Waiting on Wednesday: The Hate U Give

Waiting on Wednesday is a feature, hosted by Breaking the Spine, for bloggers to share upcoming releases they're eagerly anticipating. 

This week I'm waiting on:
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Expected Publication Date: February 28th, 2017

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. 

Angie Thomas is already such an important voice in the YA community, and her book isn't even out yet, so I honestly can't wait for The Hate U Give. Hers is a voice that needs listening to. This is a book the world needs right now. 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Let me know!


A Holiday Giveaway from Reading Over Sleeping

HELLO, WONDERFUL LOVELY BLOG FRIENDS. It's been a hot minute, but I'm feeling better than I have in forever. I needed a bit of a break because it wasn't as fun for me anymore, but now I'm back and excited to be here.

I hope you all had a lovely Thankgiving! As much as I love Thanksgiving (the food, the break from school, spending time with family), my absolute favorite holiday is Christmas. I love everything about Christmas time. I love the chill in the air and the music and the decorations and especially the gifts - both given and received. 

So in the interest of spreading holiday cheer, I'm having myself a merry little giveaway! 


This is both a fun Christmas giveaway and a hey-thank-you-for-still-following-my-blog-even-though-I-suck-sometimes-giveaway. I seriously am so thankful to this community and the friends I've made here, so I want to give back by giving away books I love. I'm giving away a paperback of Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson and a signed paperback of Pivot Point by Kasie West. Both of these are books I adore by authors that are some of my favorites in the YA scene, so I am more than happy to spread all the love for them. 


So here are the giveaway rules:
  • -Entrants must be 13 or older and/or have a parent's permission.
  • -Winner(s) will be chosen randomly using Rafflecopter.
  • -Entries that do not comply with the rules will be disqualified without notice, so don't try to cheat the system. 
  • The rest of my giveaway policies can be found in my Policies/Disclaimer tab

Enter below, and may the odds be ever in your favor! The giveaway ends December 17th. Wishing everyone the happiest of holiday seasons! And if the holidays are rough for you, I'm sending all the love your way. 


Serena Takes Pasadena Loves YA (again!) + Giveaway


Hi, friends! It me, again. I know what you're thinking: Serena posted twice in a week??? What kind of alternate universe are we in??? I'm feeling very motivated this week, so I'm trying to ease myself back into blogging. So here I am!

*segways* This weekend I had to chance to attend Pasadena Loves YA at the Pasadena Public Library. I met some amazing authors, attended fun panels, and talked to pretty cool people. I also got Porto's first, which is always a win. Speaking of wins, I'll be giving away a swag bag from the event at the bottom of this post, so stay tuned!

Here's how the day went...

I got to the library about a half hour before the event and wandered a bit because it's seriously so beautiful. Then I grabbed a program and a tote and settled down in the auditorium to wait for the keynote. 

Aija Mayrock was the keynote speaker this year. She's a twenty-one year old activist and author of The Survival Guide to Bullying, and her presentation moved me to tears. She performed a "roem" (rap poem) she wrote about her experience with bullying and feeling good in her skin, and it was amazing. She's really committed to trying to end bullying, and it's really admirable. She's also so adorable. I want her to be my friend. 

Me and Aija
My next order of business was the "The World in Black and White" panel with Kerry Kletter, Robin Reul, Robyn Schneider, and Nicola Yoon. 


The World in Black and White
They were a fun group to watch panel because, for the most part, they're all friends, so it was comfortable and nice. They talked about everything from their writing processes to their writing inspiration to their favorite books of the year. Kerry's is The Sun Is Also a Star, Robin's is Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Robyn's is The Sun of Apollo, and Nicola's is Furthermore. GOOD CHOICES. 

After the panel, I got in line to meet the authors and met Desirae, who blogs at Boulevard of Books and Dreams. So nice to meet you, Desirae!

The authors were all very sweet, and the all signed my tote, though I only had a book for Nicola to sign. Sidebar: Robyn is my style icon. 

Me and Nicola, after I spent quite a bit of time gushing to her about how much I loved The Sun Is Also a Star. 
I took a lunch break after this, then found a comfy chair to read Everything, Everything before the next panel. 

The panel was This World of Ours: Alternatives of Our Past, Present, and Future, featuring Frank Beddor, Elizabeth Briggs, Cecil Castellucci, Eric Laster, and Thomas Voorhies. This was really exciting for me because Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars was HUGE to me in middle school. I checked them out from the library tons of times. 

This was another fun one because of the dynamic between the authors. There were lots of laughs and anecdotes about inspiration. My personal favorite is where Frank got his Alice inspiration from. It involved big man with a very high voice and him scaring girls away with talk of ancient playing cards. 

I didn't have books for any of those authors to sign, so I rushed (carefully) down the stairs to the auditorium for the next panel. 

The last panel of the day was the Out of the Comfort Zone panel with Julie Buxbaum, Dana Elmendorf, Charlotte Huang, and Marisa Reichardt. This was the one I was looking forward to the most. 

I tried my hardest to take notes for this one, but I ended up listening too intently to pay close attention. Oops? 

Some highlights from the panel:

Charlotte said that she loves writing stories about people who succeed even though they underestimate themselves and are underestimated by others. Julie said that humor is an essential coping mechanism, so she feels like it's important to have in books that deal with series topics. Dana, Ingrid, and Marisa all talked about the importance of writing what scares you and telling the story that needs to be told. A lot of important things were said about sexuality and mental health and acceptance that I wish I could reiterate because I thought it was very moving. 


I got in line to talk to all of the authors after. They were all very kind and signed my tote and some swag for me. I told Marisa my blog name, and she liked it. *tips hat* Ingrid's hair is this gorgeous purple, so I talked to her about redoing mine. I had the best time talking to Charlotte about concerts and bands. I want to be Charlotte when I grow up. I gushed to Julie about her adorable book. Gah, they were all so lovely. 

I count that as a successful day. I am so glad I went, and I can't wait to (hopefully) attend next year's event as well. Thanks to all involved!

Now for the giveaway! I'm giving away a signed Pasadena Loves YA tote signed by a bunch of awesome authors from the event. Inside the bag are some bookmarks and a set of Tell Me Three Things buttons! All giveaway rules can be found in my policies. Good luck! 


Release Day: Overexposed

Happy Tuesday, friends! Today we're celebrating the release of Megan Erickson's Overexposed, book four in her In Focus series. I'm such a huge fan of this series, so I'm incredibly excited to meet Thad and read more about Levi.

About Overexposed: 

Love runs wild on the Appalachian Trail…
Levi Grainger needs a break. As a reality show star, he’s had enough of the spotlight and being edited into a walking stereotype. When he returns home after the last season of Trip League, he expects to spend time with his family, only to learn his sister is coming back from her deployment in a flag-draped casket. Devastated, Levi decides the best way to grieve will be to go off grid and hike the Appalachian Trail—a trip he’d planned to do with his sister.
His solitary existence on the trail is interrupted when he meets Thad, a quiet man with a hard body and intense eyes. Their connection is stronger than anything Levi has ever experienced. But when Levi discovers the truth about what Thad is hiking to escape, their future together looks uncertain, and uncertainty is the last thing Levi needs… 



An excerpt from the novel...

For a moment, we locked eyes, and the air between us crackled with the promise of what could come next if we let it. I didn’t breathe—didn’t move—because this rubber band tugging at us could snap any minute, and I had no idea which way it would go. 
Thad’s jaw clenched, then his hand shot out and gripped the side of my head. I sucked in a breath as
he pulled me toward him. The heat of his palm seared my scalp as he closed the distance until our mouths were inches away. The tent was filled with panted breaths, pounding hearts, and every cell in my body was screaming want want want
I licked my lips, the very tip of my tongue brushing his, and that was the last encouragement he needed, because then Thad slammed his mouth onto mine. His body crashed along with it, so my back slammed onto the ground and Thad landed on top. 
But I didn’t care about any of that, because Thad was devouring me. His mouth moved against mine, opening me up, demanding to be let in, and I obliged. Thad swept his tongue inside, kissing me like he couldn’t get enough, would never get enough, like kissing me was better than breathing. 
Kissing Thad was better than breathing. 
I held on as best as I could, clutching his broad shoulders, the muscles shifting beneath his skin. With his knees, he spread my legs and slotted himself between them, grinding his hard cock against mine. 
It was a frenzy of tongues and lips and saliva and good, hard, need-you-now kind of sex. Thad broke the kiss to suck hard on the skin along my jaw, and I arched beneath him as he hit the spot below my ear that always got me going. 
My cock was achingly hard, my balls already drawn up tight, but I needed something more. Thad’s hands fumbled between us until my boxers were shoved down. A fist wrapped around both of our cocks and began stroking them together. 
My brain short-circuited, my lungs screamed for air as I gasped at the firm grip. Thad wasn’t fucking around. This was down and dirty and about getting off on each other. 
My hips churned with each stroke of Thad’s hand; his hip bones dug into my inner thighs as each stroke shoved my legs further apart. I had no time to imagine what we looked like, what we sounded like, because Thad bit down on my shoulder, hard, and I came like a fucking rocket. I couldn’t even cry out, as I pulsed soundlessly in his hand. His hips froze on one more powerful thrust, sending my head smashing into the side of the tent, and then he let out one small groan against my skin. 
I squeezed my eyes shut, relinquishing my grip on Thad’s shoulders, belatedly noticing my nails had etched crescent-shaped marks in his flesh. 
He rose off of me slowly, his eyes skittering away, not meeting mine. He grabbed my pack of wipes, and cleaned himself, then me, wordlessly. I bit my lip, unsure what to say. What did one say when they were dry-humped in the middle of the night by a man who spoke in sentence fragments? 
Nothing apparently. Because Thad rose, pulled on a pair of pants and a shirt, and with one last look at me, left the tent. 
Without a word.

Teasers, if that wasn't enough...




Ah, doesn't it look AMAZING? I hope that, if Overexposed wasn't on your radar before, it is now. 






Waiting on Wednesday: The Upside of Unrequited

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature, hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers talk about upcoming releases they're eagerly anticipating. 

This week's pick is:
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Expected Publication Date: April 11th, 2017

“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back.”

What does a sixteen-year-old girl have to do to kiss a boy? Molly Peskin-Suso wishes she knew. She’s crushed on twenty-six guys…but has kissed exactly none. Her twin sister Cassie’s advice to “just go for it” and “take a risk” isn’t that helpful. It’s easy for her to say: she’s had flings with lots of girls. She’s fearless and effortlessly svelte, while Molly is introverted and what their grandma calls zaftig.

Then Cassie meets Mina, and for the first time ever, Cassie is falling in love. While Molly is happy for her twin, she can’t help but feel lonelier than ever. But Cassie and Mina are determined to end Molly’s string of unrequited crushes once and for all. They decide to set her up with Mina’s friend Will, who is ridiculously good-looking, flirty, and seems to be into Molly. Perfect, right? But as Molly spends more time with Reid, her cute, nerdy co-worker, her feelings get all kinds of complicated. Now she has to decide whether to follow everyone’s advice…or follow her own heart. 

So I absolutely love, love, love Becky's debut novel. You may have heard of it; it's called Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and it is a masterpiece. A true triumph for gay YA. I'm sure Becky is only going to get better, so I can't wait to read The Upside of Unrequited. It is so close yet so far. 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Let me know!





Mini Reviews #8 : Recent YA Faves

How's everyone doing this weekend? Is everyone back to school? How's that going for ya? I myself started my senior year of high school on the tenth, and it is already absolutely wild. 

But in the midst of the madness, I've found the time to read some pretty awesome books. I've been reading a ton of NA and romance lately, but the few YAs that I've read over the summer and since school started I have absolutely loved. So here are some mini reviews of my absolute favorite YAs that I've devoured recently. 

(As always, the template for my mini reviews belongs to Alex @ Fiery Reads, but I've tweaked it for myself.)

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson 
Publication Date: 
Format/Source: Hardcover, purchased
Part of a series? Nope, it's a standalone. 

Andie had it all planned out. 

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. 

And where’s the fun in that?

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears | fits well with the rest of the series
STAR RATING: all the stars | 5 stars | 4.5 stars | 4 stars | 3.5 stars | 3 stars | 2.5 stars | 2 stars | 1 star
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES | perfect for the book
POV: 1st | dual 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: basic but well done | original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution | favorite trope
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious | fun | sad | serious when necessary
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | okay | new favorite characters | book boyfriend (CLARKKK, let me love you.)
ROMANCE: none | steamy | adorable | ship it | didn’t ship it | cheesy | predictable | love triangle | instalove | OTP
DIVERSITY: none | black | jewish | asian | indian | lgbt+ | mental health | male narrator | body | culture


I have yet to meet a Morgan Matson book that I didn't like, and at this point, I don't think I'm going to. The Unexpected Everything far surpassed my expectations, and I think it's my favorite MoMa book thus far. I love Andie's friend group and that all of them are different, but they mesh so well. I appreciate that they are all there for each other and the scenes where they're all together are some of my favorites, but I also appreciate Morgan's accurate portrayal of friendship fallout, which is pretty much inevitable in high school. And, as always, I love this boy that Morgan has created. Clark is now on my list of my favorite book boyfriends. Nerd hot is my thing. The Unexpected Everything is, well, everything. It will satisfy all your contemporary needs.

Game On by Michelle Smith
Publication Date: August 16th, 2016
Format/Source: Ebook, purchased
Part of a series? Yes, it's the second book in the Lewis Creek series. You can read my review for the first book, Play On, here
Goodreads | Purchase: Amazon

As king of baseball in the small town of Lewis Creek, Eric Perry can have any girl he wants and win every game he plays. But when a fight lands him in jail, he’s only got one more strike before his baseball career is over for good. His only chance for redemption? The girl next door, Bri Johnson.

Bri hasn’t talked to Eric in months—for starters, she’s been too busy dealing with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, not to mention the fact that Eric’s been preoccupied trying to drink every keg in the country dry. But when he needs a way to stay on the team, she proposes a plan: if he helps her out with community service, he can stay on the team. At first it’s a nightmare—Eric and Bri stopped being friends years ago, surely that was for a good reason, right? But as volunteering turns to bonding over old memories of first kisses under the stars, they start to have trouble remembering what pushed them apart.

In a town as small as Lewis Creek, nothing stays secret for long and their friendship and romance might mean bad news. But in this final, tumultuous spring before graduation, Eric and Bri are about to realize that nobody’s perfect alone, but they might just be perfect together.

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears | fits well with the rest of the series
STAR RATING: all the stars | 5 stars | 4.5 stars | 4 stars | 3.5 stars | 3 stars | 2.5 stars | 2 stars | 1 star
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES | perfect for the book
POV: 1st | dual 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: basic but well done | original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution | favorite trope
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious | fun | sad | serious when needed
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all)| a mix of good and bad | okay | new favorite characters | book boyfriend
ROMANCE: none | steamy | adorable | ship it | didn’t ship it | cheesy | predictable | love triangle | instalove | OTP
DIVERSITY: none | black | jewish | asian | indian | lgbt+ | mental health | male narrator | body | culture


I am such a sucker for small town romances, and the friends to more trope is one of my favorites, so Game On hit all the right buttons for me. Eric and Bri are so sweet together, though it did take a little longer than I would have liked for them to finally get to the point where they were together, and I love them. And although the book is definitely not lacking in the cute and fluffy area, that is definitely not the sum of it. It also tackles emotional abuse in relationships and the what-do-I-do-with-the-rest-of-my-life struggle that are both so prevalent in high school. I have a lot of love for this book.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: October 16th, 2015
Format/Source: Hardcover, purchased
Part of a series? Nope, this is a standalone (though I'd read so many more books with these characters). 

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

TITLE: boring | nothing special | pretty good | caught my eye | perfection | music to my ears | fits well with the rest of the series
STAR RATING: all the stars | 5 stars | 4.5 stars | 4 stars | 3.5 stars | 3 stars | 2.5 stars | 2 stars | 1 star
COVER: not my favorite | goes well with rest of the series | boring | generic | pretty | series cover change | beautiful | HEART EYES | perfect for the book
POV: 1st | dual 1st | 2nd | 3rd limited | 3rd omniscient | multiple POVs | too many POVs
CONCEPT: basic but well done | original as heck | run of the mill in genre | average | has potential | great idea, bad execution | favorite trope
MOOD: dark | hilarious | light hearted | romantic | depressing | suspenseful | fluffy | mysterious | fun | sad | serious when needed
PACING: snail’s pace | couldn’t keep up | mix of fast and slow | slow in the wrong places (exposition felt way too long for me) | fast in the wrong places | what even is pacing?
CHARACTERS: i’m in love | couldn’t connect | too many | well developed (all) | infuriating | annoying | precious babies | underdeveloped (all) | a mix of good and bad | okay | new favorite characters | book boyfriend
ROMANCE: none | steamy | adorable | ship it | didn’t ship it | cheesy | predictable | love triangle | instalove | OTP
DIVERSITY: none | black | jewish | asian | indian | lgbt+ | mental health | male narrator | body | culture


You GUYS. This. Book. I adored it. I had too big issues with it, but other than those, I thought it was incredible. First, the whole book felt like something I'd read before. It felt predictable and familiar, but it was so well done anyway. Second, it took me forever to really get into it. The first hundred or so pages, I was not interested. But once I got into it, I was absolutely consumed. I thought I was invested in Simon and Baz when I read Fangirl, but now I am invested. They are precious. And Rainbow's writing is just brilliant for fantasies. Her prose in itself is magic, so it lends an extra air of enchantment to the story. Basically it all sorts of magic and adventure and love woven together in a way that only Rainbow Rowell can.

What are your favorite YAs that you've read recently? Anything that I have to read? What did you think of any of these? Let me know!