Friday, September 22, 2017

Discussion: Authors I NEED to Read

As a bookworm, I am constantly struggling with how to choose what to read and when. There are so many fantastic books out there, but alas, I only have a limited number of hours in a day. Therefore, I am forced to prioritize my reading list, and this could lead to fabulous authors slipping through the cracks. So, I made a list of some YA authors I would like to get to know better by reading their books. 

Jason Reynolds
My Intro Book: Miles Morales 

I remember being interested in Reynolds' book, All American Boys, when I first heard about it, but it pretty much sat on my TBR with a lot of other books. However, after seeing Reynolds on a BookCon panel this year, I really want to make sure I read one of his books before the year is through.

Why do I NEED to read his book? When Reynolds spoke at BookCon, I could not help but listen with rapt attention. He was so real and genuine. I loved that we both grew up in the city and found solace in the public library. (Oh, how I loved the Flatbush branch of the Brooklyn Public library!) He also has a lot to say, and (I'm going there) I think it's important for some young adults out there to have someone like Reynolds to tell the stories he tells.

Emma Mills
My Intro Book: First & Then

Emma Mills has been on my radar since her first book released. It always seemed like timing was bad or I didn't have any of her books. But I did it! I finally bought one of her books!

Why do I NEED to read her book? I was totally inspired to finally buy a Mills book, because I read rave, after rave, after rave. I knew I was missing out on something special, and as a contemporary reader, it seems almost a crime that I have not read any books by Mills. The other reason why I really want to read a book by her is because she does science. I was really excited to see that she was pursuing a Phd in cell biology. Although my love is for the physical sciences, I still think it is awesome that she is super smart, and I hope her books show off her level of intelligence.

Jeffery Self
My Intro Book: Drag Teen

I really regret not getting a copy of Self's book sooner, but you know what they say, better late than never. When I saw he had another book releasing, it sort of lit a fire under me.

Why do I NEED to read his book? I first discovered Jeffery Self at YallFest in 2015. He was on one of my favorite panels. The dynamic between all the authors was phenomenal (Loved the dueling Davids!), but Self stood out to me, and I knew I wanted to know more about him. If his books are even a fraction as funny as he is, I will be kept in stitches, because he was hilarious.

Elizabeth Wein
My Intro Book: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity has been receiving a ton of praise. I put it off originally, because I didn't think I was a fan of historical fiction, but then, I actually read some historical fiction, and that pretty much changed my mind.

Why do I NEED to read her book? Wein was also on a YallFest panel. It was an incredible panel moderated by one of my favorites, Rae Carson, and packed with powerhouse female writers. As if I was not already high from all the girl-power in the room, Wein began to speak, and I was instantly captivated. She is just brilliant and off the charts intelligent, and she was sharing things with us that were so interesting, but explaining it so it was easy to understand. If she writes in the same manner that she speaks, I should be able to be entertained as I learn some things.

Now it's your turn!

Are there any authors you NEED to read? 
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: Feral Youth - Shaun David Hutchinson

Feral Youth
Shaun David Hutchinson
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Retelling
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
At Zeppelin Bend, an outdoor education program designed to teach troubled youth the value of hard work, cooperation, and compassion, ten teens are left alone in the wild. The teens are a diverse group who come from all walks of life, and they were all sent to Zeppelin Bend as a last chance to get them to turn their lives around. They’ve just spent nearly two weeks learning to survive in the wilderness, and now their instructors have dropped them off eighteen miles from camp with no food, no water, and only their packs, and they’ll have to struggle to overcome their vast differences if they hope to survive.

Inspired by The Canterbury Tales, Feral Youth features characters, each complex and damaged in their own ways, who are enticed to tell a story (or two) with the promise of a cash prize. The stories range from noir-inspired revenge tales to mythological stories of fierce heroines and angry gods. And while few of the stories are claimed to be based in truth, they ultimately reveal more about the teller than the truth ever could.
"Nothing we did mattered because, to our families, we were only what we'd done to get sent here. It's all they would ever see."
This is their last chance. Each one of these "feral youth" have committed so sort of crime, and have landed themselves on the wrong side of the law. This camp is their chance to "rehabilitate" themselves, and avoid greater punishment. Anthologies are hit or miss for me, but I would put this is the "hit" column for me. This collection was very cohesive, and that common thread is what grabbed me and kept me reading. I liked that this last-chance survival group was filled with people from different socioeconomic groups, with different skin colors, with different sexual preferences, and from different types of families. I liked that diversity, because it showed that we are different, but we are the same. We all make mistakes. We all hurt. We all feel pain and loss.
"Whether a story is true isn't important if you're hurting all the same because of it."
I liked the variety in the storytelling. Some stories read like an oral history. They appeared to be a true retelling of the events, while others hid the truth in fiction behind horror, lore, and mythology. These stories were not realistic, but I could find the "truths" that were concealed within the tale.
"If you keep feeding the fire, it will grow and wait to devour you. You don't realize it until it's too late."
Two stories stood out for me. I found Marieke Nijkamp's story very powerful. It was split in two parts, and after reading the first part, I already knew what was going on in that character's life. The power was in what she said without actually coming out and saying it. It was the feelings she evoked and the sadness that wrapped around me. I also loved Suzanne Young's piece. I think I may have fist-pumped at one point, because she was saying things that I have felt for so long regarding the way young women are treated by society.
"My crime is being female in a place that values male education over mine."
There were many good, even great, compelling tales shared by the different  authors, however, I attribute this really working for me because of the parts that came in-between each story. We had a great narrator, and it was the overarching story, which gave greater meaning to each of the short stories contained therein. These in-between parts are where we learned a little more about each character, and also where we learned more about what really happened. We also saw how the characters were changing over those three days during those connecting parts, and I really believe that is what elevated this anthology for me.
"I don't know how much of what any of them said was the truth, but it doesn't matter because the truth doesn't exist in our words but in the spaces between them."

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication.

Do you like anthologies?
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Ready to Fall - Marcella Pixley

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I can't wait for Ready to Fall by Marcella Pixley!

Ready to Fall
Marcella Pixley
Series: n/a
Release Date: November 28, 2017
Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux
Waited on by: Sam

When Max Friedman's mother dies of cancer, instead of facing his loss, Max imagines that her tumor has taken up residence in his head. It's a terrible tenant--isolating him from family, distracting him in school, and taunting him mercilessly about his manhood. With the tumor in charge, Max implodes, slipping farther and farther away from reality. Max is sent to the artsy, off-beat Baldwin School to regain his footing. He joins a group of theater misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet and slowly becomes friends with Fish, a girl with pink hair and a troubled past, and The Monk, an edgy upperclassman who refuses to let go of the things he loves. For a while, Max almost feels happy. But his tumor is always lurking in the wings--until one night it knocks him down and Max is forced to face the truth, not just about the tumor, but about how important it is to let go of the past.

Yes, I know, it's another grief book. I just cannot resist them! Let's just bullet point some of the things that reached out to me when I was reading this synopsis.

  • Denial
  • Imaginary tumor with symptoms, hmmmm
  • Artsy alternative school setting
  • A steam-punk production of Hamlet
  • A girl named Fish
  • A boy named The Monk
  • Letting go of the past
From this, I gather we will get an emotional, but also a humorous read, filled with quirky and interesting characters. This definitely sounds like my kind of book. 

What are you waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is...

Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR!

I want to read about 3,876,941 books that are being released this fall, but since this is an impossible feat, I had to prioritize. These are ten books that I will definitely be reading this fall, and the chances are really, really good since I have all these books already.

Brooding YA Hero
Carrie Ann DiRisio
Series: n/a
Publisher: Skypony Press

I love reading this guy's tweets, and now I get a whole book. What more could I ask for. Kiersten has already read it, and said it's hilarious, so that makes me even more excited, because she knows what I like. The combination of the Brooking YA Hero's humor and the fun illustrations is a guaranteed winner for me.

Haunting the Deep
Adriana Mather
Series: How to Hang a Witch, #2
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Both Kiersten and I were big fans of How to Hang a Witch, and we were really excited when we heard Mather was going back into her family history for another story. Kiersten has already read it and awarded it 5-stars. This makes me think I have another great read in store for me.

Lauren Oliver
Series: Replica, #2
Publisher: HarperCollins

I enjoyed Replica, and am really interested in seeing where Oliver takes this story. I read the first book in a straight forward way, Gemma's story and then Lyra's. Maybe this time I will start with Lyra's story. It's a fun feature to allow some choice, and I am curious if it affects the way one understands the story.

Marie Lu
Series: Warcross, #1
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

It has been killing me to hold off on reading this, but I am saving it for a reading challenge. I love Marie Lu, so there is that, but I keep seeing rave, after rave, after rave, and once again, Kiersten approves. Needless to say, I'm excited.

Top Ten
Katie Cotugno
Series: n/a
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

I am a pretty solid Katie Contugno fan, and I am in love with this concept. These books where friends are at the end of high school and preparing to move on to college can be very bittersweet, and I like that these two unlikely friends spend that in-between time counting down their top ten friendship moments. Awwwwww.

The Memory of Trees
Kali Wallace
Series: n/a
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

I know you're thinking this is on the darker side and sounds a little sad, so you are probably wondering how this one got on my TBR. I like the air of mystery and I love magical realism. Early reviews are talking about secrets, a generations old family feud, and beautiful writing. So, count me in.

The House at 758
Kathryn Berla
Series: n/a
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing

This one may be a little sad based on the synopsis and the black rain cloud on the cover. BUT the main character is also grieving her mother's death, and you know, grief books have been hits for me this year.

Kat and Meg Conquer the World
Anna Priemaza
Series: n/a
Publisher: HarperTeen

This one promises friendship and fandoms. How could I lose? Early reviews are calling it fun and fluffy, and they name drop many of my favorite contemporary writers in the synopsis. I think it may be fabulous for me.

Here We Are Now
Jasmine Warga
Series: n/a
Publisher: Blazer + Bray

A girl, who is a fan of a rock star, discovers she is his secret daughter. She journeys with him to meet the extended family she never knew. I like the secret daddy thing, he's a rock star, and it sounds like Warga did not go with the most common angle with respect to how this will play out. Sounds fun and emotional.

Now Is Everything
Amy Giles
Series: n/a
Publisher: HarperTeen

I saw that this is told in alternating present and past chapters, and I am always game for something a little different. I actually really like a non-linear timeline, because it usually results in a lot of buildup and tension. This one sounds really emotional as it deals with abuse and suicide, but it could be powerful too.

What's on your Fall TBR?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Blog Tour: When I Cast Your Shadow - Sarah Porter

When I Cast Your Shadow
Sarah Porter
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
A teenage girl calls her beloved older brother back from the grave with disastrous consequences.

Dashiell Bohnacker was hell on his family while he was alive. But it's even worse now that he's dead....

After her troubled older brother, Dashiell, dies of an overdose, sixteen-year-old Ruby is overcome by grief and longing. What she doesn't know is that Dashiell's ghost is using her nightly dreams of him as a way to possess her body and to persuade her twin brother, Everett, to submit to possession as well.

Dashiell tells Everett that he's returned from the Land of the Dead to tie up loose ends, but he's actually on the run from forces crueler and more powerful than anything the Bohnacker twins have ever imagined....

"Tragic and engrossing, filled with nightmarish dreamscapes and menacing villains, it also treads the tender terrain of family, and the strange and sometimes dysfunctional ties between siblings. Highly recommended!" ―Kendare Blake, New York Times bestselling author of Three Dark Crowns

"You'll never think of your nightmares the same way again. Darkly seductive. Sarah Porter’s writing glitters and her storytelling stuns in this twisted tale of siblings, love, and death." ―Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

"Porter offers a poignant consideration of how far we will go for the people we love." ―School Library Journal, starred review

"A wildly innovative, whip-smart, and utterly spellbinding testament to family, memory, and love―and the messes and miracles of each―poised to possess legions of readers." ―Booklist, starred review

"A haunting tale of possession that explores the ghostly landscape of dreams and nightmares―but more importantly, the particular dynamics among siblings, both oppressive and redemptive." ―Kirkus Reviews


I was a fan of Porter's debut, Vassa in the Night, and immediately knew I wanted to read this book. I found her writing to be quite captivating, and although her style leaned darker than my norm, I found that I enjoyed her storytelling and wanted more. When I Cast Your Shadow is a ghost story that involves possession, but it is also a story about a family that is grieving, about family dynamics, about trust, about penance.
"it's up to me to remember him the way he really was. To fight for his memory."
The supernatural aspects of the story were quite intriguing and also quite macabre. The descriptions of the dead lands and how the possessions were accomplished made my mouth both cringe and form an "O". Porter's writing really flourished in these parts, and there were definitely a few times that I got a little spine tingle.
"Dashiell is all over this house: the walls are made of his laughter, he permeates our skin, and the breath inside my lungs has the same wave as his hair."
I thought Porter did a great job exploring this family from all sides. First there was the relationship between Dash and each member of the family. In life, Dashiell was a difficult son and brother to love. He was an addict, who exhibited many of the standard addict behaviors. The lies and the manipulations left his brother and father with quite an unfavorable opinion of him, but Ruby was always and remained enchanted by him. There was also the relationship between Ruby and Everette. Everette was the brother who loved Ruby with no strings. He was willing to do anything to protect her, but I could not say the same for Dash. The entire family was under a cloud of grief over Dash's untimely death, while kind of still dealing with their abandonment issues, and this created some very complicated emotions within their home.
"Reality exists somewhere, maybe, but it's not where everybody thinks it is. Not in this kitchen. Not in my bowl of yogurt and granola. Not in this family."
I liked seeing how each character changed and grew over the course of this book. The changes were not immediate, but everyone experienced positive growth -- even Dash. The very last chapter of the book was from Dash's POV, and it took us into the future. I was really happy that Porter included this chapter, because it showed the outcome of all of this for Ruby, Everett, their dad, and even Dash's girlfriend. You could even say it told us how this entire incident changed Dash, and I always need that closure that it provided.
"And you'll be going home, to find out who you are without me, and who you can love instead. I think you'll know both those things soon."
After finishing my second Porter book, I can say that she has a dark and twisted style, which may not be for everyone. However, I loved how her books were a break from my norm and challenged me as a reader.

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication.


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SARAH PORTER is the author of the Lost Voices Trilogy (Lost Voices, Waking Storms, The Twice Lost) in addition to Vassa in the Night—all for the teen audience. For over ten years she has taught creative writing workshops in New York City public schools to students in grades K-10. Porter also works as a VJ, both solo and with the art collective Fort/Da; she has played venues including Roseland, Galapagos, Tonic, Joe’s Pub, The Hammerstein Ballroom, The Nokia Theater, and the Burning Man festival. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two cats.


Photo Content from Sarah Porter


September 11th - Here's to Happy Endings REVIEW
September 12th -  JeanBookNerd VLOG & GUEST POST
September 12th - Reading for the Stars and Moon REVIEW
September 13th - TTC Books and More REVIEW
September 14th - Bibliobibuli YA GUEST POST
September 14th - The Avid Reader EXCERPT
September 15th - Jump Into Books REVIEW
September 15th - Books, Dreams, Life TENS LIST

September 18th - We Live and Breathe Books REVIEW
September 18th - Kendra Loves Books REVIEW
September 19th - CBY Book Club EXCERPT
September 19th - Sabrina's Paranormal Palace REVIEW
September 20th - A Dream Within a Dream REVIEW & TENS LIST
September 20th - Adventures Thru Wonderland REVIEW
September 21st - Movies, Shows, & Books REVIEW & EXCERPT
September 22nd - BookHounds YA TENS LIST
September 22nd - Tara's Book Addiction REVIEW

I love when authors hide "easter eggs" in their books. I found one in this book (a Vassa reference)

Do like when authors put "easter eggs" in their books?
Let us know in the comments!