Saturday, July 30, 2016

Room by Emma Donahuge

 Since Brie Larson took home an Academy Award for the film adaptation of this book,  I finally decided to give it a read on audio. Room is told from the point of view of 5-year-old Jack, a boy who has lived his entire life in captivity with his mom in a shed.

I did this on audio and at first I was like nope, nope, nope when I heard  narrator Michal Friedman's 5-year-old boy voice. But once you settle into the story-- it works. I think the little boy voice is close to her speaking voice because she has also done some chicklit with a similar tone. She did a great job and her voice is so unique. I was sad to see she died a year after this came out

This audio is a full cast dramatization where each character has their own voice actor . I’ve haven’t heard a production like this before, but it works well since there is so much back and forth dialogue.

While there are some suspenseful and emotional moments in the story it also gets really dull in some places, especially the last 40 percent. Donoghue juxtaposes this terrible thing through innocent eyes--in the book Jack doesn’t realize the full extent of his situation. It was such a smart decision.There were moments when this book was light  and  added some needed levity because woman-being-kidnapped-by-men-and-raped-and-then-forced-to-give-birth-in-captivity is a thing that happens a lot IRL and it is horrifying.

Seriously, why are men allowed to run the world ?

Overall I thought this was good, but not great. I think the reason it gets so much attention is because of how much this topic was in the news between Jaycee Duggard being found and sentencing of Elizabeth Smart's kidnappers.  

I’ve already put the movie on hold at the library and I can't wait to see how it’s adapted. I actually just got the movie off hold but returned it because I haven't been in the mood to re-live this story and I feel like taking away Jack's filter is just going to make this story even more Nightmare Fuel-y.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Tote Bag Giveaway !



Can you believe it's been 5 years since Ms. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children came out ? And that the film is coming out t his year ?  To celebrate the 5th anniversary,  Quirk is letting us host a giveaway this lovely Miss Peregrine's tote bag ! Here's to #5PeculiarYears.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Also check out the contest Quirk is running for fans of the series over at http://www.quirkbooks.com/5PeculiarYears. All you need to do is submit your Miss Peregrine fan art, cosplay, shelfies, or selfies to be entered to win a number of prizes ! 


And if you haven't seen it already check out the trailer for Miss Peregrine's !


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Audiobook Review: Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

You'd think after reading seven In Death books about the surly and biting New York City detective Eve Dallas that reading about Hannah Swenson, a sleuthy cookie shop owner in a small Midwest town, would be a cake--er--cookie walk

And it is.

 But the more I thought about it the more I realized that Hannah Swenson is pretty scary. Cause when the local milkman is found shot in an alley Hannah (because her brother-in-law is investigating)  gets swept up in the case as she finds clues, makes  connections and solves the murder !

Hannah does all of this on the down low because I guess that's a trope of cozies ? I honestly don't know. I mean it's just kind of strange that she just waltzes around with her bags of cookies and bribes people into telling her their secrets and alibis. People seem to tell her EVERYTHING while she's loading them up with carbs. No one questions why she is so nosy. I'm pretty sure her curly red hair is so big because of all the secrets

Honestly, the book just didn't do it for me plot wise.  It felt like the whole plot was a checklist of ruling out possible suspects with a few "humorous" interludes for transitioning. I got kind of confused keeping track of all the names.

The performance was pretty solid, but the editing on the audiobook was spotty in some places. When I put my earbuds in I could hear the edits and the narrator swallowing.

While this mystery didn't hit my sweet spot I certainly can't wait to try my hand at making some chocolate chip crunches.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

With all the discussion surrounding #ownvoices and representation in publishing I know some readers will be turned off this book because Ben Winters is White and judging by his Twitter feed is like all of this writer's woke ex-boyfriends. That said, I saw Attica Locke praising this book and I thought I’d give it a try.

 Spike Lee has this mockumentary C. S. A , about an alternate future where slavery never ended. Well, Underground Airlines is in that kind of world. It’s the 2010’s and there are still 4 Southern states where enslaving Black people is legal. We meet Victor, a runaway slave living in the North who has been conscripted by the US Marshall Service to locate and return runaway slaves to their owners. His latest mission takes him to Indianapolis, but he soon discovers this case isn't all it seems.

 Winters really built out this world well and there are so many little details about the global effects of slavery in the US. He slowly unravels this alternate history without it feeling plot dumpy--it's kind of amazing. Winter's is known as a mystery writer and he keeps this is mystery noir sensibility as we trail Victor on his latest case. The second half of the novel moves at a thriller pace and I couldn't stop reading.

I think Winters handles race well and I like the way he subverts the White savior trope. Several times characters make fun of  liberal White people for Mockingbirding--trying to save Black people so they can be seen as a good person.

My small complaint is that the plot twists seemed a little random at times and my biggest complaint is Winters can’t seem to write complete or complex female characters. Even in his Last Policeman series, women always end up being moms, or sisters or wives. They are never integral to the plot and don't have (I hate using this word) agency.

This was a tough read for me  because of the topic, but I'll be curious to read this book again in its finished form sometime in the future, it's not the kind of book I can re-read again right away. This was the first time I'd read a galley that was so clearly an in-progress work and I do want to see how final book shakes out.

Overall I thought Underground Airlines was a unique take on the mystery thriller genre with a haunting world that kept me up at night.





So...there is a lot of  speculative race fiction in publishing this year with Blackass by A. Igoni Barret about a Nigerian man who wakes up white and Into The White a YA bout the same thing except with  a teenage girl. I suspect this has to do with a shift away from writing The Struggle and towards dismantling ideas about privilege.

Also, can we talk about how this UK cover feels a little too on the nose ?



*Galley recieved at BEA

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

After losing the waitress job she loves, Louisa Clark takes the unlikely job as a companion for Will Traynor. Will is a handsome former corporate tycoon playboy who is now a quadriplegic, living at home with his posh family. Louisa's job as a companion soon becomes a mission for the impossible when she learns the true reason she was hired.


I knew nothing about this book or Jojo Moyes going in, so I got culture shock by how English this book was. Like real deal, average day-to-day English. I mean how crazy is it that you can live right around the corner from an ancient castle ? What is Tesco ? Lots of Googling ensued.

Anyway, the story follows Louisa and Will on a series of small adventures as they try to grow out of the boxes they've put themselves in. During the course of their outings the book did open my eyes to how our wold is built with able-bodies people in mind. It's the little things you don't think about unless you have to; like is there grass or are the aisles big enough.

With that said, since the film adaptation of this book came out the the premise of this books has garnered a lot of criticism for its portrayal of disability and one of the big plot points in the novel. I feel like another thing that brings on this criticism is that Will's disability is informed by his outstanding privilege. I mean he's a college educated-handsome-rich-heterosexual-white man living in a first world country.. I couldn't unsee how so much of this book happens because of privilege.

For me, the book fell into so a romance trope that don't work for me, The big one being where there is the sophisticated rich hero who uses his money and influence to give the naive heroine a chance to "expand her horizons". It's just not my thing.

I did enjoy how the book looked at adult family structures, both Lousia and Will are adult children who live at home with their parents and I like how Moyes showed the somewhat difficult way their parents try to protect their grown children, while also respecting their right to make their own choices.

Overall this book was just okay, I don't know if I'd recommend it but if you are looking for something along the lines of The Fault In Our Stars I'd suggest it. Maybe grab this one from the library.



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.
I don't usually read buzzy commercially successfully  authors. . . but when I do I procrastinate and  read them at least 2-5 years after the buzz has died down and nobody cares. I'm looking at you Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Fifty Shades of Grey and Girl on The Train. I'll get to you. . . eventually.

Instead of picking up  Gone Girl (Which I have NOT read. No spoilers) I picked up Sharp Objects cause it was on a nifty library display.

Sharp Objects focuses on the gruesome murders of little girls in the small town of  Wind Gap, Missouri. Returning to Wind Gap to cover the story is Camille Preaker a self proclaimed second rate journalist. Coming home means Camille has to come face to face with a high-strung mother and a controlling little sister she hardly knows. Yet, the hardest thing for Camille to do is keep the words on the page and not carved into her body.

Sharp Objects is one of those "lady-writer" dark literary thrillers being called Grip-Lit. Camille fills the role of (as it was summed up on an episode of the Book Riot podcast) an unreliable narrator with a drinking problem. Grip-lit sort of exist to categorize books that tell dark female stories  in "non-traditional" ways. This book touches on and takes apart ideas of feminism and female relationships. It has a certain bleakness about it, the entire time I was reading I could feel the slick grime that covers Camille's world and kind of wanted to just dig deeper.

I think the mystery or reveal of this book is pretty easy to figure out, but I don't think it's so much about the whodunnit, but more about all the elements that have to come together to make someone commit these murders.

As someone who studied journalism I'm always interested in media about journalist, but I'm going to start calling out books that break The Audie Cornish Rule; named after NPR's All Things Considered host Audie Cornish, who was annoyed that all female journalists in movies sleep with their sources. I don't think it's a spoiler to say Sharp Objects breaks the  Audie Cornish Rule so hard.

I'll say what's already been said; it's a dark, gritty and quiet novel. It was a quick read and while the mystery didn't surprise me the last paragraph took a lean I didn't expect.

P.S I think this book has some of the best marketing copy I've read.


Monday, May 30, 2016

YA Books I'd Love to See as Anime

I'm kind of falling out of love with  YA movie adaptions, but I think there are so many books that would make some great anime ! With the right animation and voice acting I can see these YA books coming to life in a whole new way.

Anime is all about the blue hair don't care

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
I have two reasons for this pick 1.) a live action movie would have to be very expensive to get the chimera right and 2.) Karou has blue hair !  From Pokemon to Sword Art Online, anime is the trope codifier for You Gotta Have Blue Hair.



Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
This book has a character who is basically two genders at once and anime likes to explore gender bending characters with their animation; take for example Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club. Plus, I thought the audiobook was great and narrator Madeline Mabey should absolutely provide the voice acting.





The Young Elites by Marie Lu
This book is about a group  of teens saving the day, which is basically the plot of every popular anime. With the all the action, fantastical elements and characters-so-beautiful-they-can't-be described this series is just begging for great animation. Plus Adelina has one-eye and for whatever reason from Naruto to Black Butler anime has so many one eyed characters.

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