Inbox: Week of November 23, 2015

Hey all! Been a while since I’ve posted here, but don’t take that as a reflection of my goals for this blog. Rather take it as a reflection of a few months of low motivation and low productivity.

Here’s what I got this week and am excited to read:

Photo Nov 25, 8 35 56 PM

Calvin by Martine Leavitt

Saw this in a weekly book-news email and couldn’t resist. Calvin and Hobbes has my heart. Published just over a week ago, this book is about a schizophrenic teen who thinks he can be cured if Bill Watterson makes one more C & H comic strip. (I think the world would certainly be a better place if there were one more C & H comic strip, so that’s a cause I can get behind.) Never read anything by Leavitt, but I’m stoked to read this.

Winter by Marissa Meyer

The last in the Lunar Chronicles series by Meyer that I’ve blogged about previously. It’s reeeeeally long, but I’m liking it so far.

The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

Yes! The designer I’ve obsessed over has illustrated and written a fable. I’ve thumbed through the pages, and it looks even more gorgeous than Bickford-Smith’s other work, plus I just love the simplicity of fables. I can tell even just looking at the cover that I’m going to enjoy this one.

Book Review: Binge by Tyler Oakley + GIVEAWAY

Binge Cover
Title: Binge

Author: Tyler Oakley

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pub Date: October 20, 2015

Pages: 320

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Synopsis: 

Pop-culture phenomenon, social rights advocate, and the most prominent LGBTQ+ voice on YouTube, Tyler Oakley brings you his first collection of witty, personal, and hilarious essays.


For someone who made a career out of over-sharing on the Internet, Tyler has a shocking number of personal mishaps and shenanigans to reveal in his first book: experiencing a legitimate rage blackout in a Cheesecake Factory; negotiating a tense stand­off with a White House official; crashing a car in front of his entire high school, in an Arby’s uniform; projectile vomiting while bartering with a grandmother; and so much more. In Binge, Tyler delivers his best untold, hilariously side-splitting moments with the trademark flair that made him a star.

Review:

[If you’re here for the giveaway, scroll down to the bottom! Of course, I wouldn’t object to your reading some of what I’ve written about the book as well . . .]

Binge content warnings: profanity, eating disorders, depression, sexual content.
I’ve never fully understood Tyler Oakley’s Youtube demographics, but this is a very grown up books, and I would not recommend Binge to readers under the age of 16.

A couple of my favorite excerpts (SPOILER FREE!):

"It's like when I was in sixth grade and this kid 
told me in the hot-lunch line that I had a hook 
head. When I asked what what even meant, he said 
that the back of my head jutted out like a pirate'shook, like I've got a big brain or a least a siza-
ble tumor going on. I had no clue whether it was 
true, but he had planted the seed of doubt in my 
big hook head. To this day, you will never catch meprofiling my silhouette." - pp 111-112
"February 29 needs to be discussed. Every four 
years, we have an extra day in our calendar and 
call it a leap day, and everyone just kind of goes along with it. But why don't we do something radi-
cal on that day to celebrate? Like something com-
pletely outrageous. I've got ideas. Hear me out. 
What if, on February 29 we . . .
-Give women equal pay.
-Don't shoot people based on racial bias.
-Gays and straights alike accent the existence of 
 bisexuals.
-People stop accusing me of having a hook head.
Let me know what y'all think! Maybe if everyone 
likes these the first year, we can just make them 
an everyday thing?" p 159

I’m going to start another review detailing what this book is NOT. This book is not written in the lush prose styles of literary fiction. This is not the type of book that is going to win a Pulitzer. I think we tend to forget that the vast majority of published works out there do not go on to win groundbreaking or career-defining awards. Most books are just books. A lot of them are good books, don’t get me wrong! But there are only a few selected every year that get the prestigious honors we tend to associate with “good” literature. Continue reading Book Review: Binge by Tyler Oakley + GIVEAWAY

Dog Books: Adopt a Shelter Dog Month!

About a month ago, I adopted a shelter dog. She’s practically perfect. So when I heard that October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, I knew I had to wrangle together a dog-dedicated post. Surprisingly, there are not many fiction books that focus on dogs. Therefore, this list is a conglomerate of books about, featuring, or generally including dogs. If anyone knows of any other good books about dogs, please let me know!

Go, Dog. Go!
by P.D. Eastman

A children’s classic. My parents read this book to my brother a lot when he was little. Dogs in cars, dogs at parties, dogs in trees – this book has it all.

Martha Speaks
by Susan Meddaugh

I was obsessed with this book in kindergarten! I often quoted it to my classmates, who had no idea what I was talking about.

Underwater Dogs
by Seth Casteel

The title says it all – this is a series of portraits of dogs underwater. What’s not to love?

Menswear Dog Presents the New Classics
by David Fung and Yena Kim

Bodhi the Shiba Inu is such a dapper guy. He loves to dress his nicest and take pictures – it’s clear he’s one happy dog. I got to meet Bodhi this summer at BEA/BookCon and he is such a sweetie! Gave me lots of kisses!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

Christopher, the main character, is somewhere on the Autism Spectrum and is very interested in finding out who murdered the dog that lived down the street. This book is extremely gut-wrenching and not about dogs very much. But I promise, dogs are recurring figures in the plot!

Dogtology
by Jeff Lazarus

I’ll admit, I’ve only had the time to read the first few dozen pages of this one, but what I have read is cute and heartwarming. A short, light read.

What’s your favorite dog book? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

Title: A Window Opens

Author: Elisabeth Egan

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pub Date: August 25, 2015

Pages: 384

Format: eGalley

Source: Provided by publisher

Synopsis: 

In A Window Opens, beloved books editor at Glamour magazine, Elisabeth Egan, brings us Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age.


Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbor and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers―an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life―seems suddenly within reach.


Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up and her work takes an unexpected turn. Readers will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she―Alice Pearse―really want?

Review:

Let me be frank: I liked this book a lot more than I thought I was going to. In the book’s official synopsis, Egan’s protagonist Alice Pearse is compared to Bridget Jones . . . and I like Bridget Jones. But my opinion of Bridget is so tied to her stereotype in the hive-mind (whiny, shallow, and silly) that I hesitated to jump into A Window Opens, hoping that Egan did not base the story on a whiny caricature of a woman. That would have been a deal breaker for me. I had nothing to worry about – Alice is an intelligent and complex character that the reader can easily relate to.

A Window Opens is easily classified as Women’s Fiction, but it didn’t take me long to realize that Egan’s writing is some of the best in the genre. I think that, looking back on the book now, I would categorize it as Contemporary Fiction as well. The way I see it, for a title to be considered Women’s Fiction, it only needs have the following: A female protagonist, a female author, and a suburban/middle class foundation on which to build the story. This book has all of these, but also weaves in issues of terminal illness, generational gaps, and technology’s role in society. This would be a great book club pick! There’s so much to talk about and relate to.

The plot started out a little bit slow. I wasn’t sure I was going to finish this book. But somewhere around 100 pages in, I found myself hooked. That’s the most miraculous way to become engrossed in a novel: gradually. When did it happen? How did it happen? Why? Just one of life’s little mysteries that I’m going to accept without question right now.

I really enjoy a good bit of Women’s Fiction every now and then to cleanse the literary palette. It’s easy to read and often fun to read as well. And I don’t have to worry about getting used to weird alien planet names, or pay too much attention to historical details. A Window Opens surprised me by being more than just entertaining and refreshing. It is insightful and devastatingly truthful.

But the thing I liked the most about this book was the obvious love of books that Egan instilled in Alice and her best friend. Books about books contain the incredible gift of making the reader feel like a true insider. This book did that for me.

I especially recommend this book to fans of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, of Barbara Kingsolver, and Zadie Smith.

About the Author:

website | facebook | twitter

Elisabeth Egan is the books editor at Glamour. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in Self, Glamour, O, People, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Huffington Post, The New York Times Book Review, LA Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, and the Newark Star-Ledger. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

Book Riot Quarterly Unboxing: September 2015!

It’s my second box from the Book Riot Quarterly subscription, and I’m still in love with the idea. Check out their page on quarterly.co here, where you can also look through some of their past boxes.

So here’s what we have this quarter:

On Beauty by Zadie Smith: here is one book of essays that I’ve been wanting to buy for a couple of years now – ever since I first read White Teeth by Zadie Smith. She’s a seriously brilliant literary mind, and I have no doubt that this book will blow my mind in some way or another. If you haven’t read anything by her, please do!

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray: I’m going to be honest and say that this book was not even a blip on my radar until this package came. The book’s goodreads page has a whole lot of five star reviews, which is so exciting! The 661 page count is daunting, though, especially with lots of books on my backburner right now.

Field Notes mini notebooks: quite awesome, I have far too many small notepads in my possession, yet I am always able to think of ideas within new themes to fill more. Nice that they were included, because the mini notebooks are just expensive enough to put me off buying them by myself.

Book Riot pennant: This is super cute. But I’ve never ever hung a pennant on my wall before, and I don’t exactly have a desk right now to hang this over. Maybe I will be able to round up some book-related wall hangings and find a place for this.

Read Harder can koozie:  First of all, where the heck did the term “koozie” come from? I’m gonna have to look that up later. Second, I don’t drink canned beverages often at all. Rarely. But it’s always nice to have a koozie just in case, so I’m grateful to have such a rad one.

Book lovers, how’s everyone doing? Anyone else get this quarterly box?

Texas Book Festival & Texas Teen Book Festival

It’s fall festival season again, and this year I’m wrapped up in fond memories. Even though I won’t be able to attend this year, Texas Book Festival and its YA-focused companion were both high points of my journey through 2014. It’s a shame I only decided to attend them the year before I moved out of state . . . So dear book lovers, if you are going to be anywhere near Austin TX this fall, and have any modicum of interest in either of these two events, I encourage you to go! And if you’re particularly excited, I also encourage you to volunteer. Volunteering is one of the best ways to quickly get to the core of what an event stands for. Volunteering at the TTBF last year is something I would do again and again, had I the chance. Don’t get me started, I could talk for days about it.

TBF logoTexas Book Festival

This year, the event takes place on October 17-18. It’s got a really cool atmosphere. While finding parking is a nightmare downtown, TBF actually blocks off several major roads by the capitol building to make room for the immense setup. Tents everywhere! Filled with books, booths, authors, and more. And there are food trucks! (Amy’s Ice Creams will be there, and that’s basically reason enough to go.)

The author lineup this year includes Adam Silvera, Taye Diggs, Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Lethem, M.T. Anderson, and Lemony Snicket. At night on October 17, be sure to check out Litcrawl Austin, an event centered around world’s best pair: literature and alcohol.

Overachievers, sign up to volunteer here.

Don’t miss out on this one, you guys.


TTBF_LogoTexas Teen Book Festival

This year, TTBF takes place on September 26, returning to the beautiful St Edwards University campus. It’s much smaller than TBF, but no less grand. Buses of high school students come to see their favorite authors speak and sign books, and their enthusiasm gives the event an incredible energy.

Anyone who has a problem with today’s youth clearly hasn’t been to the Texas Teen Book Festival, where TEENS actually get excited about BOOKS. No, I’m not kidding you. It’s such a familiar phenomenon to me that I sometimes forget how invisible the intellectual teenager is to most of society.

Check out authors like Jenny Han, Nicola Yoon, David Levithan and Libba Bray, and don’t forget to stop by and get some new reading material from BookPeople.

Overachievers, volunteer by signing up here.


That’s all I’ve got for today, but I hope everyone has been enjoying the end of the summer season and for many, the start of new semesters! 🙂

Book Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Title: More Happy Than Not

Author: Adam Silvera

Publisher: Soho Press

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 293

Source: Purchased

Synopsis:
In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.


When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.


Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Review:

Attention everyone: If you are looking for one last book to round out your summer reading list, this might be the one! Continue reading Book Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Book Review: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Never Always Sometimes

Never Always SometimesTitle: Never Always Sometimes
Author: Adi Alsaid
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pub Date: August 4, 2015
Format: ARC Paperback
Pages: 320
Source: provided by publisher

Synopsis:
Never date your best friend


 

Always be original


 

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken


 

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.


 

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.


Continue reading Book Review: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Food For Thought Friday | July 31

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Today’s inspiration comes from Ray Bradbury in this marvelous interview over at The Paris Review. A couple of passages stuck out to me in his descriptions of the science fiction genre:

Science fiction is the fiction of ideas. Ideas excite me, and as soon as I get excited, the adrenaline gets going and the next thing I know I’m borrowing energy from the ideas themselves. Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.

. . .

I often use the metaphor of Perseus and the head of Medusa when I speak of science fiction. Instead of looking into the face of truth, you look over your shoulder into the bronze surface of a reflecting shield. Then you reach back with your sword and cut off the head of Medusa. Science fiction pretends to look into the future but it’s really looking at a reflection of what is already in front of us. So you have a ricochet vision, a ricochet that enables you to have fun with it, instead of being self-conscious and superintellectual.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 

Welcome to Night Vale: The Book Review

Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel

Welcome to night vale book coverTitle: Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel
goodreads | amazon
Author: Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pub Date: October 20, 2015
Pages: 416
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Provided by publisher
Synopsis:

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge. Continue reading Welcome to Night Vale: The Book Review