written by:  Alison Cherry

What It’s About:  When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just after her college graduation, her sister, Claire, comes up with the perfect plan. They’ll outshine Miranda’s ex on Around the World, a reality TV show on which fame-obsessed Samir is already scheduled to compete.

Claire expects the game to be simple: all they need to do is race around the world faster than Samir and they’ll win a million bucks. But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may be just for the cameras. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, this summer could end up being the highlight of her life . . . or an epic fail forever captured on film.

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag: 2020

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This is the first book tag that I am participating in! Even though, technically, I haven’t been tagged by anyone.  No matter!

I must give credit to @itsmonicakim , who I follow on Twitter, and whose video brought this book tag and its fun to my attention.  If you do not follow her already, please do so immediately.  She’s really great.

I’ll just jump right in and do what I do best – talk about books.


1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020

This one is definitely a tie between two books.  I would have to say Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali and Almost American Girl by Robin Ha.  

40148146. sy475 Love from A to Z is just so well written and so romantic and so emotional.  I couldn’t help but love it.  Especially, because the characters felt so real.  S.K. Ali is knocking it out of the park.

 

 

40030311. sy475 Almost American Girl was so different from Robin Ha’s first book and the mother-daughter relationship really hit home for me along with Robin’s struggle in being new to America.  Her triumph over it all though is so powerful and hopeful that this book is definitely a favorite.

 


2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020

Unfortunately, I haven’t read any sequels so far this year.  I have sequels on my to-be-read list right now though and we’re only partway through the year so there is still time!


3. New release you haven’t read yet but want to

I have three books on my radar that have come out this month that I really really want to read.  I am hoping that I can get my hands on them soon.  

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Title:  I’ll Be the One
Written by:  Lyla Lee

What It’s About:  Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.

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Title: The Falling in Love Montage
Written by: Clara Smyth

What It’s About: Seventeen-year-old cynic Saoirse Clarke isn’t looking for a relationship. But when she meets mischievous Ruby, that rule goes right out the window. Sort of.

Because Ruby has a loophole in mind: a summer of all the best cliché movie montage dates, with a definite ending come fall—no broken hearts, no messy breakup. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters have fallen in love…for real.

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Title:  Hunted by the Sky
Written by:  Tanaz Bhathena

What It’s About:  Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.

Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl—Gul—in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance—and discovers a magic he never expected to find.

Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.


4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

As usual, I find it hard to name just one book.  Here are three.

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Title: A Deadly Education
Written by: Naomi Novik

What It’s About:  I decided that Orion Lake needed to die after the second time he saved my life.

Everyone loves Orion Lake. Everyone else, that is. Far as I’m concerned, he can keep his flashy combat magic to himself. I’m not joining his pack of adoring fans.

I don’t need help surviving the Scholomance, even if they do. Forget the hordes of monsters and cursed artifacts, I’m probably the most dangerous thing in the place. Just give me a chance and I’ll level mountains and kill untold millions, make myself the dark queen of the world.

At least, that’s what the world expects me to do. Most of the other students in here would be delighted if Orion killed me like one more evil thing that’s crawled out of the drains. Sometimes I think they want me to turn into the evil witch they assume I am. The school itself certainly does.

But the Scholomance isn’t getting what it wants from me. And neither is Orion Lake. I may not be anyone’s idea of the shining hero, but I’m going to make it out of this place alive, and I’m not going to slaughter thousands to do it, either.

Although I’m giving serious consideration to just one.

Note:  This novel is scheduled to be released on September 1, 2020.

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Title:  The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling
Written by: Wai Chim

What It’s About: Anna Chiu has her hands full. When she’s not looking after her brother and sister or helping out at her father’s restaurant, she’s taking care of her mother, whose debilitating mental illness keeps her in bed most days. Her father’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could be a normal teen.

But when her mother finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse. And as her mother’s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling is a heart-wrenching, true-to-life exploration through the often neglected crevices of culture, mental illness, and family. Its strong themes are balanced by a beautiful romance making it a feel-good, yet important read.

Note: This novel is scheduled to be released on November 10, 2020.

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Title: A Curse of Roses
Written by:  Diana Pinguicha

What It’s About: With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.

There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic—her curse—has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain.

If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers…into food.

Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.

As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?

With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.

She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.

Note: This novel is scheduled to be released on December 1, 2020.


5. Biggest disappointment.

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With Five Feet Apart, I really believed the hype surrounding this book.

So many people were talking about it and it came up again and again on booklists and blogs.

I really wanted to like this book but as I said in my review of the book, the characters weren’t fleshed out enough, the story thin and a lot about cystic fibrosis was left out.  All of those things made for a disappointing read.

What It’s About:  Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen, and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?


6. Biggest surprise.

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Snapdragon, which is drawn and written by Kat Leyh, was such a surprising read for me because I didn’t expect to laugh and cry while reading it.  It is that good.

I picked it up because I heard the siren song that this story would involve witches.  Come for the witches but stay because of everything else.  It has so much heart and beauty and compassion in it.  It’s queer as heck and a fantastic graphic novel.

What It’s About:  Snap”s town had a witch.

At least, that”s how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a crocks-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online-after doing a little ritual to put their spirits to rest. It”s creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it”s kind of cool, too.

They make a deal: Jacks will teach Snap how to take care of the baby opossums that Snap rescued, and Snap will help Jacks with her work. But as Snap starts to get to know Jacks, she realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic-and a connection with Snap”s family”s past.


7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)

She is not a debut author but I would have to say it is Nicola Yoon.  I devoured both her books earlier this year (i.e. Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star).

Her books are so well written and emotional that I couldn’t help but really enjoy them.  I look forward to whatever comes next for her.


8. Newest fictional crush.

This question is incredibly awkward for me as I don’t have any current or new fictional crushes.  That’s just the way I am.


9. Newest favourite character.

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The Way of the House Husband by Kousuke Oono is a hilarious manga, which chronicles a former yakuza’s everyday adventures as he supports his career-driven wife.

First of all, the role reversal.  The fearsome yakuza “the Immortal Dragon” as a house husband.  From his conversations with the roomba to how seriously he takes grocery store savings, he’s hilarious and an instant favourite.

What It’s About: A former yakuza legend leaves it all behind to become your everyday househusband. But it’s not easy to walk away from the gangster life, and what should be mundane household tasks are anything but!

He was the fiercest member of the yakuza, a man who left countless underworld legends in his wake. They called him “the Immortal Dragon.” But one day he walked away from it all to walk another path—the path of the househusband! The curtain rises on this cozy yakuza comedy!


10. Book that made you cry.

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Earlier this year, I had the chance to read the picture book Salma the Syrian Chef, which is written by Danny Ramadan and illustrated by Anna Bron.

I teared up right at work because it was such a touching and emotional book.  I think Salma’s story is one of such relevance and importance because it shows that immigration is so incredibly hard.  There are things you miss about the country you came from that aren’t always things you can describe or vocalize.   It’s also a story that is about the power of community

What It’s About:  All Salma wants is to make her mama smile again. Between English classes, job interviews, and missing Papa back in Syria, Mama always seems busy or sad. A homemade Syrian meal might cheer her up, but Salma doesn’t know the recipe, or what to call the vegetables in English, or where to find the right spices! Luckily, the staff and other newcomers at the Welcome Center are happy to lend a hand—and a sprinkle of sumac.

With creativity, determination, and charm, Salma brings her new friends together to show Mama that even though things aren’t perfect, there is cause for hope and celebration. Syrian culture is beautifully represented through the meal Salma prepares and Anna Bron’s vibrant illustrations, while the diverse cast of characters speaks to the power of cultivating community in challenging circumstances.


11. Book that made you happy.

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I Love You So Mochi is at times heartbreaking but ultimately, a book that really made me happy.  Kimi’s journey of figuring herself out, building a relationship with her grandparents, talking with her best friends, falling in love with Akira, and being honest with her mom is all about hope.  A lot happens in this book and there is so much to take away from it besides the romance.

What It’s About: She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi’s entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

When she arrives in Japan, she’s met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival — and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.


12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is such a beautiful looking paperback.  I like this version better than the hardcover edition.

I love that the image represents the epic nature of this four-generation family story, and it is noticeably Korean.  The illustration is also in a really amazing style.

What It’s About:  In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan’s finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee’s complex and passionate characters–strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis–survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.


13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

There are always so many books that I pile on to my TBR throughout the year so this question is like opening up a messy closet and having everything fall out.  Embarrassingly so. I will keep it short and sweet though and make the titles unique.

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My Notes:  I have been waiting for this sequel by F.C. Yee since I finished The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, and I am happy its out.  I am excited to read it and catch up with Genie and Quentin’s aventures.

What It’s About: Genie Lo thought she was busy last year, juggling her academic career with protecting the Bay Area from demons. But now, as the Heaven-appointed Guardian of California, she’s responsible for the well-being of all yaoguai and spirits on Earth. Even the ones who interrupt her long-weekend visit to a prestigious college, bearing terrible news about a cosmos-threatening force of destruction in a nearby alternate dimension.

The goddess Guanyin and Genie’s boyfriend, Quentin Sun Wukong, do their best to help, but it’s really the Jade Emperor who’s supposed to handle crises of this magnitude. Unfortunately for Genie and the rest of existence, he’s gone AWOL. Fed up with the Jade Emperor’s negligence, Genie spots an opportunity to change the system for the better by undertaking a quest that spans multiple planes of reality along with an adventuring party of quarrelsome Chinese gods. But when faced with true danger, Genie and her friends realize that what will save the universe this time isn’t strength, but sacrifice.

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My Notes: Ever since I read Dread Nation, I have been anticipating the release of the sequel, Deathless Divide, from Justina Ireland.  It’s finally here! I am so happy the sequel features Jane and Katherine on the cover as I really enjoyed them as characters in the first book.  I can’t wait to dig in and see where the story takes them next.

What It’s About:  After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.

But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodemus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880s America.

What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears—as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.

But she won’t be in it alone.

Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by—and that Jane needs her too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.

Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive—even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.

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My Notes:  I was first introduced to Tanaz Bhathena through her first novel, A Girl Like Thatwhich by the end of the book became a favorite of mine.  The writing was so intense in that book and the different points-of-view so interesting and terrifying.  Her new novel, The Beauty of the Moment, is definitely a book I want to read this year.

What It’s About:  Susan is the new girl — she’s sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy — he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since.

Susan hasn’t told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants — until he meets her.

Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are.

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My Notes: I’ve had I’m Not Dying With You Tonight on my TBR list for a while and I am making it a point to read it this year.  The story is definitely timely, but I’m also interested to read a book by two authors and see how their writing weaves together in this book.

 

What It’s About: Over the course of one night, two girls with two very different backgrounds must rely on each other to get through the violent race riot that has enveloped their city.

Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going tomake it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.

When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.

They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.

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My Notes: I love me a gothic horror story.  It sounds so mysterious and terrifying and the cover art is really well done.  It reminds me of the film Crimson Peak, which I really liked, and I cannot wait to crack open this book.

What It’s About:  After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.


Since Monica inspired this post’s creation, I wanted to include her Mid-Year Book Freak Out video here.  Please check it out below.


I am also going to share another BookTuber’s video since I started watching some of Jasmine’s videos (i.e. L’amour de Books) recently and really enjoyed her conversational style.