Sunday, December 31, 2017

Books and Sensibility By The Numbers 2017

After skipping last year, we are back with a round-up of our numbers! All year long we track our reading and reviewing habits so we can crunch the numbers and pull some stats.

Kat's Reaction
We read a lot of audiobooks, which has a lot to do with the great audiobook selection on my library's Overdrive.  I got rid of my Audible account last year so in 2017  I was using the holds and requests function to checkout new YA audiobooks.

Category Numbers

80% YA

10% Adult

10% Graphic novel, middle grade and nonfiction

Publisher Numbers
The publishers we read were pretty disparate. The most commonly read publisher was  HarperCollins, mostly from the Greenwillow and HarperTeen imprint.

41% HarperCollins

36 % Penguin Random House

5% Simon & Schuster

2% Kondanasha

2% Algonquin BFYR

2% Hachette

2% HMH

2% Macmillan

2 % Sourcebooks Fire

2.% Time Inc.

2 % Quirk Books

Other Diversity Numbers
With so many conversations about diversity happening each year I'm not surprised we are seeing more love interests and side characters of color. One thing I've noticed this year is books with "black best friends" have the black best friend bringing attention to the white MC's privilege.

52% Featured Supporting Characters or Love Interest of Color

36% Featured Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Love Interest or Supporting character

14% Feature Characters w/ Physical Disability

7%   Featured Protagonist w/ Mental illness

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Book Review : The Glass Spare By Lauren DeStefano

Book Review

The Glass Spare is a semi-steampunk/ fantasy  mash up othat is in many ways a retelling of the King Midas story and in other ways very similar to just about any YA fantasy you might find.

I remember when DeStefano first debuted in 2011, her Chemical Garden series was taboo, dark, creepy and IIRC very popular. DeStefano has been churning out books ever since and I hadn't really heard much about this one except I know it was featured Owlcrate.

Wil is a spare heir, only fourth in line to inherit to her father's throne. To stay in his good graces she spies for him and bends to his will.  Other than that she spends her time with her favorite brothers (One of whom I said "you gon die" out loud as soon as he started talking). One day she discovers she has the ability to turn living things to gemstone with just a touch. Chaos ensues and she finds herself exiled and  on the run. Along the way she meets Loom, an exiled enemy prince and they team up to save his kingdom. There is a rebellion, a captain of the guard in love with their charge, eyelashes that create shadows and breathe that were held and forgotten. It was standard fare.

There are some original elements like one of the character is a teen mom, can't say I've seen that a lot. Ahem, speaking of teen mom's there is something about DeStefano's writing that boggles my mind. In the The Glass Spare one of the 25-year-old brothers  marries a 15-year-old year old. And like, in the Chemical Garden series a man in his twenties gets like a young teenager pregnant ? I guess the teenagers with older men things just isn't for me.

If you are a fan of fantasy and adventure, and can forgo some loose world building--this might be the book for you.

17 Favorite Podcast Episodes of 2017

Podcasts fans and book lovers enjoy a good story, great dialogue and rememberable characters (real and imagined). So we wanted to end the year by sharing the amazing and thought provoking podcast episodes that made our 2017.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Gentleman's Guide To Vice and Virture by Mackenzi Lee

Rating: ★★★ | 10 hours 47 minutes | Harper Audio | Historical/Fantasy | 06/27/2017  

In The Gentleman's Guide To Vice and Virtue an all around scoundrel is about to embark on a dangerous high stakes road trip to self discovery. It's hard out there for a YA historical to top the YA bestseller list (I mean except for Ruta Sepetys and just reading the synopsis of  her books makes me sad) and I think what helps this book stand out is it's outstanding originality,

The book is primarily told in a semi-anarchistic self deprecating tone that emanates from our narrator, Henry "Monty" Montague. Monty is about to embark on his Grand Tour, where he plans to spend the year drinking and partying, all while trying to keep the fact that he is madly in love with his best friend a secret.

When a bit of mischief turns into an international conspiracy, his tour takes a detour filled with intrigue, mystism and ...pirates ? I get what this book is doing and I think it does it very well. It's a self aware historical black comedy the likes of which should be an Amazon Original like yesterday.

Monty is an unlikable character in a way that only male characters can be. He has a big personality and narrator Christian Coulsn had his work cut out for him with this role.The only character who didn't sit well with me was the younger sister Felicity. I get that she is the "Hermione" of the group but she was just so good at everything just because she'd read about it. I see the next book in the series is about her and I'm looking forward to reading it to get a different perspective.

I'm all in for more YA that breaks genre boundaries, I mean a humorous historical YA with fantasy elements and nuanced diversity is something we could always use a little more of.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Book Review Bundle : The Closest I've Come by Fred Aceves

  7 Hours 30 Minutes | Harper Audio| Contemporary | 11/07/17 | 

Book Review

Generally when I write blogpost  for audiobooks I've reviewed for  AudioFile Magazine I like to focus on reviewing the story, however I'm going to break that rule because of  the Christian Barillas outstanding performance.

Most people will recognize Barillas from his comedic role on Modern Family as Ronaldo, Pepper Saltzman's assistant turned husband. I had to do a double take when I realized who the narrator was because Barillas is doing something entirely different in this audiobook. He is extremely versatile and his nuanced and vulnerable delivery makes way for a thoughtful and dramatic reading.

The movement for more diverse books from big publishers has lead to more opportunities for actors and narrators of color, so  I hope Barillas does more YA audiobooks. Seriously, whoever is in charge of Adam Silvera's audiobooks needs to give Christian Barillas a call.

I listened to a few samples of his other audiobooks ( and he is certainly doing something different here. I would love to see Barillias talent on screen in more dramatic recurring roles.

Okay, about the book.

When I was in high school there used to be one big wall of fiction that I would browse , it was on those shelves that I discovered a particular type of early 2000's YA. Gritty contemporary YA about hardscrabble kids of colors (mostly set in the hood) written by former educators. I'm talking Sharon Draper, Walter Dean Meyers,  E. L Frank and to some extent Chris Crutcher. This book felt like it was in that same spirit a these, but towards the end it was more self aware and took a turn I wasn't expecting.

In Marco's neighborhood boys have to be tough and fathers are in short supply. His home life isn't ideal, so it's hard for him to care about school, but when he is put in the Future Success program he starts to consider just how bright his future could be. And what's interesting is that it's not the actual program that changes him, as a matter of fact the assignment and work they do in the program is oddly mundane. Instead it's the experiences and people he meets as a result of the program that opens his eyes.

I don't know if I appreciated this book  it more because I'm an adult, but what stuck out to me (and what I don't remember from those 2000s books) is that at one point the Future Success program teacher is confronted with the idea that the adults in the lives of these "troubled kids" can't help because they need as much help as the kids.

Marco comes to realize that  the only way he is going to succeed is if  he pulls himself up and out on his own. He comes to realize that the people he can always count on isn't a white savior teacher his parents or a manic pixie dream girl-- it's his peers. His boys. The friends who he hangs with on the basketball court, who he laughs, jokes and stands up for.

A great debut and the kind of YA I would have enjoyed as a teen

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Audiobook Review : Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

Rating: ★★★+.5 | 320 pages | Brilliance Audio | Sci-Fi  | 3/12/2013 |

Everything I know about comic book culture I've picked up from Wikipedia, Twitter and listening to Glen Wheldon on Pop Culture Happy Hour where--during a discussion of  Justice League--he talked about how altruism is at the core of iconic and popular superheroes. I think that promise internal altruism is what makes Peter Cline's motley crew of post-apocalyptic LA superheros ring true.

We dive right into a decimated Los Angeles,  nearly two years after a devastating virus that causes the dead to rise has taken over the world. That's right we're talking zombies vs. superheroes.

Barricaded in an defunct studio lot,  a corner of civilization is trying to prosper with the help of a few surviving superheros,  who began showing up just before the outbreak. The compound is run by the illusive Stealth and lead by Superman expy, St. George , and slew of other heroes and humans

Clines make the choice to not tell you everything you need to know in the first few pages, he just slowly rolls it out in a way that 100 percent works. Clines no doubt  has what it takes to write comic books with the way he builds arcs and backstories for all his creative characters . He has the difficult job of  telling a compelling survival story, while also providing origin stories for his heroes.

This is where the dual audiobook narrator model really shines. Jay Snyder and Khristine Hvam tag team this one with Snyder narrating and Hvam voicing the female characters. The pair are tightly edited in the main storyline, then they get a chance to perform individually whenever we switch over to an origin story.  Hvam fully dedicates herself to the reprise of Cerberus', a government scientist turn mech operator's origin story.

Clines post apocalyptic LA is inclusive (Though the 'villians' are a Latino street gang, so yeah) and features dynamic female characters. Though it is noticeable that the two main female heroes Stealth and Cerberus are extremely intelligent women, while St. George the iconic uberman ... was just a maintenance man. Yes, at times it was difficult to keep track of who was who with everyone having code names and real names (some even change their hero names) but you get used to it.

There are a few Torchwood and Dr. Who mentions and St. George gives this huge monologue about how Dr. Who inspired him to be the hero he is. This kind of surprised me because I didn't quite see the comparison.

This book was written in the early 2010s and boy can you feel it with all the Heroes and House references. The book itself was obscure to me but  here are a couple of books in the series and I'm curious to see where Clines goes with this.

I picked this  audiobook up because there was a 4.95 BOGO sale at Audible and because Hvam is a favorite of mine --also I thought Peter Clines was Ernest Clines-- anywho, it was a random pick that paid off. Entertaining, a little gory but with a great mythology and surprising twist and turns.

 Marvel is missing out on Peter Clines

I was clicking through some different versions of this book on Goodreads and it looks like this book was orginally published by indie Sci-Fi publisher, Permuted Press then it picked up by Random House for book 3. I read about his happening all the time in YA and Romance,so it's interesting getting a look at how it works across other genres

Narrator Jay Snyder is  AKA Dan Green  is the dubbed voice of Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh!A show I remember watching as a tween but not really understanding (probably because of the translation).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

Rating: ★★★ | Release Date: 05/30/17 | 361 Pages | Contemporary | Delacorte Press  

This breakout novel has been dominating the bestsellers list since it came out and it's popularity is really interesting  because you rarely see a debut author without a massive social media following or platform hang on the list this long. I think some of it's popularity may have to do with it's elevator pitch.  Five high school students walk into detention; the nerdy girl, the criminal bad boy, the homecoming princess, the jock and the outcast---and only five come out alive.

I...I think I may be the black sheep when it comes to this book. It just wasn't what I expected.  I thought it was going to be crime solving teens but the characters don't actively come together to try to solve the crime they're accused of until about 80% into the book. For most of the story they're just like "yeah, that thing was weird" and keep on keepin' on with their lives and personal drama while off screen lawyers handle the intricate details of the case.  This story is more about the characters deepest secrets being revealed than solving a murder.

I was also pretty lukewarm on the romance between the nerdy girl and the bad boy, I just couldn't get invested in it which is tough because so much of the plot ends up revolving around it. The only character arc I liked was from Addie, the homecoming princess who has to rebuild herself after a secret revelation causes her to lose all her friends and popularity.

It's probably also worth noting that at times McManus’s handling of  mental illness and other social issues felt a little clunky.

The full cast of the audiobook  is what really kept me going because it included a lot of my faves and they all gave a stellar performances. Shout out to Macleod Andrews who does both a great Southern accent and also a surprisingly good old lady voice. Also props to Shannon McManus (I'm assuming she's not  related to the author) who does this ridiculously good angry teenage boy.

While this Breakfast Club redux with a murder mystery twist didn't work for me, I'd probably watch the TV just to see how it's portrayed. Also...E! has fictional tv shows now ?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Book Review Bundle : Warcross by Marie Lu

Book Review
When Marie Lu debuted she was marketed as a video-game-designer-turned-YA author, so it seemed inevitable that we would get a video game centered YA from her. If you've read her Legend series  you might recall the characters visiting a futuristic Antarctica, where citizens live in a domed city with holograms and virtual reality technology that allowed them to earn points in a gamified society.

This seems to be ground zero for the near present future in Warcross, where NeuroLink technology invented by the illusive young genius  Hideo Tanaka has changed the world. Virtual reality is ubiquitous and the game Warcross is an international past-time.

Hideo fills the role of the larger than life icon/savior that we usually see in Marie Lu novels, who will inevitable cross paths with our protagonist. In this case the protagonist is Emika Chen, an 18-year-old criminal hacker who takes on bounty hunting jobs to get by. Desperate to make ends met she hacks into the Warcross Championships. Impressed, Hideo decides to hire her and sends her undercover  to catch a criminal and score her biggest bounty yet.

Warcross has a series of plot twist and subversion with a graying scale of mortality. Lu really carves out the aesthetics for the world; we get Lu's signature action sequences and troubled characters with a good helping of angst. I particularly liked that Emika's father was nuanced enough to have been very loving and extremely troubled at the the same time.

The story itself is very bloated  There are a ton of characters to keep up with and between the undercover operation, romance, the actual Warcross Championship plus  the story arcs of the other players it's very easy to get distracted

There are some  head nods to the Legend series that fans will enjoy picking up on. The ending has a big cliffhanger and major reveal that, as a Marie Lu fan, has me curious enough to reach for the second book I TOTALLY SAW THE ENDING COMING. ANYONE ELSE ???

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Book Review Bundle : Little Wrecks by Meredith Miller

Book Review

In small town Highbone three best friends Magdalene, Isabel and Ruth are slowly being pushed over the edge by the invisible  hand of sexism, misogyny and abuse. When their simmering female rage boils over the consequences become dire and not all of them will make it out. Initially the trio bonds over their private bonfires, where they set fire to the things holding them down. It's just to let off some steam, but when they get the idea to steal drugs to fund their escape from Highbone everything seems to go up in flames around them.

Set in the late 1970's, this YA falls on the literary side.  A ton of the marketing and even the synopsis of this book sound very dramatic and earth shattering but it's actually a quiet book with a darkness that sort of sneaks up on you. You sort of become entranced in the day to day struggles of the characters and discover all of the real drama and tragedy lies in what is never said.

With Little Wrecks you think you know the book you are reading and then it turns it on it's head. It's a story about friendship, letting go and what it takes to survive.

I reviewed this book for Audiofile and wouldn't have picked it up  on my own. Between this and Be True To Me I think 70's' YA is in my new wheelhouse. As cliched as it is to say I find it refreshing when cell phones and social media is out of the picture.

Friday, December 8, 2017

18 Books We Can't Wait To Read in 2018

January 2018

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
A Women's fiction/romance debut about  high powered young professionals who turn a  forced proximity/fake girlfriend situation into love.

Everless by Sara Holland
In this debut YA fantasy, time is a currency.

February 2018
A Princess In Theory By Alyssa Cole
A prince goes undercover to find his betrothed.

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston 
This is being described as a space opera Anastasia and I am here for it. Also at 480 pages I have a feeling this is going to be epic.

March 2018
No Earls Allowed by Shana Galen 
This historical romance series has special ops regency soldiers pitted against smart plucky women who they might just need saving from

Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood   

Set post- WWI, a former wing walker sets her eyes on joining an aviation expo.

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu 
This is a thing written by Marie Lu. Shut up and take my money.

Emergency Contact by Mary M.K. Choi

Debut YA novel from  essayist, podcaster and Vice correspondent  Mary M.K. Choi follows the romance between first year college students.

April 2018

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Civil War and Zombies are two particular subcultures I'm not into but I'm
curious how the two blend together.

The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding
Described by Julie Murphy as the "queer, fat girl rom-com of her dreams" this book follows what happens when a high school graduate lands a fashion internship at a local boutique.

Now A Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy
A teenage girl travels to the set of the movie production for her Grandmother's popular book series.

Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
A new book from this dynamic duo ? Give.It.To.Me. This book follows a set of twins throwing one last high school party before graduation.

May 2018

The Lies They Tell by Gillian French 
French is masterful at creating settings and she is taking us back to another small new england town to pull back what lies beneath.

Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
This book is about a girl saving a local ice cream shop  and on Bustle it was said to have a fun feminist twist so... intrigued.

I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting
This is an enemies to lovers, house-flipping romance. The official blurb for this book has all of the house renovation puns. 

June 2018

Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim 
Three Muslim college students take an antic filled road trip to New Orleans. 

Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean (Bareknuckle Bastard #1)
In this historical romance The bastard son of a duke and a spinster team up to exact revenge.

It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday
This romance takes place during a joint bachelor and bachelorette party in Vegas, baby !


Honorable Mention

Harlequin Dare 
Not so much a book, but this is a new steamy contemporary series from Harlequin that appears to be a smexier,  modern  and glitzy update to the Blaze category.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Rating: ★★★★★ | Release Date: 05/30/17 | Contemporary | 385 pages | Buy Now !

At school, Eliza Mirk is the weird girl with no friends who never talks. At home she’s the black sheep among her athletic-obsessed family. She doesn’t think anyone can truly understand her until she meets the new boy in school, Wallace Warland. They bond over their love of Monstrous Sea, a popular fantasy webcomic. He’s the first person who gets what it means to have internet friends and be apart of an active online fandom--Wallace and his friends are BNF fan creators in the Monstrous Sea fan community. But what Wallace doesn’t know is that she’s not just any fan, she’s LadyConstellation--the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea.

This book absolutely captivated me, I devoured the whole thing in in one day and I haven’t done that in years. Zappia (who I believe used to be a book blogger) has this amazing handle on the importance of online friendship, what it means to negotiate your online self with your IRL self, the inner workings of rabid online fandoms while also incorporating important themes about mental illness and self care for creative people.

This book could be seen a spiritual successor to Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and in a lot of ways it is but I think Zappia’s specificity in relation to how fandoms work brings this book to a whole new level. There are just these casual mentions of things like shipping, cosplay and fanart. I’ve spent some time lurking around fandoms and she got it all down perfectly

 Eliza’s parents don’t understand her online life and have no concept of how popular Monstrous Sea has become. They’re only dimly aware she has a webcomic (which I related to as an adult with parents who are only dimly aware of this blog) but as the book goes on her parents make efforts to understand. I also liked that they were sex positive and instead of freaking out when she starts seeing Wallace they just take her to the gynecologist for birth control without making a big deal of it. Speaking of Wallace and Eliza, I dislike most romance in YA books, but I was here for this one.

I do think this book is probably best read in print format. There are interstitial snippets from the webcomic in the text and while you can see them on the Kindle version I read I have a feeling it’s much better in the print version.

There is this John Green quote about nerds being unironically enthusiastic about stuff and this book is basically that quote in book form.

I read this book around the same time I read Fast Connection by Santino Hassell and Megan Erickson. This a  very adult M/M romance novel  but there is a subplot about  one of the hero’s teen sister losing herself in gaming fandom to escape the chaos in their home and these two books actually paired really nicely together. It was like seeing the outsider perspective.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

AudioFile Magazine's 2017 Best Fiction Audiobooks

If you are looking for the best and most dynamic voices in audiobooks look no further than AudioFile Magazine's 2017 Best Fiction list ! AudioFile Magazine is the place to go for audiobook reviews, behind the scenes videos and narrator interviews. To see all of AudioFile's 2017 picks check out the AudioFile E-zine !

ANNE BOLEYN: A KING'S OBSESSION by Alison Weir, read by Rosalyn Landor

BEARTOWN by Fredrik Backman, read by Marin Ireland

THE ESSEX SERPENT by Sarah Perry, read by Juanita McMahon

FIVE-CARAT SOUL by James McBride, read by Arthur Morey, Nile Bullock, Prentice Onayemi, Dominic Hoffman

FOREST DARK by Nicole Krauss, read by Gabra Zackman

THE GOLDEN HOUSE by Salman Rushdie, read by Vikas Adam

ISADORA by Amelia Gray, read by Jen Tullock

LINCOLN IN THE BARDO by George Saunders, read by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, George Saunders, and a Full Cast

MANHATTAN BEACH by Jennifer Egan, read by Norbert Leo Butz, Heather Lind, Vincent Piazza

THE REASON YOU'RE ALIVE by Matthew Quick, read by R.C. Bray

REFUGE by Dina Nayeri, read by Mozhan Marno, Youssif Kamal

THE RULES OF MAGIC by Alice Hoffman, read by Marin Ireland

SING, UNBURIED, SING by Jesmyn Ward, read by Kelvin Harrison Jr., Rutina Wesley, Chris Chalk

TRAJECTORY by Richard Russo, read by Amanda Carlin, Arthur Morey, Fred Sanders, Mark Bramhall

WHITE TEARS by Hari Kunzru, read by Lincoln Hoppe, Danny Campbell, Dominic Hoffman

Friday, December 1, 2017

AudioFile Magazine's 2017 Best of Young Adult Audiobooks

Hear this ! Kat and I are so excited to be partnering with AudioFile Magazine to reveal their 2017 Best of Young Adult audiobooks. This is an amazing list featuring contemporary,  science fiction, poetry and even some Books and Sensibility favorites ! These are the audiobooks you'll want to carry over into 2018.

AMERICAN STREET by Ibi Zoboi, read by Robin Miles

THE BOOK OF DUST by Philip Pullman, read by Michael Sheen

THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE by Mackenzi Lee, read by Christian Coulson

THE GO-BETWEEN by Veronica Chambers, read by Karla Souza

THE GOLD-SON by Carrie Anne Noble, read by Gerard Doyle

GOODBYE DAYS by Jeff Zentner, read by Michael Crouch

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas, read by Bahni Turpin

HONESTLY BEN by Bill Konigsberg, read by Dan Bittner

THE INEXPLICABLE LOGIC OF MY LIFE by Benjamin Alire Saenz, read by Robbie Daymond

LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND by M.T. Anderson, read by M.T. Anderson

LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds, read by Jason Reynolds

LOVE AND FIRST SIGHT by Josh Sundquist, read by Pat Young

NYXIA by Scott Reintgen, read by Sullivan Jones,
Dominic Hoffman

THE PEARL THIEF by Elizabeth Wein, read by Maggie Service

SOLO by Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess, read by Kwame Alexander

TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN by John Green, read by Kate Rudd

To see all of AudioFile's 2017 picks check out the AudioFile E-zine !

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Audiobook Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Rating: ★★+.5 | Release Date: 09/20/16 | Fantasy| 9 hours 52 minutes

I’m slowly learning fantasy just  may not be my genre, I read a couple a year and have always been lukewarm on most of them but this book came through on my holds the same week the sequel hit the bestseller’s list so I decided to check it out.

Now, I do remember this book being talked about during BEA 2016 and Three Dark Crowns is pretty much What You See Is What You Get; Three sisters; Mirabella, Arsinoe and Katharine must kill their sisters in order to take the crown and become Queen of their island nation.

What I wasn’t expecting is just how much of a prequel this book is to that major plot point. For most of the book we follow the sisters, who were separated and raised on separate parts of the island territories, as they prepare for Belltane-- the official event that means they can start trying to kill each other. I liked getting backstories on all of the sisters but it was just a lot. We have to learn the customs, magical abilities, culture and a host of side characters for three different areas. It felt like reading three books at once.

I think my biggest hurdle with this book is that I couldn’t get on board with this way of governing. In the back of the book Blake hints that the idea of sisters killing each other to be queen is based on what happens in beehives when more than one queen bee in born but I’m not sure it tracks with humans. It gets explained as being part of their religion and “this is the way things are” type thing, but I don’t see why each sister couldn’t just be queen of each territory ?

Speaking of territories, the sisters are supposed to have a magical ability native to the people in the territory they are raised in. These abilities are kind of treated like a race and the primary abilities just felt real incongruous. Like, Mirabella is a elemental so she can control the elements like fire and water, Arsinoe is a naturalist so she can control animals and plants but then like Katharine is poisonser which means she has a tolerance for poisons and also...knows how to make poisons ? I just don't get how that is an ability.

 Three Dark Crowns exists in a heavily matriarchal society so there are a lot of  different female character and audiobook narrator Amy Landon has an expansive  range of female voices. The audiobook was especially helpful with the pronunciations but that said, it’s helpful to have the map in the physical version.

By the way shout out to the character of Billy (yeah, this book also has a weird Arieth and Bob situation too) who is from the mainland and comes to the island nation as a suitor to the queens. We don’t get into how the mainland and island are connected but Billy isn’t familiar with the how anything works on the island.  Literally every other line of dialogue is him either asking a question or going “WTF is this place.” I’d been more annoyed with him if I didn’t have the exact same questions he did.

Will I do the sequel ? Probably, because that cliffhanger tho !

Saturday, November 25, 2017

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Rating: ★★★+.5 | Release Date: 09/05/17 | Contemporary-ish ? | 8 hours 29 minutes |

They Both Die At The End is the Final Destination meets The Sun is Also A Star you didn’t know you needed.

It’s a little after midnight in New York City when 17-year-old foster kid Rufus Emeterio and 18-year-old Mateo Torrez get the phone alert from Death Cast, a mysterious service that somehow knows that within 24 hours you will meet an untimely death. When they both find themselves unable to be with their loved ones on their End Days they connect on the The Last Friend app. With less than 24 hours left to live these two unlikely strangers are going to have to try the best last day and they're doing it together.

I’m a little conflicted over this book. Silvera is an great storyteller; his characters are interesting and he creates this great alternate universe that is only a few ticks off from our own world but you never feel confused or like you are getting an info dump. He just eases you into his imagination perfectly. But there were times when the story felt slow and stagnant and the over earnestness levels were at an all time high. Like at one point these New Yorkers bury a dead bird on the street and later they sing American Pie at karaoke, which if you aren't familiar is a song with the chorus "Singin' this'll be the day that I die."

Mateo is sa socially anxious homebody and he makes a big deal about wanting to really live his last day but they spend a lot of time cryptically saying goodbye to people and things. They don’t really do things that could be seen as “living life” until the last 30%...but like maybe that’s the point ? Like, really living doesn’t always mean doing big things ?

 You want this on audio. I’ve talked about both Michael Crouch and Robbie Daymond before and these dudes can read my grocery list and I’d drop an Audible credit. Crouch gives this very reserved, slightly sheepish narration for Mateo and he just makes some really interesting performance choices. He’ll add little laughs, sighs and inhalations that aren’t in the dialogue and it just makes the reading feel  natural. Robbie Daymond has this confident swagger with a bit of playfulness that fit Rufus’s character perfectly. Bahni Turpin also makes an appearance for short third person interstitial chapters and wow, does she have range. I’d always been kind of hesitant because I thought she sounded too old for YA but I may check out one of her YAs.

I do think it’s worth noting that while our protagonists are Cuban and Puerto Rican neither of these narrators are Latino ( Crouch is white and Daymond is Native American) and while I love the narration it’s interesting they didn’t get narrators who fit the ethnicity of the characters.

Adam Silvera is doing something really interesting in YA these days, it seems like he came out of nowhere and is just changing the game. He made this cryptic tweet a while ago:

I wonder what this is about ? A sequel ? A Hulu show ? 

Me to all the people on They Both Die At The End's Goodreads page asking if an Adam Silvera book is sad:

Friday, November 24, 2017

#BFRAT Cover Challenge 2017 Challenge !

Good afternoon  #BFRAT participants ! It's the afternoon in my neck of the woods  and now it's time for the cover challenge ! Below are 20  thumbnails of books that came out in 2017. The goal of this challenge is to figure out which books the thumbnails are from. 

Enter your answers in the GoogleForm below. The person who guesses the most correctly will win a $10 Amazon or Starbucks gift card!  The winner and answers will be posted Saturday, November 25, 2017 so check back for the answers.

Hint: These are mostly YA and adult fiction

(click to enlarge)

Contest Closed! The Winner is @bernmckoy ! 
Here are the answers:


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