Reading

December Reading Round-Up

After tackling ALL THE WRITING in November (50k words for NaNoWriMo, another 25k words of extensive revision–and that was all on top of launching Mammoth), I promised myself plenty of reading time in December. My TBR pile was reaching approximately halfway to the sun, so it was time to catch up a little. Did I read as much as I hoped to? Of course not, because life happened and eyestrain is a hideous delight. But here’s some of what I did read.

December2018Reading

Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen: Jack is a gay teenager in NYC who writes an anonymous sex advice column online. When a secret admirer starts sending notes that get increasingly creepy and threatening, Jack has to figure out the truth before he’s forced to sacrifice who he really is. This book is incredibly bold, frank, and sex-positive. It tackles a lot of subject matter that YA fiction doesn’t typically reach, and Jack’s focus on consent and safety was powerful. Can we have a companion book that’s a compilation of Jack’s columns?

Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy: I wonder if Kate McKinnon has any idea that she’s thanked in the acknowledgements of more than one YA novel published in 2018 (I also included her in Mammoth’s). This was an insta-buy as soon as Cori mentioned that it references Holtzmann from the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot. (One character has a Holtz tattoo. I also have a Holtz tattoo. I felt seen.) Seventeen-year-old Iris spends a few weeks with her little brother on the set of the troubled movie adaptation of their famous-author grandmother’s series of fantasy novels. I loved all the film-set details like the daily sides, and the story’s characters were diverse and authentic. There was some great commentary on feminism, too, especially from director Cate Collins.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand: I was in the mood for something darker, and this story of three girls coming together to battle a mysterious evil delivered. So much of the language is darkly lush and gorgeous, like this quote about Marion from the first chapter: “I’ll tell you what I’ve lost, she wanted to say, and then open up her chest so they could see the hollow pit where her heart used to live. It was stuck in a state of collapse, this pit–a tiny, organ-shaped singularity, sucking down the bleeding ravaged bits of who she used to be.” I savored those descriptions, and I enjoyed the connections that formed between the main characters. Also, there were moths. So many moths. As a crazy moth lady (I occasionally raise lunas and other moths), I knew I needed to read this book as soon as I saw all the moths on the cover art, and I was not disappointed.

Here’s to more reading (and less eyestrain) in 2019!

5 Things I Love About, Reading

5 Things I Love About…Love, Hate & Other Filters

Time for a new blog series featuring my favorite things related to some of my recent reads!

Warning: While I won’t reveal any major spoilers, some of the details I list could be considered minor spoilers.

BlogLoveHate.jpg
Here I am striking a Maya pose to celebrate the release of Love, Hate & Other Filters!

First up is Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed. Samira’s debut has been getting tons of attention since its highly-anticipated release in January, and it deserves every bit. It starts off as a sweet/fluffy YA contemporary about Maya, an Indian-American Muslim teenager caught between her dreams and her parents’ overbearing expectations while also juggling the onset of a love triangle.

Then an attack ignites a storm of Islamophobia that affects Maya and her family, and everything changes.

It’s jarring. It’s relatable. Maya’s voice is genuine and honest, and I truly enjoyed getting to know her.

Five things I love:

  1. Maya is an #ownvoices character, and that comes through in the narrative. She’s so authentic. The #ownvoices movement is bringing attention to some brilliant and very deserving voices in YA fiction, and LH&OF is a great example of that.
  2. Maya’s use of her video camera as a shield between her and the rest of the world. “The camera gave me distance and something to hide behind.” SO RELATABLE. I often feel like I need a shield too, and I’d definitely need one in the sort of boisterous family wedding scenario Maya describes.
  3. Speaking of weddings, the book opens with a an Indian-American wedding that’s just… SOMEONE ADAPT THIS BOOK INTO A MOVIE RIGHT NOW JUST SO I CAN BE DAZZLED BY ALL THE COLORS IN THIS SCENE PLEASE. It’s so vivid and gorgeous and I can’t even.
  4. Hina, Maya’s aunt. I adored her! I’m a bit of a sucker for cool aunties (Natalie has one in MAMMOTH, too), so I was already biased. Hina is so awesome and supportive, and her refusal to follow tradition gives Maya a more balanced perspective:BlogLoveHate2.jpg
  5. The fact that Phil remembers the barfi story from when he and Maya were seven years old. Come on, how cute was that?? ❤

Those were my top five, but there’s plenty more to love about Love, Hate & Other Filters!

Reading

The Enormous Egg

I’ve been sorting through a lot of long-buried possessions, and I recently came across this book about a boy who finds and hatches a mysterious egg (SPOILER ALERT IT’S A DINOSAUR EGG YEEAAAHHHH!!!):

The Enormous Egg
That chicken is not having any of this.

I was six or seven when I got this. I remember being intimidated because although it looked like other chapter books, the print inside was so much smaller than I was used to — but I loved dinosaurs, so I jumped in. Years before I read Jurassic Park, I encountered my very first fictional paleontologist, Dr. Ziemer:

Dr. Ziemer

The Enormous Egg was originally published in the 1950s, and some elements of the story haven’t aged that well, but I’m still fond of it as a product of its time, and I still adore the illustrations. And I still want an Uncle Beazley of my own:

Baby Beazley
COME ON THO HOW ADORABLE IS THAT AND CAN IT BE LITTERBOX TRAINED

I’m not someone who normally has a lot of maternal instincts, but show me a teeny baby triceratops and suddenly I’m all:

TarzanMother

Of course, large dinosaurs don’t make particularly good pets.

Big Beazley
THAT SIDE-EYE. THAT SQUISH.

So, I mean… I guess that dream’s ruined. Still, as a kid, I always hoped I’d stumble across a mysterious egg, just like Nate did.

(Okay, I admit it. To this day, I still kind of wish that could happen.)