My Five Favorite 2018 Releases So Far

Hi everyone! Today, I’m going to share with you the five best 2018 releases that I’ve read so far. I didn’t think that making this post would be too hard because we’re only a few months into the year, but apparently I’ve read quite a lot of excellent 2018 releases. I did manage to narrow it down to five books, and these are those books:

Chainbreaker (Timekeeper, #2)

Chainbreaker (Timekeeper #2) by Tara Sim

Clock mechanic Danny Hart knows he’s being watched. But by whom, or what, remains a mystery. To make matters worse, clock towers have begun falling in India, though time hasn’t Stopped yet. He’d hoped after reuniting with his father and exploring his relationship with Colton, he’d have some time to settle into his new life. Instead, he’s asked to investigate the attacks.

After inspecting some of the fallen Indian towers, he realizes the British occupation may be sparking more than just attacks. And as Danny and Colton unravel more secrets about their past, they find themselves on a dark and dangerous path–one from which they may never return.

I absolutely loved Timekeeper when I first read it and it quickly became one of my favorite books, but Chainbreaker was somehow even better? There were so many twists and turns, and I was at the edge of my seat the entire time while reading it. I can’t believe I have to wait until 2019 for the next book, because that cliffhanger was just not okay… download

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo The Way You Make Me Feel

From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thou

ght to look.

After reading Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love last year and not loving it, I didn’t expect to totally fall in love with this one. The Way You Make Me Feel is the perfect summer read, with a cute romance, great friendships, amazing character growth, lots of yummy food and a lovely father-daughter relationship. (Read my entire review here).download

The Final Six

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.

For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.

As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.

I hadn’t really heard anything about The Final Six until I randomly saw it on Scribd and decided to pick up the audiobook. This book totally blew me away. It was a wild ride from start to finish, but I loved it. I loved the science and technological aspects of it, the mystery, the competition, basically everything. And I’m beyond excited for the sequel.download

The Poet X by Elizabeth AcevedoThe Poet X

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

The Poet X is one of the powerful books I’ve ever read, and I honestly still think about it a lot. I also accidentally reread it somehow? I hardly ever reread books but I decided that I wanted to find a poem (the book is entirely written in verse) that I loved, and I accidentally reread the whole thing. How? But I guess that’s proof of how incredibly good this book is. download

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden GardenThe Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden (The Vanderbeekers #2) by Karina Yan Glaser

Return to Harlem’s “wildly entertaining” family in this funny, heartwarming sequel. When catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbors, the Vanderbeeker children set out to build the best, most magical healing garden in Harlem–in spite of a locked fence, thistles and trash, and the conflicting plans of a wealthy real estate developer.

While Isa is off at sleepaway orchestra camp, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney are stuck at home in the brownstone with nothing to do but get on one another’s nerves. But when catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbor, their sleepy summer transforms in an instant as the Vanderbeeker children band together to do what they do best: make a plan. They will create the most magical healing garden in all of Harlem.

In this companion to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, experience the warmth of a family and their community as they work together to bring a little more beauty and kindness to the world, one thwarted plan at a time

It honestly feels a bit unfair for me to be telling you that this is one of my favorite books of the year, while it doesn’t come out until September… But that way you’ll have enough time to pick up the first book in this series, so it’s not too bad, right?

Anyway, I picked up The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden after reading and loving the first book in this series last year, and I loved this one even more. This book is so lovely and so pure and I had a big smile on my face the entire time I was reading it. I also might have cried when I finished it because it was just so wonderful and my heart felt so full.

Now tell me, have you read any of these books? And what are your favorite 2018 releases so far?

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Review: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The CrossoverTitle: The Crossover
Series: The Crossover #1
Author: Kwame Alexander
Genres: Middle Grade contemporary
Goodreads

“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood.

Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

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I hadn’t heard a lot about The Crossover by Kwame Alexander before picking it up, but I was still super excited about it. The concept of it reminded me of the Track series by Jason Reynolds – they both feature sport, black families, are middle grade-ish, and are fairly short – and since I’ve been loving that series a lot, I expected to love this one too. And I’m very happy to say that I absolutely adored it.

The Crossover is fairly different from a lot of the middle grade books I’m used to. When it comes to the middle grade books I’ve read there are usually a few rules, namely: bad stuff is allowed to happen, but nothing too bad, and everything’s always good in the end. This book definitely didn’t abide by these rules, which is both good and bad. Good, because the book took me to places I didn’t expect, and made me feel a lot more than I thought I was going to feel, but bad because it was hard to read about. Very hard.

The writing in The Crossover is phenomenal. The book is entirely written in verse, which is why I chose to listen to the audiobook instead of reading it myself. Because hearing the words makes me able to connect to it a lot better, and, just, wow. I always admire an author who can make me feel so much without having to use a lot of words. Plus, an author who can make me care about sports is a special kind of talented. I’m definitely going to be picking up a lot more books by Kwame Alexander.

As for the story itself, I loved it very much. I loved reading about the family relationships, about the trials of twinhood, about how much the family cared about basketball, etc. The story completely sucked me in, and I couldn’t stop reading until it was over. And I still want more.

Overall, I thought The Crossover was an incredible book, and I really can’t wait to pick up the rest of the books in this series.

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Huge HMH Book Haul | My Biggest Book Haul Ever

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Hi everyone! I’m so incredibly excited to be writing this post, because a few days ago, an incredibly exciting package arrived on my doorstep. I honestly still can’t really believe it? But HMH, one of my favorite publishers (and no, I’m not just saying this for the sake of the post) was kind enough to send me a box full of quite a few of their backlist titles. I’m so excited about all of these books, and I can’t wait to show them to you!

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This is the first stack of books I’m going to be showing you and I honestly can’t express how excited I am about these books. I’m probably going to repeat the phrase ‘I’m so excited’ until it starts to sound incredibly fake, but I can’t help it! I’m just so excited! Okay, let’s look at these books in a little more detail.

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I wanted to start with the two books that 1) have such pretty covers that I cannot stop staring at them, and 2) I want to start ASAP because they sound absolutely amazing. Greenglass House by Kate Milford is a Middle Grade mystery that sounds like a super fun and cosy read, and the synopsis reminded me a little bit of The Doldrums, which is a book that I adored. I’m almost equally as excited about Girls Like Me by Lola St. Vil. The main character in this book is fat (the girl on the cover has a body type that looks a bit like mine!! Yay!!), and the entire book is written in a different kind of format than I’m used to. It’s written in poetry/texts/etc., and it looks like a very quick, original and fun read.

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After the Shot Drops by Randy Ribay is a book that I’ve hear a lot of amazing things about. It’s also being compared to Jason Reynold’s works, and it’s definitely no secret that Reynolds is one of my all time favorite authors, so of course I had to pick it up. Waste of Space by Gina Damico, on the other hand, is a book that I’d heard nothing about whatsoever. The blurb says that it’s about a group of teens in space that are being filmed as part of a reality TV-show, but then suddenly, all communications are severed. It’s supposed to be a satire so it must be a fun read, but it also sounds a bit creepy, so I honestly don’t know what to expect from it. Plus, it’s written entirely in files, so that should be interesting.

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Review: The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles)Title: The Summer of Jordi Perez
Author: Amy Spalding
Genres: Young Adult Contemporary
Goodreads

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.

Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?

But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?

Is this just Abby’s summer of fashion? Or will it truly be The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)?

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I was incredibly excited about diving into this book, which I basically already fell in love with once I first saw the cover. But I was a bit afraid too, since my expectations were incredibly high, and that’s usually not a good thing. Luckily, the book didn’t disappoint. Much.

I really enjoyed the discussion around Abby and her body, because it was super relatable. The book made it clear that there’s a big difference in being comfortable in your own body and being comfortable enough to post pictures of it and post them on the internet, because no matter how comfortable you are, there’ll still be people who will make mean comments just because you’re fat. And no matter how confident you are, those comments aren’t fun to read.

This book meant a lot to be when it comes to Abby’s fatness, because I’m fat as well. When it comes to clothes, I always tend to go for things that almost make me invisible. I wear nothing that stands out, or nothing in bright colors, because that’ll mean that people will actually look at my body, and probably judge me for it. This book taught me that it’s okay to wear whatever I want, and that I don’t have to hide. I don’t have to be afraid to take up space.

Speaking of that, I loved reading about Abby’s love for fashion. I loved reading about the clothes she wears, the blogposts she writes, the clothes she wants to make, etc. Above all, I loved reading about her internship. It was incredibly interesting, but so much fun as well.

I also really liked the relationship that developed out of the internship. I loved reading about Abby trying to figure out if Jordi is attracted to girls, I loved reading about their adorable dates (especially the one that involved making food), and I loved reading about how, even though they’re rivals, they still supported each other very much.

The one thing that I didn’t like about the relationship, though, was the conflict between the Abby and Jordi near the end. I honestly don’t understand why every book featuring a romance *needs* a conflict, and this one very much felt like it was added just for the sake of it, and it didn’t feel natural to the story line. It felt way too suddden. Normally when there’s conflict between the MC and LI, there’s some built-up to it; the characters are already feeling a bit unhappy, or are annoyed with each other, etc. Then one thing happens that tips them over the edge. But in the book, the two characters were perfectly happy, and then one thing happened and they break up. It just didn’t feel realistic. But maybe that’s just me.

Overall, the book was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed the fat representation, but it just wasn’t the perfect read for me.

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TTT: Books I Loved but Will Never Re-Read

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in 2018.

Hi everyone! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is ‘books I loved but will never re-read’ and when I first started thinking about this topic, I had a bit of a hard time with it. On the one hand I hardly ever re-read books (the only three books I’ve ever reread are The Melody of You and Me by Maria Hollis, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and Simon VS by Becky Albertalli) so technically, all of my books could probably be on this list. But on the other hand, I just don’t like saying never, because there’s always a chance that I might end up rereading the book someday (yes, I’m that kind of person, lol).

Then I started thinking about the books I reread, and why I reread them, and it was all because of the same reason: comfort. I only reread a book when I’m feeling down, and I need to escape to a familiar world that makes me feel safe. And that definitely helped me narrow down the choices.

I ended up with three categories of books I’ll never reread: books that deal with topics that are very hard for me to read about, and therefore won’t be comforting (Am I Normal Yet?, Shattered, Tiny Pretty Things and American Panda), books that I really enjoyed when I read them but I know I won’t like as much now (The Collector’s Society, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and Moxie) or they’re first books in series, which will make me feel obligated to reread the rest of the series too and I don’t love this series enough for me to spend so much time on it (The Abyss Surrounds Us, Of Fire and Stars and Empress of a Thousand Stars).

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Review: Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Amal UnboundTitle: Amal Unbound
Author: Aisha Saeed
Genres: Middle Grade
Goodreads

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens–after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal–especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

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Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book. 

Amal Unbound is a powerful and heart-wrenching story, but it still manages to be hopeful and uplifting. Aisha Saeed has created a beautiful balance between showing us the real, harrowing stuff, while still having semi-happy moments in the book that keep the book from being incredibly heavy.

I ended up reading this book in one sitting, which says a lot because I almost never do that. Sure, sometimes I read a book in a day, but reading it without a single break? Never. (Okay, maybe I grabbed something to drink once, but that’s it.) I couldn’t put it down. I was captivated by the main character, Amal, and I wanted to know what was going to happen to her.

It’s quite ridiculous how attached I felt to this character within just a few pages, but Amal was just such a great character. She’s incredibly intelligent, brave and selfless, and she deserves the world. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up, and she greatly admires her own teacher, but when she is forced to give up on her dream because her life takes a turn, your heart just breaks for her.

Amal Unbound was a very touching and important read, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone.

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TTT: Characters I Liked That Were In Non-Favorite Books

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in 2018. 

Hi everyone! This weeks top ten Tuesday theme is ‘characters I liked that were in disliked/non-favorite books’ and I had quite a hard time with this because I honestly tend to like most books that I read. And when I don’t *love* a book, I tend to forget it pretty quickly, and the characters are usually the one’s who I forget about first. So, my brain had quite the exercise while I tried to come up with characters…

Luckily, I did manage to find a few books that weren’t all-time-favorites (most of these were still 4-star reads) that had characters that stayed with me, so, let’s do this.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – I loved the first book when I read it (I’m not sure if I would if I read it now) and Prince Theron was definitely one of my favorite parts of the book.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer – This book was a bit meh overall, but if it hadn’t been for Hatter, I would’ve DNF’d it.
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton – I liked this book, but I loved Gigi. She is pure sunshine and I wish I could be her friend.
The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig – I honestly adored all of the characters, but didn’t adore the book just as much.

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie – I loved this book, but I kind of struggled to get into it. But I did end up falling in love with both of the main characters, Cass and Swift.
Truth or Dare by Non Pratt – This is probably my least liked book on this list, but I still liked Seren. The book would’ve been a lot better if we got to see more of her.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – Even though this book wasn’t everything I hoped it would be, I really loved Rishi. He was such a soft cinnamon roll, and I love soft boys.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee – I think I went into this book with too many expectations, and ended up being let down. But I did really like Felicity’s character, and I can’t wait for her book to come out!
Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza – I, quite honestly, liked all of the characters in this series, but Alyosha was definitely my favorite.
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali – I’m honestly not quite sure what it was about this book that kept me from giving it 5 stars, but it certainly wasn’t the main character Janna, or her friend who makes videos who’s name I forgot (sorry).

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