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]



Sunday, June 11, 2017

Audiobook Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

  • Release Date: September 9th 2014
  • Audiobook Hours: 10 hours and 41 minutes
  • Genre: Literary....Science Fiction ?
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
I feel like three years ago you couldn't trip anywhere in the book-sphere without falling into this book. Station Eleven is the fascinating and deeply haunting story of what happens after a flu epidemic kills 99% of the Earth's population and infrastructure collapses.

Everything I knew about this book happens in the first 20 pages; An actor in a production of King Lear dies on stage in front of child actor Kirsten Raymonde. Jump cut to 20 years later where Kirsten is part of a traveling symphony, a theater troupe that performs Shakespeare in the small towns dotting the the desolate and often dangerous North American landscape.

I am seriously in awe of the narrative structure of this book. The novel moves back and forth through time, telling stories of people who were in the theater that night with Kirsten. Mandel effortlessly weaves her characters fates through and around each other. There is also kind of a twist, I’m not sure how soon you’re supposed to see it, but it took me by surprise.

I’ve read my fair share of dystopian but something about this world was just so much And I Must Scream. I think it’s because there are so many unknowns about how this plague happened and so many of the adults are still grieving for what they once had

Audiobook narrator Kristen Potter provides a smooth and careful narration. Her male voices and accents were spot on, I see she does some romance so I’ll have to check those out !

Station Eleven is a riveting story about civilization and what it means to survive when you’re forced to walk out of one world and into another.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Book Review/ Audiobook Review : A Psalm For Lost Girls by Kate Bayerl


Book Review

If someone were to ask me what it means to have a book with a strong sense of setting I would 100% point to A Psalm For Lost Girls.  New Haven, MA is a small immigrant city where everyone knows everyone and some secrets just can’t be kept.

Callie da Costa wants to believe her sister Tessa, whose untimely death she is still grieving , wasn’t the miracle making saint the town and church think she might have been. That maybe the fortuitous voices her sister heard where.  . . just in her head?

But when a missing girl miraculously appears on a shrine to Tessa, Callie has to rethink what she truly believes. This is a great read for those who, like me, don’t think contemporary is for them. While the story has hints of magical realism the events in the novel are grounded in grief and loss.

Bayerl is a creative writing educator and I think it shows.  Her writing is very precise, the story deals in particular themes and it all felt very by the book. I’m curious to see what else this author has up her sleeve. A great read-a-like for Vivian Apple At The End Of The World.



Audiobook Review

Narrators Saskia Maarleveld, Julia Whelan, and Kyla Garcia bring to life a teenager's journey to discover if her dead sister is truly the miracle-making modern-day saint everyone believes her to be. Maarleveld handles the bulk of the performance; her cool, casual voice is a perfect fit for the grieving Callie da Costa as she tangles with the death of her saintly sister, Tess. Garcia gives a bright and hopeful performance of Tess through the diary she left behind. Whelan ties it all together as she narrates the story of a missing child whose reappearance could be Tess's posthumously sanctified miracle. The trio provides a performance that will awaken, or reawaken, listeners to the possibility of miracles. J.E.C. © AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine [Published: APRIL 2017]

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Release Date: February  1986

Pages: 309 
  • Genre: Dystopian 
  • Publisher: Anchor Books

Back in 2014 I read Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and it ruined my vacation because nothing is better on the lido deck then reading about child sex trafficking and chicken noobies ! I just figured I didn't get Atwood. I left that book feeling bleh.

But I’ve had a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale for years and since it’s one in a list of zeitgeist-y books  getting the TV/movie treatment (I’m looking at you The Dark Tower and American Gods)  I decided to give it a try, Also this is the only one that isn’t like . . .a thousand pages.

While I didn’t care for Oryx and Crake I could immediately see why  The Handmaid's Tale resonates with so many people, especially now. There is a lot to unpack about feminism, women’s rights and sexuality in the Dystopian (Utopian ?) Republic of Gilead where fertile women are trained to become vessels of birth or, Handmaidens to wealthy older couples.

 I don’t read a lot of literary fiction and I’m not sure what I can say critically about a book that has stood the test of time. I can say that I kind of wish I’d first read this in high school, I mean I get why schools might be apprehensive, yes it is a book that is about sex, but not in a titillating way. ..I mean no more than a teenage boy ordering prostitute.. . just saying.

The ending has a Tomato Surprise I wasn’t expecting and I thought was a smart way to reflect on the story. There are a ton of podcast talking about this book now but I kind of want to stew in my own interpretation for a while. I may check out the Hulu series because I’m curious how the creators will visualize some of the literary aspects of the novel.


Like this did leave me with some questions about Atwood, like does having characters meet someone they see earlier in life on TV/Video a thing with her?




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