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,

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.


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, 

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!

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!


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!

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
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.


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