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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UK Book Haul

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I spent a little over a week in the UK (Cheltenham and Glasgow to be exact) and whenever I’m over there I end up buying too many things I can’t get in the US. The most of what I buy are books (surprise) because there are a lot of better covers. Books also tend to be a bit cheaper (even with the exchange rate) and most go right to paperback (I’m not the biggest fan of hardcover.) So here are the books I picked up over there at Waterstone’s and WH Smith.

  1. The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
    This cover is similar to the US version BUT the pages!! LOOK!!
    20160715_201815(If you missed it, I wrote a mini review of the book and made a playlist.)
  2. Would I Lie To You? (by a lot of people involved with the show)
    A thing the US doesn’t really have is quiz panel shows. Britain on the other hand has a ton and I love them. They’re kind of like game shows except with comedians and other celebrities. Would I Lie To You is one of my favorites (this explains it) and I spotted this in the airport. Apparently it doesn’t officially come out until September but airports get exclusives, which was news to me. This has 99 of the most common lies with the commentary from the showrunners and comedians regularly on the show.
  3. You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
    I do actually like the US cover of this, but it’s currently only in hardcover and I like the UK version a tad bit more so decided to get it.
  4. Back Story by David Mitchell
    David Mitchell (not to be confused with the author) is a British comedian who is on Would I Lie To You? plus a bunch of other shows I love. This memoir is only out on ebook in the US so I grabbed the paperback.
  5. Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
    The OTHER David Mitchell of Cloud Atlas fame. This is one of his I haven’t read and the cover is gorgeous. They also had a wonderful copy of Slade House with green pages, but I didn’t like that book enough to justify buying a physical copy.
  6. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    I hadn’t read this yet and love the illustration. Purple!!
  7. How the Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman
    Another Gaiman story I haven’t read. It’s short so wouldn’t take up much room in my luggage. There is an entire set of his books with excellent minimalist covers and I wanted them all, but then I would be broke and also couldn’t carry them all.
  8. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
    A favorite of mine and the pulp fiction covers are so much fun. This also has pink edged pages. Why doesn’t the US have more paperbacks with colored pages?
  9. For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser
    This is one I grabbed mostly because it’s pretty and I needed a second book for a buy one get one half off deal.
  10. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
    I kept seeing this pop up online, mostly from UK bloggers/vloggers. I don’t think it comes out until next year in the States and it sounds great.
  11. Paper Butterflies by  Lisa Heathfield
    This one I think is available on Amazon in the US, but perhaps not officially out here? Unsure. I had heard about it though and it was part of Waterstone’s BOGO half off deal so I picked it up.
  12. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    They have these wonderful patterned covers for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s books. I had recently bought Americanah in the US so couldn’t justify buying that even though I adore that cover, so went for Half of a Yellow Sun.
  13. The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han
    The US covers are so boring. Stock photo teens. UGH. While these UK ones are so cute. I haven’t read this series yet, but I love Jenny Han and decided I needed the set.

Actually amazing I didn’t end up getting more. I had considered buying another suitcase so I could get more, but exhibited some self control. The US of A needs to step up its cover game.  More affordable books would also be nice, but that’s another conversation.

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Internet Famous

A lot of people seem generally offended that anyone internet famous dare write a book. I, however, am not someone particularly bothered by it or find it some affront to literature. I do get the pushback. The aim for these books isn’t always quality, just money. But hey, the book industry needs to make money and giving Youtube and Vine stars book deals isn’t always a terrible thing. If someone finds enjoyment in the books then so be it. I picked up a few books penned by the internet famous and do not feel like any brain cells were killed in the process.

danphilThe Amazing Book is Not on Fire by Dan Howell, Phil Lester
I was getting old when the Youtube craze was heating up and never got incredibly consumed by it, but there were a few Youtubers I found that I still watch sometimes. Dan and Phil are two of them. Their videos are silly and charming and I was interested to see what they’d do with a book deal. What they came up with wasn’t a memoir, but something that’s more scrapbook-like. It’s filled with behind the scenes info and stories that work as a companion to their videos opposed to being a story of their lives.

It’s something I mostly just flipped through instead of reading from front to back. I had it from the library, but it’s something I’d consider buying since it’s better suited to pick up once in a while rather than read straight through.

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carrieAll I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher
Carrie’s videos I watch more regularly than anyone else’s probably. She comes off as completely genuine and her videos aren’t some big production. While she vlogs about her daily life she also discusses a range of a more complicated topics. Her video feels very nurturing and encouraging as she seems to get so much joy from life, which is what I also hoped would come from her book. I wasn’t disappointed.

She isn’t a stranger to writing and dispensing advice. Her book is based on a blog she kept (that I sadly never kept up with) where she talked about life lessons. Her book became essentially an advice book to growing up. While the book is aimed at a younger audience, I still found value in it as an adult. A lot of what she talks about are things I’ve already learned from life, but adults can still use reminders. Letting things go, being kind, and having confidence are all part of the process of living.  I enjoyed anecdotes she shared and how much of her personality she injected into her writing. I don’t always agree with Carrie (both in her videos and in this book), but it’s never angering or distracting. She’s also a girl in her 20s who has figured some things out and is still working on other things. What makes her book and videos lovable is her obvious passion for what she’s doing and her want to share her work with others.

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Surviving High Schoollele by Lele Pons and Melissa de la Cruz

Lele Pons is a Vine star and I am someone who was late to Vine. I found a few creators I found interesting and followed them and look at Vine infrequently. But I think it’s an interesting medium and can be an art. Viners appear to be the most highly criticized form of internet entertainers which isn’t completely without foundation. Many rely on lazy stereotypes to make their jokes, but there are plenty of creators who are funny with resorting to racism and sexism.

While Lele’s Vines sometimes veer towards the cliched, stereotypical Vines, she definitely has talent and humor. She’s also young, 19, and 19 year olds don’t tend to be completely enlightened. Her book is a fictionalized memoir of her life. I was hoping to get more insight into her background, but since this is a novel and not about the real her there wasn’t a lot of that. It did however provide a look at what it’s like to navigate high school with newfound fame and a little bit of the Vine creating process.

What didn’t work for me personally is it felt incredibly young. It focused mostly on the pressures of being a teenager that I am so far removed from now. I read a lot of YA I can relate to, but a lot of her stories were connected to the teenage things I don’t even think about anymore. I did like how fictionalized stories of her life transform into what become her videos. There are some funny moments as well as lessons learned about fame but also just friendships and everyday life. Overall the book just wasn’t for me though. I am sure her young fans that adore her Vines will like it, but I am far from the target audience. I was a little too irked by some of the “girls are likes this and boys are like this” cliches when expanded from a six second video to a full story. And as I give teenagers a little more credit than they often are given, I feel they can be entertained by this and work out any potentially negative messages on their own.

Surviving High School was provided for free through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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2015 In Review

I am a grump who doesn’t really like the New Year holiday. It makes me unreasonably anxious. When it comes to books and music though, doing a round-up of what I enjoyed is fun and celebration enough. I’m terrible at picking favorites though so don’t really rank, but here are some things I liked this year!

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