Friday, May 30, 2014

Our YA Genre Kryptonite

GENRE KRYPTONITE [zhahn-ruh kryptonite]
1. That moment when your TBR pile is overflowing, your to-read list on Goodreads is overwhelming, and then  you see THIS TYPE OF BOOK it makes it's way on to your pile, no excuses needed. 

Magical Realism 

 Kind of a loaded term and often hard to pick out but I like when a realistic story is sprinkled with a magical element that isn't explained or central to the plot. These are worlds where you can curse with your bare hands or you find a portal to an alternate version of your life or you just wake up in a new body everyday.  I always have an issue with going "full paranormal", so these books are perfect for me.

Non-traditional / Experimental Narrative

 If a book is written in more than straight up prose, I always find it compelling because I feel like an active participant as I put the story together. My favorites include Lover's Dictionary written in dictionary entries, Night Film written in newspapers and websites or Chopsticks which is literally written in images.

Full Cast Audiobooks

These are actually pretty rare, but I like when different POVS have different narrators, it helps make the story feel more grounded.

High Concept

What's that ? Cinderella retold if Cinderella was a cyborg ? A retelling of a classic H.G Wells novel ? Three teens last days before a world-ending disaster ? Count me in. I love novels that take a simple idea and then turn it on it's head. Admittedly more of theses get added to my TBR pile than read but I love keeping an eye out.


So, this is an oddly specific one but if Rebecca Soler, Khristine Hvam or Luke Daniels are doing an audiobook, you can bet I'm going to pick it up. They have each narrated some of my favorite audiobooks and when I see their names I know I am in  for a great performance at the very least.

Third Person Omniscient

A lot YA is written in first person, so when I come across a novel written in third person it's worth the read. I like having someone tell the story instead of having to only live in one character's head.  The Raven Boys, Daughter of Smoke and Bone  are just a couple of my favorites.

So...what's your book kryptonite ? Let us know in the comments !

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We're Going To BookCon 2014

On May 31st you can find Kat and I at BookCon 2014  in New York City!

We've had our ups and downs about going but it is now a go. At the beginning of the year I immediately signed up for Power Readers day since I knew I couldn't swing all three days of  BEA  due to another big trip.  So, when I got the e-mail  that Power Reader's Day was now BookCon I was. . . skeptical

At first, I didn't understand their focus on combining pop culture with books. I liked to think BookCon exists because of the popularity of Power Reader's Day, and those who came to Power Reader's day came with just the lure of books and reading.

BookCon's lack of diversity in  programming also didn't help. However, when #WeNeedDiverseBooks started their campaign, I was amazed by their accomplishments and how  BookCon got its act together and included more diversity plus a  #WeNeedDiverseBooks panel. 

We will be writing up our experiences and hopefully BookCon will grow into an event that stays after BEA leaves NYC and maybe even branch out to other cities. 

Let's not forget to mention all the Virginia YA authors who will be in the house (Ellen Oh, Maggie Stiefvater, Lamar Giles) . If you live in the New York Area, tickets may still be available for $30.

Find Us At These Panels

10am- 11 am 
The World Agrees: #WeNeedDiverseBooks

11am-11:30 pm
MacMillian Reading Groups Editor's Pick Panel

12:30pm - 1:30 pm
BookTuber On-site  Meet up

3:00 -3:45
The Evolution of A Book Cover

Book Blogger Happy Hour

We are also going to try and stop by the Book Blogger Happy Hour. #BEABloggermeetandDrink

You may also find us noming on a slice of NYC pizza, visiting the E.L.F Store  and The Warby Parker Shop 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Last Policeman and Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

  • Release Date: January 1, 2012
  • Pages: 316
  • Genre:  Adult Mystery
  • Publisher: Quirk Books

It seems I’m getting all my book recommendations from podcasts nowadays. I heard this adult trilogy raved about by book critic Tod Goldberg on the Literary Disco podcast, so when Quirk Books offered us the chance to read and review the series, I jumped at the opportunity !

The story of the first big case for rookie detective Henry Palace could easily be a run of the mill mystery novel. Except in The Last Policeman universe an asteroid, known as Maia, is coming and in six months the planet Earth won't  exist. They are suddenly  "in a world where the idea of long term consequences had magically disappeared" which also means it's not the best time to be in law enforcement. But when Palace  suspects foul play during a suicide he strikes out  on his own to solve the murder before time ticks away.

The world around this series is just fascinating, it captured my attention more so than the actual cases in The Last Policeman books. Ben H. Winters extensively imagines the choices people would make if  they knew that  in six months everyone would be dead. Some CEOs let their companies collapse, while others do business as usual, people quit their jobs to go bucket listing,  illicit restaurants start opening. But people also start committing suicide. In fact it's so bad in Henry's New England town is called a  "hanger town" based on people's implement of choice.

Being in the first person present, we see this entire world through Henry's eyes. At the beginning of the book Henry came off as a bit cardboard-ish and arrogant, but it becomes clear he can't function in a world where the rules don't matter. He's still playing by the book even though no one else is and  he seems unable to confront the fact that the world is ending. I could never quite get on Henry's side because if he arrested anyone, he was pretty much guaranteeing they were going to be in jail until the asteroid hit.

Overall, I really enjoyed the concept of these novels. The impeding meteor adds both a sense of urgency and a sense of futility. I thought the ending of the first book was really great and hit on some of the moral gray areas of the situation. This book is the best of both worlds, it's plot driven and literary; action oriented and philosophical and creates a world that stays with you think long after the first page.

I liked the second book, Countdown City better than the first one as it is more dynamic and opens up the world beyond Henry's small town. Because Countdown City  takes place closer to doomsday, the stakes are higher and the world has become more lawless and unpredictable, so watching Henry navigate it requires him to break laws for the first time.

I think this series has a lot of YA crossover potential, it features a young, optimistic protagonist trying to make good in a world where most older adults have given up. In fact, many of the side characters Palace can really rely on for help are all in their  20s and have a hopeful invincibility about them.

The final book in the series, World of Trouble comes out in July and I can't wait to see how this series will end !

* We received this novel from Quirk Books for review. Thanks, Eric !

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

  • Release Date: September 10th, 2013
  • Pages: 445
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (MacMillan)

I can't believe how long it took me to get to this book. Last Fall Fangirl seemed to be the buzz of the bookternet. Ever since I stumbled onto LiveJournal 8 years ago, I've been  just fascinated by fanfiction and fandom culture. I've observed my fair share of fanaticism and I couldn't wait to see how Rowell tackled it.

Fangirl tells the story of Cath, the titular unapologetic  fangirl of the Simon Snow books, a pretty clearly Harry Potter Expy . Cath, or rather her username, Magicath is a BNF (big name fan)  because her Simon Snow fanfiction, Carry On,Simon gets 20,000 views a day. The novel  follows Cath through her freshman year of college as she struggles through family issues, school problems and severe social anxiety. Along for the ride is Cath's belligerent roommate Reagan and Reagan's friend Levi to help her navigate the journey.

I really enjoyed this book, it took me a week to knock it out which is a record for me for a book this length. One of the things I like about Rowell is her writing style, she writes in a close third person that reads like a first person because we see everything from Cath's perspective. Something about Rowell's use of this style makes me breeze through her novels.

Despite the bright, cutesy cover, this book delves into  darker issues than I was expecting. While I can't speak to how honestly these issues were portrayed, I found the situations to be believable and well represented.

Going into this novel I was concerned I wouldn't by the Simon Snow / Book Within a Book idea. However, because Rowell included snippets from the Simon Snow series I felt like I got to know the books too, which helped me relate to Cath. However, It was a little confusing to separate out the actual book snippets and the fanfiction snippets. I'd get confused about what happened in the actual series and what just happened in her fanfictions.

Overall, I think Rowell does well by fanfiction and fandom.  Cath writes slash fiction, which for the uninitiated is when you pair two characters of the same sex romantically. Slash fiction has it's dark corners, but I liked how Rowell showcased that slash fiction isn't all about titillation and can also be about relationships.  Cath's personal struggles are clearly connected to her writing, she clings to the characters for her own sanity.

This book was apart of the inaugural Tumblr Book Club and I went into this book knowing a lot about the love interest Levi. I liked that Levi existed in Cath's world, but also had his own life and wasn't there to solve all of  Cath's problems. He's allowed to have flaws that are more than a crooked smile (seriously, what is with YA and crooked smiles ?) Cath also has a twin sister and I think Rowell's portrayal of twins is pretty spot on. She really captures how hard it can be to have your identity when people associate you with your twin all the time.

I devoured this book, it was funny, heartfelt and represents a type of YA I've never seen....I would really like to see more books that tackle first years college experiences and fandom.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Jess Joins Bout Of Books !

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
So, if you cant tell I've been in a bit of reading slump so I'm hoping to use this as a chance to get back into reading. I'll be posting my goals here and on Goodreads. 

Books To Read

  • Jennifer Government by Max Berry (Finish 229 pages)
  • Sous Chef by Michael Gibney ( Finish 200 pages)
  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Finish 300 pages)
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman


Number of books I've read today:
Total number of books I've read:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

  • Release Date  :  May 13th 2014
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Pages : 240 
  • Publisher : Delacorte

Okay This is going to be a hard review to write. One of the reasons I had to read We Were Liars was because I  kept hearing that this was the book to read, but you can't know what it is about. . . you just have to read it.

Honestly, if you don't see it coming (which I did but the book made me doubt myself)  I think this book will shock you and have you flipping back and re-reading over and over again.

We Were Liars centers around   Cadence Sinclair and the extended Sinclair family. Each summer  he family summers on their private island. Blonde, pretty and privileged on the outside the Sinclairs seems to have everything, but on the inside  greed, jealousy and denial threaten to take over.

Something happens on  Cady's  15th summer at the island that she has no memory of, now two years later she's going to find out how far the lies go.

This was exactly the type of contemporary novel that works for me because it takes on so many topics. Lockhart explores  race, class, romance and family in a way that makes you doubt what you know and what you think you know about the characters. 

The setting for this novel is Beachwood Island, the family's private New England estate. You can imagine how tensions can flate and the unthinkable can happen when you are secluded with your family on an island. And OMG, do things happen ! I found the Sinclair family interesting in all there ups and downs, divorces and losses. 

On the family aspect,  I liked how the Liars (Cadence and her cousins)  get together once a year and have these adventures and how she realizes how little their lives connect when they aren't together. I think people with extended family will be able to relate to that.

 I enjoyed Cady's voice but I can't say I found anything unique about it. I miffed to see the return of the Jerk Divorce Dad,  however I think it worked well in this book.

We Were Liars made me feel something for unlikable characters.  Cady's Mom and Aunts  lives are in constant upheaval due to how spoiled and greedy they are, so it's interesting to take this into consideration at the end of the novel.

A mysterious little contemporary read at just 240 pages, it's the perfect book to read in one sitting

The book has a Tumblr page : which is a great way to get the visuals of the novel.

* Received for review from NetGalley

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Kat Joins Bout of Books / Goal Post

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Bout of Books came around just in time ! I have so many books I  need to read for  review and a stack of library books that need to be returned at the end of the week, so this is perfect. I'll be updating on the blog and on Twitter at @books_sense. This week I'll be reading:

I'm also going to keep my goals on this page:

My Goals

My goal is to do at least 100 pages or one hour a day. I want to make reading part of my  routine and have it  be the first thing I do when I get home from work.

Books to Read

Noggin by John Corey Whaley (audiobook)
Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
Countdown City by Ben H. Winters
Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesborian
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick


Monday 5/12 
134 pages of Countdown City
Tuesday 5/13
24 pages of Countdown City

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Sense List: Spring Faves !

Spring is finally here and the sunshine has brought some awesome YA news. From casting calls, cover reveals and new book to movie adaptations, here are some of our favorites pieces of YA news from March and April !


  • Mindy McGinnis' survivalist novel, Not A Drop To Drink is currently being optioned by lit-film production company Fickle Fish, which is co-owned by  Stephenie Meyer.

  • The pants travel on as Anne Brashare's Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants gears up for it's third movie which will be based on the fifth book in the series Sisterhood Everlasting.

On The Web



Cover Reveals


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