December

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While it started off as a slow reading month for me, two weeks off school quickly allowed me to catch up on some necessary winter reading!

Untwine, by Edwidge Danticat

The Distance From Me to You, by Marina Gessner

Say What You Will, by Cammie McGovern

Signs Point to Yes, by Sandy Hall

If I Stay, by Gayle Forman

Where She Went, by Gayle Forman

My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins

The first book I read this month was Untwine, by Edwidge Danticat. It was the story of two sisters, twins who had been born holding hands, and how one car crash will change the lives of both. Beautifully written and incredibly insightful, this novel is definitely recommended to fans of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay.

The Distance From Me to You, while it took me a while to read, was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The writing at times could feel flat, not containing much voice, but at the same time it was the way of storytelling that was something that compelled me into the plotine. Thumbs up, Marina Gessner!

And because I loved A Step Toward Falling, a new YA I read just last month, I decided to pick up author Cammie McGovern’s debut, Say What You Will. I found that the storyline seemed to be quick-paced and while I liked how page-turning it was, it made for the plot to be all over the place at times.

Last month I also read A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall, which if you can recall was a book that I loved. Like, it just gave me ALL THE FEELS. So going into her second novel, Signs Point to Yes, I strongly believed that this book could not compare to her adorable debut. I mean, how could it? A Little Something Different was just AMAZING. And yet, miracle of miracles, I was surprised again! Signs Point to Yes was just as beautiful as her first book, so fans of Sandy Hall, pick this up!

This December I took to reading If I Stay again, because I remembered loving it when I read it more than a year ago, and found the writing and story as poetic as I did the first time. I also read the sequel, Where She Went, which is a novel I once started but never finished. This time I did, and once again Gayle Forman does a terrific job of telling a story.

The very last book of the year I read was one I recieved for Christmas, a holiday anthology entitled My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. Many YA readers would recognize contributors, such as Rainbow Rowell, who was the main reason it was number one on my Bookmas list, as well as Gayle Forman, Stephanie Perkins, Jenny Han, Matt de la Pena, and Ally Carter. While some stories to me were just okay, favourites included Midnights, Angels in the Snow, Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me, Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus, It’s a Yuletide Miracle Charlie Brown, and The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer.

I definitely recommend checking out some of these titles, because most were such a pleasure to read! And with January already in progress, it’s time to find some more books to cuddle up with….

Zoie ❤

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My Top Books of 2015

Boy, has this been quite the reading year! It was the one where I emerged myself in YA, discovered many of my favourite novels, and met many extraordinary characters, most of whom I felt were my very best friends. Of course, in a year of so many books there were some that exceptionally stood out to me, ones I know I will forever remember, as well as read time and time again!

I couldn’t possibily narrow them down to only five or so, here they are, in no particular order:

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                                                                                                                    Anne of Green Gables for me was a classic I feel I can never part without, because the characters in it were ones that would stay with me forever. I loved the world L.M Montgomery created, and all the adventures (not to mention trouble) Anne got into! She and I are kindred spirits for sure 🙂

Fangirl was the book I re-read the most this year, wiFANGIRLth a grand total of FOUR TIMES! I started reading it on an e-reader, but even a few chapters in I knew I needed the hard copy in my hands, and my friend bought it for me for my birthday. After I finished it the first time, I went right back to page one and started again, because it was a story I didn’t ecarry onver want to leave.

And because I have Fangirl, I’ll follow it right up with Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, a fantasy that started off as just a seedling in Fangirl. I loved it so much, with great voice and a page-turning plot. Rowell strikes again! allthebrightplaces

All the Bright Places was also a favourite this year, written by the delightful Jennifer Niven. It was such a deep and thought-provoking story, with wonderful characters and the best kind of romance. I couldn’t get enough of it, dreading the moment when I was too tired to even turn the next page, because all I wanted to was to continue reading!Red-Queen-Victoria-Aveyard

Red Queen, as some of you know, was definitely one of my top books of the year. Beautifully written by debut author Victoria Aveyard, it was all anyone would want in a book.  Find out why everyone should read Red Queen.emmy&oliver

I also really, truly loved Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway. The friendship that bonded the characters together was so strong and the story just plain incredible. Emmy & Oliver have become one of my favourite literary couples, adding yet another one to my list!

And thea little something differentnsigns point to yes, of course, we have a A Little Something Different! Sandy Hall just has this knack for writing the most adorable romances ever, and her debut was just a pleasure to read. I’m also going to put her second novel, Signs Point to Yes, because I loved it nearly as much.

I’m going to follow Sandy Hall’s work with other Swoon Reads titles, 22718710including Kimberly Karalius’s Love Fortunes and OtherVelvet-Temple-West Disasters (I got the priviledge to do an interview with the wonderful author, as well as a book review, so check them out if you’re interested in reading about the whimsical world of Grimbaud!) and Temple West’s Velvet. I was never one for vampire romances, but this book might have turned me. (Pun intended!)

There have also been so many others- 2015 truly was a spectacular year for reading! Other favourites have been A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern, Finding Audrey by Sopie Kinsella, First & Then by Emma Mills, The Distance from Me to You by Marina Gessner, Kissing in America by Margo Rabb, Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat, and None of the Above by I.W Gregorio.

Hopefully 2016 has just as many great books to offer!

Cheers to the new year,

Zoie 🙂

 

Merry Bookmas!

Happy Holidays everybody!

I’m sure that some of you out there who read book blogs have heard of Bookmas before, especially for those who follow features such as the 12 Days of Bookmas (Here’s one I’ve been checking daily!).While I’m not doing that (next year, perhaps?) I do have a post to share with you all today. Because for this Bookmas, I was given four beautiful books that I just had to gush about!

Of course, this season the #1 item on my Bookmas list was the holiday anthology, My True Love Gave to Me, edited my Stephanie Perkins, with short stories contributed by many of the most popular YA authors today! (Rainbow Rowell is the main reason I NEEDED this!)

I mean, how could I not want this beauty?

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I know what I’ll be getting cozy with this winter- that is, if the snow decides to even make an appearance! So far where I live, the temperatures have been pretty warm, but hopefully this new year will provide more appropriate weather for me to cuddle up with a cup of hot tea and My True Love Gave to Me!

The next book I got was one I have heard lots about, and was mostly inspired to have after reading All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. By debut author Jasmine Wanga, it’s My Heart and Other Black Holes!

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Isn’t it just perfect? The problem of being a bookworm is that I want to read all these books right now and all at once, but unfortunately that just isn’t possible. *SIGH*

The third book I recieved was Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, which I’ve heard is hilarious. I’ve already read the first three chapters, and although they were short, I could tell that I’m in for an amusing ride!

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And last but not least, this Bookmas I got none other than All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven! And yes, it is the very one I mentioned above, haha! I’ve already read it, but I feel like it needs its own spot on my bookshelf after checking it out from the library 😉

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And speaking of bookshelves, after recieving these four beautiful additions, I had a feeling it was about time I rearranged my shelf. It was getting boring, looking at my books in the same old alphabetical order, so I placed them all by colour! I’ve been blabbing about it all day:

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Did you notice the little Young Adult label on it, too? Very library-esque. And don’t you guys love the colours and everything? It’s a little something I like to call my ‘Literary Rainbow’.

And because I couldn’t resist sharing more, here are some of my most recent buys: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira, and Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall.

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The only one I haven’t read is Love Letters to the Dead, a YA I’ve heard nothing but good things about, and can’t wait to start it! Eleanor & Park I read back in March, but ended up not liking that much. But because I just LOVED Fangirl and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, I figured that had to be a fluke. Chances are I’ll love it just as much as her others, because c’mon- it’s Rainbow Rowell! The last book we have is Signs Point to Yes, a Sandy Hall book I read in two days just last week, and loved almost as much as A Little Something Different!

That’s all I have for today (this actually was one of those spur-of-the-moment ‘Oh maybe I should blog about this!’ posts) but this was really fun to share!

I hope all of you are able to snuggle up with a good book this holiday season, and get reading 🙂

Happy holidays to all!

Zoie ❤

November

November Reads

As far as good reading months go, November was definitely one of my top months this year, perhaps following August. I could go on, but all you have to do is just look at this list, and right away you’ll understand that there were some gems in here:

Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell

Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary, by Julie Murphy

A Step Toward Falling, by Cammie McGovern

Save Me, by Jenny Elliot

A Little Something Different, by Sandy Hall

First & Then, by Emma Mills

I mean GAHHH, how amazing does this list look? Now do you get why I was so excited about it?

The first book I read in the month of November was 517 pages of pure bliss! Rainbow Rowell’s much awaited Carry On was everything her fans would want, and even more. I admit, going into it I was dubious, because I wasn’t even sure that the whole idea of expanding Simon Snow’s world from little bits of fanfiction in Rowell’s Fangirl to canon was a good idea. How glad was I that I was proven wrong! Despite the multiple POVs, each character had a unique voice, and once again one of my favourite authors was able to put her magical storytelling abilities into such a wonderful novel! I am proud to say that Carry On has become one of my favourite fantasies this year, and it was even nominated for Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction on Goodreads!

The next book I read was critically-acclaimed Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy, and it was as every bit as awesome as all the reviews have suggested! Featuring a strong heroine, I engulfed the story of Willowdean Dickson, and what it means to be comfortable in your own skin, a novel that I believe every person should read, as every person has at one point not been at home with their body.

Because I read Dumplin’, I decided to read Julie Murhpy’s debut as well, Side Effects May Vary. I felt that it wasn’t as strong as her latest book, but nevertheless had a plotline that stole me away. I liked the characters, Alice and Harvey, and the way they had NOW and THEN point of views. It was a unique way of seeing a story come together from different sides (and times!) of the story.

A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern was probably up there with Carry On, based on how much I loved it. Because (spoiler alert!) I loved it. All I wanted to do was gobble this up in one sitting, because the writing, the characters, the everything was just amazing. But most of all, it was the plotline that got to me, leaving me with the message that (as written on the cover): Sometimes the worst thing you can do is nothing at all.

Unfortunately, Save Me by Jenny Elliot was not one of the books I enjoyed this month. It was one I was looking forward to, as it was published by Swoon Reads, which so far has published books I have enjoyed so far. I felt that the writing was too flat, therefore making the characters and plotline flat as well. This combination just doesn’t bode well for me, and sadly took away from my reading experience.

A Little Something Different, by Sandy Hall, was also a Swoon Reads publishing. In fact, it was the first publishing of their firm. And unlike Save Me, it was an absolute delight to read, not to mention especially unique. It is a love story told from fourteen points of view, none of which contain those of the two falling in love. I just thought it was a brilliant way of storytelling, taking a really simple love story like that. All of the POVs, as well as the two love interests, were so fun to read about, and all in all this book was sweet and adorable. Definitely one of my favourites of the year!

The last book I read this month was from the debut author Emma Mills, First & Then. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone read this in one weekend, because that’s exactly what I did! The writing flowed smoothly and the story was cute, and that cover was gorgeous as well. I know that I’ll be looking forward to more by Emma Mills in the future!

That was all for the month of November, and stay tuned for more this month as this wonderful reading year draws to a close. Until then, keep on reading!

Zoie ❤

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 🙂

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 ❤