Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Audiobook Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner




Rating: ★★★+.5 | Release Date: 03/03/17 | Contemporary | 10 hours 45 minutes 
Where are you guys ? Text me back

17-year-old writer Carver Briggs believes in the power of words, but he never imagined a few words, written in a text, would kill his three best friends.

Goodbye Days opens with Caver at the last funeral for Sauce Crew--the nickname for his friend group. From there the book is almost a little too prescriptive as Carver has a final day with each of Sauce Crew’s family members sharing and learning about the sides of his friends he never knew. The time between the goodbye days is punctuated with some mini-plots plot about Carter facing possible manslaughter charges, therapy session  and his budding relationship with, Jesmyn, a Sauce Crew member’s girlfriend.

What strikes me most about this book is how worlds away it feels from Zenter's first book, The Serpent King. There is usually a lot of connective tissue between books by contemporary authors  but the voice, perspective, point of view and themes are completely different. While The Serpent King uses an evocative close third person for three different narrators, Goodbye Days has a singular first person voice that had a tendency to go overboard on the similes and metaphors to the point that I would forget what he was even describing.

Audiobook narrator  Micheal Crouch is already on my auto-buy list for his youthful and expressive voice. And while he did an impressive deep gravitas-filled voice for the uppity Black Judge Edwards he stumbles some with Carver’s southern accent--which straight up disappears at times.

With elegiac prose spotted with sophomoric humor, Zentner tackles loss, friendship and grief without it feeling like a very special episode about the dangers of texting and driving.*




*That said, I did think twice before messing with my phone to turn this audiobook on while I was driving.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Book Review/Audiobook Review This Is Just My Face by Gabourey Sidibe





Book Review


I generally read one non-fiction book a year and when I had the opportunity to read This Is Just My Face,  I was intrigued because I'd seen Sidibe on Empire, and  wondered what else she was up to post-Precious. If you're looking for the starry-eyed story of how she went from public housing to the red carpet, this isn't it. It's a down to earth and real story of what it's like growing up in New York City. She touches on being the daughter of a first-generation immigrant, finding roots in her Senegalese heritage, relationships, family and her job in the phone-sex industry. . . which probably sounds scandalous but the whole industry was surprising practical.

I tried to watch Precious after reading this, and even though I was watching the TV version it was still to much of a tough one for me and I didn't finish, but if people seriously think Precious and Sidibe are anything alike, they couldn't be more wrong.

Side Note :
This seems to be one in the long line of memoir written by famous thirty something actors (I'm looking at you Lena Dunham, Kevin Hart, Anna Kendrick, Diane Guerrero and Trevor Noah). Has this always been the case or is this a new trend ?

Also, I think the title of this book is a big disservice to the stories Sidibe is trying to tell. For her this is really a personal reflection and her looks aren't the main focus so why call it that ?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Audiobook Review: Perfect Ten by L. Phillips



Release Date: 06/06/17 | Contemporary(ish ?) | 10 hours 4 minutes | Listening Library 


17-year-old Samson Raines is ready to get back in the dating game but his options are limited, seeing as he’s already broken up with the only other gay boy in his school. He reluctantly turbs to magic (er, magick ?) for a little help. With a list of 10 traits for a perfect boyfriend and a Wiccan spell, Sam’s life is about to be turned upside down.

I picked this book up because the slightly zany romance plot and gay-story-not-about-coming-out synopsis gave me early David Levithan vibes. But I had such a hard time investing with this book and it's mostly because I really could not with Sam, the main character. He was an arrogant, snobby hipster and as these super hot boys with these big personalities start falling for him it’s just hard to see what they see in him, especially when one of them is a 21-year-old rock star.

This book follows a lot of the same beats as genre romance, so for me Sam didn’t get enough redemption to earn his HEA. The development of the supporting characters felt underwhelming because at the end of the day they only exist to prop up Sam. And now that I think about it literally every character's HEA gets shafted for Sam to get his HEA.

Kirby Heyborne is a favorite narrator of mine for his youthful voice and emotional deliveries. He brings out full range of male voices for each of Sam’s suitors although he struggles a bit with a French exchange student.




It look like L. Phillips has a 2018 book in the works that is described as #AlexfromTarget meets queer Prince Charming. Now, L. Phillips is the psuedonym of author Laura Wettersten, and I think it’s really curious that she is using a gender ambiguous penname to write these books and It feels a lot like what is happening in the world of M/M romance where books about gay boys arewritten mostly by and for straight women. There are just a lot of  unfortunate implications.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen


Release Date: June 4, 2013 | Contemporary YA | 453 Pages | Viking (Penguin)
It’s the summer after high school graduation and 18-year-old Emaline is doing what she always does; working at her family’s beach rental business, spending time with her boyfriend Luke and having general ennui about what it means to live in the summer town of  Colby, North Carolina. You know, the standard Dessen fare.

But summer’s never go as planned and Emaline finds herself mixed up with a crew of New York filmmakers making a documentary about Clyde Conaway, a reclusive artist who lives in Colby. And if that isn’t enough her estranged biological father is suddenly back in town.

This is the first post-aughts Sarah Dessen book I’ve read and I was a little nervous going into it. At first the plot of this book felt kind of aimless but by the end, as the town has to come together for Clyde I was captivated and Dessen had me on board.

I was extremely apprehensive of Theo, the 21-year-old skinny- jean-wearing-New-York-City-film-student interning on the documentary who may as well have had Coastal Elite stamped on his  forehead. Seriously, I read this during the time the podcast S-town came out and he reminded me of the way Brian Reed acted sometimes when he was with Southerners but Dessen makes it work

I didn’t love the audiobook narrator Allie Gallerani. She has this very sleepy, Daria-like affectless voice  and with a book that was already slow paced it just wasn’t working for me. I ended up switching to reading the book part way through

A low tempo, but ultimately sweet novel about summer romance, identity, family and the people who will give you the moon and more.







 I've never heard of a shrimp burger before I read this book and I'm still not sure what it is but imma need one.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Audiobook Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab


  • Release Date: July 5, 2016
  • Audiobook Length: 10 hours 9 minutes
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins)

V-City exists in an alternate America where acts of violence physically manifest as  beast like monsters. The Sunai are a rare form of monster, created from events of mass violence. Sunai look and act human but must feed on human souls to survive.

August Flynn is one of only three known Sunai, he lives in the south side of V-City with  Henry Flynn, the head of a militaristic taskforce. On the north side of V-City is the autocratic Callum Harker who keeps his citizens safe via extortion  Harker and Flynn have been enemies for a long time but have called a truce after a brutal civil war.

But when August is sent undercover to spy on  Harkar’s estranged daughter Kate everything starts to change.

This Savage Song was on my 16 Books to Read in 2016 list and I'm so glad I finally got around to it. Victoria Schwab put her foot into this book and I can see why so many people love it. While it starts off a bit slow, it quickly turns into a high stakes thriller where not everything is what it seems. I really loved the way Schwab slowly unravels all myth-building surrounding the monsters. She gives you just enough to get into the world and as more revelations come it all just falls into place.

This book just checked a lot of my YA book boxes: third person narration, unlikeable female characters, people struggling with powers they didn't ask for. It also happened to check off a lot of the things I like in anime with it’s focus on found family, using western religious imagery as a basis for a magic system and turning things we typically think of as non-weapons into weapons. Seriously by the end of this book this was me anytime as musical instrument was mentioned:



Narrator Therese Plummer has already been praised on this blog by Jess multiple times. Plummer brought her A game as usual, her voices were all on point especially her August voice.

This Savage Song is a fast paced YA thriller full of monsters, mayhem, murder and music to die for. Literally. 



I was so ready to ping this book about the  Born Sexy Yesterday trope  because August was brought into being  as a 12-year-old (Sunai are the born the age of their victims and he was created from a school mass shooting ) making him technically 4 in the book, but he's never sexualized. In fact there is very little romance in this book.

I know Schwab got involved in some weird stuff last year about the lack of people of color in her books and that's really glaring in this book.  It's stated that cities were quarantined when the monsters started appearing and it's really stark that in a world created from violent parts of a city there are so few people of color or that neither of the leaders would be people of color.  We also only see men commit acts of violence to create monsters, I feel like there's something in there left to be examined too. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Book Review/Audiobook Review The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco




12 Hours 9 Minutes | Sourcebooks | 3/7/17

Book Review

The Bone Witch is the genre defining YA you need if you've ever wanted a high fantasy to be more than just you know...a vaguely pastoral medieval England. Chupeco's Eastern inspired fantasy will take you to a vast and sometimes complicated world where women are trained to become ashsa, a class of women with magical powers. Then novel follows Tea, a young novice with the ability to raise the dead and her journey that  begins at the end of the world. A series with the promise of a darker world to come. Lots of great image inspiration's on Chupeco's Pinterst

Audiobook Review

Emily Woo Zeller's stellar collection of voices entices listeners into Chupeco's rich and diverse fantasy realm. Here, girls gifted with magic are spirited away and trained to become highly skilled practitioners of a magic known as asha. Will Damron gives an inquisitive and pithy performance as a bard who finds himself face-to-face with Tea Pahlavi, an exiled asha with the rare ability to raise the dead. The bard and listeners are in for a treat as Zeller enthusiastically spins Tea's tale of how she went from a young novice to a banished pariah. Zeller's effortless diction brings this Eastern-inspired fantasy, filled with chilling imagery, to life. J.E.C. © AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine [Published: MAY 2017]

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Book Review/Audiobook Review Geekerella by Ashley Poston



Book Review

Get your flip fops, grab your shades I have found the upbeat, modern and heartwarming summer YA romance you will want to bring along to the beach.  

Geekerella is a Cinderella story with a generous twist of  fandom and pop culture. Danielle "Elle" is a down on her luck diehard fangirl of Starfield a cult hit show from the 90's. A fandom she inherited from her  deceased father, ahem, a BNF if you will. Now she's just trying to make it through high school living with her stepmother and evil stepsisters. 

Enter our prince charming,  Darien Freeman, the teen heartthrob who is playing the lead in the Starfield Movie, he's a  a young buff brown actor taking on an iconic role while co-staring with a sweet down to earth female actress who is also an indie film darling, and they are putting on a fake relationship for fans. Stop me if you've heard this.


The characters meet cute through a wrong number and start texting and building a relationship while surrounded by a crew of gusty side characters. All roads are leading to a cosmic meeting at a once and a lifetime Cosplay Ball.

Audiobook Review

Narrator Eileen Stevens's subtle Southern accent and energizing performance are an out-of-this-world pairing for this reimagined Cinderella. Sounding intrepid and animated, Stevens never loses sight of Elle, whose love of the cult sci-fi show "Starfield" is her escape from her evil stepmother. When she begins texting a fellow fan, Elle thinks she may have found her Prince Charming. Little does she know that on the other side of the texts is Darien Freeman, the teen heartthrob who is starring in the "Starfield" reboot. Narrator Tristan Morris's wonderfully theatrical voice never quite captures the young actor, who is caught in a bout of ennui. Teens familiar with the intricacies of fandom will find the inside jokes a delightful addition to this contemporary fairy tale. J.E.C. © AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine [Published: MAY 2017]



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