Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday Fun Post: Dear Netflix...

Dear Netflix,

I have a proposition for you :)

After reading Claire Legrand’s fantasy novel, Furyborn, two years ago and hearing her describe it at TBF 2018 as being Game-of-Thrones-esque “but without the gratuitous violence against women,” I knew that Furyborn would be perfect as a TV series.

First of all, the pacing and structure of Furyborn would translate beautifully on screen. It’s action-packed, not conversation-heavy, and filled with details that bring the world to life even from the page. I would especially love to see Rielle’s trials depicted--the magic, the dresses--because I know the emotions and tension would be even more visceral and captivating. And I would be equally excited to see Eliana's riveting journey and discoveries.

Furyborn also has such a unique premise and timeline. Rielle and Eliana’s stories take place 1,000 years apart, and there are so many possibilities surrounding the depiction of these two perspectives. Alternating episodes between Rielle and Eliana’s worlds is one such possibility, and another (the one I prefer) would be combining both perspectives into each episode with breaks in between. I loved Greta Gerwig’s film adaptation of Little Women and her use of a fluid timeline, and I definitely think something similar would work for Furyborn.

Overall, there's so much material to work with in Furyborn, and also so much potential to expand on the novel as well. And while I don't have too many suggestions for the characters, I would love to see a diverse and inclusive cast, and if we could support lesser-known actors and actresses, that would be amazing too!

Best regards,
Amy

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Book Review: Love & Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves

Hey all! While you're stuck inside these next few months there are plenty of great TBF books you should check out, and I'd recommend starting with Love and Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves. Here's a little summary:

Freshman year at Harvard was the most anticlimactic year of Danny's life. She's failing pre-med and drifting apart from her best friend. One by one, Danny is losing all the underpinnings of her identity. When she finds herself attracted to an older, edgy girl who she met in rehab for an eating disorder, she finally feels like she might be finding a new sense of self. But when tragedy strikes, her self-destructive tendencies come back to haunt her as she struggles to discover who that self really is.

I did not know I would love this book as much as I did in the end. Firstly, the characters were really enjoyable to read about and I was rooting for them all throughout. Danny felt authentic and real, and that isn't just from the great queer and mental health representation in this novel. If I was to describe her in one word it would absolutely be a "mess," which is much better then it sounds. Her sometimes stupid decisions and self hatred make her feel even more real, and create an even better character as you watch her go on the journey to becoming the best version of herself. The love interest is also wonderful to read and the whole romantic subplot added a bit of lightness to this darker novel.

Another thing I loved about this book is the setting - not as many YA novels are set at colleges and I always am so excited to find those that are. As I head to college in the coming years I find stories about them extremely interesting, and with this one being set at Harvard I loved reading those little elements of it. The writing of this book is also incredible, Gonsalves finds the perfect balance between beautiful prose and young dialoge, with lines that feel lyrical and that deeply resonated with me, while not compromising realistic dialogue and having a nineteen year old narrator actually sound nineteen years old.

But the real reason you should read it is just for it's incredible authentic story, with characters that felt like real people one could know, and a story that is all to real and is told in such a beautiful and incredible way. To me, this book reminded me of two past books I've read and loved, American Panda and Girl in Pieces, yet it is also so different than anything I've ever read. I will say - this isn't really a light fluffy novel, but through the characters and their explorations of their selves and the world around them - I guarantee you'll love it.

-Claire

goodreads  amazon  barnes and noble

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Book Review: Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Hello! I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. This week I read Greenglass House, a middle-grade novel by Kate Milford, and I can't wait to share it with you!

It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves.

Greenglass House is a whimsical, heartwarming, and altogether enthralling novel. It's a story about mysterious guests, shared and unknown history, personal growth, and a house that draws people together--acquaintances and strangers alike.

I have to start by pulling some quotes from the novel: “The flashlight’s beam pierced the pool of shadow, which flickered and melted into butter-gold,” “Milo turned and saw only the stained-glass window and the snowy night beyond, tinged in shades of pale, pale greens: celery and celadon and tones like old bottle glass.”...Isn't it just beautiful? Milford’s writing is so melodic and descriptive it's almost poetic, and at the same time it's sharp, creating a cozy yet mysterious atmosphere. This novel as a whole is full of detail, from the storytelling revealing the backgrounds of each of the guests to the game Milo and Meddy play that guides them through their investigations and brings Milo self-acceptance as he reflects upon his identity.

And I love this novel especially for its unconventional elements and unexpected plot twists. There’s so much more than meets the eye in the Greenglass House, and that goes for its people too. An adventure of sleuthing, secrets, and storytelling unfolds as Milo and Meddy inch closer and closer to the underlying "wrongness."

I absolutely adore the writing, characters, and stories in Greenglass House, and I highly recommend it to fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Until next time, 
Amy

Find Greenglass House in the Monroe County Library System (Overdrive here), GoodreadsBarnes & Noble, or Amazon

Friday, March 13, 2020

Friday Fun Post: If You Like This...Read That!

Hey all, here for another Friday post; this week I'll be recommending a few TBF books based off of some of my favorite books (and a movie!) to try and find your perfect new read!

Image result for the unwanteds cover"if you like the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, read the Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

The Unwanteds is an absolutely magical middle-grade fantasy series that is incredible. The world-building and characters are so strong and her writing style is so captivating and meaningful, while still fun and humorous. This novel emphasizes the need for creativity in life, an incredible message of celebrating individual talents, interests and difference: a great thing for younger readers to grow up with. And right alongside that is a fun, yet dark and compelling fantasy tale. Alongside Percy Jackson and Harry Potter, this was another one of my favorites when I was younger and I bet it would be yours too! 


At the Edge of the Universe If you like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, read At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

When I first read Aristotle and Dante I immediately fell in love with it and its characters, and after reading it I fell in love with this novel too. Similar to Saenz, Hutchinson's books are beautiful and meaningful while still realistic with characters and stories that stick with you, as well as having incredible own voices for LGBTQ representation. There are deep human connections, realistic stories and characters, and writing that captivates you. I 100% would reccomend this (or any of Hutchinson's novels) to just about anyone.
Reality Boy

If you like the movie the Truman Show read Reality Boy by A.S. King or Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos                                          There are two books this year with premises similar to the classic film about a boy trapped in a reality tv show about his life, and both are incredible! Both explore the characters extremely well leaving you rooting for the protagonist and captivated by the incredible writing. Reality Boy does feel a bit darker to me in some areas, but I guarantee you'll like either if this premise interests you at all! Or if you just want an incredible read unlike most other books out there.

Have a great rest of March!
-Claire





















Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Wednesday Book Review: Sawkill Girls

Hello TBF enthusiasts! Spring is coming… I can feel it in the air. However, while we eagerly wait for the last vestiges of winter to leave us,  there is no better activity to pass the time than to read a couple fantastic books. Lucky for you, I have just the suggestion.

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.


Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.
Sawkill Girls
Photo courtesy of Goodreads


Imagine a world where girls are disappearing and there is a horrible legend haunting the town. Sawkill Girls, by Claire Legrand, invents this creative and creepy world, where the reader is kept on the edge of their seat, wondering what exactly is happening to the girls that go missing. I should confess right here: I am not usually a fan of the horror genre. No IT for me. However, Sawkill Girls was the perfect dash of creepy without being too horrifying. The mystery that permeates the plot is really quite enjoyable to read, as it offers crumbs of clues to the reader, but holds out on the big reveal. I loved the characters that Legrand crafted in this novel-- they really made the story. All three main characters are deep and face their struggles in a remarkably human way. Zoey’s biting wit, Marion’s resilient personality, and Val’s conflicted nature really shine throughout the story. The dynamic that these three girls create is incredibly memorable. 
Really, though, the true mark of brilliance in Sawkill Girls was its social commentary. Sawkill Girls took on a lot of the sexism that permeates society, pointing out the lack of power that women have felt throughout the ages, and challenging the idea that women are powerless with three incredibly powerful main characters that do not need a man to come and save them. Legrand includes multiple moments where the girls reflect on how their gender has affected the way that society treats them and the decide to stand up for themselves. There is an interesting element in the book as well of girls being ordered what to do by men separated from the situation: Legrand take this on with grace and wit. 
Sawkill Girls is an excellent feminist read, particularly with Friday the 13th coming up. I highly suggest that you grab a couple from your local library and then talk with Legrand about it at Tenn Book Fest. I remember her from a couple of years back (back when she was promoting Sawkill Girls before it came out) and she is incredibly nice!


Happy reading!

Laura

Friday, March 6, 2020

Friday Fun Post: If You Like This...Read That!

Hi everyone! It's hard to believe it's already March, and TBF is only a little more than two months away! There are a ton of books to read until then, and today I've included a few of my top suggestions.

If you liked An Ember in the Ashes, read Furyborn!

I will admit, I read and reviewed Furyborn last year when the author, Claire Legrand, first came to TBF, but I still remember thinking how it seemed to mesh together all my favorite YA fantasy novels. Furyborn is the story of Rielle and Eliana, two women inextricably linked despite the millennium separating them. Rielle's story of magic and trials reminds me of Red Queen and Shadow and Bone, but it is Eliana's story that I want to highlight today. Hers especially is full of grit and sacrifice, and reminded me so much of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Both include once-glorious empires that have since been corrupted, an underworld of insurgents, and a fight for survival. Both have bold, gritty female leads who fight for their families and then for something greater…a fight against forces more sinister than they ever imagined…

If you liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower, read Dig!

A.S. King's Dig is truly unlike any other novel I've read, but there are definitely elements that I can identity in other novels like The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Both portray teenage life in an unapologetic light--stripping away the rose-tinted lens over our experiences and sharing the unfiltered difficulties, the moments of happiness, and the hard realities. While each focuses on their respective protagonists, there is an emphasis in both novels on the flaws of society and the circumstances that can determine the advantages/disadvantages one has in the world. If you want to read about the raw experiences of teenagers with an underlying twist, I would strongly recommend Dig.

And if you liked The Wrath and the Dawn, read Spin the Dawn!

These books share more than just a key word in their titles! Spin the Dawn, by Elizabeth Lim, and The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renée Ahdieh (a TBF alum!), both incorporate vivid imagery of sights and sounds, legends and myths, and journeys that test their protagonists' wills and determination. Both stories' protagonists find themselves willingly in an endeavor that could mean life or death, and both discover so much more about themselves, the land, and the people around them. Maia's journey to become a master tailor and Shahrzad's journey to seek retribution are full of twists and turns, secrets and unimaginable truths. Spin the Dawn is truly a magical read, and I hope you decide to check it out!

There are so many amazing authors coming this year, and I encourage you to look through their novels even if you don't recognize many of them. Read some synopses, check out some books...I am positive there is something that you'll love.

Until next time!
Amy

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Book Review: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Hey all, happy March! This month I read a book I have had on my list for a long long time, Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. Teen Book Fest is only two and a half months away and if you're looking for some great reads by TBF authors, this is a good one to start with! However I would say this book is meant for slightly older teens, and might not be the best fit for younger middle-grade
readers.
Grasshopper Jungle
Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin's hormones are totally oblivious; they don't care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He's stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. Ultimately, it's up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.

A Goodreads review described this novel, saying: "You won't find a YA book out there like this one," a review that instantly intrigued me. And after reading it I am happy to confirm I have never read a book like this.

This book is the perfect mix between contemporary YA fiction and horror, which is not a sentence I think I've ever said. Grasshopper Jungle is, to put it simply weird - and thats exactly why I loved it. The humor in the relationships between characters and in Smith's writing is very strong, and honestly who is not at least a little intrigued by a story about saving the world from six-foot grasshoppers. But at the same time, the contemporary element is what keeps you invested. The main character, Austin, is hilarious and despite making many dumb decisions, was extremely relatable and his internal struggle that carries the book just felt so real, and I loved it. I have never seen a love triangle with a boy choosing between his girlfriend and his best friend and that made this book stand out even more. In reality this is a book is about growing up and feeling lost, which really made it hit hard for me. Not everyone can relate to saving the world from horrific insects, but as humans we all spend our lives trying to feel a little less alone, which Smith captures perfectly.

Smith's books are funny and weird, yet heartbreaking and real, with remarkable characters often with LGBTQ representation. Smith's writing style, just like his books, is unique and quirky in its own way, and I can not wait for Rochester to be able to meet him and experience his ridiculous wit in person. But before May comes around I would definitely recommend checking out Grasshopper Jungle for yourself.

-Claire

find the book here!
or check it out at your local library!



Friday, February 28, 2020

If You Like This... Book Suggestions!

Hello everyone! February is winding down and we get a bonus leap day, which doesn’t happen too often. Perhaps you are looking to spend that day curled up by a roaring fire reading a great new book. Let me offer some suggestions:


  1. If you are a fan of Harry Potter (and who isn’t?) then you should try The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
I fell in love with The Unwanteds series from the first couple of sentences. It has fantastic characters that have the same three dimensional qualities that define the Harry Potter crew. I mean, Hermione is the perfect fictional best friend. Alex, from the Unwanteds, is crafted with the same type of masterful strokes. What really makes The Unwanteds such a phenomenal series is the incredible world building that permeates every nook and cranny of Quill and Artime. The bleak grey of Quill is juxtaposed delightfully with the creative energy of Artime. And the book is positively filled with magic! The different types of magic displayed by the people of Artime kept me on the edge of my seat. Harry Potter, for me, was an instant favorite of mine because it offered such a vivid world to inhabit and it filled me with wonder. The Unwanteds is filled with the same type of wonder and I absolutely would recommend it.
Image result for the unwanteds
Picture Courtesy of Amazon.com
  1. If you loved To All The Boys I Loved Before, then you should try When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
To All The Boys I Loved Before was such a cute read! It had everything, with Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship growing from standoffish to sweet. They really gave you a relationship to root for. When Dimple Met Rishi was very similar in this, giving the reader a relationship that they will always cheer for. Dimple and Rishi immediately disliked each other. Their parents had arranged their marriage without their input, causing some serious tension between Dimple and Rishi when they first met. They are forced to put aside their differences because they are partners in a computer science camp competition, which they want to win. It is so much fun watching their romance blossom. Dimple is very serious, while Rishi is a definite romantic, causing the cute dynamic of opposites attract. The result? Multiple sparks fly when their personalities clash but they bring out different sides in each other. Trust me: if you like cute romances, you will love When Dimple Met Rishi.
When Dimple Met Rishi (Dimple and Rishi, #1)
Picture Courtesy of Goodreads
  1. If you loved The Lunar Chronicles, then you should give Furyborn by Claire Legrand a try
Furyborn is quite the wild ride and it certainly is a wonderful journey. The story follows two women trying to fulfill their destinies as either the Sun Queen or the Blood Queen. Rielle’s journey to learn to accept her role as queen is reminiscent of Cinder’s own struggle with leadership. Eliana’s fiery personality recall’s Cinder’s compelling spunk. Like later books in The Lunar Chronicle, Furyborn is told by multiple characters’ perspectives. This is hard to pull off, but wonderful when successfully done. I can assure you, Legrand uses the two narrators beautifully. Both books are set in beautifully crafted worlds, although Furyborn is more of another universe than a dystopian. Don’t worry, though-- Legrand is an absolute master at crafting this universe, both the past and the future version. Like Cinder, Furyborn also has a dash of romance that keeps the reader entranced, hoping that their favorite pairings will work out. Personally, I am a big fan of Audric. Trust me-- Furyborn is worth a read! If you love spunky heroines, mesmerizing world building, and an entrancing plot, then Furyborn is the book for you! 
Furyborn (Empirium, #1)
Picture Courtesy of Goodreads



I hope that one of these books has piqued your interest-- they are all worthy reads! There are only two and a half months until TBF (it’s so exciting) so it's time to start reading all of these fantastic TBF books. Have a great leap day and happy reading!
-Laura

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Book Review: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Hi everyone! Last week I was on February break, which meant I had the chance to start a book that's been on my TBR list for a while--Elizabeth Lim's Spin the Dawn. What was intended to be 15 minutes of reading quickly turned into the rest of the day, and so I can't wait to share with you this spellbinding novel!

On the fringes of the Great Spice Road, Maia Tamarin works as a seamstress in her father's shop. She dreams of becoming the best tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well.

When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as his son and travels to the Summer Palace in his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to save her family and achieve her dream of becoming the imperial tailor. There's just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia's task is further complicated when she draws the unwelcome attention of the court enchanter, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.


And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor's reluctant bride-to-be: from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Spin the Dawn manages to fit so much into its 387 pages. From the very beginning, we are swept into Maia's life at her father's shop, into a world that suddenly expands in possibilities with the arrival of an imperial official. Maia soon finds herself in a competition of skill...and guile, and then another, even more thrilling quest spanning the entire continent.

I love the world and atmosphere created by this novel. It's an adventure told from Maia’s perspective as she experiences it, but at the same time there's also a sense that she is recounting the events as well, bringing a fairy-tale-esque quality to the story. Descriptions of the magic, the dressmaking, and journey are rich in detail, and the world--the land, culture, and institutions--incorporates elements of real history while having its own. Lim seamlessly weaves in bits and pieces of various legends and fables (some of which you might be able to tell from the synopsis, others more subtle) while creating her own unique plotline.

I especially loved reading Maia's quest for the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars, and how each task tested her will and changed her. And the novel is set up perfectly for its sequel, Unravel the Dusk, which is coming out this July. I can’t wait to read the next stage of Maia's journey, and crossing my fingers that we learn more about some of the secondary characters...Lady Sarnai, Emperor Khanujin, even Edan. And I have a feeling that there is a lot more history to unravel...

Happy reading!
Amy

P.S. Isn't the cover stunning?

Find Spin the Dawn in the Monroe County Library System, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Goodreads

Friday, February 21, 2020

Three TBF Authors I Can't Wait to Meet



Hey all! After posting my first review last week, I am even more excited for TBF this year on May 16th at RIT! While all of the authors coming this year are so exciting, here are the top three authors I am so excited to meet and whose books I love and/or I can't wait to read.

1) Lisa McMann


Image result for the unwanteds lisa mcmann
I just posted my review of the first book of McMann's Unwanteds series last week which I loved both when I read it as a kid and when I reread it this year. This is an absolutely magical middle-grade fantasy series that is incredible and I would love to meet the author who created it. Her world-building, characters are so strong and her writing style is so captivating and meaningful, while still fun and humorous. McMann's works are so imaginative and heartwarming and I bet she is just as fun in real life as her books are!

Image result for we are the ants
2) Shaun David Hutchinson

I have been meaning to read one of Shaun David Hutchinson's books for years and after seeing that he is coming to TBF this year it was the push to actually get to one of his incredible books! First on my list is We Are the Ants, closely followed by At the Edge of the Universe, both of which I have heard wonderful things about. Hutchinson's books are beautiful and meaningful while still realistic with characters and stories that stick with you, as well as having incredible own voices for LGBTQ representation. After watching a clip of Hutchinson speak it is clear he is an incredible individual and speaker and I am very excited to have the opportunity to meet him this year!



3) Andrew Smith
Image result for grasshopper jungle
I've heard stellar things about Andrew Smith's books forever and after seeing that he is coming to Rochester this year, I added his books to my list very quickly, with my eyes set on starting with Grasshopper Jungle. A Goodreads review described this novel, saying: "You won't find a YA book out there like this one," a review that instantly intrigues me. Smith's books are funny and weird, yet heartbreaking and real, with remarkable characters often with LGBTQ representation. Smith's writing style, just like his books, is unique and quirky in its own way, and I can not wait to be able to meet him and experience his ridiculous wit in person.



Overall, I know this is going to be an incredible year for TBF with so many incredible authors coming, who have written  absolutely incredible books. Stay tuned for another review next Wednesday!

-Claire




Friday, February 14, 2020

Friday Fun Post: Top 3 TBF Authors I Can't Wait to Meet

Hi everyone! If you've been keeping up with the TBF website or their social media, you've probably seen the exciting author reveals for TBF 2020. Some familiar names are on the list, and so many new ones as well. Personally, I'm looking forward to meeting all of them, but my top three are Lisa McMann, Elizabeth Lim, and Stephanie MacKendrick!
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Lisa McMann (The Unwanteds)

McMann's The Unwanteds was one of the most memorable series I read during middle school. It was a time when I was exploring different genres and literary styles, and it was one of those books that transitioned me from middle grade to YA. I still remember which shelf the novels were located on in the school library, and while a lot of the details of the plot escape me today, I still remember falling in love with the world of Artimé, the magic and creativity, and the characters. I look forward to picking up where I left off, and I can't wait to meet McMann in person at TBF!

Elizabeth Lim (Spin the Dawn)

Lim is a new author for me, and while I haven't read her novel, Spin the Dawn (it's on my desk right now!), it instantly caught my eye. With its incorporation of magic, myths, and allusions to Ancient China, it struck me as an intriguing fantasy read. I love when authors tie in elements of their cultures into their writing, especially stories and legends they've grown up with; not only does it add a fascinating layer of complexity, but it contributes to greater representation in fiction as well.

On top of that, Elizabeth Lim just seems like someone I would love to have a conversation with. From her author profile, she loves music and has pursued music composition professionally, and I would love to talk with her and learn more about her decision to ultimately pursue writing!

Stephanie MacKendrick (In Good Hands)
Cover may not be final


MacKendrick is the author of the upcoming novel In Good Hands, which shares the stories of several female politicians and the pathway to politics. Besides fiction, I love reading memoirs and similar novels because I love real-world, empowering stories, and I believe In Good Hands will fulfill that well. I also recently took a government course and went on a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with various agencies and Congressional staff, and In Good Hands seems like another way to connect politics with my everyday life.

Lastly, MacKendrick has an interesting perspective as a former journalist who is now focused on women's career advancement and nonprofit leadership, and I would love to hear more about her background and current work. In Good Hands comes out in April, and I can't wait to read it and meet her at TBF!

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I hope you're as excited as I am for the authors coming to TBF 2020! There are so many more I haven't mentioned, so I encourage you to look at the list here! Counting down the days!

-Amy

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Book Review: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann


Hey all! Another new year, and that means another year of TBF! To start off the year of book reviews and blog posts I reread a book I remember loving when I was younger, which is The Unwanteds, the first book in the hit fantasy middle grade series by Lisa McMann. Here's a summary:


Image result for the unwanteds cover"


When Alex finds out he is Unwanted, he expects to die. That is the way of the people of Quill. Each year, all the thirteen-year-olds are labeled as Wanted, Necessary, or Unwanted. Wanteds get more schooling and train to join the Quillitary. Necessaries keep the farms running. Unwanteds are set for elimination.

It’s hard for Alex to leave behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted, but he makes peace with his fate—until he discovers that instead of a “death farm,” what awaits him is a magical place called Artimé. There, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds are encouraged to cultivate their creative abilities and use them magically. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation.

The most incredible part of this book to me, is the immensely strong, riveting, and just breathtaking world-building that fills this book. The descriptions of magic and its system, the creatures and unique world and places, all just screamed originality which I loved. This book has a strong storyline regarding creativity which is so very present in this book which despite being described as "the Hunger Games meets Harry Potter," is like nothing else I ever read as a kid. The concept itself, almost reminiscent of the dystopian books that filled the early 2010s, stands out from the typical teenagers take down the government type of story. Despite the story being aimed for younger audiences, McMann did not shy away from darkness and heavier topics, something I know attracted me as a child and that I appreciated again on my reread. And with that concept came another thing I loved: McMann's characters.
Our main group of characters were easy to quickly become attached to and root for throughout the story and the rest of the series, but each with their own unique qualities, as well as interesting, humorous, or emotional interactions between them. And despite not remembering the rest of the series as it has been several years since I read them, I do remember the wonderful character development that occurs over the series, making the characters and McMann's writing even better. Besides our young heroes, come two of the best parts of the story: Mr. Today, who plays the role of the the older wise mentor, but is also just brilliant and good intentioned, easily winning your heart over, and Simber, an alive giant winged cheetah statue who is unexpectedly a large player in the story, as well as in tying it all together, and in further showing the diverse imagination of McMann and how fun, magical, and unique this story is.
This novel emphasizes the need for creativity in life, an incredible message of celebrating individual talents, interests and difference: a great thing for younger readers to grow up with. And right alongside that is a fun, yet dark and compelling fantasy tale.

See you next time,
Claire

check the book out here!amazon   barnes and noble (or your local library!)


Friday, February 7, 2020

Three TBF Authors That I Can’t Wait to Meet


Hey, everyone! It’s so exciting to be back and so exciting to be talking about one of my favorite subjects once again! This year’s TBF has a bunch of powerhouse guest authors and let me tell you, I am already dreaming about getting to meet them. However, there are three authors that I am particularly thrilled to meet…
Without further ado, here are the top three authors that I am counting down the days to meet:

  1. Sandhya Menon, author of When Dimple Met Rishi
Okay, so let me give a full confession. I read When Dimple Met Rishi on my phone in a day (I usually go for paper books, it takes a great book to hold my attention on the small screen of my phone). And that book caused me to fall in love. The romance between Dimple and Rishi is just so adorable. Their initial dislike, made so much more awkward by the fact that they are matched by their parents to be married, makes the story thrilling. And the melting of their initial dislike… it’s so adorable. I can’t wait to meet the author behind this genius book. And not only is she an incredible author, she's "mom" to an adorable dog and cat! I’m so excited to ask her how she breathed life into such a wonderful relationship as that of Dimple and Rishi and if her pets are ever going to make a cameo!

  1. Claire Legrand, author of Furyborn
So… I already met Claire Legrand back in the olden days of 2018. It might be cheating slightly to include her on this list, but I do it for good reason. I can personally attest that Clarie Legrand is an incredibly cool and incredibly kind person. I got to be the author assistant for Roshani Chokshi that year (best job ever, absolutely life changing, by the way) and she was partnered with Clarie Legrand. I can honestly say that Claire Legrand has a phenomenal sense of humor. And, since 2018, I have gotten a chance to read Furyborn, which is such an entrancing book. In fact, I might have to beg her to tell me the ending of that series because I have been on the edge of my seat with the wait. The way that the stories of Eliana and Rielle are woven together is truly amazing. The time travel and the romance and the magic make the book shine. I’ve also had the pleasure of reading Sawkill Girls (stay tuned for my thoughts on that) and, while it is completely different from Furyborn, it is bone chilling and phenomenal. Speaking as someone who generally avoids horror books like the plague, Clarie Legrand truly has the perfect dose of spooky threaded in the plot. I am so excited to get to see Claire Legrand again and, this time, beg her to let me in on what happens to Rielle and Eliana.

  1. Ryan La Sala, author of Reverie
I have not gotten the chance to read Reverie yet but I am looking forward to it. The dreamlike writing sounds fantastic. And the different places and times that the plot moves into seems quite riveting. Ryan La Sala himself says that the book is about what happens when a person gets lost in their head. As a compulsive dreamer, I can’t wait to see how he handles the peculiar world of the mind. One of my favorite classics is The Sound and The Fury because of its stream of consciousness narration, and it seems that this book might (in an incredibly different way) take a look at the consciousness. I'm so excited! And I have to say, he seems like a cool author. I certainly enjoyed reading his interview about Reverie

I can’t wait for May! TBF 2020 is coming quickly!

Stay warm this February (if possible in snowy Rochester)!
Until next time!

Laura

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Book Review: Dig by A.S. King

Hi everyone! I hope the new year has been treating you well. I’m so excited to start off the blogging season for TBF 2020! I recently read Dig, A.S. King’s latest novel, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

The Shoveler, The Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress, and First-Class Malcolm. These are the five teenagers lost in the Hemmings family's maze of tangled secrets. Only a generation removed from being Pennsylvania potato farmers, Gottfried and Marla Hemmings managed to trade digging spuds for developing subdivisions and now sit atop a million-dollar bank account--wealth they've declined to pass on to their adult children or their teenage grandchildren. "Because we want them to thrive," Marla always says. What does thriving look like? Like carrying a snow shovel everywhere. Like selling weed at the Arby's Drive-Thru window. Like first-class tickets to Jamaica between cancer treatments. Like a flea-circus in a trailer park. Like the GPS coordinates to a mound of dirt in a New Jersey forest.

As the rot just beneath the surface of the Hemmings' suburban respectability begins to spread, the estranged grandchildren gradually find their ways back to one another, just in time to uncover the terrible cost of maintaining the family name.

Dig is an inquiring, thought-provoking novel, uncomfortable but important. Through the raw, unfiltered lives of the grandchildren, Dig tells the story of decay spreading across a family tree, of senseless injustices disguised as love and good intentions, and of racism and prejudice seeping into lives and relationships. It confronts us with the price of success and survival, and questions our values and the tunnels we ourselves are running through. It is the story of five teenagers, told in each of their distinct voices, as they try to piece together fragmented worlds and questions without clear answers.

This is definitely a novel in which the plotlines are cast out early on and reeled in slowly as the story progresses. It can be confusing at first, but I promise that the pieces will fit together and the tangled yet disconnected relationships will begin to make sense. What ultimately drew me to Dig the most was the storytelling. The writing is incredible--sharp, humorous yet profound, marked with offhand comments packed with meaning. This novel explores the bitter side of generational divide--the repercussions of older generations' attempts to mold those younger into their idea of respectability--and the systems of wealth, race, privilege, and indifference that run concurrently with mainstream society. It shows us how each person is haunted, albeit by different things, how familiar people can be strangers, physically and ideologically, and how we have the capability to be different--be better--than those who came before us. 

I would strongly recommend Dig to anyone, and moreover, I would encourage you to read it twice. It is a story full of twists, layers, and hard truths, and I hope you take the time to check it out!

- Amy