Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Tale of Two Panels : Trends In Romance

If you've ever checked out the romance blog you'll see a lot of the books I discover are from Sara Wendell's Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. So when Kat texted me that Wendell was moderating a Trends In Romance panel at Baltimore BookFest I knew I wanted to find the time to stop by.

Timing wasn't really on our side and we only had time to go to this one session which is too bad because I've always wanted to go to Baltimore Book Festival. Let me tell you, it was a total 360 from National Book Fest. It's held at the Inner Harbor and because it's a big tourist attraction it's really hopping. It has restaurants, live music and a nice waterfront setting that made the whole event feel festive.

I always like to pick up book by panelist, so I picked up :

  • Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels By Sarah Wendell
  • Love On My Mind by Tracey Livesay
  • One To Win by Michelle Monkou
  • A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev

Also on the panel was  Laura Kaye, Miranda Kenneally, Jennifer Armentrout and Erika Kelly who is a new author to me !

Michelle Monoku nicely came up to me and offered to sign my book ! I hadn't read her book before but I grabbed it because I follow her on Twitter. I also knew her name sounded familiar to me and I later realized it was because I bought To Charm A Billionaire off Amazon just the other day.

The big trends talked about on the panel were female centered thrillers and women's fiction with strong romantic elements are on the rise. Needless to say the panel was on point.

I felt like I was at a live recording of Wendell's podcast. Baltimore Book Festival  is going to be a must for me in 2017 !

Side Note

I also overheard this conversation by someone visiting the harbor and noticing the crowded tents:

Man : What's going on today ?
Companion : It's a book festival...we're caught up in the book crowd
Man : ...There's a book crowd ?
Me in my head : Wouldn't you like to know. . .

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Tale Of Two Panels : Get Your White Hat !

A few weekends ago Kat and I went up to National Book Festival. I felt like I needed to stretch first because it's been so long since I've been to an author/book event.

2016 National Book Fest

This is my second time going to National Book Fest, the first time was way back in 2011 when we were newbies book bloggers. Ah, memories. Kat even made a video

Back in  2011 the festival was outside, but I guess now they do it at The Washington Convention Center. There were red bags and librarians everywhere. To me the festival felt a whole lot less festive since it was indoors. I kind of felt like I was at a super casual conference. They had an exhibit floor downstairs with a nice interactive element where you could visit each state's table to collect stickers for a prize.

I guess the plus of being indoors is that there are more parking options and food but I just wanted to see more tents.

Kat and I wanted to get something for our nephew so we picked up Juana Medina's The Big Salad . It teaches healthy eating habits and counting !

Shonda Rhimes @ National BookFest

The event was packed with Shondaland fans and Rhimes was introduced by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and interviewed by philanthropist David M Rubenstein. It was interesting hearing Rhimes journey to success. I had no idea she went to Dartmouth or that she wrote the movie Crossroads. But honestly, the interview was very controlled and had some awkward pacing.

Side Note

They didn't clear the room so we came in early  caught the end of Kareem Abdul Jabbar's session, he knows a lot about history and was very poised and intelligent. I can totally see why he published a Sherlock Holmes novel.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Joint Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

This book was  all over my favorite bookish media .When it was selected for the book club book on the Pop Rocket podcast I finally decided to pick up the audiobook.

Sleeping Giants is written almost entirely in transcripts and field reports and follows what happens after large metal body parts are discovered buried around the world.

I did this on audio and I thought it worked great. Because there are no adverbs attached to the dialogue the voice actors had so much range to add their own interpretations. My favorite narrator was Katharine Halgren who has this great arrogant, youthful but kind of smarmy voice for Kara, the female hothead pilot with a lot of skill, but also a lot of attitude.

 Unrelated, the narrator for Dr. Rose Franklin sounded a lot like Elizabeth McGovern from Downtown Abbey.

As much as I liked the narration, the format of this book made the story feel so distant. None of the relationships between the character resonated for me. Also, I didn’t know Sylvain Neuvel's gender before reading this, but towards the end I knew he was a man because his female characters get shafted towards the end. The male characters have full arcs and are changed by the end while the female characters have their designated slot (Kara is the hothead pilot, Rose is the maternal leader) and they stay in them until they get to be damsels-in-distresses. Don't get me started on how he toed the line on Mystical Pregnancy.

Apparently this is a series and I’m curious about the sequel, Walking Gods, but I kind of hope it’s not in this format. - ★+.5

17 years after a missing girl is found in the palm of a giant metal hand, the race is on to find out what the metal hand is and who left it behind. Leading the charge on the project is a super shadowy but well connected man who seems more machine than human. This new discovery opens the world up to conflicts, strange science and the possibility that maybe. . . just maybe we are not alone.

Neuvel manages to craft a complete story relying on little to no prose. He leans hard on making the dialogue very precise. You are constantly aware that most of what the characters say is partially making up for the lack of prose. It was often very easy to get lost and miss details without picking up context clues.

I too read this for the Pop Rocket Book Club and I think the host, Guy Branum, made a very good point; this book does the thing that World War Z does, where it tells the story through interviews and reports, but for Sleeping Giants it's unnecessary. It doesn't play with the form or do as deep of a dive as World War Z does. Also, once Oliver Wang pointed out that Kara Resnik is basically Kara Thrace from Battlestar Galactica I couldn't unsee  it. Granted most women in the military are fighter pilots but both Karas somehow manage to get experimented on and sleep with both a hotshot pilot and a nerdy scientist. So... yeah.

In her review Kat mentions that the female characters get "shafted" but this book actually did something that happens a lot to female main characters in sci-fi  (I'm looking at you Starbuck, Scully and Clones from Orphan Black) where their reproductive rights get railroaded for the pursuit of "science". Basically, Your ovaries are in danger, girl.

Overall I thought it was a decent debut with a lot of good ideas. I could definitely see this as a mini series on SyFy. I want to read the sequel but I'm afraid we won't get answers. - 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It's Our 5 Year Blogaversary + Giveaway !

September is our 5 month blogaversary !

In the summer of 2011 the last Harry Potter movie come out,  some show called Games of Thrones premiered on HBO,  Where She Went by Gayle Foreman won the 2011 Goodreads Choice Award for Best YA and a little blog called Books and Sensibility was created. At the time  Jess and I were recent college grads looking for jobs and thought it might be fun to create a Cleolinda-esque blog about The Mortal Instruments. Instead  we ended up stumbling into the community of YA book bloggers and never turned back.

Over the last few years blogging for me has become less about being a blogger and more about connecting with other readers and making myself read. I think if I didn't have a blog I'd probably never read.

In celebration, we're giving away one set of  of mini princess magnetic bookmarks from The Sticker Alley ! Bonus: This giveaway is international ! 

Images from The Sticker Alley

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 23, 2016

Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor

Cam "Skip" Smith is going to graduate from a prestigious prep school. Cam Smith is going to Princeton in the Fall. . . just as long as no one finds out Cam Smith is really Philips O'Rourke, the youngest member of a thieving, scheming family. Skip thought he left his family behind when he ran away at thirteen but they are pulling him in for one last job. This job could be the "big one", but it could also be fatal.

Thieving Weasels is one of those rare stand alone books in YA. You are never sure who is conning who and you won't know who to trust till the last page . Despite the book's fun cover, this novel does have some teeth to it.

I perked up when this book was mentioned at the  BEA YA BUZZ Panel, because it had the scheming family "who is conning who" elements I liked in The Curseworkers series by Holly Black, complete with the mafia and New York/Long Island setting.

I think the fast paced plot and the quippy dialogue will pull in reluctant readers.

Side Note

  •  I couldn't unsee the character of Uncle Wonderful as Kevin O'Leary from shark tank because he  goes by "Mr. Wonderful". . . Is this like a thing ?
  • Also, during the YA Buzz panel it was revealed that a photo shoot was done for the book cover and the woman playing Skip's mom is a  preschool teacher.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

  • Release Date: August 23, 2016
  • Pages:368
  • Genre: Contemporary-ish
  • Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin)

This book probably had the easiest elevator pitch ever; students at a New Jersey high school start spontaneously combusting. The entire town, and eventually the entire world start looking for answers including senior class member Mara Carlyle, the snarky ,foul-mouthed, irreverent narrator who takes us through this story.

I have read a lot of weird YA. I’m talking giant man eating grasshopper YA and girls-drink-bat-and-sees-future-anti-feminist hellscape weird. But this book takes the Kafkaesque cake.

I was so morbidly curious about this book after hearing about it a BEA because I wanted to see how they handled the combustion. Do the students go poof gone or it is something more gruesome ? Well, let me put it this way, when it first happens people assume it was a suicide bomb. So, it mentions blood but it never gets too gross. Starmer focuses more on how students react to what is...left over.

Jess predicted this book would get a lot of John Green buzz, because of the blurb on the cover but let me tell you; This ain’t no John Green book. There is no manic pixie dream person or earnest contemplation about the meaningfulness of it all. Our narrator is what you would call an unlikeable female character. She spends a good portion of this book abusing substances, judging people and making fun of the combustion.

Speaking of which,this books also feels like older YA to me. There is a non fade to black sex scene, lots of drug use and a lot of cursing. Like if this was a movie it would be rated R. I just want to note that because I know some people don’t like all that in there YA.

I honestly can’t say if I liked this or not. I was definitely hooked because this book just has a great tension as it goes from omg someone just blew up to why does this keep happening to how does it keep happening and the entire town develops this doomsday paranoia and the fear that increases with each combustion.


The ending of this book left me kind of cold. I saw this book in Target (because of course the YA written by a dude is in Target) to see if the ending was different than the ARC and it wasn’t. There is no clean and tidy resolution and I feel like that could be frustrating for some readers (i.e. ME).

Aaron Starmer is keeping YA weird with this raucous YA about what happens when everyone around you starts blowing up.

*ARC received at BEA

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday Vol. 18

Well, it's been a while since I did one of these !

I was talking to Jess about how much I devoured Meg Cabot's chicklit in high school and then literally the next day I saw a Penguin newsletter advertising the newest book in Cabot's chicklit series.  I've already got this one on hold at the library !

Publication Date: October 18th 2016

In this brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a scandal brings a young man back home to the small town, crazy family, and first love he left behind.Reed Stewart thought he’d left all his small town troubles—including a broken heart—behind when he ditched tiny Bloomville, Indiana, ten years ago to become rich and famous on the professional golf circuit.  Then one tiny post on the Internet causes all of those troubles to return . . . with a vengeance.
Becky Flowers has worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him when he returns—until his family hires her to save his parents.
Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another—or the memories of that one fateful night.  And soon everything they thought they knew about themselves (and each other) has been turned upside down, and they—and the entire town of Bloomville—might never be the same, all because The Boy Is Back.


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