Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Rom-Com Covers!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl in which we create bookish lists about everything from our favorite characters to love triangles and everything in between!

This Week's Theme: My Favorite Rom-Com Covers!

This week's topic is a cover-related freebie, so I decided to highlight ten of my favorite rom-com covers, both YA and otherwise. So without further ado, here are the covers that I love!

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If you couldn't already tell, I'm huge into drawn, brightly-illustrated rom-com covers! What about you? Comment some of your favorite rom-com covers down below!

Review: Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Title: Loveboat, Taipei
Author: Abigail Hing Wen
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 432 Pages
Published January 2020


Summary: “Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zero supervision.” And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turn. Gone 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.

When I first heard about this book and heard that it was being marketed as Crazy Rich Asians as a YA book, I was immediately intrigued. Crazy Rich Asians is one of my favorite book series, and I've also always been really intrigued by books that focused on the lives of the rich and glamorous. So, needless to say, I was super excited for this book to come out, and I tore into it the day it was released. So without further ado, let's get into my review!

As the summary explains, Ever Wong finds herself being shipped off to Taipei for a summer at Chien Tan, a strict educational program. But what Ever isn't expecting is for Chien Tan to be nicknamed "Loveboat" -- a summer filled with adventures, clubbing, hookups, and more. It's a world that Ever isn't used to and her parents would be shocked if they ever knew she participated in it. Which is precisely why she has to. And she knows that it's about to be a really, really interesting summer.

I really enjoyed reading this book! Like I said, I was a big fan of Crazy Rich Asians and I'm a sucker for any story that has to do with glitz and glamour -- AKA why I was such a huge fan of CRA and also Gossip Girl and The Selection and the like! So I devoured this book and seriously couldn't put it down, tearing through over 100 pages in a single day, just because I loved the story so much and didn't want it to end. Ever's narrative voice was really easy to settle into, and before long I found myself tagging along with her as she explored Taipei and even herself, learning to break all of her parents' strict rules and to chase her own freedom and happiness for once. Watching Ever's character change from the beginning of the novel until the end was definitely a really inspiring (and fun!) ride.

My favorite character in this book was definitely torn between Rick and Xavier, much like Ever is herself. They were both so different -- Rick being the "perfect" Chinese boy, with all of these accomplishments and a future so carefully mapped out for him, while Xavier is darker and more brooding, not really sure what he wants to do with his life, and also a lot more quiet and withdrawn than Rick is. Even though they seemed to be polar opposites, it was clear how much both boys cared, and I found myself swooning for them equally throughout the story.

(Spoilers here! Skip to the next paragraph to avoid them!) The only thing I wasn't super 100% crazy about with this book was the way that Ever juggled between Rick and Xavier. While she seemed happy with Rick in the end, we don't really get as much chemistry, love, and understanding as we see when she's with Xavier. Even though he wasn't the nicest guy in the beginning, I feel like he really changes throughout the story and even though I had a feeling she'd end up with Rick, I was pretty bummed for Xavier. But that's just my own personal preference!

Overall, I really loved Loveboat, Taipei. According to Goodreads, there's a second book coming, so if you need me, I'll be eagerly awaiting it! For now, if you're looking for a glitzy, glamorous, exciting new read about defying expectations, finding yourself, and maybe even falling in love, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up!



 

Interview With 2020 Debut Laynie Bynum!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Laynie Bynum and her novel ADELINE'S ARIA, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Laynie on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 



Laynie Bynum

Laynie Bynum is a Young Adult author from Birmingham, Alabama who writes everything from Contemporary Romance to Urban Fantasy. She is inspired by the works of her favorite authors including Sarah Dessen, John Green, Cassandra Clare, and Neil Gaiman. When she isn't crafting characters who reflect her never-ending wanderlust and love of music, she is the Marketing Manager at Magnolia Press and a contributor for Alabama Family Connections Magazine. She is also the Vice President of Communications for the Young Adult chapter of Romance Writers of America. In her personal life, she strives to be an excellent mom to her two children, her “bonus kids”, and the small army of woodland creatures she has amassed including a turtle, rabbit, and hedgehog.

Keep up with Laynie: Website / Twitter / Goodreads/ Instagram


The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Laynie: Incredibly exciting but also terrifying. You spend years and years learning to write, you take this tiny grain of a concept and work hard to make it the best story it can be. You revise, you edit, you delete scenes you love, you add scenes, you let it rest, and then you do it all over again. Your characters become your best friends. Their world becomes your world. And now, it’s going out on its own. There are no more changes that can be made. The book no longer belongs to me. It belongs to the readers now. Letting go of that control and just hoping that people love it as much as I did is a lot of pressure. But at the same time, I can’t wait for the world to meet this characters on the chance that they do love them as much as I do.
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Laynie: I have a tendency to get in my own head a lot. Creating and writing help me channel that energy into something productive instead of letting it get to me. For me that is the best part. I am constantly sitting around thinking of plot ideas and characters rather than worrying about things I can’t control. It’s done wonders for my mental health. For me the hardest part is the business side. I am a creative, introverted person. I like the indoors, books, and getting lost in other worlds. Throwing myself out of that comfort zone is hard, but necessary. As backwards as it sounds, that’s why I’d like to have as much contact with my readers as I can. That way instead of talking to a room full of strangers (or a social media platform full of strangers) about my book, I’m just hanging out with friends. It takes a bit of the awkwardness and anxiety out of the mix. 

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the inspiration for ADELINE'S ARIA?
Laynie: There was no one big inspirational moment for Adeline’s Aria. I started it as a short story for my best friend who I had drug into one of my own celebrity obsessions. She read it and was like, “This is great, but what happens next?”. Which meant I needed to write more. Before the first draft was done, the main characters were an important part of our lives. 

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the hardest?
Laynie: My favorite and the hardest are the same character. My real life is full of people struggling with something. Often it is mental health problems. Sometimes it is sexuality. Sometimes it’s family issues or past trauma. I wanted Addie’s world to reflect that too. But doing so meant trying to show those delicate situations with as much grace and authenticity as possible. Skylar, Jude’s brother, is the most easy-going and lovable guy you will ever meet, but underneath all of that, he’s struggling with quite a bit. He puts all of his issues to the side to help and be there for the MC until he lets it build up too much and can’t handle it anymore. Skylar, to me, echoes the same sentiment that Robin Williams did when he said, “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it's like to feel absolutely worthless and they don't want anyone else to feel like that.” It was difficult to me because his journey is so important, to the series and also for the readers who may be in a similar position, and I wanted to make sure I wrote it as well as it deserved.

The Book Bratz: Music is a big focus of the book. Was music important to you during your teenage years as well?
Laynie: It was. I was the kid with headphones in all of the time. I was hanging out in shady music venues and bars when I was much too young and just hoping not to get kicked out. I have no shame in saying that I was an emo kid. I am still a little emo, just not so much a kid anymore. Music and lyrics saved my life at times. It gave me a home when I felt lost and showed me how universal human emotions could be. A 40 year old man could write a lyric and it would be exactly what I felt but didn’t have the words to say as a 16 year-old kid. 

(Embarrassing photo time. Teenage music-obsessed Laynie at Warped Tour 2002 with Benji Madden of Good Charlotte. )

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from ADELINE'S ARIA?
Laynie:I always read these billionaire romances or rockstar romances and the main characters were always so put together. If I was thrown into that world, I’d be a mess. My anxiety would be out of control. My insecurities would run wild. While they were entertaining, it always made me feel a little like this situation couldn’t happen to me because I didn’t wear heels or have my life figured out. I wanted Addie to be a dumpster fire the way I was a dumpster fire. She trips over her own feet. She never says the right thing when she wants to. She wears converse instead of high heels and jeans instead of dresses. She doesn’t feel like she belongs in that world. I wanted her to be flawed and real so that girls like me could read the book and know that they are just as worthy of a great, world-altering love like you read in romance novels. That what matters is their heart, not their clothes or their pocketbook. 

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of ADELINE'S ARIA in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Laynie: There is actually a prequel to Adeline’s Aria where you get a glimpse of Jude and Lana at the very beginning of their relationship contract called Lana’s Lullaby. People reading this blog post can get it for free hereAlso, while I can’t say too much, Adeline’s Aria is the first in a series. Book two, Skylar’s Song, throws Addie and Jude into a house with his entire band while Infernal Echo records their next album. Friends become enemies, enemies become friends, and Addie’s world gets turned upside down (again!). There are also novellas coming for the side characters. Watch my social media for how to get your hands on Cameron’s Cadence and Patrick’s Playlist, which will be coming this spring/summer. 

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Title: Adeline's Aria
Author: Laynie Bynum
Publisher: Fire and Ice YA
Publication Date: January 28th, 2020

Summary: Addie is a small-town high school senior with a best friend to take care of and college plans to figure out. Jude is a British rock star turned actor and one-half of Hollywood's favorite "it" couple along side his co-star Lana Thatcher. When the two cross paths at a music festival in Addie's hometown and begin an undercover whirlwind romance, the press becomes vicious, his faux fiance flames rumors, and Addie must decide if her "dream come true" is worth the nightmare it is turning into.

Thank you so much to Laynie for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about ADELINE'S ARIA and can't wait for it to be out in the world on January 28th

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl in which we create bookish lists about everything from our favorite characters to love triangles and everything in between!

This week's theme: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf!

*Click on the covers to be redirected to their Goodreads page!*

   
   
 


Are any of these books on your list!? Leave the links to your TTT below so we can stop back!

Interview with 2020 Debut Lani Forbes!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Lani Forbes and her novel THE SEVENTH SUN, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Lani on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 



Lani Forbes

Lani Forbes is the daughter of a librarian and an ex-drug smuggling surfer, which explains her passionate love of the ocean and books. A California native whose parents live in Mexico, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest where she stubbornly wears flip flops no matter how cold it gets. She teaches middle school math and science and proudly calls herself a nerd and Gryffindor. She is also an award-winning member of Romance Writers of America and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Keep up with Lani: Website / Twitter / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram


The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Lani: Thank you so much! It feels kind of surreal. You work so hard toward something for so long and it when it finally happens, you have a hard time believing it’s real! It’s definitely amazing getting to be a part of such a supportive and encouraging debut author community. That has probably been my favorite part, meeting other authors, both debut and experienced. Everyone’s path to publishing is so different and it’s encouraging to see that even if your path doesn’t look like someone else’s, that’s totally okay! Everyone still gets excited for you and cheers you on!
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what is the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Lani: For me, the best part of the writing process is the same reason that I love reading: losing myself in other worlds. I love getting swept up into a story and that very much happens to me when I am writing too. One of my favorite quotes about writing is by Anais Nin when she says, “I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me — the world of my parents, the world of war, the world of politics. I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living.” That is by far the best part of the writing process. The hardest has to be keeping all the details straight, especially all the subplots and character arcs/motivations. Consistency is so important for believability and sometimes that gets a little tricky!

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the inspiration for THE SEVENTH SUN?
Lani: I’ve always been fascinated by ancient civilizations, and ancient Mesoamerican civilizations in particular. My stepfather lived in Mexico for many years and would always share stories with my sisters and I growing up. When my parents decided to move back to Mexico, I knew I wanted to write a story based on ancient Aztec and Maya mythology. So, like a good daughter of a research librarian, I started doing research. I came across a creation myth called “The Five Suns”, where the world was created and destroyed multiple times, and it really served as the jumping off point. The rest is (ancient) history!

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the hardest?
Lani: I will always hold a soft spot for Mayana because I relate so strongly to her empathy and stubborn refusal to accept what she’s told. I poured so much of myself into her. But I also really love Yoli, the fire princess. She has such a dry, morbid sense of humor and I had so much fun writing her. The hardest was probably Ahkin. I have a tendency to write him a little too feminine and my critique partners have to remind me that boys don’t usually talk that much haha!

The Book Bratz: How do you plan/outline such an intricate fantasy book such as this one? What are your tips and tricks?
Lani: I keep a separate document with all of my notes, but I am actually really good and keeping all the details in my head because it feels so real to me. I outline as much as I can about the rules of the magic system, the societal structure, the mythology etc. I think details and intricacies are what make a world feel so real, and they are my favorite part as a reader. They also provide wonderful opportunities for conflict and tension. My biggest inspiration is studying history itself. Actual ancient human civilizations are so inspiring because of their creativity and resourcefulness, but also because of the real problems they struggled to solve. I read textbooks, watched documentaries, even traveled to Central America to do research, and I just paid attention to every little detail I could. As far as the story itself is concerned, I always brainstorm tons of ideas and never throw any idea away. The more I have to pick from when I get stuck, the better. I actually outlined the entire series as four books, so when I got the contract for three books, I had plenty of content to choose from to condense the story. But the short answer is really: notes. LOTS of notes!

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from THE SEVENTH SUN?
Lani:I always struggled with spiritual and religious questions as a teen, and I just don’t see very many books tackling those important issues. I really wanted to address that frustration of wanting to ask questions but feeling trapped in a world that doesn’t allow you to. I think wrestling with doubt and questions is an important part of owning what you believe. This book is primarily a story about a young woman learning to stand firm in who she is and what she believes, no matter the consequences. She learns to follow and trust her heart because so often, it is our heart that gets us closest to the truth of things. Never be afraid to stand up for who you are and what you believe in, and always have the courage to challenge and ask questions!

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of THE SEVENTH SUN in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Lani: The Seventh Sun is actually the first in a trilogy, so we will definitely be returning in February of 2021 with “The Jade Bones” and then again in 2022 (tentatively) with ‘The Obsidian Butterfly”. I am so excited for where the story is going because some of the questions readers ask about book one get answered in books two and three. Certain love relationships are put to the test and have to learn what love really looks like, we get to know characters that we didn’t have time to learn about yet, and characters that think they hate each other may end up surprised. Plus, we get to meet new characters! I am also working on some other historical projects including a fantasy western based on mission-era California and another ancient historical fantasy based on Ancient Greece!

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Title: The Seventh Sun
Author: Lani Forbes
Publisher: Blackstone
Publication Date: February 18th, 2020

Summary: The sun of the Chicome people has been destroyed six times. First by water, then by storm, fire, famine, sickness, and beasts. After each apocalypse, the creator goddess allowed one of her divine children to sacrifice themselves to save civilization. The gods paid their blood as the price for the lives of the people, and the people owed them blood in return. Mayana is a noble descendant of the water goddess and can control water whenever her blood is spilled. She has always despised the brutal rituals of her people — especially sacrifices. She can’t even make it through a routine animal sacrifice without embarrassing her family. Prince Ahkin has always known he would be emperor, but he didn’t expect his father to die so suddenly. Now he must raise the sun in the sky each day and read the signs in the stars. But the stars now hint at impending chaos and the sun has begun setting earlier each evening. Ahkin fears he might not be strong enough to save his people from another apocalypse. And to add to his list of worries, he can’t truly become emperor until he selects a wife. Mayana and six other noble daughters are sent to the palace to compete for Ahkin’s hand. She must prove she is a true daughter of water and face the others who have their own magical gifts from wielding the elements to the control of animals, plants and healing. And in a society centered on rigid rituals, Mayana must conceal her traitorous beliefs because if she doesn’t make Ahkin love her, she will become a ceremonial sacrifice to bless his marriage. But darker forces are at play and it won’t matter if Mayana loses if the world ends first…

Thank you so much to Lani for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about THE SEVENTH SUN and can't wait for it to be out in the world on February 18th

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ARC Review: The Map From Here To There by Emery Lord

Title: The Map From Here to There
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Hardcover, 368 Pages
Published January 2020


Summary: It's senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing "the rest of her life," Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be--how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

I received an advanced copy of The Map From Here To There at BookExpo 2019, and I loved a lot of Emery Lord's other books in the past, so I was really excited to start this one. I ended up meeting tons of great people on the line while waiting for the ARC, and after a busy summer and fall semester at school, I finally managed to find the time to read it and write my review! So without further ado, here's my review:

As the summary explains, Paige is trying to balance her senior year of high school, college applications, friends, a year of lasts, and also her new boyfriend, Max. In the beginning, since she's a serial planner (much like myself!), she expects it to be easy -- or at least, not as difficult as it actually ends up being. And she always had big dreams of leaving Indiana and having a big, exciting life in New York City -- until suddenly, as the deadlines loom closer, she finds herself having second thoughts. This book is full of that anxiety and nostalgia and desperate hope for things to stay the same that many college seniors, including myself, have experienced, and it makes for a great story.

I definitely enjoyed reading this book. Like I said, those worries were all things that I remember feeling well when I was a senior in high school -- I'm even feeling these same things as a senior in college! I think it's just a normal thing when you have to plan out the next stage in your life. So Emery Lord translated that feeling of nervousness, anxiety, and uncertainty really well -- I definitely really resonated with it. The story itself was also really heartwarming, and I loved seeing Paige's friendship with all of her besties. This entire book was basically a trip down memory lane for me, because while the experiences may not necessarily be the same, the emotions were all still there, and it felt like a trip down memory lane!

One thing that I hadn't anticipated about this book actually ended up being an oversight on my part -- I didn't realize that this was a sequel, and I hadn't read The Start of Me and You before this! However, the good news was that this didn't really take away anything from my reading experience at all -- there were some allusions to things that happened in the previous book, and brief recaps were given, but I didn't feel lost or confused. This book seems to focus more on Paige's relationship with Max and all of the preparation of leaving for college, with the past just interspersing in brief snippets. This book can definitely stand on its own, in my opinion, as more of a companion than as an actual sequel.

One other thing that I wasn't super crazy about in this book was the relationship between Max and Paige themselves, even though I'm aware that this is really just my personal preference. Like I just said, I didn't read the first book, so I wasn't quite sure of all of their history, but their relationship felt more awkward and more like friendship than an actual relationship. That being said, I'm sure that plenty of high school relationships begin that way -- goodness, so did mine! -- but as the book went on, I felt myself not really feeling like Paige and Max were a good match. In my opinion, there were definitely other characters (who I shall not name!) that she definitely would've been better with. But again, that's just my own personal opinion!

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Map From Here to There. The story probably would've had more layering and backstory to it if I had read The Start of Me and You first, but this book was still a cohesive story in and of itself that I enjoyed following. Even though it's a larger book, it made for a pretty quick read when I sat down and let myself sink into the story. If you're looking for another contemporary to add to your shelves, then I'd certainly recommend picking up this one!