Gifts of the Library

Libraries are something humans got right. They must be protected at all costs. (This post isn’t about that, but the ALA has a great resource for ways to help with library funding etc. in the US.) If you’re a reader who is lucky enough to live near one, you probably already know all the resources they offer. Or maybe you don’t. Or maybe you’re someone who doesn’t read often. Perhaps you’re someone who if asked to name some of what libraries offer, you would answer “uh, books?” Well, I am here to tell you there is MORE. “Like DVDs?” Yes! “And I can go on the computer there?” Also yes, and yet… there might still be more.

This post is brought to you by how often I talk about something I’m able to get or do via a library and someone is surprised by it. It has made me realize that a lot of people don’t realize libraries are more than just a place with a book collection where you have to be quiet. So here’s a list of some things you might find.

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Fighting Racism and Fighting in Space

It’s September which means the last book I reviewed, A Room Away from Wolves, is out! This month also brings us two other books I read and loved.

Here to Stay by Sara Farizan

First of all, I love basketball so here for a book about a kid going from j.v. to varsity and excelling. High school also sucks though and the world is full of racists, so an anonymous email gets sent out to the whole school of Bijan Majidi, the main character, photoshopped as a terrorist. Bijan just wants to move past it, but as a star player, that doesn’t exactly go his way.

This book, like a lot of YA, is successful in navigating a difficult topic that is timely. On top of talking about racism and bullying, classic crushes and difficult friendships are explored as well. This story, however, isn’t a dark and sad one. Instead, Farizan wrote in a lot of humor. There were plenty of parts made me laugh without detracting from the seriousness of the main plot.

Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan

I am a sucker for vicious female leads. Ia is a criminal mastermind who no one knew was actually a 17-year-old girl, until she is captured by the imperialist space nation she spent her life fighting against. They send her to one of their academies instead of prison to force her to fight on their side.

She of course is plotting her escape the whole time, but maybe possibly has also made some friends. There might even be my favorite trope: two people who hate each other start to develop feelings for each other.

I had so much fun reading this and sped through the last part of the book because A LOT was happening. And don’t think just because this is way in the future in space it doesn’t have a lot of modern day issues incorporated into it. One of the main characters, Brinn, has to hide her true race because refugees from her mother’s home are hated. And then there are relationship struggles left and right: friendships, father/son, sister/brother etc. etc.

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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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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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The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May

“At moments like this, I appreciate how the weather in Scotland is never the same, and how swiftly it changes. How the rain itself seems to breathe, soft and slow.”

The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May
Release Date:  June 13, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Format: e-ARC
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Ratings: Page Turner Gut Punch badass

Full disclosure: I adore Scotland so that setting alone will attract me to a book. I had downloaded the first of Elizabeth May’s Falconer series to my Kindle some time ago, but then didn’t read it until I was IN Scotland last summer. I thought the first book was fun and moved onto the second one, which was even better. I grew to love the main character, Aileana, a fierce fae-slayer. As it always is with final books in a series, I (electronically) opened the final installment of the trilogy, “The Fallen Kingdom,” with: a little bit of sadness that I’d have to say goodbye to all the characters by the end; a tiny amount of worry I might hate it; and, of course, tons of excitement. The final verdict? My heart is a little shattered in the best kind of way.

My Thoughts
What interested me in this series to start with, aside from the whole Scotland thing, is how it pulls from dark mythology of the fae/fairies. The “girl falls for immortal creature that can kill her, but he’s more complex that” story has been told many times before, usually in a vampire fashion, but May layers her story with a fascinating history that makes it unique. So while tropes I’m bored of were present in the beginning of the series, it didn’t keep me from reading on. The stakes get higher and higher and the line between “good” and “evil” is tremendously blurry. It’s made the journey of the trilogy exciting instead of cliched.

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