Book Review: How Many Letters Are in Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy

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How Many Letters Are in Goodbye? | Yvonne Cassidy | Jan 1, 2014
Hachette/Flux Books | 432 Pages | eGalley provided by Publisher

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Rhea Farrell carries the scars of a childhood accident in which she lost her arm. But she also carries scars that aren’t so visible–the loss of a mother she hardly remembers, the impact of her father’s drinking, and her confusion and pain around accepting her sexuality.


When Rhea runs away, she turns to the person she always wished she could confide in–her mother. And just like she used to do as a little girl, Rhea starts to write her letters–to tell her things she can’t tell anyone else, to share her fears, to ask for help. Rhea’s journey on the streets of New York brings her deeper into her mother’s past where she uncovers buried family secrets. And as she finds out more about the woman her mother truly was, Rhea also discovers just what kind of woman she wants to be.

Review:

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be a homeless teen living on the streets of NYC in the years before the internet? What about a queer homeless teen? Or maybe a queer homeless teen with one arm? And she’s an orphan?

There’s a lot to think about in this book, as the main character Rhea has been through some major hardships. Her childhood was not exactly perfect, but when she has to give it up to live with her Aunt in Florida, she does not adapt well. She resents . . . well . . . almost everyone. When conflict erupts in her Aunt’s Florida home, Rhea sets out for NYC in search of answers and independence.  Continue reading Book Review: How Many Letters Are in Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy

Book Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Print
All the Birds in the Sky | Charlie Jane Anders | January 26, 2016
Tor Books | 320 pages | ARC provided by publisher

Synopsis:

From the editor-in-chief of io9.com, a stunning novel about the end of the world–and the beginning of our future


Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.


But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.


A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse

Review:

All the Birds in the Sky is a coming-of-age novel that takes place over the course of several years. Patricia and Laurence are brought together in school because they’re both considered outsiders: everyone believes Patricia to be a witch, and Laurence, the science whiz, gets picked on for his smarts. Continue reading Book Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Book Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

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Soundless | Richelle Mead | On Sale Since Nov 10, 2015
Razorbill | 272 Pages | ARC Provided by Publisher

Synopsis:

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.


 

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.


 

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.


 

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever…

Review:

Continue reading Book Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

#ReadWomen December

Greetings, everyone! So, I’ve decided to take part in #ReadWomen December. This is something I just found out about today, and am very excited about. The gist is that for a month, readers have decided to deck out their reading lists with female authors – some choosing to read female authors only for December, others vowing to include more women writers than they usually read. For more information, the twitter hashtag has been a great resource for me.

So in honor of celebrating women’s voices, I thought I’d share some of my favorite books by female authors, as well as a few books on my own #ReadWomen reading list.

Recommendations:

  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  • Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
  • The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
  • The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls

My Reading List:

  • Fun Home by Alison Bedchel
  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (a reread)
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • The Blondes by Emily Schultz

Are you taking part in #ReadWomen December? What are you reading?

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?

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

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

Why I MUST Take My Books With Me When I Move to NY

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So, yes… I am moving across the country in a few weeks. As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting as regularly this summer, and the main reason is this move. Moving is stressful, even more so when you won’t have a place to live until just before you have to move. AND on top of that, I have all these books to deal with.

One of the first things a person is bound to ask me when I tell them I’m moving to New York is, “But what will you do with your books?” and it always catches me off guard. Because it’s not like I can just dispose of my library and live without any books in my apartment. Not to mention the hundreds of dollars spent over the years while that collection grew. It takes dedication to tend my bookshelves.

Maybe it’s just a book-people problem, but my books can also have intense sentimental value, depending on how much I enjoyed reading it. That’s one of the reasons why I refer to my books as a collection. So no, I can’t just leave half of them behind. It’s going to be a pain in the ass to pack them all up and haul them up and down staircases, I’m not arguing against that. But I don’t think a place could feel like home if the bookshelves were bare. Books give a place character! I often think of the movie Kissing Jessica Stein when I worry about having enough space for my books. To me, the film’s most memorable shots and sequences were simple pan-shots and establishing shots that showed Jessica’s book-filled apartment. She has enough books in her Manhattan studio apartment that she’s run out of shelf space. Yet, the place feels cozy.

Anyway, I know I’m rambling so I’m going to cut it short. I love my books. They’re pretty: nice to look at and nice to hold. They can serve as decoration for an otherwise-bland space. I will be gathering some to donate before I leave, but for the most part, they’re coming with me. And to leave you with, two famous John Waters bookish quotes :

“Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library.”

“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em. Don’t sleep with people who don’t read!”

Words to live by.

Books for ComicCon

…or just wishing you were there.

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Yes, that time of year again. When I’m glued to my computer and watching every livestream/interview session/news coverage of San Diego available. The nerds have taken over the city. And despite not being at Comic-Con myself, and not really wanting to brave that madness anyway, I can still revel in the amazing nature of fandom. Here are some of my SDCC-related picks:

Of course, if you’ve been following my blog for long, you’ll know that I love the Whedonverse (or as it was originally called, the “Jossverse”). If I absolutely had to pick one type of book that I enjoy reading the most, it would be books of essays about Joss Whedon projects. So here are two among many that I love:

Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion
Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion
Reading Joss Whedon
Reading Joss Whedon

Next, a (new) book about fandom that blew my mind. Note: there are a lot of Whedon examples in this one, but it does talk about other things, like for instance the recent tragic death of Cory Monteith and its affect on glee and its fandom. This book addresses the question that has created anxiety among fans for years – what happens to a fandom after its show is cancelled?

Post-Object Fandom
Post-Object Fandom

And now, a book that absolutely rocked my world. A book about fanfiction, textual poaching, reading against the grain, and the future of fandom. Featuring an absolutely inspiring concluding essay written by the wonderful Amber Benson (of Buffy fame, actress-turned-author) herself:

fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World
fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World

And to wrap things up, a book by one of this year’s special guests, blogger and author Allie Brosh. Hyperbole and a Half is one of my favorite books ever. It’s the one I reach for the most often when I’m sad or upset, and don’t want to read anything else. There’s something of a solidarity in knowing your personal problems are shared with other human beings. Also, DOGS. This book has dogs in it. Cute ones. And it’s funny. Read it.

Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a Half

I hope these recommendations will help you enjoy the spirit of ComicCon from the comfort of your favorite armchair! Indulge in your nerdy side, book lovers! 🙂