A Room Away from the Wolves

A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Format: Paperback ARC
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Supernatural
Ratings: badass Page Turner

My Thoughts
Nova Ren Suma’s last novel, “The Walls Around Us,” effed with my head and this wasn’t any different. In a good way of course. Both books have the kind of ending that makes your brain do some work to connect all the pieces and then leaves you thinking it over for a while. While both books have a supernatural theme, they tackle different issues. This one focuses on family and self identity.

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2018 Albums So Far

It’s been a while since I’ve done a music post. Now that it’s basically summer, here’s what has come out this year so far that I’ve been listening to a lot.

Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe

Our confirmed bicon is back with an album that lived up to all my hopes and dreams.  “Make Me Feel” got me so excited for this release, especially because the video is killer. And “Screwed” is probably the song of the summer. I have no authority to declare this but I am anyway.

Expectations by Hayley Kiyoko

Another album I was highly anticipating that did not let me down. It’s fun and raw all at once. Hayley is really helping make #20GAYTEEN a great.

The Kids Are Alright by Chloe x Halle

Beyoncé has already given so much to the world and she keeps on giving. She discovered Chloe and Halle Bailey (sisters, not twins. Thanks for the confusion, Grown-ish) and I’m so grateful for her putting them on my radar. They have gorgeous voices and this album is fantastic.

Black Panther Soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar

This soundtrack is sososososo good. I had it on repeat for a while and still put it on a lot. It’s a masterpiece.

Lavender by Half Waif

I talk about how much I love Half Waif a lot. Nandi Rose Plunkett is a dream who creates dreamy music. Not only is this album lovely, it also has a great name and color scheme. (I’m a big fan of purple and the scent of lavender.)

Isolation by Kali Uchis

This girl does a lot. Let me just put the first line of her wikipedia page here: “Karly-Marina Loaiza (born July 17, 1994), better known as her stage name Kali Uchis, is a Colombian-American singer, songwriter, poet, record producer, music video director, and fashion designer.”

She’s only 23! She made an incredible album and somehow has time to do all this other stuff.

Good Thing by Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges is BACK. He’s as charming as ever and modernized his sound a teeny bit. I’m still very into it.

I Don’t Run by Hinds

Hinds is a band from Spain. (“Hinds” being another term for a female deer. They’re a band of all women.) This is their second album of fun garage rock/pop. I unfortunately missed their show when they played here, but I hear they are excellent live.

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On Rereading Mansfield Park

The first time I read Mansfield Park, I was 19 and a freshman in college who commuted into the city via train. Taking the train daily was a new experience and afforded me extra reading time so I started to sift through my long self-imposed reading list. Like many, I fell in love with Austen’s writing with Pride and Prejudice and was making my way through her other novels. Mansfield was my third.

Naturally, fresh out of high school my life experience was limited. My views of the world were rapidly changing and while I could dig into some of Austen’s commentary, there was a lot I missed. I found Edmund and Fanny’s story to be simply romantic. I was annoyed by Henry and Mary. I took a lot about the characters at face value without realizing it. My impression of the book was also informed by the miniseries with Billie Piper (which I still love). As many movies and television shows based on Austen, the romantic aspects are emphasized. This isn’t “wrong,” but a very specific interpretation of what Austen wrote. While I don’t think my interpretation of the book at 19 was necessarily wrong either, I was focused a lot on what I thought was the central romance. Those characters had to be the heroes, right?

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Goodbye, 2017

2017 has been a BAD YEAR. A wild medical ride with a lot of unexpected hurdles. Despite it all, I read over 100 books. And most of them were good. There were only a few I didn’t like or didn’t finish. It would be hard to list all my favorites but here are a few recommendations.

March by John Lewis

Turning Japanese by MariNaomi

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Mean by Myriam Gurba

Depression and Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim

Hunger by Roxane Gay

Warcross by Marie Lu

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September Releases

Summer is coming to an end. (That sound you hear is my tears falling on my keyboard.) But at least it means some great books are being released soon. Four of them from authors I love, I’ve already gotten to read. I am here to make sure you get on those pre-orders or library holds in for a few September releases.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera Gut Punch characters
Release Date: September 5, 2017

Want to feel like you’re being stabbed in the heart multiple times throughout one book? Well, do I have the book for you! Several actually. Everything Adam Silvera has written. In this new journey through sorrow, Silvera poses the question “what would you do if you knew it was your last date alive?”

So it goes that the protagonist gets a call that it’s his day to die. (This “service” exists in this version of our world.) Naturally, he makes a friend. (The “they” mentioned in the title.) Not to be too vague, but then a series of things happen. Each chapter gets you more and more attached to characters you know are going to kick the bucket by the end. This book is both a joy and torturous. Heartwarming and heart-wrenching. While it’s busy messing with your emotions, the book also offers important messages about friendship and identity and a whole lot of other things.

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart Page Turner Good Ol' Fun
Release Date: September 5, 2017

I rarely hear a lukewarm response to one of E. Lockhart’s books. It’s usually love or hate with no in between thing. I feel like this will be another one of those books.

Lockhart excels at writing female protagonists with a bite. However, this book is a little different than We Were Liars and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. It’s a story told backwards, but keeps the suspense as you try to figure out how everything ended up the way it did. The plot is implausible at times and the characters aren’t the type to be loved. I suspect a lot of readers are going to be annoyed by some of the plot reveals and the unlikable qualities of the characters. Lockhart doesn’t set out to make characters you’ll love though. Instead, she writes characters with grit and plots that poke at your suspension of belief. I personally enjoyed the story’s unexpected turns. Will you? I don’t know. But I think it will at least be a page turner for anyone who opens it.

Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older characters  badass 
Release Date: September 12, 2017

If you enjoyed Shadowshaper, you’ll love this second book as well. Sierra and all her friends are back and this time things are a little more hectic. I know what you’re thinking: how can things be more hectic than the last book? Just trust me. It happens.

Sierra’s friends now all being brought into the shadowshaper world makes them an even stronger team of friends. There is a closer look at characters that didn’t get a lot of page time in book one and I love them even more. While they’re all caught up in an ancient battle with enemies they didn’t know existed and there’s something called the Deck of Worlds that’s a puzzle to figure out, there’s still their everyday problems to deal with, too. This book touches on police violence and racism as well as the typical teen issues involving romances and school. These kids have A LOT going on. Daniel José Older is a master at integrating all these conflicts into something that’s both fun to read as a fantasy and important to read as a commentary on Real Life problems.

Also it gets another stellar cover, which I always need to point out.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng fave2 Pretty Words Wow Factor 
Release Date: September 12, 2017

Celeste Ng broke my heart in several different ways in Everything I Never Told You. She’s managed to do it again in her new book. But it’s an honor to have my heart broken by the words of Ng.

This book is just REALLY, REALLY good, okay? I barely know what else to say because I want to talk about every single detail, but that would ruin it for you. I need everyone to read this ASAP so I have someone to talk to. I think about this book a lot even though I finished it weeks ago. I don’t know how Ng does it, but her characters get under my skin. She writes about families so tragically and beautifully. Unlike Everything I Never Told You, which focused on one family, this one juxtaposes several. It’s fascinating. I love it. I need to stop my gushing, but I want to yell I LOVE YOU, CELESTE NG at the top of my lungs. She’d probably think that’s a bit creepy and over the top though. But I can’t help how I feel. Anyway, this book is really good.

So go forth readers and prepare for the fall. Have a cozy spot in mind and put a tissue box there. Your September is going to be good. Also sad, but good.

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