Thursday, October 19, 2017

Audiobook Review: Saint and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Rating: ★★★  | Release Date: 07/11/17 | Contemporary | 8 hours 5 minutes

High school sophomore Janna Youself feels like a misfit; at home she’s boxed out by her brother and mother’s relationship, at school she’s the only hijabi Muslim. In her mosque’s youth group she is surrounded by perfect Muslim saints--including Farooq. Farooq is held up as a golden boy but what no one knows is he's really a monster who tried to sexually assault her.

We follow Janna through the last weeks of her sophomore year and at the heart of the book is Janna learning how to open up about her sexual assault. There is a ton going on in this book; including an Islamic quiz bowl competition, Janna’s crush on a non-Muslim, bullying from mean girls, her brother’s sudden engagement, her parents divorce and also a there's a new boy at the mosque who's caught her attention.

Audiobook narrator Ariana Delawari has this great bright, sharp voice that fits the nervous energy of Janna but she does read slow, this was the first time I’ve ever listened to an audiobook at a faster speed.

This book is from Salaam Reads, an imprint at Simon & Schuster created specifically to publish Children’s/YA featuring positive portrayals of Muslim characters.

Saints and Misfits is a voice-y, coming of age story and I’m curious to see what debut author Ali does next.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

New Cover Who Dis: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

First released in 2007, City of Bones  by Cassandra Clare holds a special place here at Books and Sensibility as the first book we ever reviewed.

10 years later, this book  has spun off to include--and I'm just estimating here-- a floppity-jillion books, short stories, graphic novels and novellas; a TV show and one terrible movie I saw see in an empty theater on opening weekend. To celebrate the 10 year anniversary Simon and Schuster released a new cover for City of Bones. Let's take a look:

The Orignal
The original cover is the classic. Go to any used bookstore and  9 times out of 10 you will find the paperback version of this cover. This cover is one of the very few YAs to have a  naked chest, in fact I can only think one other YA book (Altered by Jennifer Rush, but they covered it up on the paperback) that did this and while I get it's supposed to show  the runes it's just....a weird choice for YA.

The Remix
In 2015, the entire Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series had re-designed paperbacks with the characters in dynamic poses. I really like these covers, they just scream urban fantasy.  I also love a good stepback.

The Redux
Now both the 2007 and 2015 cover look way cooler in person because they're shiny and textured. I haven't seen this new cover in person but from the pictures I've seeen it's kind of ...meh.  As much as I love simple covers, this new doesn't tell me much and if I didn't know what this was I don't think I'd pick it up.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Books and Sensibility Six Year Blogaversary + Giveaway (US) !

Jess and I at maybe 13 or 14 at our grandparent's house. I think I'm reading Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

From Top left: BEA 2016; Kat meeting Marie Lu at a 2013 Penguin Event in NYC; Meeting Maggie Steifvater at Dream Thieves signing in 2013;  Jess getting Hidden Figures signed;  "the  official company headshot; Jess and Amber from DuLivre at BEA16; Hidden Figures signing in 2017; Jess w/ Lamar Giles at NovaTeen 2014; Us with Kendare Blake at BEA 2016

When Jess and I started this blog I honestly didn't think it was going to last longer than a few months, (like every other blog we started) but here we are six years later !  In those six years we've gotten to see a lot; like the beginnings of amazing projects like WNDB and NoVa Teen Book Festival

I have a clear memory of being 17-years-old in Borders (*pours one out*) and feeling sad that soon I couldn't read YA and I'd have to read boring "adult books". This was in 2006,  right before the Twilight boom. Little did I know there would be even better YA books published in my adulthood and that I'd tumble across a community of  like-minded and diverse readers that enjoyed YA as much as I did.

We may not be the biggest or most influential blog out there but we're still here and plan to keep it going as long as we can ! Now, to celebrate 6 years we're looking to the future at what's new and upcoming so we're giving away a physical copy of one (1) book from  Barnes and Nobles' 27 Most Anticipated October YA !  I chose this list because I like the inclusive-ness and enthusiastic break downs of each book.

- Kat 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Book Review Bundle : Grit by Gillian French

Trigger warning - sexual assault

Book Review

Gillian French looks a lot  like Gillian Flynn, and the san serif font makes it look like a Gillian Flynn novel but it's not. The heady, sparse  and evocative setting where a reckless beautiful young woman finds herself both at home and an outcast in a small town is a lot like Gillian Flynn but this is not Gillian Flynn. Even if  the soft focus on small town fears , female relationships and toxic masculinity is like Gillian Flynn this is NOT Gillian Flynn.

What I'm saying is this book thematically (and physically)  reminded me a lot of Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects, while remaining firmly rooted in it's own originality. French is writing a love letter to the slow downed pace of life  in small town rural Maine. Her descriptions are so rich and  specific I could easily visualize it.

While there is no payoff for the sliver of suspense running through the book (that feels an awful lot like it was put in there for marketing purposes) there is something so effortless about  how French leads us through Darcy's summer as she hangs with her family,  rakes blueberries and  avoids the boy who broke more than her heart.

Darcy is one of these so called "unlikable" female characters, she doesn't always make what is precieved as the right choices and she stumbles a lot before picking herself up.

A low key YA that I feel slid under the radar and is worth a second look !

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Book Review/Audiobook Review : Ramona Blue

 432 Pages | Balzer + Bray | Contemporary | 5/9/17

Book Review

When Ramona's romance with a tourist ends along with the vacation season in her small town, she doesn't think she will get over it. That is until Freddie, an old friend from her childhood makes her think twice about how she identifies herself. Ramona Blue is the culmination of everything Bookish Twitter wants, a. It's a contemporary novel that focuses  on people of color, women of color, LGBTQ issues and  class, but the story isn't a "struggle" narrative. It's just people trying to live their lives. The stakes aren't particularly high and it is a story that mostly exist in the passage of time,  moments and the importance of found family.

Is this what Quiet YA is ?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Rating: ★★★ | Release Date: 06/27/17 | Historical | 10 hours 47 minutes | Harper Audio
It’s Georgian London , ya’ll and Henry “Monty” Montague, the rouge 18-year-old Viscount of Disley is all set for his year long grand tour of the European continent where he hopes to attend to some general rakish-ness.  Along for the tour is his annoying younger sister, Felicity and his best friend, Percy--who he also happens to be madly in love with. Yeah, what could possibly go wrong ?

I think this should be one of those books that the less you know going in the better. This book gets talked about as a road trip novel but to me it is less road trip and more Hero's Journey With a sprinkling of Dan Brown intrigue and like a pinch of Southern Gothic tropes. I've never read anything quite like it before and it was amazing.

This is my first Lee, but it definitely won’t be my last. Everything from the character development, to the pacing to story structure worked for me. At first I really hated the Monty character and found him obnoxious and I just didn't get it but by the end of the journey Lee had completely redeemed him and I was going wherever she took me.

Audiobook narrator Christian Coulson does an amazing job and his narration for Monty is what is making this  a 5 star review.  Coulson has this sharp, rhythmic, caustic voice for Monty and somehow he  completely smooths out the tone for Percy, the other male character we hear the most from. It was  to a point that he practically sounds like a different person. I think the audiobook would be really good for Americans because all the British slang just sounds so good in his accent. Also, yes, yes, the narrator also played Tom Riddle in Chamber of Secrets movie.

I rarely join the hype train (and actually I feel like the hype for this book kind of died down once it came out) but this book is great and completely unique adventure that’s never exactly what it seems. I'm super excited for the sequel and I'm going to go back to  read her first book because it sounds so intriguing!

I noticed some reviews called the book anarchistic but I'm not sure I saw that. Some of the language felt more true to form than some historical romance I've read. Also there aren't a lot of explanatory commas to explain the slang, clothing and social structure of 18th Century England and I do wonder if that would be confusing to some readers since we don't get a lot of historical YA like this. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Audiobook Review: Gem and Dixie by Sara Zaar

Rating: ★★★★ | Release Date: 04/04/17 | Contemporary | 5 hours 45 minutes | Balzer + Bray
I've had this book on my radar since I saw Sarah Dessen was just gushing out it on Twitter late last year. It’s the 7th book from veteran YA author Sara Zaar and tells the story of the titular Seattle sisters who grew up with neglectful parents that never wanted to grow up. The sisters have always looked out for each other  but when Dixie, the younger, more social sister, enters high school with Gem, the introverted, quiet sister it brings a new strain to their relationships.

This is a short, slice of life novel that I think is what the cool kids call quiet YA. It reminded me a lot of the early 90’s contemporary YA I used to read in high school. While there is a game changer plot point about 50% and they go on an adventure for most of the book you’re just kind of along for the ride, watching their life play out as they manage their mother and responsibilities.

Audiobook narrator Julie Whelan had some great voices for all the characters and I liked the way she did dialogue but Gem is the narrator in the book and Whelan has this very cool, flat affectless tone that just didn’t do it for me. She also  sounded just a little too mature for a teenage characters. 

I’ve started to notice that contemporary YA has been really reflecting the current moment the best it can. We’re seeing books about police brutality and undocumented immigrants and I think this is probably the first of many book reflecting the opioid crisis.

Gem and Dixie is a quiet, introspective YA that made me feel a little nostalgic for those early 90's books.

Also, I know some people don't like a lot of romance in their books and there is also absolutely no romance in this book.


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