Saturday, November 18, 2017

Join The Black Friday Readathon ! #BFRAT

BFRaT 2017 will take place on Friday, November 24 at 12 a.m. (your timezone) until 11:59 p.m. All participants will have the opportunity to join challenges, win bookish prizes, and of course, read! Challenges will be posted on Instagram and your hosts' blog, and Twitter throughout the day and winners will be chosen on Saturday, November 25. We highly encourage everyone to track their reading process on social media platforms (using the hashtag #BFRaT) and cheer your fellow readers on!

I haven't done a readathon all year so I'm excited for this on that we're hosting with DuLivre and Mocha Girls Reads. During the readathon I'll be hosting a fun challenge on the blog where you guess the book cover based on a small snippet and win a gift card ! You can sign up  for the readathon here !

Here are some books I'm thinking about reading, what books will you be reading for the readathon  ?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Audiobook Review: Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

Rating: ★★★ +.5  | Release Date: 04/04/16 | Contemporary | 9 hours 3 minutes

In the romance genre there is always talk about the grovel--the moment when the hero has to fully take responsibility and beg forgiveness from the heroine for whatever stupid thing he did and prove he is deserving of his happily ever after.

So, when our male protagonist Jack Masselin decides to hold on to Libby Strout ,our 350 lb female protagonist, for a cruel game his friends invented call Fat Girl Rodeo, he basically has the entire book to earn his redemption

And you know what ? He does it. It's a journey though and I almost turned this book off because I just couldn't with Jack being the Billy Bush to his two idiot friend's Trump, but in the end Niven made it work.

Holding Up The Universe gently weaves a friendship between Libby and Jack after they both end up in an afterschool group counseling / community service / detention thing ? It's actually not super clear to me why all these kids were given this super special Breakfast-Club-y-Dead-Poets-Society-ish version of detention. Anyway, they learn to love each other and themselves while discovering their lives may have intersected before...

I know there was a lot of concern about Niven portraying  Libbie as a fat girl and about Jack as having severe prosopagnosia--face blindness. I can't speak to the authenticity if either of these portrayals but I think the characters themselves are done respectfully even though the people around them can be cruel.  Libbie knows she's not the perfect weight she likes herself and does not lose weight as part of her story arc. Jack's prosopagnosia was interesting to read about--but I did feel like Niven shoehorned in conflict to make us feel bad for Jack.

Audiobook narrators Jorjena Marie and Robbie Daymond were both new to me and they did a stellar job.  Jorjena does this great, wistful youthful voice with all the inflection and pop for Libbie and  Robbie Daymond has this amazing  gravely, expressive voice.They both sounded like they were having a good time, worked well off each other and could easily mimic each other's voice.

While I haven't read All The Bright Places, I know how it ends and I was afraid this book was going to go  to a dark place but it doesn't. If you're looking for a hopeful teen romance with a sprinkle of angst you'll like what Niven is serving up.

So, I know Niven is a big Supernatural fan and there are a lot of references to Supernatural in here. Like a lot.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Luster Of Lost Things by Sophia Chen Heller

I don't. . . really understand why this book is being compared  to Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time, is it because it has a long name and features a character with a disability ? I mean it's been a minute but from what I remember Haddon's book was very down-to-earth and a little bleak, while the The Luster of Lost Things has an earnest modern day fable like quality as Walter Lavender Jr., a preteen with  a motor speech disorder,  uses his uncanny ability to find  things to locate the magical book that runs his mother's fantastical bakery. Along the way he meets several quirky New Yorkers who help him find his voice.

Let's talk about this magical bakery for a second because everything Keller describes sounds freaking delicious. We are talking gourmet dessert and sweets that like move and dance and move and stuff but I guess it's cool because they want to be eaten ? I'm not sure. . . but I was totally picturing this book with a Pushing Daisies filter.

Now, this book probably has the most idyllic clean cut New York City, where everyone is a dreamer or searching for something that can easily be found in a good metaphor. While it can be over earnest at times, Heller really brings her story full circle in a way that is bittersweet.

This book also manages to defy categorization. It features a twelve year old protagonist but has a very clear cut coming  age story, however it is deeply rooted in the experiences the adults he meets along his journey share with him. I mean Except for  some language I think it can appeal to a very broad group. Like I'd recommend this on audio for like a family car trip.

I think it's a strong and highly imaginative debut, Heller is one I'll be keeping an eye out for.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Kat's YA Book Haul !

Lately, I've been all about the library and these days I rarely buy new books but a few weeks ago Barnes and Noble had good 2 for $20 sale for YA and I did a little clicking.

Warcross by Marie Lu I've already stated Marie Lu is on my auto-buy list and I was so excited for her new videogame inspired book. I kind of didn't like the cover at first, but it's starting to grow on me.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green  Ever since The Fault in Our Stars mania I've been waiting like everyone else  to see what John Green was going to do next. I've seen so many positive reviews for this book, even from people who aren't the biggest fans of John Green so I decided to add it to my basket.

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen  My new favorite bookish podcast is The Librarian Is In and Gwen Glazer does such a good job recommending books. She talked about Nyxia on a recent episode, so I decided to pick it up. It's not until I got it in the mail that I realized the cover blurb is from Marie Lu !

Later that week  I got a 15% of coupon and mixing that with the 2 for $20 sale, I could get 4 books for $36. I decided to get some books featuring or about POC. I may read some of these but I'm also  going to try and donate them to bookworm teenagers locally (VA area) so if you know anyone let me know !

Friday, November 3, 2017

National BookFest 2017

...better late than never...

 I can't believe I went to my first National Book Festival 6 years ago just weeks into blogging. The festival has undergone quite some changes since that first time and it's not just the fact that it's indoors with a variety of concessions and indoor bathrooms.

National Book Festival has always been diverse,  but what I really noticed was the diversity among the big name New York Times bestselling authors present. If you want an indicator that the hard work being done to advocate for diversity is working, look no further than National BookFest.

In 2011 a few of the big NYT bestseller names for teens and children were :

  • Cassandra Clare
  • Sarah Dessen
  • Brian Selznick
  • Katherine Patterson

And in 2017 the big NYT bestseller names for teens and children were :

  • Nicola Yoon
  • Marie Lu
  • Melissa De Le Cruz
  • Angie Thomas
  • Sabaa Tahir
  • Sanhya Menon

 Despite the upheavals and disagreements, the people working to change the industry are making a big impact.

With that said, Kat and I arrived late in the afternoon and Kat got in line to get a copy of of Kadir Nelson's Blue Sky White Stars signed while I hopped into the Marie Lu line to get the Legend comic book signed. Lu was just so cool and chill. They had to cut personalizations and photos to keep the line moving and when I got there Lu wanted to  hold the book open and wait for the the ink dry before giving it back. Such a nice gesture considering how frantic it was.

I sprinted by the book sales and grabbed a copy of when Dimple Met Rishi. Let me tell you that book purchasing line can MOVE. The Politics and Prose staff were on point. Sandhya Menon was also nice and she had a holo glossy top coat on her nails. I wondered if she watched SimplyNailogical because I've been binging her channel...

Anywho. After that Kat and I settled into the Angie Thomas line behind what I can only describe as dad/uncle/older man of the year who was tag teaming with the teen he was with to get all her YA books signed !

We missed the cut off for the Roxanne Gay event with Linda Holmes (here's hoping it shows up on Pop Culture Happy Hour) before walking the 8 blocks back to the car and stopping at Milk for something sweet.

I still think something is missing from the festival.  I mean the bathroom situation wasn't great but I preferred it outside. It had more of a lively feel and there wasn't just giant open space. I still think they should take a few notes from Baltimore Book Festival.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey

357 pages | 4/28/15 | Delacorte Press

I finally decided to grab Girl at Midnight because it's been a minute since I've listened to some YA for fun.  I see this book pop up all the time as a read-a-like for the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.  Girl at Midnight is a worthy comp it features; hidden worlds, mystical creatures, a centuries old war, er... cross-species love interests and a girl with a destiny.

As a child, Echo was a runaway living in a library until she is taken in by the Avicen, a fantastical race of feathered people who live in the in-betweens of our world. One day Echo stumbles upon a locket that could unlock the Firebird, a legend that could to stop the cold war between the Avicen and the their enemies the Dracain.

Along the way she unwittingly teams up with Caius the recently ousted Dracain Prince and his beautiful blue eyed BFF who is also the head of his guard,  who is of course secretly in love with Caius. Together they begin a somewhat short journey to follow the clues and unleash the weapon.

It's a gusty human girl teaming up with a brooding paranormal older solider dude and his protective beautiful but scarred BFF who is secretly in love with him. I mean is this is a Sara J Maas book right ? I've only read one but based on fanart and fanfic I've seen this feels about right.

 I mean characters let go of breaths they didn't know they were holding, strands of hair get pushed back and insta love is in full bloom. It's all the YA tropes and more.   To round out the group is Echo's Avicen friend Jasper who is essentially a  flashy peacock (remember they are bird people), whose flirty relationship with Dorian (who again is secretly crushing on Caius) felt derivative of City of Bones. Just throwing it out there. Also Echo's best friend Ivy is there but I feel like she is mostly there to make this book pass the Bechdel test.

I like that Echo was a bit of a rebel and wasn't as earnest at Karou in Daughter of Smoke and Bone is. She's a smart mouthed troublemaker and well. . . a thief. Like she literally steals even when she doesn't have to. She's got some grit.

With that said  it was a solid fantasy story with a dedicated mythology. Perfect for casual fantasy fans.There are star crossed lovers, a war and dangerous battles. It all comes at you pretty fast and because this is a slim book  I don't think we get as fully invested as we could. I mean there is a  cold war going on but what does that mean ? Dorian lost his eye in battle so . . . that's not a cold war ? The Dracarians live in their own in-between world and are bumbazzled by idioms only sometimes ? Also there is magic ?

Much like Girl at Midnight I've seen Julia Whelan  all over the audiobook-sphere, and for some reason I have never listened to her go solo on an audiobook. Her samples always seemed a bit flat to me butWhelan is a knockout when it comes to accents and voices. The Dracains have slight Scottish brogues that she simply nails !

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book Review Bundle : The Windfall by Dika Bashu

The Windfall is a quasi rags to riches novel about the middle class Jha family who become overnight millionaires.  Not exactly the windfall as the title suggest, Mr. Jha hits it big when he sells the software he spent years working on.  Now the Jha's have gathered their friends and neighbors to tell them they are moving out of their close knit complex and to the high class exclusive neighborhood  of Gergauhn.

What ensues is a comedy of manners as Mr. Jha goes out of his way to fit in. This includes acquiring objects that match his new status; like an uncomfortable diamond studded couch or an electric shoe polisher (Not that rich people use those, they just throw the shoes away as Mr. Jha finds out) . For readers  there is something delightful about indulging in the absurdity and excess, while also getting second hand embarrassment at some of  Mr.Jha's antics.

As an American I felt like I was getting a little slice of what the culture is in East Delhi. Yes, there are a few explanatory commas along the way, but  you are immersed in a part of the world and culture that's outside the American experience. It bought to life some of the things I thought I understood about India like the tech culture, class system and arranged marriages.

Check it out romance fans, there is even a side story about the Jha's widowed neighbor in her forties who is finding herself again as she begins to fall for the Jha's rich neighbor's brother, and their "seasoned romance" folded out at just the right pace.

With that said, to me, the storyline about the Jha's  adult  son working on an MBA in America despite wanting to work in film, because he is afraid of shaming his parents and has a secret white American girlfriend felt a little short for me. However the moments when the Jha family has to stick together through the often awkward encounters with their judgmental neighbors will warm your heart.


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