october 26, 2016

Hi all! Today’s post is gonna be a little different. Last night I went to see Nova Ren Suma and Courtney Summers because I adore their words, but I also was using the event for one of my response papers for a class I’m taking this semester called Feminism and American Poetry. Like the nerd I am, I’m ridiculously proud of what I wrote, so I thought I’d share for anyone that missed the event and wishes they could have attended.

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Suma and Summers Talk Their “Beautiful and Brutal” Novels at McNally Jackson

New York Times Bestseller author Nova Ren Suma and ALA Award Winning author Courtney Summers were at the independent bookstore McNally Jackson last night, October 25, 2016, to promote the paperback releases of their latest novels, “The Walls Around Us” and “All the Rage,” respectively.

Events at McNally begin the same way. You step into the store, the roar of the city behind you instantly fading, sneak a peek at the crowded café and long for a warm cup of tea, marvel at the tables of books and resist the urge to touch each of them, and then you make your way downstairs. You meet strangers, readers, and bloggers, and editors all mingling. Eventually, the booksellers will appear to transform half of the lower floor into an event space. It’s a magic trick. Bookshelves disappear, hundreds of books vanishing with them.

Listening to Suma and Summers is no less magical. One would think these two talented women have known each other for years, as just a glance at Summers’ second book “This is Not a Test” yields a powerful blurb from Suma calling the at-the-time fledgling author a “ferocious talent.” However, there is a twist in the story. Suma and Summers had only just—finally—met in person the day before the event. Their relationship began online. They connected through Suma’s blog, on a post she had written about rejection. Summers could relate. She left a comment, and their friendship followed from there. Suma read pieces of the original post, laughing and grimacing at the purple prose and overdramatic “the rainbows have turned grey” sentiment of what rejection makes one feel.

They have been online friends and critique partners for ten years, a support system for each other. When asked what the best piece of advice one has given the other, Summers said simply that when Suma tells her she “can do it,” she can keep going, Summers believes her. I’ve seen female authors do events together before, but it is always different when the authors have worked together, and battled the hardest parts of writing—the doubt, the anxiety, the frustration—together. There is a special bond there. When recounting their meeting at the hotel the other night, Summers and Suma were both laughing, describing Summers’ elevator opening as Suma walked into the lobby, like a romance from a movie.

The women also talked about writing “beautiful and brutal” books about teen girls. Summers, while wearing a shirt that said Unlikeable Female Character, spoke about the large number of female characters in literature that have been written by men. They are portrayed as “objects,” as “mystical” perfect girls. Summers’ said she feels women read this work and have a disconnect to it, can’t recognize themselves in it. The crowd laughed in agreement, as if all remembering a moment they read a woman in literature written by a man who was more a goddess than a human. Summers ended with the notion female characters are different when women write women. Suma agreed, talking about teen girl culture, which she said is beautiful and brutal, to recall the earlier words of the moderator, and that “the teenage girl is so feared, powerful, and misunderstood.”

Suma also raised an interesting point when asked what her favorite scenes to write were. She said, without pause, she liked the violent scenes. “The Walls Around Us” certainly is a violent book, set in a juvenile delinquent center for teenage girls, with ghosts and murderous ballerinas. She self-deprecatingly said she does not know what that enjoyment of violent scenes means about her. But I think it raises the point Summers made earlier about men co-opting women’s stories and female characters. In the same way, men have controlled the rhetoric around violence in literature, and many times, women are victims of usually sexual violence. Men tend to be heroes, punching people in the face, handling a gun deftly, and skilled with knives while they save the girl. Or, they are the perpetrators and get to unleash every urge and desire they have. Women, when they do have the luxury of being a hero, tend to be sexualized, or she is the single one in a group of men. So there is something revolutionary of women writing violence, of taking control of the narrative around blood and letting teenage girls be more than victims, but terrifying.

While “The Walls Around Us” is an exploration of girls and violence, Summers’ “All the Rage” is about rape culture, sexual violence, and trauma. Summers was not able to talk much about rape culture, but she did say briefly that it was hard to write a book about these topics and look around at the world around her and see it mirrored so closely.

Feminist poet Anne Sexton also got a shout-out by Suma, when asked what books she loved as a teen. Suma said she loved “The Handmaid’s Tale,” as well, and those two writers tell you all you need to know about what Suma was like as a teen.

To close the evening, Summers said about writing, “It almost feels like magic.” It does, just like a crowd of strangers gathered in the basement of an indie bookstore over words on a page, or two women meeting each other after ten years of kinship online, or the notion that girls can be beautiful and brutal.

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Halfway Through 2015: Books!

*I originally started this post in July when we were actually halfway through the year, but got bored and decided not to do it. But never fear the mood struck and here we are!

This post is dedicated to: BOOOOOKKKKKKSSSSSSSgilmore girls rory book smell

It’s August 16! In a few weeks I’ll be back in college and enjoying my Shakespeare class and Mass Incarceration class, among others. I’ll be trying not to spend all my money on books (and probably failing). I’ll try to pick up my cat and he’ll get mad and shed everywhere (but that happens most days). And I don’t know what else will happen. That’s the beauty of the future, or so I hear.

And now, onto the point of this post: the past.

I want to look back at some of the books I’ve read this year that have been astounding and made my life 10000000x better. And if you haven’t read them yet, you totally should.

Books that made me:
crying

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Books that made me:
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Books that made me:
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Books that made me:
natural born hero

under a painted sky the conspiracy of usthe-lunar-chronicles-copy-the-lunar-chronicles-fancast-jpeg-300004

Bonus:

Book I’m reading right now AND LOVE TO PIECES:
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A Darker Shade final for Irene

Books I reallyreallyreally need to read before the year ends:
waitingi'll just wait here titanic jackgrabby hands

more happy than not dumplin all the rage bone gap winter six of crows wild carry on this monstrous thing first & then walk on earth a stranger

 

 

And there you go!! Some amazing books I’ve read in 2015, some that come out later this year and want your love, and books I heartily recommend. Sadly I couldn’t include everything or else this would be a list of 50+ books (so far!).

Cheers! ❤

Favorite Reads of 2014 (and Hotly Anticipated in 2015)

With the year winding to a close, I wanted to take a look back at some of my favorite reads of 2014. Hopefully, you’ve all read these, but if you haven’t, here’s a great page of recommendations.

(in no particular order)

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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Look at that GORGEOUS cover! How could anyone NOT be lured in? Thankfully, this is not one of those cases where the cover is the best part of the book. This is a really great YA fantasy/romance. Kestrel and Arin’s relationship develops beautifully and I love how each of them stay in the roles they are assigned: Kestrel, mistress and Arin, slave. There’s no cheesy declarations or one of them sneaking out to see the other. It’s a very well played dynamic that is interesting and totally absorbing. Very excited to see where this one goes.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

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One of my favorite books ever! This came out in 2013, but I didn’t finally read it till this year. And oh man was I crazy to put it off for this long! This is a beautiful, beautiful story set in New Orleans in the 1950s! Everyone knows the 50s is the era of women as homemakers, but there are some amazing women filling the pages of this novel. It is not one to be missed!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater 

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The Raven Cycle is one of my favorite series, so the third installment had very high expectations and each one was surpassed. Seriously, one of the best series being written right now. Dead Welsh kings, seers, small towns, friendships, family, humor, haunting writing, there is nothing this series does not have. I’m equally excited and equally horrified for book 4, the end, next year.

Formerly Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

Formerly Shark Girl

Another book that came out a year ago and took me forever to read. I loved Shark Girl, Kelly Bingham’s first novel about Jane. I must have read it at least four years ago at this point and had no idea there was a sequel until I randomly found it at work. Told in poems, it was simple and evocative.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell 

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I’m sensing I was really bad at reading debuts this year. *hides in shame* Anyway, I’m sure you all know by now Eleanor and Park is a great book. Romance, the 80s, diversity, and Rainbow’s amazing writing. There’s nothing more needed!

We Were Liars by E Lockhart 

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Man, I totally and completely hated this book. I actually wanted to throw it when I finished. Which is clearly the sign of a book that delivered emotionally. Also, look at that amazing cover. Can we all agree it is quite a beauty? I have plans to reread this, but man, this is one messed up book.

  • Honorable mentions that are currently on my Christmas list:
    A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
    Zodiac by Romina Russell

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(DON’T YOU SEE HOW BEAUTIFUL THEY ARE????????)

And now, for 2015 books I’m really excited about:

-We Can Work it Out by Elizabeth Eulberg (January)
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Love, loved The Lonely Hearts Club! Stoked to read this.

-First & Then by Emma Mills (Fall)
I’ve been following Elmify on Youtube for years and she’s amazing. Really excited to read this.

-Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (May)
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I feel so grateful to have read a tiny piece of this thanks to intern perks. Seriously, this is going to be a hell of a book and I’m really, really excited about it.

-The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall (January)
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Look the pitch says it is perfect for fans of Ally Carter and I really, really love Ally Carter! I also am a sucker for pretty covers. I also love when novels take me to lots of different countries and this novel promises at least Paris and Istanbul. Sign me up!

-Poisoned Apples by Christina Heppermann (September)
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Fairy tales and poems! HELLO.

-Princess Diaries: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot (June)
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It’s a novel about one of my OTPs getting married. Hell yes, I am excited!

-Raven Boys book 4 by Maggie (WHO KNOWS WHEN BUT MY HEART CAN’T TAKE IT)
No words needed, really.

-The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
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Another amazing cover. A story I want to devour.

-Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (April)
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Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

If that doesn’t make you want to read this book, I can’t help you.

-None of the Above by IW Gregorio (April)
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Faking It is one of my favorite tv shows and it is the first show to feature an intersex character. I’m thrilled to see a YA novel tackling intersex characters.

-Winterspell by Claire Legrand (September)
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You say New York and 1899, I’m there.

OMG MY MISTAKE THIS WAS A 2014 BOOK. MUST GET.

-This Monstrous Thing by McKenzie Lee (September)
Frankenstien and steampunk and 1818 Switzerland?? I’m salivating.

-Second Position by Katherine Locke
Ballet and romance and angst. Written by my buddy 🙂

I seriously did not mean for my 2015 list to be longer than my 2014 list. Oops. Looks like 2015 is a busy year! Hopefully a lot of these picks make it onto my favorites list of 2015! We’ll see.

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I can’t wait!