Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Books and Sensibility Joins BlogHer's National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPloMo)

While all the writers are getting ready for NaNoWriMo, we'll be going a different route and participating in BlogHer's National Blog Post Month AKA NaBloPoMo.

We first participated in November of 2011 and hit a bit of a snag,  but this year we are going to be posting every single day of November ! Hopefully this will inspire us to come up with some creative posts and features.

". . . Join the BlogHer.com NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) blog roll and commit to write (photograph, draw, craft poetry, whatever) every single day this month!
Every November, thousands of bloggers make this commitment to post daily. But it's about much more than posting; it's about community, connection and our shared craft. Those are all values worthy of a monthlong public celebration.
If you've never joined NaBloPoMo, this is the time to do so. It starts November 1 and runs until November 30. Just make the commitment to (1) blog daily for the month (nothing more to it than that!) and (2) to support your fellow NaBloPoMo-ers by reading a handful of the other blogs on the blogroll. Cheer them along, and they'll cheer you on, too.
You can sign up for November's NaBloPoMo until November 5. That's the list we're using to choose the weekly prizes, too: Every week, we'll be handing out an iPad Mini and two passes to the 2014 BlogHer conference in San Jose, CA. First, take a look at the official contest rules here, then sign up and commit to blog daily!" - BlogHer

Book Review: Are We There Yet ? by David Levithan

Join Kat as she reads and reviews the works of David Levithan
from his debut novel to his National Book Award shortlisted novel, Two Boys Kissing. See more here !

"Do you wander why we wander ?"
- David Levithan, Are We There Yet ?

  • Release Date: July 12th 2005
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Pages: 215
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Elijah is completely mellow and his 23-year-old brother Danny is completely not, so it’s no wonder they can barely tolerate one another. So what better way to repair their broken relationship than to trick them into taking a trip to Italy together? 

For now I am skipping David Levithan’s sophomore novel, The Realm of Possibility, and jumping to his third novel Are We There Yet ? his second novel to be written in traditional prose.

The Silver Brothers couldn't be more different. 23-year-old Danny Silver is a rising star in the New York City marketing game and recently “taken under the wingtips” of his bosses; 17-year-old Elijah Silver is often accused of being too nice, smokes weed and spends his summers “hanging out” at his boarding school.

When their mother convinces the brothers to go on a 9 day trip to Italy , neither one of them is excited. With their current conversations consisting of one word responses they’re not sure they’ll make it. But as they wander through Italy's most iconic cities they discover more about themselves and in turn each other.

This novel has an interesting narrative structure, it’s told in a omniscient third person that switches from Danny to Elijah. At first I found the narrative off putting and made the story feel distant, but the more I read the more I began to really like it. I've been reading more of Levithan's books and this is still the only novel of his I've come across written in third person.

I think more so this novel is Levithan's tribute to his own trip to Italy. I felt like I could easily visualize the places in the novel and the end had me wanting to hop on a plane and see them all for myself. There are some really interesting observations about tourism, discovery and how we experience foreign countries.

One of the things the brothers do come together on is their Jewish heritage. The brothers visit Jewish Synagogues and ghettos in nearly every city. This was a learning experience for me because I wasn't too familiar with Jewish culture in Italy and it is haunting. In Venice, Danny observes that:

"...eight thousand Italian Jews were sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust. Only eight of them returned to Venice. This is the fact to which Danny attached himself. If the ghetto itself is the bell, this fact is the toll"

This novel has a quieter tone and is grounded more in reality than Boy Meets Boy. It's also a much smaller story, the only central characters are Danny and Elijah While there is a small romance that shakes things up a bit, this novel is not very plot heavy. Much of it relies on observation and vignette-like memories. I could put the book down and pick it up without having to flip back to catch myself up,

And once again Levithan keeps it short. This book is structured in a way where every now and then a page will just have one paragraph or sentence on it making it shorter than it's 215 pages.

Are We There Yet ? reads as a love letter to Italy wrapped around the relationship of two very different brothers. This is an excellent YA with a lot of crossover appeal to people in their early twenties.

  • There is a reference to the children's novel From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (I have a VERY vivid memory of reading this in elementary school by the way) , which I know comes up in another Levithan novel
  • Judging by my Googling for Levithan's ethnicity (he is Jewish) it looks like the question of Jewish Identity will come up in his book Wide Awake

  • Klezmer music will come up in another one of his novels

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Sense List Vol. 29: October Faves !


The Shadowhunters are back ! After a rally of fan outcry, Constantin Films announced they will continue production of the City of Ashes film.

Rachel Cohn's sci-fi novel Beta is set to be developed as a TV series by ABC.

Jennifer Lawrence hasn't put book adaptations behind her just yet. She is  headed to star in the adaptation of the literary novel Burial Rites.

Political thriller writer David Baldacci's 2014  middle grade fantasy series has been optioned for a film

Simon & Schuster is launching a sci-fi, fantasy and horror imprint to acquire books for readers of "YA and above". This will be the publisher's first imprint dedicated to the genre.

Literary agents get together and talk trends in young adult fiction including; what's dead, what they are looking for and what they want more of.

Fans waiting for the final book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy can take solace in Laini Taylor's  a novella entitled Night of Cake and Puppets.
announcement of

The final book in the Mara Dyer release date has been pushed back to 2014. Michelle Hodkins explains why.

Tiffany Schmidt announces she will publish Once Upon a Crime Family, a duology set to be published with Bloomsbury Walker Kids.

On The Web
Ebookfriendly.com has 6 infographics and charts for YA fiction

For the New Adult fans ! Here is a list of 2013-2014 non-contemporary new adult novels via NA Alley


Malinda Lo looks at the representation of  LGBT YA fiction in 2013.

Sep. 15-Oct. 15th was Hispanic Heritage Month,  YALSA has a list of YA fiction featuring Hispanic authors or characters. 

Check out this list of 2013 YA sci-fi fantasy featuring LGBT characters.

Cover Reveals

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell

  • Release Date: October 1, 2013
  • Publisher: Abrams
  • Pages: 320
  • Genre: Contemporary 

Rebecca “Rebel”  Blue is exactly what she sounds like; a rebel. Raised and home schooled by a free willing photographer, Rebel just doesn't get most things; like wearing shoes or math. Which is why she battles daily with her aunt and cousin after her mother's death. She's accepted she doesn't fit in and she's fine with it.

Until Rebel has one encounter with her polar opposite, Kennedy Green, during a somewhat morbid assignment; write a bucket list. When Kennedy Green suddenly dies, her bucket list haunts Rebel. Now Rebel believes to find her own peace she must tackle Kennedy's list one item at a time.

If I'm being honest, I have a bias against this book because I read it right after I Am Messenger by Markus Zusak, which has a similar premise about a character trying to make good. Goodbye, Rebel Blue is a lower stakes and lighter version of this story.

Rebel is an interesting character who "marches to the beat of her own 225 person marching band." Her narration has a strong voice, that is slightly sarcastic and self-deprecating. There were times when I could identify with her need to figure out what exactly makes a good person. Things aren't always easy for her and her path to completing Kennedy's list isn't always smooth. She has quite few failures along the way and has to figure out how to accept some of her own faults. 

This novel also has a romantic interest with the school's resident do-gooder, Nate Bolivar, it is refreshing to see a love interest of color because after 60 books reviewed this is the first time I've seen a Hispanic male love interest. Nate acts as a nice foil to Rebel, but I had one problem with Nate;  he’s just a little too perfect. And not just in the looks category he also made good grades, cares about the environment, is good at sports and his biggest flaw is he likes to please everyone. It just got  to a point where he doesn't seem realistic.

However, the more I think about it, I kind of take issue with the set up of the book. Rebel is trying to complete a bucket list, but bucket lists are supposed to set up a lifetime of goals, so that Rebel tries to do these all in a few months takes away from some of the meaning for me.

Also, the copy in the synopsis compares this book to 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher and I think these books couldn't be more different. In Asher's book, you learn about the dead girl through what she leaves behind, while in Coriell's novel the death is glossed over and the focus is more on the main character's development.

While it may not be content heavy, Goodbye, Rebel Blue is ultimately an uplifting journey, about the importance of leaving your comfort zone and learning to get out of your own way.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Re-Introducing Days of David Levithan

Join Kat as she reads and reviews the works of David Levithan
from his debut novel to his National Book Award shortlisted novel, Two Boys Kissing

In summer 2012 Jess attempted to read every Sarah Dessen novel in publication order. This winter I'm attempting a similar feat with David Levithan. If you enjoy contemporary YA, Levithan's mix of prose, eccentricity, humor and storytelling is something you have to experience.

I started this project this summer, but hadn't set the ground work needed to keep it up. Now, I'm back and ready to kick things off with my review for Levithan's first novel,  Boy Meets Boy.

I will be discussing and reviewing one Levithan novel a week leading up the his newest National Book Award Nominated novel, Two Boys Kissing.

Check back every Tuesday for a new Levithan review !
Reposted from 7/9/2013

  • Release Date: Sept. 8th 2003
  • Publisher: Knopf 
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Pages: 185

It's pretty fitting to start my reading David Levithan with his debut novel Boy Meets Boy. In fact, Boy Meets Boy just released its 10 year anniversary edition which has an excellent Q&A with Levithan in the back and I'll be referring to a bit.

As I was reading this Q&A I began to think about how this novel is pretty significant to the "YA canon", if there is one. In a lot of interviews about this book  Levithan talks about how in 2004 there weren't many books featuring queer teens, and if there were they usually leaned on the Bury Your Gay and the Gayngst tropes--that is a gay teen usually ended up dead or in another equally angsty situation at the end of the day. That's not to say the intolerance doesn't exist in the novel, but what Levithan  does is offer a new narrative, a story of hope for those gay  teens who never see positive stories about themselves.

Boy Meets Boy is exactly what it says on the cover. It's about what happens when boy meets boy, but the plot is about if  boy can keep boy. At the National Book Festival Levithan called this a "dippy happy love story" and I think that is the perfect description,

Paul is a sophomore in high school who has always known he was gay, and even had it confirmed in Kindergarten when his teacher wrote "Paul is definitely gay and has a very good sense of self" on his report card. Paul's had a long series of boyfriends since elementary school, but has taken a break after coming off a breakup with Kyle, his now straight ex-boyfriend who says Paul tricked him.

And then Paul meets Noah, the new boy in town. Like most of Levithan's characters Noah is very spiritual, artsy and creative. He has "cool hair" , suede blue shoes and is kind of  boy who "paints some music" after school. But despite his coolness, Noah has his own fragile heart and Paul wants nothing more to make this relationship work, but his crazy life seems to want to get in the way.

The main storyline is pretty simple, but Levithan weaves so many side characters and elements to create a really robust story and world. I  like how he can tell a whole story  in only about 185 pages. Which by the way is another thing I love about most of Levithan's books--he keeps it short.

One of the biggest criticisms about this book is the culture shock from the unnamed town Paul lives in. His town is kind of this surreal-ish utopian town where all kinds of LGBT is celebrated and accepted. The football quarterback, Infinite Darlene, is the also homecoming (drag) queen,  the cheerleaders ride Harley's, They've renamed the Boy Scouts the Joy Scouts in protest of the gay ban,  the members of the Gay-Straight Alliance outnumber the members of the football team and the French Cuisine club gets an applause at the pep rally for rising the perfect souffle. Just to name a few.

My first thought was that Levithan created the community to take some of the "special issue"-ness about of the LGBT novel. Levithan explains why he created this world really well in the back of the book, but essentially he wanted to picture things how they should be not how they are. As you read more into this story even the more absurd things fall away because, at its heart the story is so real.  Apparently this idea is explored more in Levithan's Wide Awake, so I'll be looking forward to that one.

This novel isn't entirely sunshine and rainbows, Levithan does touch on intolerance with Paul's  friend Tony who lives in a different town and is under strict scrutiny by religious parents. The friendship between Tony and Paul is so powerful. Tony is  self-conscious and afraid. He doesn't know a life where he can be okay with who he is until he meets Paul and hangs out with him. Paul  says he "fell in hope" with Tony and wants a fair world where Tony can shine, which I thought was a great sentiment.

While the story isn't perfect, the message of hope and acceptance is clear. Boy Meets Boy was a book ahead of it's time and I'll be really interested in comparing this book back to Levithan's most recent novel Two Boys Kissing.

Paul meets both Tony and Noah in a bookstore--I have a feeling this will be a recurring theme in Levithan's  books.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Audiobook Review : Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

  • Release Date : August 16th 2007
  • Publisher : Penguin
  • Audiobook Length : 8 hours 55 minutes

Synopsis : St. Vladimir’s Academy isn't just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever

Two years ago Rose Hathaway,  a half-human vampire, and her best friend Lissa Dragomir, a vampire princess, ran away from the vampire filled St. Vladimir's Academy. We don't know what they've been running from, but these girls have their reasons. Only now, they've been dragged back to St. Vladmir's and the darkness has followed them.

Vampire Academy is the first book in my growing "Books I Need To Read Before The Film Adaptation Comes Out" list. Since I've started blogging I've read a lot of positive reviews and excitement for this series. I even had the opportunity to attend and author event where Richelle Mead was in attendance and she has so many passionate fans who stood in line for hours to get her signature.

Right off the bat. the most dynamic part of this book is the strong bond between Rose and Lissa. It's refreshing to have a YA novel where the two main female characters are friends and not frenemies.
 As a  half-vampire Rose's choices in life in the vampire world  are limited, but despite her dhampir status she is in trainig to become Lissa's guardian. I think this  dedication adds a another level to their friendship

Going to  a school full of vampires , Rose and Lissa deal with their fair share of mean girls, gossip,social climbing and romantic entanglements.  I found that because this book isn't one of those "humans meet vampires " books, that the vampire elements where rather muted, which lends this  book well to those who aren't big paranormal readers.

Personally, I found this book to be very similar in tone to Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Both books feature female protagonists returning to a paranormal school, training to be a guardian and of course a   receiving extra help from a gorgeous older male superior. However what makes Vampire Academy come more full circle for me are the strong female relationships in the book.

Stephanie Wolf does the audio for this book and since I once had Russian co-workers, I found her Russian accent to be extremely accurate. I did think she made Lissa sound a little to young and innocent and not like a teenager. Khristine Hvam from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone audiobooks does the next audiobook, so I am curious to hear her interpretation of the same characters.

Vampire Academy is the perfect book for those who want a lighter YA paranormal with a few dark elements and a touching female friendship.  I enjoyed the world and character enough that I plan on reading the second book in the series Frostbite.

 The movie has one of the directors from Mean Girls so I'm interested to see how this gets compared to  Mean Girls. I think Zoey Deutch is a perfect Rose plus they have a real Russian  actor playing Dimitri!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

25 Authors Published Under 25 Pt. 5 : The Comeback Kids

 These authors published their first novel before they were 25 and haven't stopped since. They're  coming back again and again with not just sequels, but whole new books and even one TV series !

  1. Part 1 : The Teenaged Dreams
  2. Part 2 : The 2013-2014 Debuts
  3. Part 3 : Wattpadders and Youtubers
  4. Part 4 : . . . And They Got A Film
  5. Part 5 : The Comeback Kids

21. Jenny Han, 25.
Han entered the publishing world in 2006 with her debut novel Shug, a coming of age story about a girl named Shug going into junior high. Han didn't stop there and has since published Clara Lee, The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy and the Burn For Burn trilogy (with fellow author Siobhan Vivian). In 2014, Han is publishing a standalone young adult contemporary To All The Boys I Loved Before. Blog | Twitter

22. Jessica Khoury, 24

At age 24, Khoury's highly buzzed science fiction standalone, Origin, debuted in 2012 with film rights purchased before the release. Khoury is back again in 2014 with the companion novel, Vitro.Twitter | Blog

23. Anna Jarzab, 25

Jarzab published her master's thesis as All Unquiet Things in 2010 with Delacorate Press. She followed up in 2012 with The Opposite of Hallelujah and Jarzab is back again in 2013, jumping into the science fiction genre with Tandem.Twitter Blog

24. Markus Zusak, 24
Australian author Markus Zusak has gained international acclaim for his novels The Book Thief and I Am Messenger. But before that, In 1999, at age 24, Zusack published  Underdog, the first in a a series of stories about the Wolfe Brothers. The novels were published in the U.S. as an omnibus entitled Underdogs  in  2011. He is currently working on his next book, Bridge of ClayTwitter | Blogger

25.Kara Taylor, 23

Kara Taylor debuted  Prep School Confidential in 2013. The novel follows a murder Boston area prep school. The novel is a trilogy and the next book, Wicked Little Secrets, set to come out in 2014. Taylor also landed a deal  writing  for the upcoming CW show, The Revengers. Twitter | Blogger

Friday, October 11, 2013

25 Authors Under 25 Pt. 4: . . . And they got a film

For every great book there might be a film adaptation around the corner. While these authors not only published young their works have also been adapted into films.

  1. Part 1 : The Teenaged Dreams
  2. Part 2 : The 2013-2014 Debuts
  3. Part 3 : Wattpadders and Youtubers
  4. Part 4 : . . . And They Got A Film
  5. Part 5 : The Comeback Kids

15. Nick McDonell, 17
McDonell is no stranger to the publishing world, having the managing editor of Sports Illustrated for a father and Hunter S. Thompson as a family friend.  The 17-year-old  McDonell, published his critically acclaimed novel,  Twelve,  in 2002. The novel follows privileged Manhattan teens descent into drugs and violence. A film adaptation was released in 2010 with Chace Crawford, 50 Cent and Emma Roberts.  McDonell is now a journalist and war correspondent.

16. Ned Vizzini, 19
Vizzini's 2000  debut novel, Teen Angst Naaah . . . is a collection  of Vizzini's life stories originally published in the New York Press. In 2004, at the age of 23, Vizzini suffered from depression and was hospitalized for suicide ideation. His experiences inspired him to write the novel It's Kind of Funny Story. A film based on the novel was released starring Emma Roberts and  Zach Galifianakis. Sadly in 2013 Vizzini died from suicide.

17. Cecelia Ahern, 21
Irish author Cecelia Ahern landed a $1 millon dollar deal for her debut novel, P.S I Love You, which later became an international bestsellerIn 2007 the novel was adapted and Americanized into a film starring Academy Award winner Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler. Ahern has since published multiple novels for women and was the co-creator of the ABC comedy Samantha Who ? Twitter |  Blog

18. Bret Easton Ellis, 21

Ellis' is best known for writing the novel that was adapted into the cult classic film, American Psycho, but before that he published the controversial  novel, Less Than Zero in 1985 at only 21 years old. A film loosely based on the book was released starring  Robert Downey Jr. and Andrew McCarthy in 1987. In 2002 his novel published at  the age of 23, Rules of Attraction, was also adapted. Twitter

19. Jonathan Safran Foer, 25

Foer has two films adaptations to his name. His debut magical realism novel Everything is Illuminated was published when Foer was 25 and adapted into a film starring Elijah Wood. His post-9/11 novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, was also adapted and nominated for two Academy Awards. Recently, Foer signed a two book deal for novels to be released in 2014.

20. Alice Hoffman, 25
Hoffman has a series of film adaptations to her name including the 2006 mermaid film, Aquamarine and 1998 film Practical Magic starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. 21-year-old Hoffman published her first novel Property Of while getting her MFA at Stanford University. The novel tells the story of a 17-year-old girl who falls in love with an enigmatic street gang leader.


25 Authors Published Under 25 Vol. Two is a week long series dedicated to authors published under the age of 25. This series was created to inspire young writers and display the talents of young authors.  


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Thursday, October 10, 2013

25 Authors Published Under 25 Pt. 3 : Wattpadders and YouTubers

Web 2.0 and online writing communities have increased the notability of young writers. Writers can easily create content and have it read by millions of online readers...and sometimes publishers notice. When these young writers published their novels they brought their dedicated online fan base with them.
  1. Part 1 : The Teenaged Dreams
  2. Part 2 : The 2013-2014 Debuts
  3. Part 3 : Wattpadders and Youtubers
  4. Part 4 : . . . And They Got A Film
  5. Part 5 : The Comeback Kids
11. Beth Reekles, 15
Welsh teenager, Beth Reekles first shared her story, The Kissing Booth, via the online writing community Wattpad. Random House UK took notice and published the story in May 2013.  Her second book Rolling Dice was released in the UK in August 2013. Her debut novel is now available in the United States. Twitter

12. Elle & Blair Fowler 25, 20
The Fowler sisters are better known on YouTube as makeup gurus JuicyStar07 and AllThatGlitters21. They  have come a long way in the 5 years they've been dishing advice on make-up and fashion. In 2013 the sisters published their debut YA novel Beneath The Glitter. The novel follows the lives of the London sisters, fictional YouTube celebrities. 

13. Abigail Gibbs, 18
Abigail Gibbs is best known around the Internet as Canse12 on the online writing community Wattpad. At 15 she posted her romance story, Dinner with a Vampire and  it gained  millions of readers. The story was picked up by Harper and in Spring 2013 it was published under the name The Dark Heroine. The sequel, Autumn Rose, is set to come out in January 2014. Twitter

14. Robyn Schneider, 21
On YouTube, Robyn Schneider is best known for her life vlogs and makeup videos at robynisrarelyfunny. But before she was on YouTube, Robyn published the YA novel, Better Than Yesterday, with Random House in 2007. Her most recent young adult novel, The Beginning of Everything was published in Summer 2013. Twitter


25 Authors Published Under 25 Vol. Two is a week long series dedicated to authors published under the age of 25. This series was created to inspire young writers and display the talents of young authors.  


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