National Book Award Finalists

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Winners will be announced at the 68th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on November 15. The ceremony will be streamed via Facebook Live and also available at our website.

Elana K. ArnoldWhat Girls Are Made Of
Carolrhoda Lab / Lerner Publishing Group

Robin BenwayFar from the Tree
HarperTeen / HarperCollinsPublishers

Erika L. SánchezI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House

Rita Williams-Garcia, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground
Amistad / HarperCollinsPublishers

Ibi ZoboiAmerican Street
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollinsPublishers

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2017 Night Owls

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We’ll be hosting a little end of the year award ceremony AND GIVEAWAY over at Booked All Night. Help us compile our nominees for the best books of 2017! Just add the title and the author into the box and hit submit! If you want to add a category just let me know in the comments!

When we begin voting on Black Friday we’ll also be taking entries in a giveaway for some Booked All Night swag and a few of the winning books so keep an eye out!

Entries close midnight EST Halloween. Voting opens November 24th, 2017 and will close December 25th, 2017. Tune into the New Year’s Eve podcast to find out which titles won the Night Owl!

https://form.jotform.us/form/72746192726161

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September Wrap-Up

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In my personal life…

In just 18 days, I’m getting MARRIED! And that is insane. As is all the work we still have left to do for it. The dresses are in, the suits have been purchased, the caterer has been paid, the baker too, and even the hall is paid up. We still need to meet with the Pastor to just go over some last minute details and figure out the girls’ hair all of which seems like life or death.

Having a few anxiety disorders on top of this certainly is not helping. I’ve had more than my fair share of panic attacks this last month which has absolutely effected my schoolwork.

In my writing life…

I fixed 20 pages and wrote 20 more, but I’m really stuck in my current WIP. I blame the wedding, but I also don’t blame the wedding because I’ve been stuck for a pretty long time.

I didn’t actually complete my packet this month. Specifically, I didn’t write my craft paper. I’m not totally sure what to write it on. I’m supposed to bring it up from issues in my own work but my issues with my work don’t feel writing related.

Maybe I’ll address multigenre pieces and how they add a level of interaction to the piece. I mean they do right. I actually love multigenre things and interactive new media campaigns. Does anyone remember the Dark Knight campaign? You could call up Domino’s Pizza and they’d answer Gotham City Pizza, all the social accounts and web pages slowly became “Joker-ized” as it got closer to release date, and even the commercials started having the Joker fuzz his way through to deliver a special message. That’s amazing! It gives it a real world feel.

Heck, even some books have done. A.V Geiger’s Follow me Back (which I didn’t completely enjoy) has the Twitter accounts used in the book. I think I’ve inadvertently found my craft paper topic.

In my reading life…

I have read so many books thus far this year. I’ve read 82 of the 50 I pledged in my GoodReads challenge. 82. And I will probably double that by the time the year is over.

ARCs I’ve Requested/Been Approved For

On the blog…

I’ve also set up 25 Days of BookRecs for December to autopost while I take a true vacation from the blog. I still need to fill up November though so feel free to tag me in some BookTags!

My September Reviews

 

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Episode #15: A Court of Pain and Feels

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http://bookedallnight.podbean.com/e/episode-15-a-court-of-pain-and-feels/

Listen to this episode and other episodes of the podcast on Podbean.

Tonight we’re talking about A Court of Thorns and RosesA Court of Mist and Ruin, and A Court of Wings and Ruin (now that Maggie has finally finished it). We’re recapping our favorite scenes, our biggest problems, and our most treasured characters.


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This Darkness Mine ★☆☆☆☆

9780062561596_305afI requested it because it was weird, and I like weird, but I don’t know… I just wasn’t feeling this.

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.

I sat on this one for a while. I mean, did I want to read a book that was going to so obviously end with split personalities? The longer I waited to pick it up the less interested I became in actually getting it off my review list.

And then I finally bit the bullet and opened it up.

The writing was confusing, at best. When it wasn’t confusing it was boring.

Part of what made my eyes roll is that Sasha is suddenly portrayed as “bad” the minute she has sex and the reason her unborn twin sister has any control is because Sasha absorbed her heart in the womb. Like I said, it’s “twist” is exactly what you thought it’d be.

I was really pushed out of the story for these issues, as well as the writing, and ultimately, I skipped around a lot just to look for the ending to confirm what I thought was going to happen.

And I want to put this out there: the synopsis says This Darkness Mine is about a “a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.” Being sexually active does not make you bad. The end.

Episode #14: Book Review Etiquette

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http://bookedallnight.podbean.com/e/episode-14-book-review-etiquette/

Listen to this episode and other episodes of the podcast on Podbean.

Jess and Maggie have a little talk about those newbie book blogs and reminisce about their newbie days.


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My Shelves Are Empty

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As a book blogger, it’s always weird to get to a point where I’ve cleared my review shelves. I’m happy to say that I’ve gotten to the end of my TBReviewed books before the end of the year which leaves me with plenty of room for craft books and personal reading for the rest of the year.

To fill out the rest of the year, I have a few weeklies planned and a daily series planned in December. Without much further ado, allow me some shameless plugs for all my projects:

Book Blogging 101

A series which started a few weeks ago and get caught up on some tips and tricks for starting and maintaining a book blog.

Booked All Night Podcast

A late night podcast about YA lit and puppies! We even have a store that we’ll be launching in January.

Connect with Me on Social Media

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BookRecs

Fun facts! I have an entire category dedicated to 4 and 5 star book reviews.

Starfish ★★★★☆

29456598It’s always rare for me to pick up a contemporary book and love it. The last one that did that was They Both Die at the End earlier this month and that one made me sob. Starfish was emotional for different reasons.

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.

A little slow to start, Starfish took my own self-confidence and rattled it around. Kiko has confidence issues and social anxiety that stem from a past trauma and an unloving, racist mother. So when she distances herself from her toxic home, she starts to find parts of herself in California, with the help of her childhood friend Jamie.

The romance subplot didn’t draw me in (though usually I’m a sucker for friends to lovers romances) and any time there was romantic screen time, I felt like I just wanted to get a move on. I was mostly interested in Kiko’s growth into a braver, more confident person.

The portrayal of anxiety was the best I’ve ever seen. I don’t suffer from as intense social anxiety as Kiko, though I do have some milder form of social anxiety, but I know people whose anxiety is as bad as Kiko’s. Bowman knew her stuff when she was portraying Kiko’s anxiety and how people around her reacted to it, especially if those people didn’t have anxiety themselves.

I loved watching Kiko grow as the story went on, and I resonated with a lot of her insecurities about beauty. I may never full understand how societal beauty standards affect girls of color, but as a fat girl myself, I’ve felt that pressure to look a certain way just to be seen as beautiful in a parent’s eye. I’ve felt that hopelessness when I knew it wasn’t something I could control and how my simply existing was a disappointment to some people.

I cried as Kiko made the realizations about herself and beauty and as she became this braver person because of her experiences. I couldn’t put Starfish down and it changed my view on life.

Starfish publishes September 26th, 2017.