Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book Review Bundle : The Windfall by Dika Bashu

The Windfall is a quasi rags to riches novel about the middle class Jha family who become overnight millionaires.  Not exactly the windfall as the title suggest, Mr. Jha hits it big when he sells the software he spent years working on.  Now the Jha's have gathered their friends and neighbors to tell them they are moving out of their close knit complex and to the high class exclusive neighborhood  of Gergauhn.

What ensues is a comedy of manners as Mr. Jha goes out of his way to fit in. This includes acquiring objects that match his new status; like an uncomfortable diamond studded couch or an electric shoe polisher (Not that rich people use those, they just throw the shoes away as Mr. Jha finds out) . For readers  there is something delightful about indulging in the absurdity and excess, while also getting second hand embarrassment at some of  Mr.Jha's antics.

As an American I felt like I was getting a little slice of what the culture is in East Delhi. Yes, there are a few explanatory commas along the way, but  you are immersed in a part of the world and culture that's outside the American experience. It bought to life some of the things I thought I understood about India like the tech culture, class system and arranged marriages.

Check it out romance fans, there is even a side story about the Jha's widowed neighbor in her forties who is finding herself again as she begins to fall for the Jha's rich neighbor's brother, and their "seasoned romance" folded out at just the right pace.

With that said, to me, the storyline about the Jha's  adult  son working on an MBA in America despite wanting to work in film, because he is afraid of shaming his parents and has a secret white American girlfriend felt a little short for me. However the moments when the Jha family has to stick together through the often awkward encounters with their judgmental neighbors will warm your heart.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review Bundle : Be True To by Adele Griffin

Book Review

Adele Griffin is like Julie Anne Peters to me in that she’s one of the authors whose written a bajaillion YA books (even back when I was in the YA audience) . . . yet I’ve never really heard of her. This novel has that old fashioned YA feel. It’s not trying to do anything fancy, it’s this snapshot into the sometimes fastidious and silly lives of New York yuppies in 1976. It stays pretty rooted in it's time and place though I  have to believe the way the characters talk about  Bruce Jenner are winks to the present audience.

Gil Burke is this teenaged Gatsbian figure who is raised up out of poverty by his Uncle and bought into the fold of the wealthy and reckless. He is admired by everyone including Jean Custis and visiting outsider Fritz O’Neill. Gil wants to be true to Fritz but something about Jean pulls him in and she refuses to let him go (Wow, I think I just got the title). Jean is a fascinating YA character, she has a lot of internalized issues that if you blink you can miss them.

A stand out from Algnouqin BFYR, they are the place to go for YA that's a whole different mold.  I think it'd be interesting to read this with Meg Medina's Burn Baby Burn.

Also it turns out adult Jean will reappear in Griffin’s next book. . . so I’m intrigued.

I'm not a fan of all the voices Eva Kaminsky does in historical romances, but her performance with what I assume is her normal accent sounded amazing.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Audiobook Review: You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Rating: ★★★ +.5 | Release Date: 06/07/16 | Contemporary | 6 hours 36 minutes 

When a series of happenstances bring high schoolers Mark Rissi and Kate Cleary to the same bar during San Francisco Pride, they form an instant friendship and navigate a night of unexpected twists, anxiety, unrequited loves exploring what it means to have people who know you well.

I’ve been reading a lot of "quiet YA" and this book is probably the quietest YA to ever quiet. I mentioned that my last book, Gem and Dixie was a quiet YA but I can at least point to a turning action in that book while You Know Me Well just moves dreamily along, as we follow Kate and Mark through San Francisco Pride Week. This book started off slow and to be honest I almost DNF'd, but LaCour and Levithan do such a good job developing their characters and side character that over time  I was drawn in.

In the acknowledgments, the authors write that the day they finished this book they both happened to be at San Francisco Pride and that it was also the day gay marriage became legal. While most of the book is about Kate and Mark navigating the people and expectations in their lives you can really feel that pride about belonging to the LGBTQ community coming through the pages, especially towards the end of the book as the characters spend a weekend at teen Pride actives. They show the range and diversity of the LGBTQ community, there was just so much joy and these were some of my favorite scenes.

Matthew Brown and Emma Galvin provide the alternating narration for each of our protagonists.  I was a little lukewarm about Emma Galvin’s performance. She’s young, so her voice fits for YA, but she was over-performing and her pronunciations distracted from the story. I  liked what Brown was doing though, he has this great delivery and performance.

A few years ago I did a series where I read a lot of David Levithan books, so this was me trying to connect this book to his other books:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Audiobook Review: Saint and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Rating: ★★★  | Release Date: 07/11/17 | Contemporary | 8 hours 5 minutes

High school sophomore Janna Youself feels like a misfit; at home she’s boxed out by her brother and mother’s relationship, at school she’s the only hijabi Muslim. In her mosque’s youth group she is surrounded by perfect Muslim saints--including Farooq. Farooq is held up as a golden boy but what no one knows is he's really a monster who tried to sexually assault her.

We follow Janna through the last weeks of her sophomore year and at the heart of the book is Janna learning how to open up about her sexual assault. There is a ton going on in this book; including an Islamic quiz bowl competition, Janna’s crush on a non-Muslim, bullying from mean girls, her brother’s sudden engagement, her parents divorce and also a there's a new boy at the mosque who's caught her attention.

Audiobook narrator Ariana Delawari has this great bright, sharp voice that fits the nervous energy of Janna but she does read slow, this was the first time I’ve ever listened to an audiobook at a faster speed.

This book is from Salaam Reads, an imprint at Simon & Schuster created specifically to publish Children’s/YA featuring positive portrayals of Muslim characters.

Saints and Misfits is a voice-y, coming of age story and I’m curious to see what debut author Ali does next.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

New Cover Who Dis: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

First released in 2007, City of Bones  by Cassandra Clare holds a special place here at Books and Sensibility as the first book we ever reviewed.

10 years later, this book  has spun off to include--and I'm just estimating here-- a floppity-jillion books, short stories, graphic novels and novellas; a TV show and one terrible movie I saw see in an empty theater on opening weekend. To celebrate the 10 year anniversary Simon and Schuster released a new cover for City of Bones. Let's take a look:

The Orignal
The original cover is the classic. Go to any used bookstore and  9 times out of 10 you will find the paperback version of this cover. This cover is one of the very few YAs to have a  naked chest, in fact I can only think one other YA book (Altered by Jennifer Rush, but they covered it up on the paperback) that did this and while I get it's supposed to show  the runes it's just....a weird choice for YA.

The Remix
In 2015, the entire Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series had re-designed paperbacks with the characters in dynamic poses. I really like these covers, they just scream urban fantasy.  I also love a good stepback.

The Redux
Now both the 2007 and 2015 cover look way cooler in person because they're shiny and textured. I haven't seen this new cover in person but from the pictures I've seeen it's kind of ...meh.  As much as I love simple covers, this new doesn't tell me much and if I didn't know what this was I don't think I'd pick it up.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Books and Sensibility Six Year Blogaversary + Giveaway (US) !

Jess and I at maybe 13 or 14 at our grandparent's house. I think I'm reading Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

From Top left: BEA 2016; Kat meeting Marie Lu at a 2013 Penguin Event in NYC; Meeting Maggie Steifvater at Dream Thieves signing in 2013;  Jess getting Hidden Figures signed;  "the  official company headshot; Jess and Amber from DuLivre at BEA16; Hidden Figures signing in 2017; Jess w/ Lamar Giles at NovaTeen 2014; Us with Kendare Blake at BEA 2016

When Jess and I started this blog I honestly didn't think it was going to last longer than a few months, (like every other blog we started) but here we are six years later !  In those six years we've gotten to see a lot; like the beginnings of amazing projects like WNDB and NoVa Teen Book Festival

I have a clear memory of being 17-years-old in Borders (*pours one out*) and feeling sad that soon I couldn't read YA and I'd have to read boring "adult books". This was in 2006,  right before the Twilight boom. Little did I know there would be even better YA books published in my adulthood and that I'd tumble across a community of  like-minded and diverse readers that enjoyed YA as much as I did.

We may not be the biggest or most influential blog out there but we're still here and plan to keep it going as long as we can ! Now, to celebrate 6 years we're looking to the future at what's new and upcoming so we're giving away a physical copy of one (1) book from  Barnes and Nobles' 27 Most Anticipated October YA !  I chose this list because I like the inclusive-ness and enthusiastic break downs of each book.

- Kat 

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