Book Review: Generation Brave

“I have nothing but excitement for what the world is going to look like. Young people today are putting up with less and less, yet at the same time creating room for more and more, which I think is the best combination.” – Sage Grace Dolan-Sandrino

Amazon.com: Generation Brave: The Gen Z Kids Who Are Changing the World  (0050837437388): Alexander, Kate: Books

Generation Brave – The Gen Z Kids who are Changing the World // by Kate Alexander // illustrated by Jade Orlando

Pub Day: September 22, 2020

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Synopsis:

An illustrated celebration of Gen Z activists fighting to make our world a better place.

Gen Z is populated—and defined—by activists. They are bold and original thinkers and not afraid to stand up to authority and conventional wisdom. From the March for Our Lives to the fight for human rights and climate change awareness, this generation is leading the way toward truth and hope like no generation before.

Generation Brave showcases Gen Z activists who are fighting for change on many fronts: climate change, LGBTQ rights, awareness and treatment of mental illness, gun control, gender equality, and corruption in business and government at the highest levels. Illustrated throughout, this book will offer a celebration of what might be the most influential generation of the century, including profiles of figures such as Simone Biles, Jaden Smith, Jazz Jennings, Haile Thomas, Yara Shahidi, Nadya Okamoto, Marley Dias, Helena Gualinga, Fionn Ferreira. . . and other amazing kids who are using their voices for good.

My Thoughts:

As a fan of the Rebel Girls books, I knew right away that this was a book I wanted to add to my shelves. Rather than focusing on women trail blazers and leaders like Rebel Girls, this book focuses on young activists in general that are trying to make positive change in the world, coming up with solutions to problems they did not create. Jade Orlando is the very talented illustrator that beautifully complements each activist with her art. The color schemes and style fit this book perfectly in a way that makes this a beautiful gem on your shelf without distracting too much from the topic either though.

This book is chock-full of inspiring activists that are split into the following general groups:

  • challenging the system
  • creating a safer world
  • stopping the clock on climate change
  • lifting each other up
  • taking care of each other

This makes it easy to find specific people important to the cause you are trying to learn more about and want to support. They are all worthy causes of course but it is a good way to organize the content of this book a little bit. I do encourage you though to read through this book entirely, whether it is with your children or by yourself. This is a great book even for adults. I learned a lot while reading it.

There is a lot of interesting information about each person and cause in this book but an extra that I like a lot is that at the end of each section is the social media information of that person or group so that you can “Follow their Fight.” The info and description are not simply a quick few words either. It is nice to see that they go deeper than the surface often times, showing that there is a lot of focus on topics, such as diversity and intersectionality.

I highly encourage you to get this book as a way to start a conversation with your children or yourself about the many important causes that are covered. While this is definitely marketed to children and teens, I do not think that it is limited to just those age groups at all!

About the Author:

Kate Alexander is a writer, editor, and book lover. She is inspired by the fire and activism of Generation Z and by anyone else who stands up for what they believe in. She lives in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.

About the Illustrator:

Jade Orlando has loved art for as long as she can remember. After a childhood spend doodling cats and mythical creatures, she studied illustration as SCAD and set off on her journey as an illustrator. Her colorful work has been featured in books, apparel, advertising, and children’s products. Jade lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, greyhound, and four cats. When she’s not illustrating, you can usually find her curled up with her pets and a really good book.

About the Publisher:

Known for cutting-edge comics and best-selling humor, cookbook, puzzle, and children’s books, Andrews McMeel has a passion for publishing original talent and delighting readers with innovative books and gifts that are worth sharing.

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Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday Lineup (09.20.2020)

Another week is ending and back to work it is tomorrow. I did get to finish a couple of books this week, but have a few unfinished ones as well. Last week’s audiobooks, Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me, was fabulous(ly sad). It blew me away and I learned so much. The review for that will be up on Thursday. I hate to say that I got distracted from my kindle book, The Book of Two Ways, but I did. Orbit Books approved me for the second book in The Ramparts Trilogy and I focused on that instead, though I have not finished it yet like I had planned. I am almost done with Generation Brave and its review, which will be up on Tuesday. What good timing before election time. I finished both Basic Bitchen as well as Jo & Laurie, the latter of these having been perfect yesterday as it was a very emotional day for me and I needed something slow and sweet. I also started and finished another two audiobooks that will be on the blog in October. So you see, it has been a rather productive week for me despite not getting as much reading done as I had hoped. Sadly it did not help my review ratio though because I also got approved for new titles. A never ending cycle…

Audiobook

Tonight! Interview and Discussion: How to Be an Antiracist | Ethical NYC

How to be an Antiracist // by Ibram X. Kendi

Synopsis:

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At its core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.

Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.

Why did I choose this:

I’m trying to become a better anti-racist and ally so this book is part of my lineup for that.

Current Thoughts:

It is very interesting and I have already learned things about history that I had never heard of, but I am struggling a little with his narration. It makes it hard for me to focus. I will probably buy the print book eventually and read through it as well.

Kindle Book

Orbit Books (@orbitbooks) | Twitter

The Trials of Koli // M.R. Carey

Synopsis:

The earth wants to swallow us whole…

Koli never planned to set foot outside his small village. He knew that beyond its walls lay a fearsome landscape filled with choker trees, vicious beasts and Shunned men. But when he was exiled, he had no choice but to journey out into this strange world where every moment is a fight for survival.

And it’s not just Koli’s life that is threatened. Whole villages just like his are dying out.
But Koli heard a story, once. A story about lost London, and the mysterious tech of the Old Times that may still be there. If he can find it, there may still be a way for him to change his own fate – by saving the lives of those who are left.

Why did I choose this:

I heard great things about the first book in The Rampart Trilogy and decided to request the first book on NetGalley last weekend. I ended up reading it almost entirely in one day. I was lucky enough to receive the second one immediately from Orbit Books and moved it up on my reading list since it was published this week and they were so responsive to my request.

Current Thoughts:

I’m loving it. It’s a great continuation to the first one – The Book of Koli – and while I haven’t had as much reading time this week as I would’ve liked, I am still steadily moving through it.

Book on my Phone

Generation Brave | Book by Kate Alexander | Official Publisher Page | Simon  & Schuster

Generation Brave – The Gen Z Kids Who Are Changing The World // by Kate Alexander // illustrated by Jade Orlando

Update:

I’m almost finished and working on my blog post. The review will be up on Tuesday!

Print Book

From stage to page | Michigan Today

Dear Evan Hansen // by Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Update:

I’ve read a few chapters but not much. Like I said above, I haven’t had much reading time this week and my other books definitely captured my attention better. But this came highly recommended by a friend so I’m sure it will draw me in once I can give it the attention it deserves.

Why Do I Need Book Formatting & Cover Design? BookBaby

This is what I’ve got this week! What are you reading right now? Is there anything you’re looking forward to this week specifically or for the rest of the month? Let me know!

Book Review: The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey

The Book Of Koli by M.R Carey – Book Review – The Bookwormery

The Book of Koli // by M. R. Carey

Pub Day: April 14, 2020

Publisher: Orbit Books

Synopsis:

Everything that lives hates us…

Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable landscape. A place where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.

Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He believes the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture too far beyond the walls.

He’s wrong.

My Thoughts:

I’ve been dancing around reading this book for a while now. I was not sure if I was ready to jump into another series where I knew more books were coming out soon because I just have so many other books to read. But something just told me I needed to do it so I did. And am I glad that I did! I read almost the entire book in just one day and stayed up until 1am to finish it. I haven’t done that in years!

Koli, the narrator, drew me right in. I was hooked from the very first chapter on! Carey chooses his words so well. The writing was so beautiful that I highlighted sentences and whole passages in every chapter. There were so many highlights, that eventually I just told myself to stop with it all together because the entire book would glow in the end.

I am a big fan of dystopian stories but I did not even realize that this was one in the beginning! All I knew about this book was from the blurb and there honestly was not much information in that so I had no idea what was coming. The book reminded me a little bit of Zoo by James Patterson with nature banding together against the humans and even animals forming organized packs against them and their intelligence having evolved so much that revenge and placating via gifts were concepts they understood.

As I said, dystopia was not something I expected here so when technology started to appear, I was thoroughly confused at first. I had a rough time trying to figure out a general time period that this may have been set in or modeled after until then but it made so much more sense later. Koli did an incredible job explaining the time period, their living situation, the technology they know about, and everything else we needed to know to understand his story. It is written like a diary for future readers or as if he was verbally telling you this story much later and he wanted to make sure we really understood everything in case things were different again by the time we found his story. I really enjoyed that part.

I don’t want to give too much away because I actually think it was good not knowing a lot going in but the way the technology was integrated into society as well as against societies was very interesting. I am also a big fan of familiars and while that is probably not the right word to use here, it still felt similar to that, which was a lot of fun. The integration of and references to specific music was very well done as well.

The last thing I want to mention is that I am really enjoying the mention of more diverse characters in my reading lately and this one was no exception. But I do find it necessary to put a warning in [look away now for the rest of this paragraph if you don’t like even tiny spoilers!]: While Koli himself is very accepting of trans characters, some people in his society are not so there is talk about physical abuse towards those characters at least twice in this book and it seems to be based off of their religion.

This book is written to be a trilogy and it is obvious in the slow (but interesting!) start as well as the way it is left open-ended. Due to the changes of the English language over time (or maybe it is due to illiteracy of the majority of the population?), some people may enjoy this more as an audiobook, though I found it flowed very well and did not distract from the story. Some of his spellings even made me laugh out loud! I did listen to an excerpt of the audiobook though for my friend and the narrator sounded really awesome. I am very excited for the next book, The Trials of Koli, and am happy because the wait for the third book, The Fall of Koli, is not too far behind either.

The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey

About the Author:

M. R. Carey is a writer who is equally at home in a wide range of media. His previous novel The Girl With All the Gifts was a word-of-mouth-bestseller and is soon to be a major motion picture based on his own screenplay. Under the name Mike Carey he has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs on X-Men and Fantastic Four, Marvel’s flagship superhero titles. His creator-owned books regularly appear in the New York Times graphic fiction bestseller list. He also has several previous novels, two radio plays and a number of TV and movie screenplays to his credit.

About the Publisher:

Orbit is a leading publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with imprints in the UK, US and Australia. They publish across the spectrum of Science Fiction and Fantasy – from action-packed urban fantasy to widescreen space opera; from sweeping epic adventures to near-future thrillers. Launched in 2007, Orbit US is the Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint at Hachette Book Group USA.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad

“I speak out of direct and particular anger at an academic conference, and a white woman says, “Tell me how you feel but don’t say it too harshly or I cannot hear you.” But is it my manner that keeps her from hearing, or the threat of a message that her life may change?” – Audre Lorde

PAST: Me and White Supremacy: 28-Day Challenge to Combat Racism: Starts  June 24th - The Yoga Experience

Me and White Supremacy // by Layla F. Saad

Pub Day: February 04, 2020

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Synopsis:

Based off the original workbook, Me and White Supremacy teaches readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.

When Layla Saad began an Instagram challenge called #meandwhitesupremacy, she never predicted it would spread as widely as it did. She encouraged people to own up and share their racist behaviors, big and small. She was looking for truth, and she got it. Thousands of people participated in the challenge, and over 90,000 people downloaded the Me and White Supremacy Workbook.

The updated and expanded Me and White Supremacy takes the work deeper by adding more historical and cultural contexts, sharing moving stories and anecdotes, and including expanded definitions, examples, and and further resources.

Awareness leads to action, and action leads to change. The numbers show that readers are ready to do this work—let’s give it to them.

My Thoughts:

In my search for more anti-racism literature, I found this title on NetGalley. Perfect! I thought. It starts out with a foreword by Robin DiAngelo who wrote White Fragility, which I listen to on audio about a month or two ago, and is followed by Layla F. Saad introducing herself. While it is not absolutely necessary always, I do appreciate when an author introduces themselves and tells us why she thinks she she feels qualified to present on the topic of the book. It is an easy way to acquaint yourselves as well as appreciate someone’s passion for their work.

This introduction is followed with an explanation of what white supremacy is, who should be doing the work that is talked about in this book (anybody who holds white privilege), what is needed to do this work (truth, love, and commitment), and how to use the book. It also reminds us that this is hard and challenging work, and that it is important to prioritize self-care, support, and sustainability throughout. While this book is written as a 28 day journaling journey, you can of course go at your own pace as fast or as slow as you need, though it is obviously recommended to not rush through this and really work through your thoughts on everything.

What I liked right from the start is that this is a book that can be used by people that have already started educating themselves in this area as well as those that are just starting out because Week 1 is all about the Basics. For the first seven days, we dive into the foundations of White Supremacy. Each day she shows us a new term, explains it, and then gives us writing prompts to explore their presence in our own lives. White fragility and privilege are two that many are by now familiar with but there are also some that aren’t spoken of as often, such as white superiority and exceptionalism. On day 7, there is a review of the work done throughout that week.

The rest of the weeks are much more personal than that first week that is meant to focus on definitions and setting a foundational knowledge about racism in every day life. There is so much content in this book that is so useful and applicable to all of us on our journey to become true allies in this fight for true equality. Realizing that while sometimes our intentions may be good, our actual behaviors, thoughts, and actions may be more harmful can be difficult. This is addressed several times throughout this book and I beg you to push through this discomfort and do the necessary work anyways. If it was that easy to improve ourselves and change the system, then I doubt this book would be necessary at all. But it is not that easy, which is why we need to suck up our discomfort and emotions and get this work done.

While racism is a systemic issue on a large scale, Saad believes that if everybody does their own work individually on recognizing and reducing their white privilege as well as working towards a permanent solution, eventually the system itself may be dismantled as well. It is hard but oh so necessary work. Please do get yourself an actual journal and do the work in writing. While it may seem enough to just think about each prompt, doing the physical work of writing everything down will assist you in taking that necessary time to think, recognize your own privilege and role in the current system, and do what is needed to work towards real equality.

Extra for Audiobook:

This is another book that I was late on for the review and it became available at the library for me to listen to. Layla F. Saad narrates this book herself and does a great job at it. You can tell that she really cares about this topic and educating people on how to be better allies. While I am usually a big fan of audiobooks though, I would recommend reading this as an ebook or physical copy at least the first time around though, because it is easy to rush through an audiobook without pausing and really focusing on the prompts that she gives you. With this book, it really is worth taking the time and slowing down regularly to do the work that needs to be done.

About the Author:

Layla Saad is an author, speaker & teacher on the topics of race, identity, leadership, personal transformation & social change.

As a widely read writer, a globally sought speaker, and a popular podcast host, Layla is passionate about creating Inspiration, Education & Activation for personal and collective change in the world. Layla’s work is driven by a powerful desire to become a good ancestor; to live and work in ways that leave a legacy of healing and liberation, especially for black girls and black women.

Layla is unapologetically confronting the oppressive systems of white supremacy and patriarchy, while offering important teachings and tools for transforming consciousness, cultivating personal anti-racism practice and taking responsibility for our individual and collective healing.

She is the host of the Good Ancestor Podcast: https://www.instagram.com/goodancestorpodcast/

She is also the founder of Good Ancestry Academy: http://laylafsaad.com/good-ancestor-academy

About the Publisher:

Sourcebooks is creating the next evolution of a book publishing company. We are committed to innovative publishing, to exploring every platform and creating breakthrough models. We truly believe that books have the power to touch people and change lives. Sourcebooks is home to 120 enthusiastic book-loving employees who are dedicated to finding new ways to connect with authors, readers, and ideas. We publish over 300 new titles each year, and are honored to have 44 New York Times bestsellers.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan

Heroes for hire. If you can pay.

Review - The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan | Word of The Nerd

The Sin in the Steel // by Ryan Van Loan

Pub Day: July 21, 2020

Publisher: Tor/Forge Books

Synopsis:

Buc and Eld are the first private detectives in a world where pirates roam the seas, mages speak to each other across oceans, mechanical devices change the tide of battle, and earthly wealth is concentrated in the hands of a powerful few. It’s been weeks since ships last returned to the magnificent city of Servenza with bounty from the Shattered Coast. Disaster threatens not just the city’s trading companies but the empire itself. When Buc and Eld are hired to investigate, Buc swiftly discovers that the trade routes have become the domain of a sharp-eyed pirate queen who sinks all who defy her. Now all Buc and Eld have to do is sink the Widowmaker’s ship…. Unfortunately for Buc, the gods have other plans. Unfortunately for the gods, so does Buc.

My Thoughts:

I cannot believe that this is the author’s debut novel. I was hooked on this story as soon as it started and am in love with the two main characters, Buc and Eld. The setting has a Pirates of the Caribbean feel to it with a modern twist as well as magic. A big difference though is that men and women seem to be seen as equals, holding high ranking positions in companies and what are seen as male-dominated spaces usually, such as the captain of a ship. This itself is a huge reason why I enjoyed the setup. There are also several times where the men of the story have no issue looking at two of the main female characters as the smartest people in the room. Despite the focus on the strength of the characters (especially the women) though, it was also nice to see those same characters recognize their weaknesses as well. It made them seem even more realistic. The only thing I was not super sure about was Buc’s age. Even with a brilliant mind, that does seem very young.

I loved the story itself just as much as the characters and the setting. Being a bookworm myself, I enjoyed the many references to the books that Buc has read and how she uses that knowledge to her advantage during their adventures. Eld, being only a little older than her, seems to have years of real-world experience on her and uses his own military training to their advantage as well, despite the fact that he does not like to talk about it. The story moves along at a steady pace with a lot of action happening throughout the entire book. It was fun to be able to decipher the problems along with Buc, though I do have to admit that I am not nearly as smart as her and was unable to predict several things in this book, which is not something I am used to in these types of stories. I especially enjoyed the part of the story that resulted in the name of this book!

MAYDAYCON 2020 - Ryan Van Loan - The Sin in the Steel (The Fall of the Gods  #1) - YouTube

About the Author:

Ryan Van Loan is an up and coming Science Fiction and Fantasy author. He started reading his Grandfather’s Reader’s Digest when he was four years old. Soon after, he read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer before eventually discovering science fiction and fantasy through the works of Robin McKinley, Robert Jordan, Stephen King and many more. He moved around a lot in his childhood from Montana to Georgia to Puerto Rico before finally ending up in Pennsylvania. Ryan served six years as a Sergeant in the United States Army Infantry (PA National Guard) where he served on the front lines of Afghanistan. All of that travel got into his blood and Ryan has traveled around the world with his wife, wandering Caribbean island haunts, exploring the palaces and cathedrals of Europe, and hiking with elephants in the rain forests of Southeast Asia. When he’s not traveling Ryan enjoys hiking, soccer (football), tabletop gaming, weightlifting (with his personal best coming from deadlifting three times his body weight), and all things culinary. Ryan’s debut novel, The Sin in the Steel (Tor Books), Book One in the Fall of the Gods series came out on July 21, 2020. Today, Ryan lives in northeastern Pennsylvania with his wife and two dogs where he’s hard at work on his next novel.

About the Publisher:

Tor Books is the most successful science fiction and fantasy publisher in the world. Winner of the Locus Award for best SF publisher 20 years in a row, Tor regularly puts books like Robert Jordan’s Knife of Dreams and Terry Goodkind’s Chainfire atop national bestseller lists. Tor’s Orb imprint offers trade paperback editions of outstanding, award-winning SF and fantasy backlist titles. Additionally, the Tor Kids program includes Starscape, Tor Teen, and one of the largest classics lines in North America.

The Forge imprint publishes a wide range of fiction, including a strong line of historical novels and thrillers, plus mysteries, women’s fiction, and a variety of nonfiction titles. Tor/Forge has also become the leading modern publisher of American westerns.

Well-known authors recently published by Tor and Forge include Andrew M. Greeley, Douglas Preston, Orson Scott Card, Michael & Kathleen O’Neal Gear, Harold Robbins, Susan Kearney, Jonathan Carroll, Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, Andre Norton, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan, former Secretary of Defense William B. Cohen, Susanna Clarke, Allan Folsom, Eric Lustbader, Elizabeth Haydon, Gene Wolfe, Morgan Llewelyn, David Lubar, David Weber, Christopher Pike, and Philip K. Dick.

I managed to snag a signed copy a few days ago! ❤

Thank you to the author, publisher, and BookishFirst for providing me with a free copy of this fantastic book. Again, I cannot believe that this is Van Ryan’s debut novel! I really hope I will be able to snag an ARC for the next book in this series as well.

Audiobook Review: The Original by Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal

Cover Reveal for The Original | Brandon Sanderson

The Original // by Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal // narrated by Julia Whelan

Pub Day: September 14, 2020

Publisher: RB Media

Synopsis:

The Original takes place over the course of four days and revolves around the murder of a man named Jonathan Winseed by his wife Holly, who then goes on the run. It questions things like identity, what drives a person to be a killer, and what one is willing to do in order to stay alive.

The world of The Original takes place in a near future version of our current world where humans are essentially immortal. But this immortality comes at a price. It is achieved through nanotechnology that reverses aging and disease. However, the nanites that allow people to live indefinitely also make possible an all-seeing surveillance apparatus. This is tightly regulated by the government with significant emphasis on social liberty and individual privacy protections. Judicial, legislative and executive checks and balances are all in place, but nonetheless it is still a world in which the cost of immortality is the loss of personal privacy.

My Thoughts:

I am not usually into either novellas nor science fiction but I chose this book without even reading the blurb because I was sure to love it since Brandon Sanderson is one of the authors. The world-building is as great as you would expect from a Sanderson story but this world is unlike anything else I have read from him.

The narration starts literally right away. I don’t know if this is because this is an ARC or if that is intentional. There was no intro, dedication, or anything else that you would usually expect. It pushes you straight into the story. While that was a little startling at first, I honestly liked the confused feeling because it matched the way the narrating character felt as well when she woke up in an unfamiliar bed. It set the scene and tone really well.

I really liked the narrator right from the start. Julia Whelan does a great job in this audiobook. She speaks very clearly and her inflections and tone always fit the situations she narrates. She conveys the emotions of the main character so well. But she is not the only reason why this audiobook stands out so much to me. There are also music and sound effects that are used frequently throughout the story that takes this experience to a whole new level as well. They assist in making you feel more nervous, creeped out, expectant, and other emotions, and were so well done. It was especially great during a club scene but I won’t go into detail. You just need to experience this yourself!

As I said above, I did not really pay attention to the book blurb and therefore had no specific expectations going in besides knowing it would be great. And I was not disappointed! I have recently read a futuristic story set in space and while this one is futuristic as well, I liked that it was set on Earth instead. That made it feel just a little bit more tangible, especially since at one point the characters referred to a time before their current nanotechnology. While they did explain some of the technology, this is not one of those stories where you get a whole lot of detail about that. You just get enough to understand what is going on. This definitely has an exciting plot so I cannot just call it a character-focused story but its focus was still a lot on emotions and the reasoning behind certain decisions so I cannot say it’s solely plot-driven either. It was actually a very good mix of both of them, which is impressive for such a short audiobook.

The entire story is told from Holly’s point of view so we get to hear all of her thoughts along the way. As many people do when they are nervous, their thoughts get the better of them and they start to ramble on. This made her seem like such a real character and while I do not want to give away an important (albeit very quickly revealed) detail of this story, this is a testament to the technology of the society to be able to imitate thought processes so well. She also internally discusses a lot of topics, such as religious groups, conspiracies (her paranoia is conveyed SO well by Julia Whelan!), checked in vs. checked out, transferring themes (what an awesome clubbing experience it must be there!), that directly affect her mission as well as ethical things, such as life after death, souls, and other such things, that give us a huge insight into this world without becoming overbearing in a way that distracts from the story.

This audiobook really is such a well put together production and I highly recommend it. The ending blew me away and I personally never saw it coming. It reminded me of my love for Sanderson’s works and introduced me to Mary Robinette Kowal who I had not known before so I am exciting to look into her other books as well. This audiobook is less than 3.5 hours long so perfect if you’re looking for something quick but don’t let the length fool you. It is packed full with exciting content!

About the Authors:

Brandon Sanderson was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1975. After completing a two-year LDS mission in Seoul, South Korea in 1997 he attended Brigham Young University as an English major. During his graduate program at BYU Sanderson was on the staff of Leading Edge, a semi-professional speculative fiction magazine published by the university. He completed his master’s degree in creative writing in 2005.

In 2006 Sanderson married Emily Bushman, a fellow English major and teacher, who later became his business manager. They have three children and reside in American Fork, Utah.

In December 2007 Brandon was chosen by Harriet McDougal Rigney to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series after his untimely passing. 2009’s The Gathering Storm and 2010’s Towers of Midnight was followed by the final volume in the series, A Memory of Light, in January 2013.

The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award eight times in seven years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of Kings. He has also won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice award for Best Epic Fantasy twice and has been nominated three other years. His novella The Emperor’s Soul won the Hugo Award in 2013. Brandon has been serving as a judge for Writers of the Future since 2016. He has hit the New York Times Best-Seller List fifteen times, most recently at #1 with Oathbringer, book three of The Stormlight Archive, which is also Audible’s most pre-ordered book of all time. DMG Entertainment optioned the rights to the Cosmere universe shared by his fantasy novels, and Fox acquired the Reckoners trilogy for Shawn Levy’s production company 21 Laps. Brandon’s books have been published in thirty-five languages.

Brandon Sanderson Set to Release Anniversary Edition of 'Way of Kings'

Nebula- and Hugo-award winning author Mary Robinette Kowal is a novelist and professional puppeteer. In 2008 she won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, then went on to win three Hugo awards. In 2019, the first book in the Lady Astronaut series The Calculating Stars (Tor 2018), was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the Locus award for Best SF novel, and won the Nebula Award for Best Novel. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and several Year’s Best anthologies, as well as in her collection Word Puppets from Prime.

Kowal is also an award-winning puppeteer. In high school, she took up puppetry as a hobby, but as Kowal says, she “never thought of it as something you could get paid for.” Instead, she went to East Carolina University to pursue an art degree, minoring in theater and speech. While performing as Audrey II in a performance of Little Shop of Horrors, she learned that a professional puppeteer had come to the show. It was a turning point. Kowal went on to intern at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA. With over twenty years of experience, she has performed for LazyTown (CBS), the Center for Puppetry Arts, Jim Henson Pictures and founded Other Hand Productions. Her designs have garnered two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence, the highest award an American puppeteer can achieve.

Her career in puppetry consumed the much of Kowal’s creative energy for over ten years. Although she wrote in high school and college, it wasn’t until her brother moved his family to China that she began writing again. Like Lewis Carroll and J.M. Barrie, she started creating children’s fantasy as a way to stay connected to her young niece and nephew. Reminded of how much she enjoyed writing, she began submitting short stories and made her first sale in 2005, and her first professional sale to Strange Horizons in 2006.

When she isn’t writing or puppeteering, Kowal brings her speech and theater background to her work as a voice actor. As the voice behind several audio books and short stories, she has recorded fiction for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi. She likes to describe voice acting as “puppetry, without the pain.”

Mary Robinette lives in Nashville with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Sometimes she even writes on them.

Mary Robinette Kowal (Author of The Calculating Stars)

About the Publisher:

RBmedia is a global leader in spoken audio content and digital media distribution technology that reaches millions of consumers — at home, in the car, and wherever their mobile devices take them. RBmedia produces exclusive titles and delivers the finest digital content and information — including audiobooks, educational courses, entertainment titles, and much more.

Thank you to the authors, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I really hope we will get to hear or read more about this world!

Toddler Tuesday (09.15.2020)

It’s that time again! Happy Pub Day to Jade Braves the Dark!

Jade Braves the Dark | Book Trailer - YouTube

Jade Braves the Dark // by Valdene Mark // illustrated by Sawyer Cloud

Pub Day: September 15, 2020

Publisher: BookGoSocial

Jade is ready for bedtime but once the lights are off, she struggles to fall asleep. Her imagination conjures all kinds of monsters into her room and going to sleep seems impossible. Luckily, she is very brave and learns how to handle her fears.

This is a wonderful little book for children that may be struggling with nighttime fears like Jade. Each page is short and sweet but to the point. The rhyming keeps you moving through the book at a good page and the subject and ending are easily understood. What I love the most though about this book are the illustrations! They are beautiful and accompany the story so well. The vibrant colors make this exciting yet mysterious and should keep any child engaged.

The Very Last Leaf - Kindle edition by Wade, Stef, Davison, Jennifer.  Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

The Very Last Leaf // by Stef Wade // illustrated by Jennifer Davison

Pub Day: August 01, 2020

Publisher: Capstone

The Very Last Leaf by Stef Wade is a beautifully illustrated children’s book about how even the best students sometimes aren’t perfect and may need a little help and encouragement. Lance Cottonwood comes from a long line of the very best leaves. He has aced all of his tests but when it comes to facing the very last one, he is scared: Will he be able to face his fears or will be the first of his family to not make the jump? This book addresses the fact that even the most perfect seeming people may need help every once in a while in a playful way that is accompanied by illustrations in beautiful colors.

Little Book of Kindness — Clavis Publishing | We Make Children's Dreams  Come True

Little Book of Kindness // by Frances Pirrone

Pub Day: June 12, 2020

Publisher: Clavis Publishing

Little Book of Kindness by Francesco Pirrone is a lovely little book with simple but beautiful illustrations. How to teach empathy has been on my mind lately after a conversation with a psychologist about teaching empathy in med school and how the Danish teach it to children in school as they grow up. This book will be such a good addition to our little library as it shows easy ways that anybody can show kindness and compassion to the world and the people around them. I only wish that it was longer!

The Dog Who Lost His Bark: Colfer, Eoin, Lynch, P. J.: 9781536204421:  Amazon.com: Books

The Dog Who Lost His Bark // by Eoin Colfer // illustrated by P.J. Lynch

Pub Day: September 10, 2019

Publisher: Candlewick Press

The Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer really impressed me. This book took several difficult subjects and combined them into a story that is easy to understand for younger children and middle-aged children alike. This story takes a little dog through an abusive situation to homelessness to being rescued by his forever family and learning what true love is. At the same time, this story also follows a young boy that has to learn about the difficulties of adult relationships, his family breaking up, a parent finding a new partner, the feeling of not being good enough, and – to top it all off – he feels like he has to decide between two of the most important members of his family. But through it all, he also learns the power of love and patience and what true loyalty really means. I am in love with this book and highly recommend it to those whose family and children may be going through similar issues or even those that aren’t. Use this to teach love and loyalty, or use it to start a difficult conversation. Make of this book what you need it to be.

The Best Books about Dogs — Barnes & Noble Reads

I am very excited about this lineup today! It is all about teaching children to be brave and kind and accepting. Also, there is a dog, so of course those are often my favorites. But that book really is awesome and would be a great addition to anybody’s library!

Audiobook Review: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

“May your path always lead to knowledge.”

“Knowledge to freedom.”

– Entropic Litany

Christopher Paolin's New Book: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars | Paolini.net

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars // by Christopher Paolini // narrated by Jennifer Hale

Pub Day: September 15, 2020

Publisher: Macmillan Audio // Tor/Forge

Synopsis:

Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.

Now she’s awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .

Christopher Paolini habla de To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

My Thoughts:

When I first read the book blurb, I was a little skeptical. I really do not care for space operas, whether it is in book or movie form. But I have to be honest: Sometimes I judge a book by its cover and this one had me obsessed right from the start (if you cannot tell by all the graphics included in this post). Also, this one is by Christopher Paolini and I felt an obligation to read it just based on that because there are not many authors that have had as big of an impact on my reading as a teenager as he has.

OH MY. Am I glad that I stayed up past midnight to claim this book from BookishFirst! And once I realized how big it was because I never look that kind of info up beforehand, am I glad that Macmillan Audio approved me for the audiobook on NetGalley!

Image
I mean, look at this giant book! It’s almost 900 pages!

I have a lot of thoughts about this book and I have been dreading writing this review because I was worried I would not be able to put my thoughts into words as eloquently as I have seen so many other reviewers do over the last view weeks. But tomorrow is pub day (SO EXCITING) so it is time to get this done!

I LOVE THIS BOOK.

Ok. Now that I’ve gotten that out, I can go into the actual details of why. I don’t think there was anything I would’ve wanted differently about this book honestly. The writing, the world-building, the character development, the science, the audiobook production, you name it – I love it all. This book is about space settlement and exploration, relationships, deeply personal human strength, wonders, politics, war, and nightmares. It has so many different topics it touches on in amazing detail yet it does so without drowning or overwhelming you with it. It is a long story – or rather experience, especially if you are listening to the audiobook – but when it is over, you find yourself missing your crew and the adventures you went on together.

TSIASOS is split into into three parts: Exogenesis, Sublimare, and Apocalypsis. The last of these takes up the most room in the story. He sometimes writes rather lengthy chapters but if you are not a fan of that, he does split up his chapters into parts as well so it never feels like you’re stopping in the middle of something where it will make be difficult to orient yourself later.

While this book is not written as a first-person narration, it is written from the point of view of one character: Kira Navarez. Sometimes I am rather skeptical when a male author writes such a large book from the view of a female character. If you read enough books, eventually you may understand why. It can feel really awkward sometimes. But that is not the case with Paolini. I know not everybody agrees with me but for me he created a wonderful character that drew me in right away! Kira is such a strong female role model that was really easy to picture in my mind. A biology nerd! In space! Yes please! What I really loved about her though was that she was not a perfect person. Not at all. She could be scared, indecisive, doubtful, stubborn. Hell, she brought a whole alien species down onto humanity! But she was also loyal and loving and daring and brave and determined and sincere! And all that together created a character that was perfect for this mission.

But this was not just about Kira. Paolini also created a wonderful crew to stand by her side. I loved all the characters that he sent with her. They were such a variety of personalities that brought so many different kinds of relationships to this story. What I liked a lot was that this was not a story about romantic love. Yes, there were bits here and there, of course, because every good epic has relationships of all kinds in it, but there was no romantic love interest of Kira’s that was the focus of this book. This was about Kira’s love for humanity as a whole and that made this book that much better. But back to the others! Not only does Paolini give us a beautifully developed main character, he also gave us a crew and worlds full of people that are so well thought out that it is hard to believe they are not real. Every single one of these people I could imagine in real life because their thoughts and actions and emotions just made so much sense in these situations. They felt so natural.

Now, I have to be honest, I would not be able to tell you how diverse this lineup is overall. I very much struggle with remembering little details in my reading that are not repetitive (talk about a challenge at a job with lots of regulations and protocols!) and that is exacerbated when I am listening to an audiobook since I am not looking at the words myself. So I would not be able to tell you the race, nationality, etc. of each character specifically or how many of each are represented, but I did enjoy listening to how certain nationalities would tend to settle in specific areas or the times when a crew member spoke in Korean. I also liked the fact that LGBTQIA+ characters were mentioned but that their existence was not something that was controversial, just a part of life like it should be.

So the length of the book is something else that has been a topic of disagreement among reviewers it seems. Whether you will like that or not will depend on what kind of books you enjoy, in my opinion. I loved it and would have loved to have several hundreds more pages but that is because I love the kinds of details he put in this story. There was a lot of action going on that is obviously very exciting, but there are also sections that are rather slow. This is where the relationships are built, where we learn about the science and technology, the backgrounds of the characters, the details about space exploration and colonies. This is what makes a good book a great one to me. It is what makes it possible to imagine the world that he built as if it was real and tangible, a place you and I could visit. Characters that we may meet someday. So if that is what you are looking for in a good book, then this will be just right for you. But if you prefer action-packed and fast-paced all throughout, then this is probably a little too drawn out for you.

Since obviously just having this giant book is not enough, Paolini blessed us with a great addendum as well. Here you get to enjoy a lecture from the UMC Naval Academy on ship-based combat in space, an excerpt from the Entropic Principa on space travel, a terminology section (I see what you did there, Paolini! ~~~), and a timeline. This us helpful throughout the book if you need a refresher on a certain term. I have to be honest, I am bad about not reading afterwords and acknowledgements, but I am glad I did this time. He gave us some interesting bits about his writing life that just made me so nostalgic for Eragon again. What rounds out the book so well after all of that is the beautiful cover as well as the artwork throughout the book. There is just so much work that went into this book and I appreciate every little detail of it.

So if you are ready for an epic space opera about aliens and artifacts, love and hate, trust and betrayal, science and new religions, triumphs and incredible heartbreaks, civilian and military combat, and politics and humanity – then this is the book you do not want to miss out on!

About the Audiobook:

Jennifer Hale – wow. She deserves more than just a sentence tacked onto the end of a review about her being a great narrator. Jennifer Hale is

I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E.

There really is no other word for it. As soon as the audiobook was over, I tweeted about how I had to find every other book that she has narrated because I just needed them all in my life. And you know what she said? (Yes, she answered me and I totally fangirled over it) This was her first ever audiobook narration! WHAAAT?!? I know she has great experience with narrating shows and video games and the like, but it still blows my mind that her first ever audiobook was more than 32 hours long and that she did had me mesmerized the entire way through! I know y’all probably think I’m exaggerating but I really did enjoy her narration that much. She pulled me into the story so deeply that it was disorienting to leave it sometimes. She has an incredible range of voices (50 characters!) and her little sound effects were so fun! I have been listening to other audiobooks on a faster speed lately but I listened to this one on normal speed the entire way through because it just would not do it justice otherwise. It would have been a shame to miss out on her talent by rushing through and to be honest, this book also had way too many details for me to listen faster. A nice bonus with the audiobook was that we got an interview between Christopher Paolini and Jennifer Hale at the end.

Christopher Paolini reads from his new novel and talks Inheritance Book 5

Ok. I couldn’t find a smooth way to put this in there and I just have to get this out but….

I LOVE GREGOROVICH. OMG. He is HILARIOUS. Christopher Paolini, if you’re reading this, PLEASE just tell me if he will be back in a future book! I NEED more Gregorovich! I also need more of Jennifer Hale narrating Gregorovich because that was just perfect!

Also.

THE NEWT PUNS. I laughed so hard when they came back again. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Tentacles! - To Sleep in a Sea of Stars - Paolini.net

Virtual Tour with the Author:

I am signed up for the virtual tour with Christopher Paolini at his Quail Ridge stop In Raleigh, NC, my favorite independent bookstore. They already confirmed that I was one of the first 100 ticket buyers so of course I am absolutely thrilled to be getting a signed bookplate with my physical copy. I already have a print ARC of this book as well as the audiobook but there was no way I could say no to this! If you want to sign up for the virtual tour also, here is the schedule!

Christopher Paolini virtual tour

About the Author:

Christopher was homeschooled by his parents. As a child, he often wrote short stories and poems, made frequent trips to the library, and read widely. The idea of Eragon began as the daydreams of a teen. Christopher’s love for the magic of stories led him to craft a novel that he would enjoy reading. The project began as a hobby, a personal challenge; he never intended it to be published. Christopher was fifteen when he wrote the first draft of Eragon. In 2011, the Guinness World Records recognized him as the “youngest author of a bestselling book series.” Christopher is grateful to all his readers. He is especially heartened to hear that his books have inspired young people to read and to write stories of their own.

For more about and from the author or to see the many fun things related to this new book, such as jewelry and News Segments, go here: https://www.paolini.net/

About the Narrator:

Canadian-American, award-winning voice over actor, Jennifer Hale, has been dubbed “a kind of Meryl Streep of the Form” by New Yorker Magazine and holds the world record for the most female video game voices. She earned this and many other accolades in popular game franchises like Halo, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Baldur’s Gate, Mass Effect, Metroid Prime, Metal Gear Solid, Spider Man, BioShock Infinite, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, to name a few. In addition to her many video game roles, she has been a series regular, recurring and guest performer in hundreds of cartoon episodes.

Jennifer is known for breaking down gender stereotypes and same-sex relationship barriers in video games and animation. In fact, when it comes to casting, she likes “to take the boys’ jobs,” as she said in More Magazine.

Now, she’s busting through the glass ceiling on another taboo topic: money. With her podcast, Beyond Money, Jennifer’s lighting the way to bring everyone up, tackling topics like how much to save, career, advice, and activism when it comes to your dollars..

Check her out here: https://jenniferhale.com/

Jennifer Hale - The Most Prolific Video Game Voice Actor

About the Publisher:

Macmillan Audio was founded in 1987 as Audio Renaissance and published its first programs in 1988. Audio Renaissance was acquired by Holtzbrinck in 2001 and changed its name to Macmillan Audio in 2007. Macmillan Audio records the best fiction and nonfiction available for both adults and children from Macmillan’s publishers, in addition to publishing original productions and titles from other publishers. The company’s line of products also includes the language-learning series Behind the Wheel. Macmillan Audio narrators include Meryl Streep, Lorelei King, Stanley Tucci, Simon Vance, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katherine Kellgren, Holter Graham, and Cynthia Nixon, as well as President Jimmy Carter, Billy Crystal, Rob Lowe, and Bill O’Reilly, who have read their own audiobooks. Macmillan Audio productions have been nominated for six Grammy Awards and have won numerous Audie Awards and Earphones Awards. Macmillan audio titles are available digitally as well as on CD.

____________________________________________________________________

Tor Books is the most successful science fiction and fantasy publisher in the world. Winner of the Locus Award for best SF publisher 20 years in a row, Tor regularly puts books like Robert Jordan’s Knife of Dreams and Terry Goodkind’s Chainfire atop national bestseller lists. Tor’s Orb imprint offers trade paperback editions of outstanding, award-winning SF and fantasy backlist titles. Additionally, the Tor Kids program includes Starscape, Tor Teen, and one of the largest classics lines in North America.

The Forge imprint publishes a wide range of fiction, including a strong line of historical novels and thrillers, plus mysteries, women’s fiction, and a variety of nonfiction titles. Tor/Forge has also become the leading modern publisher of American westerns.

Well-known authors recently published by Tor and Forge include Andrew M. Greeley, Douglas Preston, Orson Scott Card, Michael & Kathleen O’Neal Gear, Harold Robbins, Susan Kearney, Jonathan Carroll, Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, Andre Norton, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan, former Secretary of Defense William B. Cohen, Susanna Clarke, Allan Folsom, Eric Lustbader, Elizabeth Haydon, Gene Wolfe, Morgan Llewelyn, David Lubar, David Weber, Christopher Pike, and Philip K. Dick.

Pre-Order Christopher Paolini | The Haunted Book Shop

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. This is truly now one of my all-time favorites and I am so glad I was allowed to be a part of this before publication. What a dream come true after growing up with Eragon. Also, after several weeks of wondering, I finally found out the other day that this will be a series and that we will get many more stories set in the Fractalverse. I cannot wait!

Sunday Lineup (09.13.2020)

Another week is almost over, and with that sadly the weekend as well. I have finished several books from last week and am ready to start this week with some new ones!

Audiobook

The Experiment on Twitter: "Today is the day!! Hello I Want to Die Please  Fix Me by @amp6 is available in the US! This necessary and groundbreaking  book takes a frank look

Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me // by Anna Mehler Paperny // narrated by Kirsten Potter

Synopsis:

In her early twenties, investigative journalist Anna Mehler Paperny had already landed her dream job. On the surface, her life was great. Nevertheless, she spiraled out, attempted suicide (the first of more attempts to follow), and landed in the ICU and then in a psych ward before setting out to tackle her recovery.

In Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me, Mehler Paperny turns her journalist’s eye on her own experience and others’—in the ward; as an outpatient; facing family, friends, and coworkers; finding the right meds; trying to stay insured and employed. She interviews psychiatrists and other experts to reveal how primitive our methods of healing the brain still are—and provides an invaluable guide to a system struggling, and often failing, to help those in need. At once heartrending and humorous, outraging and serious, this is essential reading for anyone touched by depression—and that’s everyone.

Why did I choose this:

It’s a memoir and it’s about mental health, two things I love reading about.

Current Thoughts:

I’m loving it! While I hate that the author had to go through these experiences obviously, I really like how she wrote this book. She very thoroughly researched many aspects of depression and suicide, and I am learning so much while listening to this book! It has a really good balance between facts and personal experience.

Kindle Book

Cover reveal! Find out more about Jodi Picoult's forthcoming novel The Book  of Two Ways | The Reading List

The Book of Two Ways // by Jodi Picoult

Synopsis:

Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: Prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband but of a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, their beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, in which she helps ease the transition between life and death for her clients.

But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a career Dawn once studied for but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.

After the crash landing, the airline ensures that the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation to wherever they want to go. The obvious destination is to fly home, but she could take another path: return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways—the first known map of the afterlife.

As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried with them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices . . . or do our choices make us? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?

Why did I choose this:

I haven’t read many books by her but the ones I did read have been really good. I was excited to see such a popular author on NetGalley and jumped at the chance to read one of her books early.

Current Thoughts:

I don’t really have any current thoughts on this because I’m literally on page 1. I finished my other kindle book at 1am and wanted to go ahead and choose my next one. I am a little apprehensive though because there have been some very mixed reviews about this from her longtime fans.

Book on my Phone

Generation Brave | Book by Kate Alexander | Official Publisher Page | Simon  & Schuster

Generation Brave – The Gen Z Kids Who Are Changing The World // by Kate Alexander // illustrated by Jade Orlando

Synopsis:

Gen Z is populated—and defined—by activists. They are bold and original thinkers and not afraid to stand up to authority and conventional wisdom. From the March for Our Lives to the fight for human rights and climate change awareness, this generation is leading the way toward truth and hope like no generation before.

Generation Brave showcases Gen Z activists who are fighting for change on many fronts: climate change, LGBTQ rights, awareness and treatment of mental illness, gun control, gender equality, and corruption in business and government at the highest levels. Illustrated throughout, this book will offer a celebration of what might be the most influential generation of the century, including profiles of figures such as:
Simone BilesJaden SmithJazz JenningsHaile ThomasYara ShahidiNadya OkamotoMarley DiasHelena GualingaFionn Ferreira. . . and other amazing kids who are using their voices for good.

Why did I choose this:

As a big fan of Rebel Girls, I obviously like strong role models for children, teenagers, and adults. This book looked perfect in that regard!

Current Thoughts:

This books is wonderful! There is so much awesome and educational information in it about the different activists and their causes! It goes into more detail than the Rebel Girls books if you are familiar with those but all of it is great! I really like the illustrations as well! I can’t wait to share my review about this one with yall!

Print Book

Basic Bitchen // by Joey Skladany

Synopsis:

Embrace your inner basic bitch with these 100+ everyday recipes for “basic” meals you shamelessly love.

In a world where everyone seeks to be special and pride themselves on their differences, there is one common bond that unites us all—basicness. And while some rock the Ugg boots and drink pumpkin spice lattes more than others, we can all still appreciate the simple pleasures that mimosas, avocado toast, and acai bowls bring. And that’s okay!

Basic Bitchen celebrates and embraces the basic bitch lifestyle through food, offering step-by-step recipes for the most fundamental (and delicious) of all dishes.

In addition to these easy, fun, and flavorful crowd-pleasing recipes, Chowhound editor Joey Skladany provides tips and tricks for cooking basics, such as how to build a pantry and cooking tools that every chef needs. Take your cooking skills beyond the microwave and make meals all of your friends will enjoy.

Why did I choose this:

I mean, look at it.

Current Thoughts:

Yes, you’re seeing that right. Until a few days ago, this was a kindle book of mine but since there are some book types, like children’s books and cookbooks, that just look funky on a kindle (at least a kindle as old as mine lol), and it was past the pub day anyways, I decided to just buy it instead. I knew I would get this one eventually anyways. I love how bright it is and the name just asks for this book to be displayed in the kitchen for everyone to see.

Jo & Laurie Book Jacket Design & Lettering by Katie Johnson on Dribbble

Jo and Laurie // by Margaret Stohl and Melissa De La Cruz

Update:

Yes, I’m still working on this one. I haven’t picked it up at all this week. But I am going to try to read at least two chapters every day this week, which shouldn’t be too bad because a lot of them are relatively short.

From stage to page | Michigan Today

Dear Evan Hansen // by Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Synopsis:

Dear Evan Hansen,

Today’s going to be an amazing day and here’s why…

When a letter that was never meant to be seen by anyone draws high school senior Evan Hansen into a family’s grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong. He just has to stick to a lie he never meant to tell, that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.

Suddenly, Evan isn’t invisible anymore–even to the girl of his dreams. And Connor Murphy’s parents, with their beautiful home on the other side of town, have taken him in like he was their own, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son from his closest friend. As Evan gets pulled deeper into their swirl of anger, regret, and confusion, he knows that what he’s doing can’t be right, but if he’s helping people, how wrong can it be?

No longer tangled in his once-incapacitating anxiety, this new Evan has a purpose. And a website. He’s confident. He’s a viral phenomenon. Every day is amazing. Until everything is in danger of unraveling and he comes face to face with his greatest obstacle: himself.

A simple lie leads to complicated truths in this big-hearted coming-of-age story of grief, authenticity and the struggle to belong in an age of instant connectivity and profound isolation.

Why did I choose this:

It’s our current Corona Book Club pick.

Current Thoughts:

I’m about two weeks behind on starting this and still haven’t cracked it open technically (SORRY KACIE). But I will really focus on this one this week!

SMP-books-banner - Sunrise MarketPlace

And that’s it for today! It’s weird to have only one Kindle book at a time honestly but I’m trying to put more focus on one in each category (obviously not happening in prints this week!) because I’m obviously already spread thin enough. I’m at least excited that throughout the year, I have had very very little DNFs.

Having said that, I am really hoping to get The Trials of Koli from Orbit Books this week on NetGalley! They approved my request on Friday for The Book of Koli and I devoured it yesterday! It was the first time in years where I spent that much time in one day reading and stayed up until 1am to finish it! I am desperate to get the next one!

Book Review: Strung Out by Erin Khar

Erin Khar's Memoir Of Addiction Recovery At Volume Reading Series | WAMC

Strung Out // by Erin Khar // narrated by Jayme Mattler

Pub Day: February 25, 2020

Publisher: Harlequin – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada)

Synopsis:

In this deeply personal and illuminating memoir about her fifteen-year struggle with heroin, Khar sheds profound light on the opioid crisis and gives a voice to the over two million people in America currently battling with this addiction.

Growing up in LA, Erin Khar hid behind a picture-perfect childhood filled with excellent grades, a popular group of friends and horseback riding. After first experimenting with her grandmother’s expired painkillers, Khar started using heroin when she was thirteen. The drug allowed her to escape from pressures to be perfect and suppress all the heavy feelings she couldn’t understand.

This fiercely honest memoir explores how heroin shaped every aspect of her life for the next fifteen years and details the various lies she told herself, and others, about her drug use. With enormous heart and wisdom, she shows how the shame and stigma surrounding addiction, which fuels denial and deceit, is so often what keeps addicts from getting help. There is no one path to recovery, and for Khar, it was in motherhood that she found the inner strength and self-forgiveness to quit heroin and fight for her life.

My Thoughts:

I am having some trouble getting my thoughts organized for this book. I am a big fan of memoirs, especially the ones that are so painstakingly honest about their pasts. This is my third or fourth addiction-related memoir and they have really changed the way I think about addicts and alcoholics. I have to admit that I used to be somewhat judgmental about these things, as people often are in their ignorance, but these books have really opened my eyes to their struggles. They have turned into real people rather than statistics. As someone dealing with mental health issues and past trauma myself, it is now much easier for me to understand why someone would feel the need to turn to drugs as a way out.

Khar is definitely honest about her story and does not seem to hold back when speaking about the many negative decisions she has made in her life. The prologue starts out shockingly with her 12 year old son asking if she has every done drugs before. This is quite understandably a difficult question for her to answer. Should she be honest and possibly cause him to lose respect for his mother, or should she protect her son for a little bit longer?

I liked how at the beginning of the book she included facts about drug use in the US and how the political climate, expectations of parents on their children, the lack of comprehensive mental healthcare, and other factors can influence a person’s decision to turn to drugs at some point in their life. This made me think (and hope) that more of these statistics and theories would be included in the rest of the book.

But it soon turned into a mostly chronological telling of all the major decisions she has made in the 14 years of her drug use without much further deep discussions on those topics. That is, of course, fine. A memoir is what the author decides it is. It was just something I was excited about and then ended up not receiving.

But despite the many bad decisions she made, there hardly ever seemed to be any accountability and consequences to her actions. Not once did she have a run-in with the police. Her housing situation was always taken care of. There was never a lack of people handing her money, free drugs, rides, beds, couches, love, or anything else it seemed. She had healthcare and rehab when she wanted it and always a home to come back to. She even had access to schooling and a new, exciting job whenever she was ready for it. I am not saying that this isn’t great for her. I am so glad she had that support system and found her way through her struggles. But it is in stark contrast to the stories of so many other people in this country, especially people of color. And while she addresses this herself by talking about her awareness of racism and how people of color have completely different stories without the privileges that she has, it always seemed rather shallow. It felt more like an obligatory mention than anything she thought about more deeply.

I don’t want to end my review here and make it seem like I hated this book because that really is not the case. I deeply appreciate her taking the time to write this memoir because it gave me an insight into a life that I am not familiar with myself. This was a very humbling read. I very much identified with the young girl trying her hardest to get good grades and hanging out with the horses every day. While my trauma did not happen until my late teens, I still understand the urge of wanting to get out of your skin and out of your head so desperately. It also lead me to recognize the privilege I possessed (and still do) that helped me avoid that outcome myself. I am truly happy for her to have found her peace and that she was able to form the life she now has and enjoys. I also really appreciated her honesty with her son in the end. It was a hope I had from the start and I was glad to see it happen.

While the NetGalley ARC I originally received was an ebook, I was able to listen to the audiobook thanks to my library. I really enjoyed Jayme Mattler as a narrator because her voice and inflections fit the words perfectly in my opinion. Whether the situation asked for emotions or the lack of emotions, she always seemed to be spot on.

About the Author:

Erin Khar is the author of Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies that Nearly Killed Me, a memoir about her fifteen-year battle with opiate addiction that explores the very nature of why people do drugs, casting light on the larger opiate crisis, written with the intention to destigmatize the topic of drug addiction.

She writes about things like addiction, recovery, mental health, relationships, parenting, infertility, self-care, and her undying love for Beverly Hills, 90210.

Her work has been featured many places, including Marie Claire, SELF, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Salon, HuffPost, The Manifest-Station, and Cosmonauts Avenue.

Her weekly advice column, Ask Erin, can be read here: https://www.erinkhar.com/askerin

About the Publisher:

They are a dynamic, diverse and growing group of trade imprints committed to publishing the best in commercial fiction and narrative nonfiction across a wide array of genres. Offering a broad and vibrant range of editorial, they are driven by a singular vision: to introduce readers to bold, imaginative stories that entertain, foster discussion, challenge preconceptions and stimulate new ways of perceiving the world.

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Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.