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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

For The Record by Charlotte Huang

Release Date: November 10, 2015
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers 

Chelsea Ford gets the opportunity of her dreams, when she is asked to step in as the lead singer of the rock band Melbourne for their summer tour. While she has chemistry with the band onstage the same can’t be said for offstage. Chelsea’s struggles to be accepted by her three male band members and it doesn’t help when teen heartthrob actor, Lucas Rivers, takes a liking to Chelsea.

Teen drama ensues as the band travels from city to city.  The deeper into the summer they go the less sure the band is that it will still be together by the end.

The heart of this story is in the details. I saw on Huang’s website that her husband has connections to the music industry , so she has probably seen so much of what she is writing about. Huang brings to life the landmarks and eclectic venues where the band performs.

 Her female characters are allowed to have sexual agency without slut shaming. Huang swiftly subverts the asexual Asian trope by having the band’s Chinese member, Malcolm Ho, be the biggest ladies man.

Soapy, flirty and fun this story of life in the spotlight will have readers ready to rock.




Sunday, May 22, 2016

Kat's Top 5 BEA Books

  This year at BookExpo America I connected with a lot of  publishers and heard about ALL the books. Out of all the books  I heard about  here are the ones I can't wait to read /get my hands on.


1. The Gun Runner by Scott Hildreth (August 8, 2016)
Carina Press was  pretty excited about this dark mafia romance by indie author Scott Hildreth. I haven't read a romance written by a dude yet, so I can't wait to review it on Romance and Sensibility


2. Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer (August 30, 2016)
I saw Starmer at the BEA author's buzz panel and this book sounds bananas. I like  how the author is mixing the  anxiety of senior year with the anxiety of spontaneous combustion. As in teens spontaneously combust in this book. My only concern is this book may be a bit too gory for me.

3. Underground Airlines by Ben H Winters (July 5, 2016)
This was my only unplanned grab. I liked Winter's Last Policeman series, but I am hesitant of how he will write an African American man living in a modern world where slavery never ended and is now tasked with infiltraing the underground railroad. However, I see that Attica Locke has given this book some praise on Twitter so I'm excited.

4. Something In Between by Melissa De La Cruz (September 27, 2016)
I read this sampler on the plane and it left off with such a cliffhanger ! I'll be curious to compare it to last years' Dream Things True, a similar story about a teenage girl trying to get into college as an undocumented immigrant. Also, this was published by Harlequin Teen's partnership with Seventeen Magazine and I used to love Seventeen magazine.

5. Replica by Lauren Oliver (October 4, 2016)
I didn't know much about this book until Jess told me that it could be read three different ways.I think we'll have to do a joint review of this one and find someone to read it the third way !









Friday, May 20, 2016

Celebrating National Readathon Day 2016 !


I participated in National Readathon Day last year and I'm excited to participate again this year! National Readathon Day is May 21st and is a chance for readers all over the world to read, celebrate books and raise funds for a good cause. This year all funds raised will go to ALA's Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library initiative.

Some libraries are hosting parties for people to read together (find yours here), but I'll be doing my reading at home. Here are the books I plan to read:




Wednesday, May 18, 2016

In Defense of BookCon


When it comes to BookCon, BookExpo America attendees generally like to get out of dodge. In the past BookCon has been seen overcrowded and plagued with long lines.But this year we are going to write a defense of BookCon. Maybe it's because it was in Chicago, maybe it was because exhibitors know what to expect now, but this year I think BookCon was worth sticking around for.

BookCon works because it gives everyday readers a chance geek out and interact with fellow readers, authors and publishers. It's energizing to see hundreds of people filling McCormick place in the name of books and reading.

The show had a lot offer consumers; interactive content, giveaways and games to engage readers.  We picked a few happenings at BookCon that stood out to us as winners.


Scholastic
Scholastic came to win and used their best asset-- Harry Potter nostalgia. Scholastic put up a paper wall that encouraged readers to "Tell us what Harry Potter means to you" It seemed like every response was thoughtful and packed a punch of feels,

Harper Collins' Epic Reads
Epic Reads, HaperTeen's  online community,  made sure that everyone at BookCon had an opportunity to *books shimmy* with their versatile and sturdy tote bags. You had to try not to get one of these bags. They had neat, plentiful and easy to access stacks all over the con. No pushing or grabbing.


Small Presses
At BEA indie presses are often in the shadows of the big five publishers. At BookCon readers are hungry to learn about ALL the books and flocked to the small presses to purchase or hear about new books. I witnessed many of tired parents kicking back with a small press or self-published book.



Coloring Books
From Harlequin to Harry Potter coloring book walls popped up all over BookCon. Workman took it one step further by offering several DIY workshops a their booth


Anderson's Bookshop
This independently owned bookshop transformed the BEA swag stand into a mini Anderson's bookshop filled with witty bookish T-shirts, cute pins and of course books.
















Honorable Mention goes to the exhibitor who was overheard trying to get rid of stuff and said "take anything. . .literally anything". Also, Water. McCormick Place had water cups and jugs set up in the halls It's nothing fancy but I thought it was a nice touch. Take notes Javits.

Monday, May 16, 2016

BookExpo America Chicago





I'm not much of a traveler so when I heard BEA was moving to Chicago I  had no plans of going. But at the start of the year I had a change of heart and decided going to Chicago would be a bit of an adventure




Day 1: Arrival 




Kat and I arrived in Chicago early and navigated our way from O'Hare to our hotel on the train. We didn't get to see much of the city but already I was getting a feel for it. Our hotel was down by Columbia College and  it felt like a larger version of the liberal arts city college I went to.  I was no stranger to witnessing an art student skateboard by while holding on to canvas

After an eyeliner shopping emergency we grabbed a quick lunch at Al's Italian Beef  and went to McCormick Place to pick up our press passes. We didn't hit the floor or anything but we did run into Alyssa, founder
of MochaGirlsReads.com and Classy with the Illinois chapter


Day 2 : Attending BookExpo





We sat down for breakfast at Yolk and arrived at BEA  a little after the floor opened. We got a feel for the floor set up then I went off to the YA Editor's Buzz panel. I was sold on each and every book presented.


Kat went to stand in line for Audrey Coulthurst's Of Fire and Stars, this book was on our 16 Books We Want to Read so it was great to get an advanced copy. While in line Kat said a quick hi to Alison from AlisonCanRead and Girls in Capes who made a great point that, despite the long line, this book didn't have a big marketing presence at BEA.

Kat and I spent the rest of they day exploring the floor and talking to publicity people. I got to meet Jessica from A Great Read Amber from Du Livre and Nikki from Take Me Away. We have been following them for a while and it was fun to meet bloggers IRL.

Now one of the reason I went to BEA was because I've always wanted to meet Laini Taylor. I didn't see where she was signing but by chance I ran into her on the exhibit floor, she seemed  really chill and didn't mind snapping a picture.

We left the floor early to head to the Navy Pier where we made the obligatory  Divergent references and had a deep dish at Giordano's. It was good, but next time we want to try Lou Malnatti's. We ended the Navy Pier trip with a visit to Margaritaville, where we got some drinks to sip on at the pier.

On the way back to our hotel we hopped off the bus to see Cloud Gate or "The Bean" in Millennium Park. It was super tourist-y but so fun !




Day 3: More BEA

This was a bit of a slow day for us. Kat was excited to get a copy of one of James Patterson's  Bookshots from Hachette. They are supposed to be cinematic, short-unputdownable reads for non-readers so we shall see.

We spent sometime talking to Sophia from Harlequin who works
.Love the Book Riot Podcast

with bloggers. She was so excited to show us what they had coming up and even gave us a blogger gift bag ! I visited the HarperCollins booth and said hello to Susan from Wastepaper Prose.


 The highlight of the day came when we were leaving and we saw Jeff and Rebecca from Book Riot. If it weren't for Rebecca's purple hair I might not have recognized them. It was so weird seeing the faces with the voices and I'm not sure what we said to them but I feel like I may have been too adamant about adding Tessa Dare to their romance recs,  but they were super nice and Jeff is so tall !


After BEA Kat and I explored Wicker Park and stopped by Volumes Bookcafe--I really wish we had this in Richmond.  It rained for the better half of the evening but we had a great dinner at Nookie's Tree in Boystown with Classy, Alyssa, Amber, Nikki and  Tamara from Shelf Addiction. We talked BEA, books and blogging. It left me feeling energized to start blogging and collaborating more.




Day 4: BookCon


Kat and I are going to blog more about BookCon but I decided to go "observe and report" on the happenings. I took my time getting there and mostly stuck to the floor. Unlike BEA security was on point and it was odd seeing families navigate the floor. We spent some time wandering and took a picture with Kendare Blake whose book ,Three Crowns, I picked up at BEA. We just attended the Tig Notaro panel and then headed to the airport, just in time to get caught up in a two hour TSA line. . . but that's another story

All in all this was one of the best BEAs. I'll end this post with the quote Anne Bogel ends her What Should I Read Next podcast with: "Ah, how good it is to be around people who are reading."

Jess , Kat


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