Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Friday, October 30, 2015

More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
"In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again--but he's still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he's slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron's crew notices, and they're not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can't deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?"- summary from Amazon

This is one hell of a debut book. It's gripping, poignant, and extremely thought-provoking. Silvera has a fan for life in me now.

FTC: Bought hardcover at Politics and Prose for signing. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas

Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas
"The tale of Cinderella has been retold countless times. But what you know is not the true story. Sarah Prineas’s bold fairy-tale retelling is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight.

Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But she longs to forsake her backbreaking servitude and dares to escape with the brave young Shoemaker.

Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the new life the Godmother chooses for her—a fairy-tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after."- summary from Amazon

A captivating, brilliant and original take on Cinderella and fairy tales in general. Prineas has a fantastic debut YA on her hands.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg

The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg
"Carson Smith is resigned to spending his summer in Billings, Montana, helping his mom take care of his father, a dying alcoholic he doesn't really know. Then he meets Aisha Stinson, a beautiful girl who has run away from her difficult family, and Pastor John Logan, who's long held a secret regarding Carson's grandfather, who disappeared without warning or explanation thirty years before. Together, Carson and Aisha embark on an epic road trip to find the answers that might save Carson's dad, restore his fragmented family, and discover the "Porcupine of Truth" in all of their lives."- summary from Amazon

I am a huge fan of Konigsberg's books, and this latest one is no exception. Carson is a wonderful character to follow along with, and I loved being in his head and going on his journey to find out this secret. Aisha is a great companion for him to have on the trip. The two of them together were very interesting and their conversations were fun, insightful and thoughtful. What I love about this book is that it is a humorous book while having a serious message (or two) at its core. It's simply fantastic writing and I highly recommend this book to pretty much anyone and everyone.

FTC: Received hardcover from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Banned Books Week- The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

"It's Omri's birthday, but all he gets from his best friend, Patrick, is a little plastic Indian brave. Trying to hide his disappointment, Omri puts the Indian in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that once belonged to his great-grandmother. Little does Omri know that by turning the key, he will transform his ordinary plastic Indian into a real live man from an altogether different time and place! Omri and the tiny warrior called Little Bear could hardly be more different, yet soon the two forge a very special friendship. Will Omri be able to keep Little Bear without anyone finding out and taking his precious Indian from him?"- summary from Amazon

I'm so honored that Random House emailed me about participating in their Banned Books Week blog tour, spotlighting some of their own banned books. There was only one book that I'd actually read and was surprised to see it there because I could not remember anything wrong with it when I read it as a child. So while I waited for my copy to arrive, I did some research. What I found were claims about racism in the book, and alleged condoning of white superiority.

First off, the book was written in 1985. Times have changed since then and we've become more of a PC world, where everyone has to walk on eggshells to avoid offending anybody for any reason. Secondly, when Little Bear and Boone are brought to life, BOTH speak in a stereotypical manner, but Omri is also shown over the course of the novel to think past the stereotypes that he's seen in books and movies and therefore learns more about each respective culture. He realizes that they're not so different from him and sees them as equals rather than just toys. We're all just people with the same wants, needs, emotions, etc.

The white superiority claim doesn't really make much sense when reading the book. It does start off with Omri thinking of all the fun he'll have with a live Indian toy, but that is quickly dismissed once Omri realizes that he has to take care of Little Bear (providing food, shelter, and other things). And honestly, with the way Little Bear takes over Omri's life, it's almost the other way around; Omri is actually very subservient to Little Bear in the beginning when they are first getting to know each other. As the book progresses, they (and Boone too) come to a friendship and understanding. Perhaps the claim would also have more legs to it if Omri didn't also turn Boone (the cowboy) and Tommy (a WWII medic) into live people too. He's not just owning an Indian or playing with an Indian; he is equal opportunity with the magical cupboard.

I'm honestly glad that I read the reasons why it has been banned before reading the book because it was hilarious to see those claims demolished with every page I read. I don't know which book those people read (if they read it at all), but it was certainly not the same one I read, which was one of friendship, loyalty (for everyone involved- Omri, his friend Patrick, Little Bear, and Boone), understanding, and respect for all people, no matter the race (or size).

Have any of you read The Indian in the Cupboard, either recently or as a kid? What did you think about it?

I also have a copy to give away of The Indian in the Cupboard as well as a Banned Books Week poster, all courtesy of Random House. The contest is open to US residents. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Friday, October 9 at 9pm EST, along with your email address.

Check out the rest of the tour-

Sunday, September 27- Good Books and Good Wine + Live to Read0
Monday, September 28- All About Romance + Bookie Moji
Tuesday, September 29- Word Spelunking + The Eater of Books
Wednesday, September 30- The Mod Podge Bookshelf + Curling Up with a Good Book
Thursday, October 1- ExLibris + Alice Marvels
Friday, October 2- Book Chic + Words Sweetheart
Saturday, October 3- YA Bibliophile + The Irish Banana

FTC: Received copy from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.