Monday, May 30, 2016

YA Books I'd Love to See as Anime

I'm kind of falling out of love with  YA movie adaptions, but I think there are so many books that would make some great anime ! With the right animation and voice acting I can see these YA books coming to life in a whole new way.

Anime is all about the blue hair don't care

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
I have two reasons for this pick 1.) a live action movie would have to be very expensive to get the chimeras right and 2.) Karou has blue hair !  From Pokemon to Sword Art Online, anime is the trope codifier for You Gotta Have Blue Hair.

Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
This book has a character who is basically two genders at once and anime likes to explore gender bending characters with their animation; take for example Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club. Plus, I thought the audiobook had a great and narrator Madeline Mabey could totally provide the voice acting.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
This book is about a group  of teens saving the day, which is basically the plot of every popular anime. With the all the action, fantastical elements and characters-so-beautiful-they-can't-be described this series is just begging for great animation. Plus Adelina has one-eye and for whatever reason from Naruto to Black Butler anime has so many one eyed characters.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

For The Record by Charlotte Huang

Release Date: November 10, 2015
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers 

Chelsea Ford gets the opportunity of her dreams, when she is asked to step in as the lead singer of the rock band Melbourne for their summer tour. While she has chemistry with the band onstage the same can’t be said for offstage. Chelsea’s struggles to be accepted by her three male band members and it doesn’t help when teen heartthrob actor, Lucas Rivers, takes a liking to Chelsea.

Teen drama ensues as the band travels from city to city.  The deeper into the summer they go the less sure the band is that it will still be together by the end.

The heart of this story is in the details. I saw on Huang’s website that her husband has connections to the music industry , so she has probably seen so much of what she is writing about. Huang brings to life the landmarks and eclectic venues where the band performs.

 Her female characters are allowed to have sexual agency without slut shaming. Huang swiftly subverts the asexual Asian trope by having the band’s Chinese member, Malcolm Ho, be the biggest ladies man.

Soapy, flirty and fun this story of life in the spotlight will have readers ready to rock.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Kat's Top 5 BEA Books

  This year at BookExpo America I connected with a lot of  publishers and heard about ALL the books. Out of all the books  I heard about  here are the ones I can't wait to read /get my hands on.

1. The Gun Runner by Scott Hildreth (August 8, 2016)
Carina Press was  pretty excited about this dark mafia romance by indie author Scott Hildreth. I haven't read a romance written by a dude yet, so I can't wait to review it on Romance and Sensibility

2. Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer (August 30, 2016)
I saw Starmer at the BEA author's buzz panel and this book sounds bananas. I like  how the author is mixing the  anxiety of senior year with the anxiety of spontaneous combustion. As in teens spontaneously combust in this book. My only concern is this book may be a bit too gory for me.

3. Underground Airlines by Ben H Winters (July 5, 2016)
This was my only unplanned grab. I liked Winter's Last Policeman series, but I am hesitant of how he will write an African American man living in a modern world where slavery never ended and is now tasked with infiltraing the underground railroad. However, I see that Attica Locke has given this book some praise on Twitter so I'm excited.

4. Something In Between by Melissa De La Cruz (September 27, 2016)
I read this sampler on the plane and it left off with such a cliffhanger ! I'll be curious to compare it to last years' Dream Things True, a similar story about a teenage girl trying to get into college as an undocumented immigrant. Also, this was published by Harlequin Teen's partnership with Seventeen Magazine and I used to love Seventeen magazine.

5. Replica by Lauren Oliver (October 4, 2016)
I didn't know much about this book until Jess told me that it could be read three different ways.I think we'll have to do a joint review of this one and find someone to read it the third way !

Friday, May 20, 2016

Celebrating National Readathon Day 2016 !

I participated in National Readathon Day last year and I'm excited to participate again this year! National Readathon Day is May 21st and is a chance for readers all over the world to read, celebrate books and raise funds for a good cause. This year all funds raised will go to ALA's Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library initiative.

Some libraries are hosting parties for people to read together (find yours here), but I'll be doing my reading at home. Here are the books I plan to read:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

In Defense of BookCon

When it comes to BookCon, BookExpo America attendees generally like to get out of dodge. In the past BookCon has been seen overcrowded and plagued with long lines.But this year we are going to write a defense of BookCon. Maybe it's because it was in Chicago, maybe it was because exhibitors know what to expect now, but this year I think BookCon was worth sticking around for.

BookCon works because it gives everyday readers a chance geek out and interact with fellow readers, authors and publishers. It's energizing to see hundreds of people filling McCormick place in the name of books and reading.

The show had a lot offer consumers; interactive content, giveaways and games to engage readers.  We picked a few happenings at BookCon that stood out to us as winners.

Scholastic came to win and used their best asset-- Harry Potter nostalgia. Scholastic put up a paper wall that encouraged readers to "Tell us what Harry Potter means to you" It seemed like every response was thoughtful and packed a punch of feels,

Harper Collins' Epic Reads
Epic Reads, HaperTeen's  online community,  made sure that everyone at BookCon had an opportunity to *books shimmy* with their versatile and sturdy tote bags. You had to try not to get one of these bags. They had neat, plentiful and easy to access stacks all over the con. No pushing or grabbing.

Small Presses
At BEA indie presses are often in the shadows of the big five publishers. At BookCon readers are hungry to learn about ALL the books and flocked to the small presses to purchase or hear about new books. I witnessed many of tired parents kicking back with a small press or self-published book.

Coloring Books
From Harlequin to Harry Potter coloring book walls popped up all over BookCon. Workman took it one step further by offering several DIY workshops a their booth

Anderson's Bookshop
This independently owned bookshop transformed the BEA swag stand into a mini Anderson's bookshop filled with witty bookish T-shirts, cute pins and of course books.

Honorable Mention goes to the exhibitor who was overheard trying to get rid of stuff and said "take anything. . .literally anything". Also, Water. McCormick Place had water cups and jugs set up in the halls It's nothing fancy but I thought it was a nice touch. Take notes Javits.

Monday, May 16, 2016

BookExpo America Chicago

I'm not much of a traveler so when I heard BEA was moving to Chicago I  had no plans of going. But at the start of the year I had a change of heart and decided going to Chicago would be a bit of an adventure

Day 1: Arrival 

Kat and I arrived in Chicago early and navigated our way from O'Hare to our hotel on the train. We didn't get to see much of the city but already I was getting a feel for it. Our hotel was down by Columbia College and  it felt like a larger version of the liberal arts city college I went to.  I was no stranger to witnessing an art student skateboard by while holding on to canvas

After an eyeliner shopping emergency we grabbed a quick lunch at Al's Italian Beef  and went to McCormick Place to pick up our press passes. We didn't hit the floor or anything but we did run into Alyssa, founder
of and Classy with the Illinois chapter

Day 2 : Attending BookExpo

We sat down for breakfast at Yolk and arrived at BEA  a little after the floor opened. We got a feel for the floor set up then I went off to the YA Editor's Buzz panel. I was sold on each and every book presented.

Kat went to stand in line for Audrey Coulthurst's Of Fire and Stars, this book was on our 16 Books We Want to Read so it was great to get an advanced copy. While in line Kat said a quick hi to Alison from AlisonCanRead and Girls in Capes who made a great point that, despite the long line, this book didn't have a big marketing presence at BEA.

Kat and I spent the rest of they day exploring the floor and talking to publicity people. I got to meet Jessica from A Great Read Amber from Du Livre and Nikki from Take Me Away. We have been following them for a while and it was fun to meet bloggers IRL.

Now one of the reason I went to BEA was because I've always wanted to meet Laini Taylor. I didn't see where she was signing but by chance I ran into her on the exhibit floor, she seemed  really chill and didn't mind snapping a picture.

We left the floor early to head to the Navy Pier where we made the obligatory  Divergent references and had a deep dish at Giordano's. It was good, but next time we want to try Lou Malnatti's. We ended the Navy Pier trip with a visit to Margaritaville, where we got some drinks to sip on at the pier.

On the way back to our hotel we hopped off the bus to see Cloud Gate or "The Bean" in Millennium Park. It was super tourist-y but so fun !

Day 3: More BEA

This was a bit of a slow day for us. Kat was excited to get a copy of one of James Patterson's  Bookshots from Hachette. They are supposed to be cinematic, short-unputdownable reads for non-readers so we shall see.

We spent sometime talking to Sophia from Harlequin who works
.Love the Book Riot Podcast

with bloggers. She was so excited to show us what they had coming up and even gave us a blogger gift bag ! I visited the HarperCollins booth and said hello to Susan from Wastepaper Prose.

 The highlight of the day came when we were leaving and we saw Jeff and Rebecca from Book Riot. If it weren't for Rebecca's purple hair I might not have recognized them. It was so weird seeing the faces with the voices and I'm not sure what we said to them but I feel like I may have been too adamant about adding Tessa Dare to their romance recs,  but they were super nice and Jeff is so tall !

After BEA Kat and I explored Wicker Park and stopped by Volumes Bookcafe--I really wish we had this in Richmond.  It rained for the better half of the evening but we had a great dinner at Nookie's Tree in Boystown with Classy, Alyssa, Amber, Nikki and  Tamara from Shelf Addiction. We talked BEA, books and blogging. It left me feeling energized to start blogging and collaborating more.

Day 4: BookCon

Kat and I are going to blog more about BookCon but I decided to go "observe and report" on the happenings. I took my time getting there and mostly stuck to the floor. Unlike BEA security was on point and it was odd seeing families navigate the floor. We spent some time wandering and took a picture with Kendare Blake whose book ,Three Crowns, I picked up at BEA. We just attended the Tig Notaro panel and then headed to the airport, just in time to get caught up in a two hour TSA line. . . but that's another story

All in all this was one of the best BEAs. I'll end this post with the quote Anne Bogel ends her What Should I Read Next podcast with: "Ah, how good it is to be around people who are reading."

Jess , Kat

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

I’m kind of on a science fiction fantasy YA kick now and The Scorpion Rules has to be one of the most unique speculative YA books I’ve read in a long time.

In a world where global warming is here and territory wars have run rampant, the UN turns to an artificial intelligence named Talis to create solution for peace. Going rouge, Talis starts incinerating cities of warring countries via satellite and makes new rules for humanity; each country's leader must give one of their children to him and if that country wants to go war that child will be killed as a sacrifice.

400 years later, 17-year-old Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy (so, like Canada) is one of those children. She has spent a majority of her life in the isolated school with the rest of the hostages. Greta and her cohorts accept their fate as hostages with dignity and spend their days in intense study hoping they won’t be called on to die. That is until Elián Palnik, a hostage from the newly formed country shows up. He doesn’t play by the rules and makes Greta question everything she’d ever accepted.

So, it’s basically  Dead Poets Society with a cyberpunk twist.

The A.I ,  Talis shows up as a character which I didn't expect. He's called the most strategic mind of an epoch but instead of being like a dark serious overlord--he’s a snarky, irreverent Bunny Ears Lawyer who makes obscure movie references. It is all pretty bizarre, but in a fun way I have never seen in YA.

I did this on audio and the narrator is Madeline Maby, who I liked as the voice of Kat in the Burn For Burn books. She has a little bit of bass in her voice so she does well with  voicing all genders. I think the biggest stumbling block for her in this book is the accents of Greta’s classmates.  Elián has a southern accent that just doesn't work. Her Tallis voice on the other hand works really, really well for this story.

As far as the diversity front, there are quite a few characters of color. Greta is implied to be bisexual but it's never stated. Her main  love interest is her roommate Princess Li Da-Xia, but she also likes Elian. I think Bow handles the romance well, but because of how stilted Mabey does Xia's voice it was  kind of hard to connect with her as a character

My only criticism of the writing is sometimes is sometimes it felt little long in the tooth and like there were scenes that were stretching on too long. Also some of her metaphors don't land.

This high concept novel took me by surprise and I can't wait to see what happens to Greta in the next book.

I see they are giving this series new more Games of Thrones-y covers. I like that they are trying something new, but it it so generic looking. The original cover captured me when I first saw this book at BEA last year.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Since We've Been Gone

Kat and I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus; between family events, moving and maybe just feeling a general spring time slump. We are back and ready to jump back in. But even when I'm away from blogging, books will always find a way into my daily life.

Book Shelf 3.0
When Kat and I moved to a new apartment we kind of knew  the white RE Target Book shelf 2.0 we'd been using were on their last legs so they had to get left behind

Instead Kat and I took some time to seriously downsize our book collection.  We each keep our own personal collections and stow a few in this versatile  Target Threshold Cube Organizer. Some books are on display and some are stowed in the canvases.I like to space my collection out, some are snug in this
Threshold Storage Cabinet and a few take residence on my desk.

When I first started book blogging I wanted to have ALL the books.  But honestly, My physical TBR pile was getting out of hand. I had to learn to let go of books that I could get at the library or in e-format.  I told myself it was okay to let of signed books if the book/author didn't resonate with me.

What I've Been Reading

 I've also been doing a TON of audiobooking. I started listening to Joanna Fluke's Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder while unpacking and Tessa Dare's A Week To Be Wicked while in the car hauling stuff across town. While taking a little roadtrip to a small family reunion I finished up with Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and started Black Water Rising by Attica Locke. Because books being turned into movie makes me read them I started You Before Me by Jo Jo Moyes.

Yes, I'm on kind of a mystery kick.

I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of blogging. I want to start contributing more to Mocha Girls reads and finishing up some reviews. I also can't wait to do some prep for BookExpo America, One way or the other I'm meeting Laini Taylor !


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