Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older

22295304Last March, I went to a We Need Diverse Books panel at The New School where Daniel José Older. I was incredibly moved by all the speakers, but knew in particular I wanted to read Shadowshaper because of Older’s insightful comments about representation, artistic responsibility, and craft. These insights shined through in the story of Sierra Santiago, a teenage girl in Brooklyn who discovers that people have been connecting spirits with the murals in her neighborhood in an act called shadowshaping. But all is not right in the spiritual world. The murals are weeping and disappearing. Her grandfather, who’s suffered from a stroke, won’t stop apologizing to her. Soon it becomes very clear that Sierra, herself, is in danger and she doesn’t even know why.

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Some Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Finally)

29056083How has it been over a month since Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out? I literally don’t know where time goes. Rather predictably, I planned on going to at least one of the super fun-looking midnight release parties held July 31 and bookstores across the city but then fell asleep at 9pm instead. Also rather predictably, I woke up Sunday morning, downloaded the book (play?), and read through the story in one sitting.

I have a hard time know what to say when people ask me about this book.

There are things I liked about it, for sure. Scorpius Malfoy will forever be one of my favorite characters in the Hogwarts world. I love that Draco’s son is like a perfect mix of Ron and Hermione. Poetic justice, for everyone. I also really loved Albus Severus as a character and found the plot very clever. It was a really fun diving back into the world of Hogwarts for a day.  Continue reading

Top Ten Books Set In College

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Ten … or maybe eleven (???) years ago, I moved to Northampton, Massachusetts to become a first year (not a freshman …b/c no men, duh!) at Smith College. The night before starting my mother held my hair back as I kept throwing up. That’s how nervous I was.  This year, as of yesterday, I’m teaching my first college writing class. My first class is tomorrow. I’m nervous, but hopefully won’t spend tonight throwing up. Here are ten of my favorite novels set at college, including one set at Smith. Happy back to school everyone! Continue reading

Ten Books That Have Been On My TBR Since Before I Started Blogging

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Looking at my TBR is never a fun activity to me. I try to read around 100 books a year, but still there are so so so many more that I want to be reading. Where is the time? These are some books that have been on my to read list since before I started blogging, almost five years ago (???am I getting that math right – it sounds too crazy???). What books have you been meaning to read and which of these should I buckle down and read ASAP? Also which ones should I abandon? Continue reading

Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year

toptentuesday

How is the year almost half over? Last week, I wrote about ten books I’m looking forward to being released in the next six months. Today, I’m giving you my favorite ten books that have been released so far in 2016. Which of these have you read so far? What 2016 releases have I missed? Let me know in comments! Continue reading

The Art of Being Normal, by Lisa Williamson

51bqqbNjxRL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_There are not very many books about transgender teenagers. More than there used to be, but still not enough. Which is one of the reasons I was eager to read The Art of Being Normal, by Lisa Williams. I read with great hope but also a pinch of trepidation because negative representation can be just as harmful, or more harmful, than no representation. As a cisgendered person, I’m not the best person to comment on this, but I do want to link this review (which, be warned, does contain spoilers) by a transgender blogger which points strengths and weakness within the story.

This British novel, alternates perspectives between David and Leo. David wants to be a girl. Leo, who also has secrets, wants to fly under the radar at his new school. This becomes harder when he stands up for David in a fight and the two become friends. But when secrets become unsecret, as the back cover will tell you, things are about to get messy.  Plenty of drama ensues to propel the story forward.  Continue reading

Love and Other Theories, by Alexis Bass

18480081I’ve been reading a lot of books in the last month and I’ve really liked a lot of them. But Love and Other Theories, by Alexis Bass, stands out in particular. The back of the books makes the story sound like it’s going to be perfectly straight-forward YA contemporary romance. Seventeen-year-old Aubrey and her friends have figured out the secret to dating in high school. Not dating. Hooking up. Seeming un-interested and unavailable. Sticking to a mutually agreed upon set of rules. Sharpening their cynicism like it’s a sword their about to go into battle with. And that works until earnest, new boy Nathan throws Aubrey off her game.

It sounds like a book I’ve read at least ten times before. It also sounds like a book I’d like, which is why I bought it. But honestly, it’s more than a girl meets boy, girl likes boy, girl loses bitterness kind of story. Way more.  Continue reading