Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dreams of Gods and Monsters Gif Review

Imma let you finish Twilight, but The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is the best YA paranormal romance about a teenager and male-paranormal-who-is-super-old-but-looks-super-hot-and super young-so-we-swear-it's-not-creepy of all time. Of all time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Serpent King by Jeff Zetner

  • Release Date: March 8, 2016
  • Pages: 384
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Publisher: Crown (Random House)

Apparently my new jam is contemporary told from the POV of a trio of friends because in a lot of ways this book is like Fans of The Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa which I read last year around this time and enjoyed.

Our unlikely friend group in The Serpent King consists of; Travis who lives in a fantasy world to escape his abusive home life; Dill, the son of the Pentecostal signs preacher who handles snakes and is currently in prison for possession of child porn and then there is Lydia. Lydia should be the popular girl, her parents are upper middle class, she runs a successful fashion blog and is internet friends with the daughters of New York elite.  But all of that makes her a misfit in Forrestville, a small Tennessee town named after the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.

The dynamics of the characters and sense of place are just perfect. There was an interesting tension between Lydia and the boys because she is from a richer, more liberal family while they  are from poorer and more religious conservative upbringings. I happened to hear Gwen Glazer on The Librarian Is In podcast describe this book as evocative and that is just the perfect way to describe it. I actually read the first 50% of this in May and then forgot about it until August, but I was thrown right back into the story and characters, three months later.

The title of the book refers to Dill, but I  didn't see him as the star of the book or anything because each of the characters gets equal chapters. I personally found Lydia to be the most interesting because she is cultivating this online life and persona where she gets invited to NYC fashion week, and because of this  she can't show her everyday life with Dill and Travis her friends because they are "off-brand." Also Dill and Travis have the far end of Jerk Dads and Lydia's Dad was the exact opposite, which is always rare in YA. I really liked the way Zetner wrote her parents.

Like any good contemporary YA there is  an undercurrent of hopefulness for the future  but a couple of moments in this book caught me by surprise. There are some real depressing moments and revelations that kind of snuck up on me. Maybe I’ve been reading too much romance, but I was like geez, YA why so serious ?

Zetner has a great debut and I eagerly anticipate what he writes next. I'm sure he has a lifetime of being uttered in the same breath as John Green ahead of him !

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Tale of Two Panels : Trends In Romance

If you've ever checked out the romance blog you'll see a lot of the books I discover are from Sara Wendell's Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. So when Kat texted me that Wendell was moderating a Trends In Romance panel at Baltimore BookFest I knew I wanted to find the time to stop by.

Timing wasn't really on our side and we only had time to go to this one session which is too bad because I've always wanted to go to Baltimore Book Festival. Let me tell you, it was a total 360 from National Book Fest. It's held at the Inner Harbor and because it's a big tourist attraction it's really hopping. It has restaurants, live music and a nice waterfront setting that made the whole event feel festive.

I always like to pick up book by panelist, so I picked up :

  • Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels By Sarah Wendell
  • Love On My Mind by Tracey Livesay
  • One To Win by Michelle Monkou
  • A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev

Also on the panel was  Laura Kaye, Miranda Kenneally, Jennifer Armentrout and Erika Kelly who is a new author to me !

Michelle Monoku nicely came up to me and offered to sign my book ! I hadn't read her book before but I grabbed it because I follow her on Twitter. I also knew her name sounded familiar to me and I later realized it was because I bought To Charm A Billionaire off Amazon just the other day.

The big trends talked about on the panel were female centered thrillers and women's fiction with strong romantic elements are on the rise. Needless to say the panel was on point.

I felt like I was at a live recording of Wendell's podcast. Baltimore Book Festival  is going to be a must for me in 2017 !

Side Note

I also overheard this conversation by someone visiting the harbor and noticing the crowded tents:

Man : What's going on today ?
Companion : It's a book festival...we're caught up in the book crowd
Man : ...There's a book crowd ?
Me in my head : Wouldn't you like to know. . .

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Tale Of Two Panels : Get Your White Hat !

A few weekends ago Kat and I went up to National Book Festival. I felt like I needed to stretch first because it's been so long since I've been to an author/book event.

2016 National Book Fest

This is my second time going to National Book Fest, the first time was way back in 2011 when we were newbies book bloggers. Ah, memories. Kat even made a video

Back in  2011 the festival was outside, but I guess now they do it at The Washington Convention Center. There were red bags and librarians everywhere. To me the festival felt a whole lot less festive since it was indoors. I kind of felt like I was at a super casual conference. They had an exhibit floor downstairs with a nice interactive element where you could visit each state's table to collect stickers for a prize.

I guess the plus of being indoors is that there are more parking options and food but I just wanted to see more tents.

Kat and I wanted to get something for our nephew so we picked up Juana Medina's The Big Salad . It teaches healthy eating habits and counting !

Shonda Rhimes @ National BookFest

The event was packed with Shondaland fans and Rhimes was introduced by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and interviewed by philanthropist David M Rubenstein. It was interesting hearing Rhimes journey to success. I had no idea she went to Dartmouth or that she wrote the movie Crossroads. But honestly, the interview was very controlled and had some awkward pacing.

Side Note

They didn't clear the room so we came in early  caught the end of Kareem Abdul Jabbar's session, he knows a lot about history and was very poised and intelligent. I can totally see why he published a Sherlock Holmes novel.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Joint Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

This book was  all over my favorite bookish media .When it was selected for the book club book on the Pop Rocket podcast I finally decided to pick up the audiobook.

Sleeping Giants is written almost entirely in transcripts and field reports and follows what happens after large metal body parts are discovered buried around the world.

I did this on audio and I thought it worked great. Because there are no adverbs attached to the dialogue the voice actors had so much range to add their own interpretations. My favorite narrator was Katharine Halgren who has this great arrogant, youthful but kind of smarmy voice for Kara, the female hothead pilot with a lot of skill, but also a lot of attitude.

 Unrelated, the narrator for Dr. Rose Franklin sounded a lot like Elizabeth McGovern from Downtown Abbey.

As much as I liked the narration, the format of this book made the story feel so distant. None of the relationships between the character resonated for me. Also, I didn’t know Sylvain Neuvel's gender before reading this, but towards the end I knew he was a man because his female characters get shafted towards the end. The male characters have full arcs and are changed by the end while the female characters have their designated slot (Kara is the hothead pilot, Rose is the maternal leader) and they stay in them until they get to be damsels-in-distresses. Don't get me started on how he toed the line on Mystical Pregnancy.

Apparently this is a series and I’m curious about the sequel, Walking Gods, but I kind of hope it’s not in this format. - ★+.5

17 years after a missing girl is found in the palm of a giant metal hand, the race is on to find out what the metal hand is and who left it behind. Leading the charge on the project is a super shadowy but well connected man who seems more machine than human. This new discovery opens the world up to conflicts, strange science and the possibility that maybe. . . just maybe we are not alone.

Neuvel manages to craft a complete story relying on little to no prose. He leans hard on making the dialogue very precise. You are constantly aware that most of what the characters say is partially making up for the lack of prose. It was often very easy to get lost and miss details without picking up context clues.

I too read this for the Pop Rocket Book Club and I think the host, Guy Branum, made a very good point; this book does the thing that World War Z does, where it tells the story through interviews and reports, but for Sleeping Giants it's unnecessary. It doesn't play with the form or do as deep of a dive as World War Z does. Also, once Oliver Wang pointed out that Kara Resnik is basically Kara Thrace from Battlestar Galactica I couldn't unsee  it. Granted most women in the military are fighter pilots but both Karas somehow manage to get experimented on and sleep with both a hotshot pilot and a nerdy scientist. So... yeah.

In her review Kat mentions that the female characters get "shafted" but this book actually did something that happens a lot to female main characters in sci-fi  (I'm looking at you Starbuck, Scully and Clones from Orphan Black) where their reproductive rights get railroaded for the pursuit of "science". Basically, Your ovaries are in danger, girl.

Overall I thought it was a decent debut with a lot of good ideas. I could definitely see this as a mini series on SyFy. I want to read the sequel but I'm afraid we won't get answers. - 


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