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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

[Waiting on Wednesday] Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine,
that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This Week's Pick: 

Pre-Order on Amazon or The Book Depository

Title: Mortal Danger
Series: Immortal Game #1
Author: Ann Aguirre [Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr]
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Macmillan, 
Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Young Adult- Fantasy, Paranormal

Summary via Goodreads: 

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly... bad things are happening. It's a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who—or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind...

Why I'm Waiting...

Honestly, because the synopsis and cover remind me of the TV show Revenge, which I love! 


I'm very interested about the paranormal element for this series! I'm really hoping its not vampires, but I have a feeling it is, so maybe I'm ready for another vamp series. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A response to diversity in book-ish terms

Sigh, there is so much on the topic right now. A lot of good points but I feel like there's a few things not being said, so here's my take... and it is probably not going to make me popular. :/ Sorry, I'm not sorry.

This is mostly from personal experiences, academic background and my experience of working in higher education. I can only represent myself because we are all unique regardless of our diversity/identity makeup.

There's more to being diverse then ethnic and racial make-up.

There's so many elements that define diversity. SO MANY. My pigmentation is not the end all and be all to what makes me diverse or anyone else for that matter. A disability, an illness, a culture, an upbringing, family dynamics, a job, etc. could all be classified as an element of diversity. Some of these may seem "tokenish" but I guarantee you at 14 years old all I could think about was how wearing glasses made me feel different. I wasn't normal so at that moment I became part of a minority. As YAs and Adults many of us hide our diversities through a number of ways (contacts, heels, makeup, etc.) and we identify with the characters written in black and white because we see ourselves and the people we love.

Being a minority does not make you an expert in being said minority. It makes you an expert in being you.

On a personal note, I'm Latina and more specifically Mexican-American, born and raised in Texas. I can only tell you what my experience was growing up. I most definitely am NOT an expert on what it means to be Mexican-American. Culturally I would identify with being uhh... Country-American? Yes, I laugh during George Lopez standup and chuckle while reading Aristotle and Dante but it's not because I had similar experiences. It's because it's funny and I've seen the situations unfold in other families. 

What I know is that I grew up in an all white neighborhood, my family does not speak Spanish and the average Texan can speak more than I can. I tell you all of this to demonstrate that I'm not an expert in my own ethnicity, I have scores of stories about people telling me just how un-Mexican-American I am. ;) I'm just me and it doesn't make me any more or less Mexican-American. 

I'm also deaf. It's hereditary but didn't set in until after I learned to speak. Resulting in a fully speaking deaf me. I do not know ASL and have not been involved in deaf culture. Despite this it doesn't make me any more or less deaf. I have audiology exams to prove it. ;)   

I have a lot more identities which make me a minority but that still does not make me an expert in an any of those either. On the daily I ponder what it means to be a woman... 

Identity development in general is not what it seems...

Identity development is tricky. The ideas of nature versus nurture come into play and whole bunch of elements. There's loads of good literature on this topic and if it interests you I would recommend starting with some Chickering and then you can move into topics on sexual orientation identity development or racial identity development or a whole lot of specific theories on a number of different identities. 

So I tell you this to share with you an example... I work at a historically black university. 95% of the students are Black and they are all different kinds of Black. Some are African-American, some are Caribbean, some are from the North and some from the South. Some students prefer to identify as African-American, some just Black and some identify in totally different ways. Specifically I work with a student who is "white" but was adopted at a young age by a Black family and identifies as being Black, it's all she knows. So if "T" were to write a book about slavery in the 1800s would her account be any more or less authentic than that of her mother's? or mine? or any other Black persons? Even a voice like Soloman Northup's is unique and specific to his situation in which he did not identify in the same ways as slaves from the South and had an understandably hard time adjusting during his horrible injustice.

Own your privileges, because we all have them.

White Privilege, and what that means, is well documented along with Male Privilege and a bunch of other privileges. Everyone has at least one privilege. The privilege may seem simple to you, but it could mean a big difference if bestowed upon someone who does not have the same privilege. This maybe a privilege of socioeconomic, education, age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, employment, benefits, religion/creed, nationality, etc. 

The hardest thing to do is recognize and accept our privileges especially in the midst of our injustices. However, in order to move forward and become an ally we must. I may not get paid the same as my male counterpart, I may get asked twice a day what are you?, but at the end of the day I identify as being heterosexual. I have to own that. I have a responsibility, or moral obligation if you will, to acknowledge that I instantly receive a plethora of benefits just for being straight that my non-heterosexual friends do not. I didn't have to do anything special to get these benefits, all I had to do was take that first breath. Now I must work on becoming a better ally, for myself and others. 

What this has to do with BEA and BookCon.

Readers, writers and many more in the community are up in arms about the perceived lack of diversity during the BookCon portion of the event. BookCon is being coordinated by ReedPOP for the first time this year. Yes, the panels are a bit... monotone? Some with single gender representation and a cat. Poor Grumpy Cat outnumbers the number of people of color at BookCon. This is bad, and for a number of reasons. There is some non-racial/ethnic diversity at the event, most notably Jewish religion/culture. Does this excuse the lack of racial and ethnic diversity? No, because there are notable best-selling authors of color. Does this excuse the lack of female representation on the YA panel? No, because there are best-selling female authors in YA who will be there!  

This will be my first year attending both BEA and BookCon. I look forward to it for a number of reasons and this debate has peaked my interest further. I will not be sitting out in protest, because my presence as a woman of color is needed. I need publishers, retailers, authors and event organizers to know that colored girls read, that we buy books, that we write blogs and that we matter. I need to start with being my own ally. 

You can read more opinions on this topic over at Book Riot and Diversity in YA. Great reads to get the wheels turning. 

Last but not least I see various forms of this question keep popping up...
Writing/Reading for specific identities which you do not identify with, or seem to identify with.

Ahh, so here's where things get tricky. Can I write about being deaf simply because I'm deaf? Do I have a magical deaf card? No. I would need to do some extensive research on deaf culture before I could even attempt such a project. Can I write about being a woman of color? Sure, possibly, however if my character is experiencing an injustice because she's a WoC then I would still be doing a lot of research. You don't get a pass to write a specific identity and speak for the entire identity with said pass.

I firmly believe that education and research is key here. While there are countless horrible examples of "writing outside what you know," there are some good ones as well. I was privileged to hear Marcus Sedgwick speak about his research with students who are blind when writing his latest book She is Not Invisible. The amount of research, care and fact-checking that went into his work seems thorough and gave a voice of authenticity to the story. Did he need to be blind to lend that same voice to his character or a female? No, Sedgwick only had to be dedicated to his craft and respect the characters he wrote.

As a reader never assume the author does or does not know who their character's are. That being said, as a reader, know that what you read is one viewpoint on the subject. How one character may handle abuse, a mental disorder, coping with illness or disability, growing up in a biracial family, etc. is not the only experience out there. You owe it to yourself to fact check and explore topics that peak your curiosity. 

If I wrote a story about a group of Black friends at a historically black college that served fried chicken on Wednesdays and fish on Fridays, and the cafeteria resembled a club more than a traditional dining hall, people would be crying foul that I've managed to stereotype an entire race and possibly accuse me of not knowing what it's like to be "Black". Unfortunately, it wouldn't make the story any less true. Is every HBCU like this? No. Would every friendship group be like this one? I hope not. Could I do research to round out my characters and flush out the culture? Definitely. 

Sorry that was so long. Feel free to leave comments to continue civilized discourse. I'll answer them as I can. Let me know your thoughts about attending or not attending BookCon.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Read it or Return it!

Okay so I need some help. One of the dilemmas, a good one, about being a book blogger is all the books! So many great reads from so many great authors. However, my library checkouts have gotten a bit out of hand since they don't have a limit on the number we can have at one time. I need your help deciding what should be returned and what should be read!


Leave a comment below, with your email or Twitter handle,
and let me know what I should read and what I should return. 

I'll do a drawing at the end of the week for a hardback copy of Panic by Lauren Oliver.
U.S. only, sorry! Entries close on Sunday, May 4, 2014. Giveaway rules here.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

[Audio Review] Reality Boy by A.S. King

Buy on Amazon or Book Depository

Title: Reality Boy
Author: A.S. King [Twitter | Facebook | Website
Audiobook Performer: Michael Stellman
Publisher: Hachette Audio, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult- Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: October 22, 2013
Source: audiobook via public library/OverDrive – review policy here.

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

Gerald's day goes something like this... Wake up,  avoid all family, school, work at a performance arena in concessions, and return home for a drink with dad. There's no denying that Gerald was a difficult child and has been destroyed by reality TV which has landed him the nickname "crapper" and an anger management coach. The world began to revolve around Gerald at age five when he became a reality TV centerpiece for "Network Nanny" in which a fake nanny was coached off-screen by a real nanny to help tame him and his two sisters. We find out really quickly that reality TV is not what it seems but that the perception of its realism has the power to live on over a decade later. This provides a unique storyline and provides insight into what happens when the cameras stop rolling.

“Because it's true.
Isn't that the only reason to ever say anything?” 

Ahh, characters. Everyone in this book is truly a character. Gerald begins the story as an individual who cannot see a way out of his current situation which includes living at home with his parents and older sister Tasha, constantly bullied and reminded of his childhood antics, and daydreaming as a coping mechanism. Luckily, there is SO much growth from Gerald as he meets Hannah, and attempts to visualize and actualize the next phases of his life. Hannah and Gerald's relationship is natural and clean, filled with all the doubts and question found in teenage love. Their inability to fit in serves as the glue for their being. 

Creating a list of demands, Gerald looks for family stability and support has he moves on from being the "crapper." Gerald's family is a piece of work, where both parents have virtually given up and take zero responsibility for their decisions and how these have impacted all three of their children. Mom is a stay-at-home where magazines are a priority in addition to covering up the noises from the basement. In the basement Tasha has moved back home after dropping out of college and maintains a generously loud sex life. Unfortunately neither of these characters do not develop much over the story but that's to be expected. Dad is a busy realtor with, what seems, a passive attitude towards home life. Dad also grows a lot and by a lot I mean he grows a pair. 

The one downfall for this story at times was the pacing and transitions between reality and Gerald's day dreaming landscapes. The transition piece maybe from listening to it versus reading the text. There were definitely some areas where I feel like it dragged. I would have liked to "see where this is going" a little bit sooner. However, I did feel the need for the flash back scenes. It really tied together all of the emotional and psychological damage Gerald and his family faced. Not to mention how its not Gerald who's messed up but that someone else is a true psychopath. 

Gerald's voice is genuine and painful. His journey is one of doubt that led to healing, moving on and making plans. At times I was worried but his growth is not only awesome but believable. A.S. King gives us the raw voice of an American teenager who just wants to grow up. This is a great coming-of-age tale as youth's entire childhoods from conception to graduation are documented online via photo and videos, reality TV not needed. 

4-Stars: Read it. This is mood heavy so be prepared. Definitely a post-read thinker.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #5: April 19 – 26

This week I got book mail! I always love some good old fashion mail. It's like Christmas really. :)

In The Mail

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols - Copy provided by the author, thanks Jennifer!

Drawing Amanda by Stephanie Feuer - ARC provided by publisher, Hipso Media

Box of books!!!! - Won from Brittany at Book Addicts Guide

The Lonesome Young by Lucy Connors – Won from Free Book Friday!


She Is Not Invisible & Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
Went to the author's Q&A and signing! 

Library Checkouts

What's new on your shelf this week?

Friday, April 25, 2014

[Friday Favorites] Diversity, Star-Crossed, Books in Movies...

Friday Favorites is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa's Wishful Endings, that spotlights a favorite author, book, series, publisher, cover, blog, etc. Basically whatever bookish thing that you love, recommend, and want to tell others about.

Articles I Favorited This Week

Defining Disability by author Corrine Duyvis for Diversity in YA (4/23/14)
BEA Author Autographing List by Jenna Does Books (4/23/14)

Most Favorited Tweet This Week
I got faved/retweeted by Matt Lanter which was a total fan girl moment. :) If you're not watching Star-Crossed on Monday nights you should. Seriously, this should've been a book.

Videos I liked

How To Train Your Dragon 2 - First five minutes of the upcoming movie based off the book by Cressida Cowell. Movie releases on June 13, 2014.

Book Trailer: Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley

"Math" by Lauren Fairweather - Fan song for The Fault in Our Stars

Not About Angels by Birdy - From the official Fault in Our Stars soundtrack

Photos I liked

Check out author Andrea Cremer's amazing snake tattoo! via RavenousReader

Bookish TV/Movie News

Goosebumps movie begins production
Stephanie Meyers' production company options 'Handful of Dust'

Thursday, April 24, 2014

[Review] The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Buy on Amazon or the Book Depository

Title: Geography of You and Me
Author: Jennifer E. Smith [Twitter | Facebook | Website
Publisher: Poppy/ Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/ Hachette Book Group
Genre: Young Adult- Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Source: purchased – review policy here.

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

He was like one of her novels, still unfinished and best understood in the right place and at the right time.

This book made me want to be in high school all over. No joke. The writing was quotable, memorable and I have about a million cross art ideas. This is basically how I felt the entire book. 

Simply put Lucy has money but no family love, more on that later. Owen's father would give the world for him but has no money. This results in the two of them being pulled around the world to find what they're looking for. Along the way there are other interests, schools, travel stops, etc. However it always comes back to Lucy and Owen. They connect once while "on the road" and this was my grrrr moment. Not to spoil anything, this was how I felt...

As the story progresses there are some pacing changes that I really loved. I felt the longing between them, a closeness in their disconnect. You feel the waiting game, their lives moving on in all the places they need to, like Lucy and her mum's bonding, Owen and his dad processing their grieving and setting down new roots. So it only leaves the them question... 

You can't know the answer until you ask the question...

This is a good, easy read that will remind you of rom coms from the 90s but hits the spot like cookie dough ice cream. Recommended for fans of contemporary romance, traveling and young love. You'll root for them until the end. 

4 Stars: Warning - Serious case of wanderlust may set in post reading.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

[Waiting on Wednesday] Blackbird by Anna Carey

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine,
that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This Week's Pick: 

Pre-Order on Amazon or The Book Depository

Title: Blackbird
Series: Blackbird Duology #1
Author: Anna Carey [Website | Twitter | Facebook]
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen/ HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult- Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller

Summary via Goodreads: 

A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her. 

On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined. 

The Maze Runner series meets Code Name Verity, Blackbird is relentless and action-packed, filled with surprising twists.

Why I'm Waiting...

This read is told in second person which is pretty unique. The first book I read in second person was Bright Lights, Big City and while it took a moment to adjust the viewpoint grew on me. I am also really excited about a mystery thriller, which I haven't seen much of in YA. I'm waiting for a breath of fresh air! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

[Blog Hop] Fairy Tale Fortnight Giveaway Hop

This hop is in conjunction with the 4th annual Fairy Tale Fortnight.  
Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop
Hosted by

April 22 – May 3, 2014

Check out the blog hop hosts' sites for more on fairy tale retellings 
and lots of fun features!

My Pick!

A collection of dark retellings by a number of popular YA authors in short story format! 

Authors include: Ellen Hopkins 
Amanda Hocking 
Julie Kagawa 
Claudia Gray 
Rachel Hawkins 
Kimberly Derting 
Myra McEntire 
Malinda Lo 
Sarah Rees-Brennan 
Jackson Pearce 
Christine Johnson 
Jeri Smith-Ready 
Shaun David Hutchinson 
Saundra Mitchell 
Sonia Gensler 
Tessa Gratton 
Jon Skrovan

I love the classic Grimm Fairy Tales and the Grim anthology does its' best at placing a modern dark twist to breath new life into cherished tales. 

Giveaway is open internationally to anywhere the Book Depository ships. See the complete list here. Participants must be 13 years or older. All entries will be verified.

Visit the other blogs and giveaways!