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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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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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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The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Release Date:  November 1, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: ARC
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Ratings: I Ship It Too Cute fave2

The Basics

The Sun Is Also a Star is told in two perspectives, Natasha’s and Daniel’s. Natasha is a Jamaican immigrant who is set to be deported that night. While making one last attempt to save her family from being sent away from their home, she runs into Daniel. Daniel has an Ivy League interview he doesn’t want to go to set for later that day when he becomes curious about Natasha, who he spots swaying to music from her headphones.

The teenagers’ chance, or fated, meeting inspires poetic Daniel to convince scientific Natasha that falling in love is possible, by using an experiment he read about. This involves a list of personal questions that they both answer throughout the day. The result? You’ll have to read, but neither of them comes out of the experience unchanged.

My Thoughts

This book is massively cute, but also tackles larger issues. So if you want to get emotional, you’re going to get emotional. Adorable romance? Check. Time sensitive dilemma? Check. Contemporary societal problems? That, too.

Of course illegal immigration is one of the major problems this book represents. Natasha is facing having to leave her home and also her future behind, all because of the actions of others. And she’s determined to try to take control of her own life. Another side of immigration is shown through Daniel. His parents were Korean immigrants who left a hard life behind. So a lot of pressure is put on him and his brother. His aspirations are not in line with his parents’.

As a result, Natasha and Daniel are on opposite sides when it comes with how they view their futures. What’s in your control? Does fate exist? Their discussions lead them both to new perspectives. And that’s where this book’s magic is. Their differences are how the dynamic works. Natasha believes in the scientific method. Daniel is a dreamer and hopeless romantic. Reality falls somewhere in the middle. Their separate experiences weave together as they get to know each other and a complex portrait of simply being human comes out of it.

I loved every second of reading it. Yoon creates such vibrant characters and strays away from a generic love story. This simultaneously warmed my heart and tore it apart. It also caused me to think a lot about where I land on the fate vs. conicidence scale.

Positives/Negatives

+ Realistic look at immigration
+ Exploration of racism within communities
+ Depiction of difficulties in family life
+ Cuteness
+++ EVERYTHING

In Summary

This book is cute, but goes beyond just cuteness. Romantic moments will warm your heart, but it goes beyond that. Immigration, racism, fate, and love are all other areas Yoon’s story delves into. It’s a must read. While you’re at it, read Yoon’s debut Everything, Everything if you haven’t already.

Sidenote

Whether coincidence or fate, I decided to clean out my Pocket list and came across an article from January 2015 about the study this book references (and uses.) I have no recollection of saving it, but rediscovered it at the right time. It’s worth reading. Perhaps after you read The Sun Is Also a Star.

Note: An advanced copy of this book was provided free by the publisher for review consideration. This in no way influenced my opinion.

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