October

Time to update for October’s reads, which I realize is long overdue. Oh well, time flies when you’re having fun reading, or however the saying goes… 😉

Infinite in Between, by Carolyn Mackler

Everything, Everything, by Nicole Yoon

Proof of Forever, by Lexa Hillyer

How to Say I Love You Outloud, by Karole Cozzo

The Night We Said Yes, by Lauren Gibaldi

Emmy & Oliver, by Robin Benway

Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler was a book that I truly loved, but was very different in my eyes. Told from five perspectives over their four years of high school, it seemed to me that there were five complete separate stories that managed to touch throughout the years. I mean, of course their stories were all connected, but when I thought about it they all just read like each POV was about everyone’s individual high school life. Here’s the thing: though sometimes plain and assuming, Mackler was able to make it a story of interest by intertwining all their stories into one unforgettable journey.

Everything, Everything. There was so much buzz about Nicola Yoon’s debut, but for me I didn’t see what it was all about. It was a good story, I’ll give you that, but I wasn’t too caught up in the plot and the characters and all that. Mind you, I did like all the illustrations and unique way of storytelling. Also, my sister absolutely loved it, so I guess that just proves that everyone has their own thoughts and opinions about critically-acclaimed novels, or any novels really.

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer was a great book, as I found myself invested of the second-chance summer of Zoe, Tali, Luce, and Joy. My only problem with it was the whole time-travelling theme, because it was not something I expected would happen when I got into it. Once you got used to the idea though, it made for a very pleasant read.

How to Say I Love You Outloud was a book I was especially looking forward to, as it was a Swoon Reads publishing, along with Love Fortunes and Other Disasters and Velvet, two books I have read within the past couple of months and loved. I’d have to say that while I liked the storyline and writing, the characters and momentum seemed too flat to me, and the romance in it seemed to be a subplot rather than the main idea.

The Night We Said Yes by debut author Lauren Gibaldi was interesting. Told in then and now perspectives, it showed us both love stories of Matt and Ella. While the idea is unique, I wasn’t quite invested on it as I was with other books this month.

The last book I read in October I’d have to say was my favourite. Emmy & Oliver was just the perfect read for me, because I couldn’t get enough. Even after I finished it I would think about passages in the novel, reading them outloud to my friends and just smiling at the mere thought of it. The characters were so REAL, and the friendships in this book were so strong it just read very well. The writing was dangerously addictive for me, because I almost consumed Emmy & Oliver in one day, dedicating my time with it on the couch with a blanket and a tea. It was beautifully executed, and is definitely a MUST READ I believe for YA lovers. Robin Benway, I’m a fan!

While October’s reads weren’t all that memorable for me, the ones that were made up for it all. I have some great reads so far this November to share soon when the month is gone, but until then, happy reading!

Zoie 🙂

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Kimberly Karalius: Swoon Reads Author

Hello readers! Today I have a very exciting post to share with you all, because I was given the opportunity to ask the oh-so talented author of Love Fortunes and Disasters, Kimberly Karalius, a few questions to share on Zoie’s Bookshelf! As you all know, that was a book that especially connected with me, my obsession for the month of August. It was one of my favourite summer reads, and for those of you that have not yet gotten your hands on it- do it quick! But in the meantime, read below to see the interview with Kim as she talks about her experience with Swoon Reads, her writing life, and of course her book!

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Kim’s book, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters!

Zoie: You were published under Swoon Reads, a site where writers can submit their YA romances for readers to heart and comment on, and those considered the most swoonworthy are offered a publishing contract for their novel. What was your experience with Swoon Reads like?

Kimberly: I love crowdsourcing in publishing – the idea that publishers value reader opinions and feedback – and the Swoon Reads staff takes that concept seriously when it comes to how they choose which manuscripts they decide to publish. Before joining Swoon Reads, I shared by stories and novel manuscripts on teen writing site, Figment.com. So I was already used to putting my work out there and interacting with readers. When I read about Swoon Reads, I knew I had to join! The Swoon Reads community is very supportive and I love that members of Macmillan’s staff write blog posts on the site with great advice and information.

Since being published, working with Swoon Reads continues to be full of excitement and surprises. I’m glad that I took the chance and submitted my manuscript.

Zoie: I found the whole concept of the love fortunes and the believing town of Grimbaud absolutely fascinating. Where did you gain the inspiration for Fallon’s story?

Kimberly: Love Fortunes and Other Disasters came from a few silly conversations I had with my friends in college. Since girls outnumbered boys on campus, there wasn’t much opportunity for dating. My friends and I used to joke that we’d all graduate to become glamorous spinsters: mansions, butlers, and rooms full of cats (dogs for me – I’m a dog person, haha). I wanted to turn the idea into a novel, but it was tricky for YA. Why would teens worry about concepts like spinsterhood and bachelorhood when they have their whole lives ahead of them? Perhaps… if they were handed their fate on a piece of paper. Zita and her love fortunes took off from there.

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Author Kimberly Karalius

Fallon arrives in Grimbaud already believing in the love fortunes. Her older brother met his soul mate with Zita’s help, and so had generations of Duprees before her. Her expectations shatter quickly and she needs to learn what’s real and what’s not in the charming town – including her growing feelings for a certain heartbreaker! I loved writing Fallon’s journey, especially since her confident personality was so fun to capture on the page.

Zoie: Are there any future works we can look forward to aside from Love Charms and Other Catastrophes, the companion novel to Love Fortunes and Other Disasters?

Kimberly: I have one more charming surprise up my sleeve… to be revealed very soon! In the meantime, I’m working on my third book with Swoon Reads.

Zoie: Are there any specific novels or authors that had inspired you to become a writer?

Kimberly: Many of the great fairy tale authors and collectors like George MacDonald and Andrew Lang inspired me since was little. Francesca Lia Block is one of my favorite authors – her books were my first introduction to magical realism, a genre I love to read widely and write in.

Zoie: What advice can you give to aspiring writers?

Kimberly: If becoming an author is your dream, be tenacious. Try your weird ideas, submit to literary journals, share your writing at poetry readings. Never give up!

Zoie: Would you rather receive a good love fortune, or partake in the rebellion to remove Zita’s tyranny from Grimbaud?

Kimberly: Tough question! As much as I’d love a good love fortune, I’d go with joining the rebellion any day. Underneath Grimbaud’s cheerful, pink veneer lies the negative effects of Zita’s hold on the town, most evident in the existence of the Spinster and Bachelor Villas. I’d love to be part of the group that ends that. Besides, how could I pass up on seeing Femke and Mirthe in action with their weather charms?

Zoie: Seeing the twins in action with their weather charms would be ultra awesome for sure!

I’d really like to thank author Kimberly Karalius for her generous time and in-depth answers. I truly, truly appreciated them! I hoped all the readers out there enjoyed the interview, and are now itching to go get your hands on Love Fortunes and Other Disasters! It has definitely become one of my all-time favourites, and is on my MUST READ list as well!

Again, thanks to Kim for everything- without her this interview or her book would never have happened! You really are an amazing author!

Make sure to check out her blog- www.kimkaralius.com

Read my review on Love Fortunes and Other Disasters here!

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters

So recently I read Love Fortunes and Other Disasters, the debut novel by Kimberly Karalius. When I first heard about the book I was drawn by the cover, but was hesitant to read it. The synopsis didn’t really intrigue me, oddly enough, even though it was a new YA and had lots of buzz. But once I began to read it… I was addicted. The beautiful cover and the wonderful writing was just the perfect combination, and together they made my reading experience all the more amazing!

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This story takes place in the wonderful town of Grimbaud, where protagonist Fallon Dupree is there attending high school. She is extremely excited because the town is home to Zita’s shop, home to the famous 100% ACCURATE love fortunes. It is tradition that high school students receive their fortunes before each school year starts, so that they know what to fully expect for their love life that upcoming year. Fallon naturally is both ecstatic and nervous when it is her turn to get her love fortune, especially when the generations of Duprees before her have gotten ones that helped them marry their high school sweethearts. So when Fallon’s fortune tells her that her love will never be requited, she is heartbroken. When she is recruited by twins Mirthe and Femke, she is joining the rebellion to fight Zita and her tyranny on the town, supporting all those who have been told they will never find love. Along the way she gets closer to Sebastian, the supposedly “notorious heartbreaker”, and finds out that despite Zita’s fortunes, it is possible to fight their fates and follow their hearts.

This book was beautiful. The writing style was incredibly progressive and gripping, and there were rarely any parts where I felt like I could doze off. Each chapter said what needed to be said without overwhelming it with words, but still descriptive and sweet. I dreaded for the book to end, glad to see that Phew, I still have ten chapters to go, and Thank goodness there’s still sixty pages left, oh my. It was a story and a setting I didn’t want to leave, and with every page I rooted for Fallon and the twins’ rebellion.

I have no bad things to say about this book. My only complaint was that I wanted more. It was such a cute, light read, yet also something that has been different from a lot of books I’ve read lately. I wouldn’t call it a realistic fiction, just because the town of Grimbaud had a little sprinkling of magic throughout it, such as the love fortunes and charms. But I loved that about it, and how the people of the town were so dependent of these fortunes that they couldn’t believe it was possible to find love all by themselves. While some people could protest that it was too predictable, aren’t all romances? When you pick them up, you expect for a happy ending, and would be disappointed if it was any other way. I knew what I was getting into when I first started this book, and was left emotionally satisfied when I closed it.

And now for a Fangirl Moment… (Skip if you please)

I can’t close off this review without once again mentioning HOW CUTE THIS COVER IS. While I know that you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, it’s what most readers do. And as a reader of YA, I have noticed that so many of the genre’s covers are just so beautiful. This book’s was no exception. I love how we can see all the cute elements of the town, such as the footbridges and the Tunnel of Love, as well as Zita’s shop and the cobblestone paths. There’s the canal with the booth that has the mermaid statue, and of course, Grimbaud High. We have the quaint little shops and cafes that are frequently mentioned, and all the important characters of the novel that are also featured. As someone who dreams of becoming an author and writing a novel someday, I could only hope for such an adorable cover!

I’m so happy to say that there will be a sequel to this book, called Love Charms and Other Catastrophes! The difference with this novel is that it will not be about Fallon but about another character Hijiri Katamura. I’m excited to see how it will turn out, because Hijiri was a person in this book who interested me greatly, and I just can’t wait to hear her story, as well as more great writing by Kim!

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*sighs in absolute delight and utter anticipation*

So if you haven’t gotten the message already, it was that I completely fell in love with this book. I recommend it to any YA lovers out there, or fans of romantic sweet reads! Pick this book up, and while you’re at it, come by the blog tomorrow for a very special interview with author Kimberly Karalius, as we get a glimpse into her writer’s life!

Keep on reading!

Zoie ❤

September

Is it November already? Huh… well, this seems like a good a time as any to tell you my September reads, which are long overdue!

Here we go:

P.S I Still Love You, by Jenny Han

Like it Never Happened, by Emily Adrian

Playing with Matches, by Suri Rosen

Mosquitoland, by David Arnold

Velvet, by Temple West

Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard

Oh, I loved all of these books! There were some that really stuck with me, others that were just a delight to read, and others that were a bit different…

Since I’ve kept you all waiting for a full month now, I’m going to do this month’s reads in a new way, by categorizing them in the three ways I mentioned above.

First, the ones that were a delight to read! (Because everyone needs books like that in their life):

P.S I Still Love You was one of those light reads that I grabbed immediately upon finishing its previous book, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which I read in August. I felt that the sequel was a necessary read if you loved the first, and thought it summed up Lara Jean and Peter’s love story quite well. For any fans of Jenny Han, her latest book did not disappoint!

Another YA I read this month that was just as compelling and wonderful was Emily Adrian’s Like it Never Happened. She has such great writing that resulted in me never wanting to put it down. I vaguely recollect myself late into the night reading this book, eyes drooping with the desire to sleep, but always telling myself “just one more chapter!”. Warning- you may read this novel in one sitting.

The last book in the category of “Books that were a delight to read,” is Playing with Matches, by Suri Rosen. I really liked this book because the writing was just straightforward, yet still with the whole show-don’t-tell thing going on, making it easy to follow. The story line was actually really interesting, with teen matchmaker trying to set up her older sister without her finding out that it’s her, and is also set in my home city, which was just super awesome. (Don’t you love when that happens? They mention a location or franchise you’ve heard of and you’re just like “I know where/what that is!! I’ve been there!” Ah, jolly times.)

Next category, please! Here we have “Books that were a little different.” And guess what? There’s only one book listed…

And it’s debut YA author David Arnold’s Mosquitoland. Even the name appeals to me, despite describing such a land being one of my worst nightmares- but don’t worry; besides some face paint and references to Mississippi, there’s not much of the pesky blood-sucking insects! This novel is listed as a little different as it took a while for me to get into it, if only because of the writing. At times it felt overwhelming, with it being full of witty sentences and large adjectives. Think of it like this: When you start an old classic (say Pride and Prejudice), you notice that all the old English can be a bit hard to follow and understand at times, but after a while you get so used to it that the rest of the book reads smoothly and you almost don’t notice it anymore. That was what my experience with Mosquitoland was like- after you got used to the fancy-ish writing, it was a truly enjoyable book. In fact, I appreciated the writing that made the book up, and besides the unforgettable bold protagonist Mim, was one of the reasons I really liked this novel.

And now for the books that stood out with me, my favourites of the month of September!

First of all, I’ll mention Red Queen. You may or may not have read my blog post on it, where I may or may not have fangirled over it. Why? Because it was just AMAZING. A must read for any fans of YA, Dystopian, Fantasy, Science Fiction, or all of the above! There’s so much I can say about it, but I feel my last post summed up all my feels in a more elaborative format, so check that out if you’re interested 😉

And lastly, there was Velvet by Temple West, which, (wait for it), was a vampire romance. I know, I know! I was totally dubious going in, because the first thing I thought of was Twilight, and I just had mixed feelings. But I am not ashamed to say how much I sincerely loved this book, and that it has become one of my favourites! It just goes to show that you always have to give things- whether novels or otherwise- a chance, or else you’ll miss out on a whole lot of awesomeness. Also, a lot of books I was hesitant to read have become new favourites of mine, and Velvet was just another example of a skeptical Zoie being proven wrong, and boy, was I glad!

Those were all the reads for September! I realize now that October’s reads will need to be uploaded pretty soon, so stay on the look out for that, too. I also have some really exciting posts I can’t wait to share with you all that will be coming in random intervals in the next month or two to come!

Until then, keep on reading!

Zoie 🙂