Waiting on Wednesday: Fresh by Margot Wood!

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read! 

Title: Fresh
Author: Margot Wood
Publisher: Abrams
Publication Date: August 3rd, 2021

Summary: Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all that college has to offer—from dancing all night at off-campus parties, to testing her RA Rose’s patience, to making new friends, to having the best sex one can have on a twin-sized dorm room bed. But she may not be ready for the fallout when reality hits. When the sex she’s having isn’t that great. When finals creep up and smack her right in the face. Or when her roommate’s boyfriend turns out to be the biggest a-hole. Elliot may make epic mistakes, but if she’s honest with herself (and with you, dear reader), she may just find the person she wants to be. And maybe even fall in love in the process . . . Well, maybe. 

I have been a huge fan of Margot Wood ever since I used to come home from school and watch Tea Time with Epic Reads every week. So being able to see her go from my publishing hero to my writing hero has been incredibly exciting, and I'm really looking forward to reading FRESH! I know I'm definitely not the only one who is eagerly counting down the days...

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so I can stop back! 

Top Ten Tuesday: Places In Books I’d Love to Live

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: Places In Books I’d Love to Live

There are so many great locations in books that I dream of traveling to -- but only a few where I'd actually like to live! So this one was pretty hard to think about, but this is what I settled on:

1. Singapore (CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan)
It looks absolutely gorgeous, and I heard that the food is to DIE for!

2. Hawaii (THE UNHONEYMOONERS by Christina Lauren)
Fun fact -- my brother actually does live there!

3. Seattle (THE EX TALK by Rachel Lynn Solomon)
I've never actually been anywhere on the west coast! 

4. Tobago (WHERE THE RHYTHM TAKES YOU by Sarah Dass)
I'd love to live anywhere tropical. I hate the cold! And Sarah Dass does a great job of bringing the brilliant imagery and beauty of the island to the page, which made me even more eager to check it out!

5. Mae's Utah cabin in IN A HOLIDAZE by Christina Lauren
I wouldn't want to live in Utah anywhere else, really, but this cabin seems so cozy and delightful.

6. Long Island (FIX HER UP by Tessa Bailey)
This one was kind of a given -- we *do* live here! But not on the same shore as where the book takes place -- it's a pretty nice area that I'd like to live in.

7. London (AS FAR AS YOU'LL TAKE ME by Phil Stamper)
I'd love to try it out for a little while!

8. Wherever Gus and January's beach houses are in BEACH READ by Emily Henry
It sounds like the most perfect place for a writing retreat.

9. Winchester, England (A CUBAN GIRL'S GUIDE TO TEA AND TOMORROW by Laura Taylor Namey)
It sounds so charming and delightful!

10. Taiwan (LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI by Abigail Hing Wen)
Similarly to CRAZY RICH ASIANS, this book describes Taiwan as such a glittering, vibrant, exciting place that I'd love to see for myself!

So those are ten places in books that I'd like to live! What are yours? Comment down below and let me know!

ARC Review: Can't Take That Away by Steven Salvatore

Title: Can't Take That Away
Author: Steven Salvatore
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 288 Pages
Publication Date: March 9th, 2021
Summary: An empowering and emotional debut about a genderqueer teen who finds the courage to stand up and speak out for equality when they are discriminated against by their high school administration. Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother's spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice. Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey's tormentor and others in the school. It's up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights--and they refuse to be silenced. Told in alternating chapters with identifying pronouns, debut author Steven Salvatore's Can't Take That Away conducts a powerful, uplifting anthem, a swoony romance, and an affirmation of self-identity that will ignite the activist in all of us.

I received an advanced copy of CAN'T TAKE THAT AWAY from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, and I'm really glad that I did, because this ended up being such a sweet, powerful story that I tore through. If this one isn't on your TBR already, you should definitely think about adding it! So without further ado, let's get into my review!

As the summary explains, Carey is a genderqueer teen who has big dreams of becoming a diva one day, just like the greats -- specifically their idol, Mariah Carey. But along the way, there are a whole bunch of issues that they have to deal with -- the rockiness of a new relationship, their grandmother's dementia, and the increasingly homophobic incidents happening at school. And it seems to get ten times worse when Carey auditions for the role of Elphaba -- often a female-presenting role -- in the school production of Wicked. Even though Carey smashes it out of the park and gets the role, not everyone is on board with it. So while trying to chase their dreams, Carey and their friends have to team up to fight the queerphobia taking place in their high school's hallways, demanding their right to be seen and respected alongside everyone else.

Like I said, I really enjoyed reading this book. Carey's dynamic with Monroe and Joey was so sweet, and I loved seeing them all together spending time and making goofy memories as best friends. I absolutely loved Mr. Kelly -- he reminded me a lot of an English teacher that I had many years ago (with Emily and Amber, actually!), and he became my mentor and a safe person that I could always talk to about anything going on, so seeing that Carey had someone like that in their corner was very heartwarming for me as well.

This book also really tackles a variety of important topics that are crucial to discuss. Not only is Carey fighting for their right to be a part of the spring musical, but they also are fighting for their right to be respected as a genderqueer student in their learning environment -- as well as fighting for the rights of the other LGBGTQ+ students who also want to feel safe and respected while getting their education. Watching them fight that power was nothing short of inspiring.

(Spoilers in this paragraph, so skip to the next paragraph to avoid them!) The one thing that I was a bit confused about with this book is exactly what happened with Cris and Max's sister. Like Monroe and Joey frequently point out, he doesn't really explain himself. I guess I just didn't really ship Cris and Carey together because of the fact that Cris got caught, didn't really explain much of anything to Carey, and then they're this on-again, off-again thing for awhile where they both don't really seem to discuss any of their problems together and then everything turns out for them okay in the end. I think it would've been great to see that dynamic fleshed out more between the two of them, and them addressing their issues concretely and fully explaining everything to each other. I understand them not doing it throughout the book to create conflict and a point of tension, but at the end, I was expecting them to have it out and for Cris to finally have to own up to everything and be honest and for both of them to acknowledge how they've been treating each other and how that isn't healthy for a relationship, but then that never ended up happening. But that's the only thing about the book that I wasn't super keen on -- the rest was great!

Overall, I really liked reading CAN'T TAKE THAT AWAY, and I'd definitely recommend it for anyone looking to pick up a fresh new read that contains equal parts humor, realness, and power. I never get tired of watching a group of brave teenagers fighting to enact change while demanding to be heard. And Carey's narrative voice was really great -- I enjoyed getting to watch them move through this rollercoaster and seeing their strength as they fought for their right to respect. I feel moved and empowered after finishing this book, for sure! 


Waiting on Wednesday: Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read! 

Title: Dancing at the Pity Party
Author: Tyler Feder
Publisher: Dial Books
Hardcover, 208 Pages
Publication Date: April 14th, 2020
Summary: From before her mother's first oncology appointment through the stages of her cancer to the funeral, sitting shiva, and afterward, when she must try to make sense of her life as a motherless daughter, Tyler Feder tells her story in this graphic novel that is full of piercing--but also often funny--details. She shares the important post-death firsts, such as celebrating holidays without her mom, the utter despair of cleaning out her mom's closet, ending old traditions and starting new ones, and the sting of having the "I've got to tell Mom about this" instinct and not being able to act on it. This memoir, bracingly candid and sweetly humorous, is for anyone struggling with loss who just wants someone to get it.

I first found this book when I was doing some research about new graphic novels that I wanted to pick up, and this one caught my attention from the very beginning. Not only does the cover itself seem really sweet and beautifully drawn, but the story seems like just the perfect amount of comforting and uplifting that I like to read. So I can't wait to have it in my hands next month!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so I can stop back! 

Top Ten Tuesday: Funny Book Titles

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: Funny Book Titles

One of the first things that draws me to a book is its title, so this was such a fun post to put together. Without further ado, here are ten book titles that I thought were so funny and made me laugh *or* took me by surprise and piqued my interest:



3. THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END by Adam Silvera (I thought the title was a joke at first......)



6. WE CAN'T KEEP MEETING LIKE THIS by Rachel Lynn Solomon

7. THE EX TALK by Rachel Lynn Solomon (I thought the wordplay was funny!)

8. YOU HAD ME AT HOLA by Alexis Daria

9. SEX AND VANITY by Kevin Kwan


So those are some funny book titles that I was able to round up! What are some that I missed? Comment down below and let me know!

2021 Debut Author Interview: Alexandra Overy!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and to spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun for years to come! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2021 debuts and chat with them about their writing process and what it's like to be a new author. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats, and more!

At the end of 2020, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Alexandra Overy and her novel THESE FEATHERED FLAMES, and we have been interested in it ever since! We are so excited to have Alexandra on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Alexandra grew up in London and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her undergraduate degree in history at UCLA, followed by her MFA in screenwriting also at UCLA. She loves writing in all formats, from novels to screenplays to graphic novels, always centring on fierce women and morally grey characters, often with a bit of magic and murder. 

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

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?

Alexandra: Thank you! It honestly still feels very surreal, even with only a few months left. This is something I’ve dreamed of for so long and now it’s actually happening it’s hard to believe!

The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?

Alexandra: I think the best part is that honeymoon phase when you’ve just begun a new project. Nothing has to be right yet, and you just get to play in this new world and meet these new characters. I love how everything feels possible and it’s always the most magical part of the process for me. I’d say the hardest (at the moment) is writing a sequel! As I’m writing my first sequel right now, it’s definitely more of a struggle. You already have all these set rules and expectations, so it’s a lot more pressure. 

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the idea for THESE FEATHERED FLAMES?

Alexandra: After my first book didn’t sell, I was brainstorming new ideas with my agent. We started talking about ballet stories and I immediately went to The Firebird, which is one of my favourite ballets. I was especially interested in the way that the Firebird is perceived in both the ballet and the folktale: as something for men to possess. I also knew I wanted to write a story about sisters, as I’m very close to my sister, and the idea grew from there.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?

Alexandra: I really liked writing the main two sisters, Izaveta and Asya, because they’re so different in their voices but also very similar in their fears and wants. I think the hardest character to write in These Feathered Flames was Yuliana (aka Strashe Vilanovich). She’s a woman of very few words and holds a lot of her feelings very close and guarded, which made it hard to always work out what she was thinking—especially as she’s not a POV character. I had to do a lot of extra character work to get to know her!

The Book Bratz: Are there any other books or authors who give you inspiration for your own writing?

Alexandra: So many! The best way to learn to write is to read a lot, so I’ve always tried to read everything I can. Some books that really inspired my own writing are Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor because I just adore her prose, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (who doesn’t love a soft monster book!?) and Graceling by Kristin Cashore. That was one of the first fantasy books I read as a teen, and it definitely influenced a lot of my writing. 

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of THESE FEATHERED FLAMES in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?

Alexandra: I’m working on the sequel to These Feathered Flames right now! It’s a duology, so this is the final book in that world. But I’m also working on my middle grade debut that’s out next year, The Gingerbread Witch. It’s a retelling of “Hansel and Gretel” that follows Maud, the daughter of a witch who lives in a house made of gingerbread. After her mother is pushed into the oven by the young witch hunters, Maud must find a way to resurrect her or risk all of the witch’s magical creations turning back into gingerbread–including Maud herself. I’m also beginning to think about my next YA, but not enough to share yet! 

Title: These Feathered Flames
Author: Alexandra Overy
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: April 20th, 2021

Summary: When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm. But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned. As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.

Thank you so much to Alexandra for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about THESE FEATHERED FLAMES and can't wait for it to be out in the world on April 20th

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

Happy St. Patrick's Day! - Green Cover Roundup

  Hi everyone, and Happy St. Patrick's Day to all who celebrate it! While all three of us aren't Irish, we still wanted to get in on the celebrations by rounding up some cool green covers of books that we've read and loved. So without further ado, here are some that we came up with:


So those are just some green covers that we thought to come up with! Did we miss any big ones that you love? Comment down below and let us know!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Spring 2021 TBR

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: Books On My Spring 2021 TBR

Spring is finally almost here! I have a massive TBR stack sitting on my bookshelves that I have to get through, but here are ten of them that are towards the top that I'm hoping to get to read soon:


So those are ten books that are on my Spring 2021 TBR! What are yours? Comment down below and let me know!