The Friday 56: Certain Dark Things

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“Open your eyes.”

He did. She was sitting beside him, on the floor. Domingo blinked. His head felt like it was about to explode.

“Am I a vampire now?” he asked.

Atl chuckled. “Don’t be silly. I told you that wasn’t possible. You should stop believing the crap they say about us.”

In Certain Dark Things Sylvia Moreno-Garcia has created a really interesting world with a unique take on vampires. I don’t typically read vampire novels, but this is one did such a fine job with its world-building, I wouldn’t have minded spending more time in it. You can read my full review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “Welcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…
       Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life.
       Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, must feast on the young to survive and Domingo looks especially tasty. Smart, beautiful, and dangerous, Atl needs to escape to South America, far from the rival narco-vampire clan pursuing her. Domingo is smitten.
       Her plan doesn’t include developing any real attachment to Domingo. Hell, the only living creature she loves is her trusty Doberman. Little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his effervescent charm.
       And then there’s Ana, a cop who suddenly finds herself following a trail of corpses and winds up smack in the middle of vampire gang rivalries.
       Vampires, humans, cops, and gangsters collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive?”

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Author: Maurene Goo
Series: N/A
Pages: 336
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: May 30th 2017

      “Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

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“But I never lost the belief that you could will something just by sticking to it, by being unwavering. By keeping your eyes on the prize. And by doing that, there was nothing you couldn’t control about your own life.

Maurene Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love is entertaining from start to finish with a lovable protagonist that you can’t help but root for. Goo’s latest novel follows the overachieving Desi Lee as she embarks on a scheme inspired by Korean dramas to snag her first boyfriend. The story opens with Desi explaining how important resolve is in achieving one’s goals. She’s the kind of girl who always has a plan, who sees something she wants and does everything she can to get it. The very definition of an overachiever, there hasn’t been anything that Desi has wanted that she hasn’t achieved by determination and hard work alone. Boys on the other hand are another story. She’s a walking disaster when it comes to her crushes, never being able to go further than the crush stage. When Luca Drakos walks into her life, Desi decides that if she can only apply the same kind of can-do attitude to her love life that she’s used to accomplish her other goals she can finally get her first boyfriend. I Believe in a Thing Called Love finds just the right balance between humor and seriousness, as the heroine’s schemes take on a life of their own and she begins to realize that love is not something that you can make happen just because you will it.

Desi’s ambitions are only overshadowed by her ability to accomplish anything she sets her mind to. Most of her goals are school-related and were created with the ultimate goal in mind: to get into Stanford and follow in her mother’s footsteps. I was immediately taken in by Desi’s voice. She’s enthusiastic, funny, and self-depreciating. When it occurs to her that her father’s K dramas are more than just entertainment, they contain a blueprint for her to finally get one of her crushes to fall for her back, she throws everything she has into a plan and doesn’t look back. Her gung-ho attitude pulled me right into the story where I felt truly invested and despite that gnawing feeling in the back of my head that told me that somewhere along the line, Desi’s plans would have some sort of falling out, I very much wanted her to succeed. Despite the lightness of this contemporary novel, Goo takes time to explore Desi’s motivations. She has this idea in her head that she can make anything happen as long as she is determined enough and has a plan. Since her mother’s passing, Desi has tried her best to never worry her father and in many ways, she feels she is responsible for keeping his head above water. She is used to being in control, has a hard time letting go, and struggles to reconcile the idea that love has to happen in an organic way for it to be real.

Goo does a phenomenal job of flushing out Desi’s love interest Luca. In the beginning, we learn very little about him. He’s just moved to a new school, is artistically inclined, and Desi of course is very much attracted to him. Though Desi tries through a series of steps to put herself in his way to get him to notice her, it’s the unplanned tête-à-têtes that give readers a more insightful look into who Luca is. Unlike Desi, he doesn’t have a close relationship with his father, and his art is incredibly important and personal to him. Though he comes off as laid back at first, he’s hiding a passion that rivals Desi’s. It was hard not to smile with Desi coming up with foolish scheme after foolish scheme and Luca being none the wiser. That being said, I’m glad Goo acknowledged that what Desi was doing could be considered manipulation. This guilt kept eating away at Desi as she got to know Luca and even more so when she discovered he has a lot of trust issues.

I loved the minor characters in this novel as well. Desi’s two best friends, Wes and Fiona, were really important people in her life and I love that they all had distinct personalities. Fiona in particular was often the voice of reason, but still supported her friend. Of the minor characters, no one compares to Desi’s father. One of the sweetest literary fathers I’ve ever come across, Desi’s dad stole my heart in this one. Hardworking, loving, and understanding, Desi could not have had a better father to get her through the years without her mother.

If you’re looking for a cute summer read, I Believe in a Thing Called Love is the perfect book to unwind with. Full of swoony and laugh-out-loud moments, Maurene Goo has put together a novel that had my face aching from smiling too much and is one I’d recommend to all contemporary fans.

4/5

★★★★

June ’17 Reading Challenges Recap

I normally include my reading challenges recap in my monthly wrap-up post, but since I am taking part in the Summer 2017 Bookish Bingo, I wanted to spend a little more time on a recap of it. This year I’ve signed up for three separate reading challenges. I like the idea of challenges, but they sometimes come with some added stress for those of us determined to achieve their end goals (me, I’m talking about me). I’m more or less feeling confident with the challenges below or at least trying to.

1. The 2017 Debut Author Challenge is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. I’ve been doing some stellar reading when it comes to this challenge, but I think this is the first month where I haven’t actually picked up a debut novel. No sweat though, I think I’ll pretty easily meet this goal.

  • Challenge Goal: 12 books; Current Count: 9 books

2. Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2017 is hosted by Alexa Loves Books and Hello, Cherry. I should be excelling at this challenge. Fantasy happens to be my favorite genre, but as of late, I’ve been picking up a lot more contemporary. Still, I have hope that I will succeed at this challenge by the end of the year. For June, I picked up Renée Ahdieh’s Flame in the Mist.

  • Challenge Goal: 20 books; Current Count: 9 books

3. Summer 2017 Bookish Bingo is hosted by Pretty Deadly Reviews and runs June through August. The goal of this challenge is to get as many BINGOs as you can using the Bingo card below. I did not get as much reading done for this challenge in June as I planned, but I didn’t pick up very many books to begin with. I have lofty plans for July. Below is an update of my card as well as books I’ve been eyeing for this challenge for July.

  • A Sequel: The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman
  • Name in the Title: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
  • Flowers on the Cover: Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

My Ambitious July TBR for this challenge includes:

  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  • Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
  • Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • Geekerella by Ashley Poston
  • Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
  • Lucky in Love by Kasie West

Are you participating in any of these challenges? How are you doing so far this year? Have any book recommendations for me for the 2017 Summer Bookish Bingo? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Monthly Wrap-Up: June ’17

MonthlyWrap-UPWhy, June, why did you end so quickly? I can’t believe that half the year is already gone. I read less than I thought I would this month. I can’t entirely explain it, but I just found it hard to start a new book once I finished the last. I finished five books in June, coming close to six, but not quite. I’ve got some major reading plans for July however and am really excited to get started. The Summer 2017 Comment Challenge is currently underway. I really enjoy cohosting this challenge & love seeing the new connections bloggers make through their partnership.

(Book covers below are linked to my reviews, unless otherwise specified.) 

Favorite Book This Month:

Maurene Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love was so unbelievably cute. If you’re looking for a fun contemporary for the summer, pick this one up. Review for this one coming soon. Cover linked to Goodreads.

Least Favorite Book This Month:

I really wanted to like Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study in Charlotte, but in the end, there were too many things about it that I didn’t enjoy. Review coming soon. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

Reviews Posted This Month:

Read But Not Reviewed Yet:

(covers linked to Goodreads)

Notable Blog Posts This Month:

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Reads of 2017 So Far – Loved sharing my favorite reads so far this year. I’ve picked up some amazing titles and can’t wait for the second half of 2017.

Summer 2017 Comment Challenge: July Sign-up – The Summer 2017 Comment Challenge is happening now. Partners for July have already been assigned, but if you’d like to join us for August, our sign-up post will go up on the 3rd.

Armchair Book Expo – I had so much fun participating in this online book conference. Unfortunately, this is going to be the last Armchair Book Expo and while I am incredibly sad, I’m so thankful for all the hosts’ hard work.

2017 Second Quarter Book Haul: I Feel a Book-Buying Ban Coming On – My latest book haul post in which I failed to restrain my book buying. Whoops.

Reading Challenges:

I will be making a separate post for my reading challenges this summer, so look for an update post very soon.

July Releases I’m Excited For:

 

Month in Review

How was the first half of your year? Any July releases you’re really looking forward to? Let me know in the comments and feel free to leave me a link to your own wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to visit.

2017 Second Quarter Book Haul: I Feel a Book-Buying Ban Coming On

The end of the second quarter of this year came at me fast. I was originally going to post this book haul a couple of days ago, but forgot to snap a few pictures in time. I did not expect to end up with so many books this time around. I actually thought I had been strict with my book buying, but it feels like preorders have been showing up left and right. In my defense, many of these preorders were placed several months ago. That being said, I’m going to restrict my book buying these next couple of months, so unless I throw caution to the wind come September, my next quarter book haul should be pretty small. Click any image below to enlarge. Title are linked to Goodreads.

New Books:

1. Now I Rise by Kiersten White – And I Darken really surprised me and Lada is a character you won’t soon forget, so buying the sequel was a no brainer.

2. Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh – I had to buy this one because of my love for the author’s previous work The Wrath and the Dawn. I have read this one and…well, you’ll see my thoughts soon.

3. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab – This was an automatic purchase because I apparently can’t go very long without buying books from this author. I haven’t read this one yet, so no spoilers please!

4. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett – I’m so glad I went ahead and bought this one after seeing so many bloggers recommend it. It’s such a cute novel.

5. The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May – I simply had to have this final book in The Falconer series. I’m a little afraid to pick this one up as I’ve been told to guard my heart.

6. Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis – I don’t DNF books that I buy. It’s just so hard to do so when I’ve spent money on a book. Unfortunately, this is what I did with this one. I could not get into it and I just know I’ll end up giving it a really low rating. It’s just sitting on my shelf right now, but I have no intention of reading it. I might do a giveaway or something.

7. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – This book is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I picked up a library copy, but knew I needed to own it, so I could fawn over the beautiful writing.

8. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina – Another book I read a library copy of that I knew I needed in my life. This one is highly underrated, so if you haven’t picked it up, please do so.

9. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke – This is a novel that I’ve been wanting for a long while, so I ended up preordering the paperback version of it.

10. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – I listened to the audiobook of this one earlier in the year, but want to read a physical copy this summer.

11. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente – I bought this as a little gift to myself for my birthday in May. The first book was so good and it’s been a while since I’ve been so enchanted by a middle grade series.

Used Books:

12. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch – I feel like this novel has been on my TBR forever. I finally have a copy on my shelf, so hopefully I can get to it soon.

13. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz – I bought this on a whim. Magical realism is kind of my weakness, so how could I resist?

14. The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos – I haven’t seen too many bloggers talk about this one, but I got such a good deal on it.

15. The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics – For someone who loves scary stories, I do not pick up enough horror books (I usually have a horror-themed TBR for October, but rarely pick up the genre any other time of year). I got this one used as well and am not sure I’ll be able to wait until October to pick it up.

16. The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May – I actually read an eARC of this one way back last year and finally got my hands on a copy of it. I’ve had it my cart for long while, waiting for the price to drop.

Gifts + Giveaways:

17. Library of Souls by Random Riggs – As part of Armchair Book Expo, I won this book from Quirk Books. It actually completes my collection of this series, so I have no excuse for finally reading the last two books.

18. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling – My nine-year-old nephew picked this book for me for my birthday. Isn’t that cute?

19. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller – I have been wanting to read this book since its release, but my library hold never came in. I won this from Alissa @ A Book Blog over on Tumblr and am so excited to finally read it.

20. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandya Manon – I haven’t read this one yet, but I really really want to (I need more time in the day). I won this over on Twitter from Sarah @ The Book Traveler and may have jumped up and down when I found out.

21. Shame the Stars by Guadalupe Garcia McCall – I was lucky enough to win this one from Rich in Color. I haven’t seen one review of this one in the blogosphere, so I aim to change that.


When was the last time you put yourself on a book buying ban? Have you read any of the titles I’ve purchased? Leave a link to your own recent book haul post in the comments and I’ll visit!