Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman

Release Date: May 12th 2015
Pages: 407
Genre: Magical Realism/ Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins)

The Cost Of All Things exists in a world pretty much like our own except spells are real and can be created by women known as hekamists. When a group of high school students in Cape Code start buying spells to  cope with their insecurities...it doesn’t go well. I went into this book excited because it had blurbs from so many award winning YA authors and the premise sounded so fascinating. But overall this book didn’t work for me.

 The magic system never felt fully developed and it's existence within the world didn’t feel real . One thing that bothered me is that being a hekamist is illegal, but there doesn’t seem to be any illegality with buying a spell--which feels like the opposite of what should be happen.There were also very little stakes, the book sets up the death of one character , Win, as being a main plot point but he has a POV, so it takes some of the mystery out. I think what kept me reading was that I thought there would be a twist ending but there really wasn't.

Because this book has five point of views I thought I would enjoy listening to it on audio, but the narrators were really weak. Out of the four narrators (There is a third girl who doesn't seem to have a narrator attributed to her) the only ones I liked were Nicholas Dresser and  Shannon McManus. And interestingly enough their character's POVs probably could have just carried the entire story. 

The Cost of All Things has an interesting magical realism twist on the small town coming of age story, but a lot of it gets muddled in the POVs.

*Promotional copy recieved at BookExpoAmerica



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Romance Brown Bag Challenge





Last Fall I stopped by a library book sale and didn't really see anything that sparked my attention. Then under a table I noticed a brown paper bags filled with Harlequin series (or category) romances. The entire bag was on sale for three dollars.

Since we do have a romance blog and the sale was almost ending I thought. . . why not ? So, I bought
1 brown bag. 46 romances. 3 dollars.
a brown bag of 46 Harlequin categories. Now I'm challenging myself to read and review all 46 books on Romance and Sensibility !

See the full list of books here

Before I started this challenge I decided to learn more about series romances. From what I understand series romances are shorter romances usually written to specific guidelines and tropes; billionaires, cowboys, secret baby etc. Harlequin.com has info on what editors look for and what readers can expect in each series line.

Just in time for this post, Harlequin just released this fun infographic that lets you know how much each of their categories sizzles !




For more romance happenings check out Romance and Sensibility ! 



Monday, January 18, 2016

Listen Up : Podcast Party (Part III)

This is our third post on bookish podcasts  Here's another fresh batch of insightful and fun bookish podcasts we've been listening to lately.


Get Booked
One of the new members of  BookRiot.com podcasts,Get Booked is hosted by Book Riot Managing Editor , Amanda Nelson and Book Riot Director of Events and Programming, Jenn Northington. Together they answer questions and offer personalized reading recommendations. The live 'Ready For Romance' episode with Sarah MacLean is a lot of fun and great place to start.










Girl, Have You Read
Apart from Kimani romances I haven't dabbled much into books written by and for Black women, but this podcast is all about Black romance. It has me nodding my head and stocking up my TBR. Hosts and authors Christina  and Alexandra do not hold back on their opinions .It's two women talking about what they love and it is great! girlhaveyouread.com






XOXO After Darkcast
This podcast comes from the women behind Simon & Schuster's xoxoafterdark.com It's basically a bunch of editors from Simon & Schuster talking about books and life. It's very dishy and you'll feel like you need a glass of wine hanging out with these ladies.  They cover a lot of of lifestyle topics but I've only listened to the book centered episodes (cause I need my recs) but I'm sure they have a topic for everyone. xoxoafterdark.com

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fresh Off The Boat by Eddie Huang


  • Release Date: January 29, 2013
  • Audiobook Hours: 7 hours and 55 minutes
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Publisher: Speigel & Grau (Random House)

I really wanted to start this review by saying something like 'move over Anthony Bourdain, there’s a new bad boy chef on the market, but that doesn’t really fit what Huang is trying to do with this book. While Huang’s claim to fame is his restaurant, Baohaus, this book isn’t really a food memoir. It’s about Huang’s fraught relationship with his Asian identity while growing up around what he calls American Whiteness.

As he recounts growing up in suburban Orlando Huang dismantles the idea of the model minority. Fear of assimilation is a point of tension for him. There is a long history of America being the worst to Asian immigrants and then erasing them from history. His story is a story we don’t hear and I think Huang put together a biting and honest memoir that was also entertaining.

Most people are probably familiar with the ABC show based on this book and while I enjoy the show I knew Huang publicly expressed a lot of dislike for it and after reading his memoir I get it. ABC bowdlerized the crap out of his story, but kept his family’s names are all over it. I think when Huang sold the rights for a show he wanted something like Aziz Ansaris’s show Master of None where they tackle issues of racism with more dark humor and edge that doesn’t care about offending the audience.

There is so much going on in this book to talk about, but the parts I liked the most were his different hustles to make money in New York City, the way college literature changed his life and of course the way he talks about food and cooking. Huang isn’t a trained chef (in fact he went to law school) but he has a deep understanding of how culture informs food. I also like how he isn't afraid to be honest and throw shade at people like Momofuku's David Chang

I did part of this on audio, which is read by Huang, and he did a great job. Huang is really into rap music and street culture so this book has a large amount of slang and coded language and it sounds so naturalistic coming from Haung’s mouth. I don’t know if this was part of the production or if it was natural, but he will laugh while reading something like he is recalling the memory in that moment. I’ve started a lot memoirs read by the author and this one was the most engaging.

The only thing I think got  unexamined is how his race may also benefit him. Huang writes a lot about selling drugs and all the things he’d do to intimidate people and I don’t think he talks about how he probably got away with most of it because he was member of a 'model minority' and not seen as a threat.

Fresh Off The Boat is a fun, edgy and insightful memoir and I’ve been thinking about it for days.




Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Kat's DNF Parade (Audiobook Edition)



I love audiobooks and will usually listen to anything on audio, but recently I've have had a long line of DNFs.


Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward


When I first turned on this audiobook I was so into it. The narrator's old time-y southern accent worked well with the story and he switched effortlessly between dialects. The billionaire bourbon making family felt authentic and I was getting all kinds Downton Abbey vibes. But I was terrified of how this book would handle race since it takes place in Kentucky. There is a black female cook who was practically a Mammy character and I couldn't do it. This trope show up a lot in books, but I think all the conversations about race and representation made me especially sensitive to it. I went to read some reviews to see if this lets up,but apparently it doesn’t. I was surprised to learn that JR Ward has a history missapropritating black culture so, I poured one out and peaced out on this one.


Against The Ropes by Sarah Castille
I really enjoy MMA elements in my romances, so I decided to try a full on MMA romance. Like the previous book I like the narrator, Lucy Rivers. Her voice is perfect for NA or contemporary romance. But man, this heroine was just a little To Stupid To Live for me. In the first few minutes she’s selling tickets to a fight and when she sees a guy walk into the gym without paying she runs after him into a freaking MMA gym during a fight. Like why ? And of course the guy is the owner of the gym who is fighting that night and he makes her stay for the fight even though violence literally makes her ill. Which didn’t explain why she went into the gym in the first place. Also, the hero ? His name is Torment, which feels a little on the nose.



At Water's Edge by Sara Gruen


After those other two I actually settled into this one. It’s about an American heiress who follows her husband and his friend to Scotland during WWII to capture the Loch Ness Monster. As you do. I guess. The narrator is Justina Erye who does Sara MacLean's  romances. While her British accent sounds older, her American voices sound much younger. But man, after a certain point this book just gets dull, because the female protagonist is just hanging around a hotel while her husband goes off. I read in some reviews about how she finds meaning in life through the poor folks in the Scottish moors and I just was not into that.



Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Year End Review & Books and Sensibility by the Numbers


As we get into the new year Jess and I like to take some time and review what we've been up to on the blog this year.

What We Did in 2015

  • Our Fall YA picks were featured in RVA News






Wednesday, December 30, 2015

16 Things We Want To Do in 2016


1. Read More Genres
I want to up the genre diversity of my reading. I’ve noted some readers pick their monthly reads and post them on Tumblr, so I think I'll do the same and make sure I have a mix of YA, literary, romance and SFF.

2. Graphic Novels
I’ve put this on my list every year, this is the easiest thing to do and yet I never get to it. This year, though.

3. Days of David Levithan
I don’t even want to know what year I started this but I would like to finish. I do think I'll allow myself to skip ones that don't interest me.

4. Sarah Dessen Catch Up
I just noticed I started a lot of Sarah Dessen books and then never finish them with 40 pages or so
less. I'd really like to play catch up on these books.

5. Read 100 books
I think I’ve got my mojo back after a few years so I’m going to attempt it. I think between the romance blog and this one I can make it happen.

6. Virginia is For Book Lovers
Jess and I have been working on this post for years and this time we are going to do it.

7. Big Papa Books
We like big  books and we cannot lie. Just kidding, not really but we'd like to read 1 or 2 of those
900+ page behemoths.

8. Challenges
I'm signing up for the Pop Sugar and Debut authors challenge.




9. Bookmarks
I have downloaded bunch of fonts and would love to make some downloadable bookmarks that other readers can print out or use on print-to-order sites.

10. Newsletter
I'd like to condense the blog down into a bi-weekly e-mail as a way to build our audience. Blogging is mostly for fun but I'd like to see if we can get a group of engaged readers.

11. Get Active
I want to get more active in the blogging community. Kat participated in  a great feature this year and I want to do something like that in 2016. Sign me up !

12. Read More Print
I know one of the reasons I don't sit down and read alot is because I love to multi-task, so audiobooks are 80 percent of the way I read. My goal is to sit down and read at least five physical books.

13. Binge Read
In the vein of Days of David Levithan I want to binge read one author or series. For strictly YA I'm thinking of Falling Kingdoms or maybe the works of Daniel Jose Older.

14. Attend BookExpo America
I've been visiting NYC my whole life so going to BEA in NYC every other year was no big deal. This year BEA is in Chicago. I hope things work out so I can attend in a city I've never been to before. It'd be a real adventure.

15. Podcast
 I say this every year but I think it's be cool to do a podcast. I didn't realize until we were interviewed for a local blog, but I actually have quite a bit to say about YA.

16. Drop Caps
I want to read some literary fiction to round out  my reading. Because I like pretty things I plan to read two books from Penguin's dropcaps.


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