Shelf Control #2

Happy Wednesday! It’s time for another edition of Shelf Control hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies about current unread books on your bookshelf. This week the book I’m choosing to highlight on my shelf is Night Film by Marisha Pessl.

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Goodreads Synpsis: 

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.

Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.

The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.

Night Film, the gorgeously written, spellbinding new novel by the dazzlingly inventive Marisha Pessl, will hold you in suspense until you turn the final page.

 

How I Got It: 

I bought on a trip to Barnes and Noble to find books to give my RAs as an end of the year present. I LOVED Pessl’s first book, and I was very delayed on picking up this one.

Why I Want To Read It:

I loved the author’s first book. I had heard some good things about it earlier on and I like a good mystery. Some of the stuff I’ve been hearing now hasn’t been so great. I was supposed to pick it up for my reading challenge, but I didn’t have time to get around to it.

When I Am Going To Read It:

July! The month where I finally read more of my own books!

 

Until Next Time World…

Since I’ve Been Gone…

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’m actually not entirely sure why, since I have things sitting in my drafts folder. I’ll queue them up tonight, and hopefully get back into some regular blogging. However, I recently read this post on Book Riot and wanted to cross share it here. 

Book Riot Post

A SAFE AND SACRED SPACE

COMMUNITY

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This is a guest post from Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Benjamin is an acclaimed writer for adults and teens. His novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe won a Printz Honor Award, the Pura Belpre, Lambda, and Stonewall Book Awards. Mr. Sáenz lives in El Paso. TX. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminAlireSa.

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A transgender boy writes to me and tells me that that he found a part of his own story in the young adult novel I wrote. English is obviously his second language and his name indicates he is of middle-eastern descent. He tells me my book gave him the strength to go on and that he is now less afraid of disappointing people. He says I gave him a reason to live. Another young man in his mid twenties writes: “If I had read a YA book like yours when I was growing up, I wonder how different my life would have been, to be affirmed that my love is beautiful too, and that are indeed worse things in the world than a boy who likes to kiss other boys.” And yet another writes: “I just want you to know that your book has had a significant impact on my life, my confidence, and the way I viewed myself as a minority person. Thank you so much.” 

Since publishing Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, I have received hundreds of letters from young men, many of them young men of color who thank me for lifting a weight off of them, for giving them hope, for making them feel that they are not alone in their journey towards self-acceptance. I am always humbled by their gratitude and their words move me but also fill me with some measure of sadness. It is clear to me that there a thousands and thousands and thousands of young people who are suffering as they learn to deal with and accept their sexual orientations. Coming out is never glamorous, always intensely personal and it is often excruciatingly painful. Self-acceptance and finding one’s place in life is a continual process that never really ends. A man in his mid forties writes: “How many lives and how much pain could we save if we had embraced diversity as one of the most beautiful characteristics of humankind and understanding that love prevails? This is one of the first thoughts that came to my mind when I finished reading the book, Ari’s parents as well as Dante’s understood that love goes well beyond skin. I wish I had understood this when I was younger so I could have made better decisions.”

Many of the young men who write to me are on the brink of manhood and they have often been overwhelmed by their loneliness. They feel as if they live in exile and they yearn to belong. They want to feel safe. They want to pursue happiness. They want so much to love themselves yet they sense the rejections of the cultures around them, cultures that they belong to and yet feel estranged from.

Community becomes an important word for gay men and women. We understand the power of community and must rely on it because if we do not cling to each other, we will perish. Part of that community is formed in gay nightclubs and bars where we are free to be ourselves and display affections that we are not free to display in public. We are not equal in this society and we know it. We know all to well what rejection feels like. We know what it’s like to be hated. I do not consider the mail I get to be “fan mail” per se. My readers are telling me that the stories I write really do need to be told and that I have a responsibility to speak because I have a voice and have learned how to use it. I wrote a love story between two Latino boys and that love story has touched thousands of lives. And it has changed me, the author of that book, in ways I never could have imagined. I’ve been taught a lesson from my readers: books still matter. Books can still change lives. 

I am sixty-one years old and I have lived through assassinations, civil rights movements, anti-war movements, and the struggles continue. Being a writer, I not only observe my historical moment, I live in it. When I sit down to write a young adult novel, I know that it is my charge to give young people hope and to represent their struggles honestly and unflinchingly.

I know that the hate crime in Orlando (that is what I call it) has made our young people feel uneasy. They wonder if it is safe. They wonder if they will ever be free. They wonder if they will ever really feel like they truly belong in a culture that still spawns so much hate. The simple act of holding another man’s hand in public will get your stares—or worse. We struggle with being accepted within our own communities. We all have had to learn to play by different rules.

It is a great privilege to get a get a glimpse of the courage and loneliness of my young readers through the e-mails and letters they send to me. Their struggles have become my struggles. My struggles have become theirs. Reading my book has made them feel less alone in this confusing and chaotic world. And reading their e-mails, I don’t feel so alone or isolated. Through a book, we have learned to belong to each other.

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I didn’t love this book, but that’s okay because it’s not for me to love. I appreciate his words so much and these thoughts have been heavy on my heart and mind. Happy pride and may we all help each other maintain pride in ourselves each and everyday. 
Until Next Time World…

The Value of Life

I recently finished the Man Booker International Award short list-er, A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk. This book was a big one. It’s a little over 600 pages, pretty small print, and for some reason is extra large.  This book took me about 3 weeks to read, which is crazy long for me. And during that three week span, I spent a lot of actual time reading this book. Now that I’ve dissuaded you from reading this book, let me actually tell you about it.

This book follows Melvut, first a boy then a man living in Istanbul. It’s literally his life story. And he did not live a very big life. Melvut was from a small village in Turkey. He went to live with his father in the city to make money to send back to his family in the village. They worked as street vendors. Melvut was supposed to go to school to be a doctor, but it’s hard to focus on your studies when you’re literally walking the streets all day and night for your food. Melvut drops out of school and continues to work as a street vendor. He gets wrapped up in some communist politics; he sees a pretty girl at a wedding; he writes her letters while he does mandatory military service. He runs away with the girl after the military service. He finds out its the wrong girl. He marries her anyway and falls deeply in love having 2 daughters. His wife dies at 30. He struggles to make money. He eventually married her sister (the girl he actually thought was pretty). They live in a little one room house. Then a high rise is built and they live there. The end. 

That was a pretty dense paragraph, but I wanted to show you the potential futility in the book. If you’re someone who really enjoys immersing themselves in cultures, this book would be write up your alley since it follows Turkey through the modernization of the 21st century. If you’re not one of these people, you might be missing the exciting and eventful plot. But what does that mean for our lives? Unless you are one of the lucky ones who has an opportunity to influence the masses and do historic things, you will probably lead a little life. I lead a little life; where I hold a modest job, have a couple dozen followers, and the ability to see my friends who live close. In a lot of ways, I live a life like Melvut does in the novel.

In the novel, Melvut felt as though he had a strangeness in his mind. Although throughout the book, I’m not sure that was proven as fact. I think he just had the same ambitions and failings that a lot of people had and continue to have. While I was reading this novel, I felt a kinship with Melvut. I wanted him to be happy, and I wanted safety for his family. I was frustrated when he felt like he had his back to the wall, and was joyful when he got a break from his suffering. The elegance with which Pamuk wrote (and Oklap translated) Melvut’s life carried over very well into English. Even though I was not familiar with Turkey at all, I still felt transported to Melvut’s time, as he walked the streets of Istanbul selling boza. It is clear why Pamuk won a Nobel Prize in literature. And I am grateful that Pamuk brought such life and importance to Melvut. And, in his own way, is letting us each know living a little life is okay.

Until Next Time World…

Shelf Control

So I’ve been working a lot and pretty uninspired, but I wanted to post something today. I’ve heard of these things called “book memes” and I decided to see if there were any cool ones for Wednesday. I found this one, hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies about current unread books on your bookshelf. Since I’ve packed away most of my books, I didn’t have that many on my shelf to choose from. However, my pick this week is Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson.

Befrank

The Goodreads Blurb:

Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years, but now she’s writing her first book in decades and to ensure timely completion her publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.

When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noël Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth graders.

As she gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who his father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.

Full of heart and countless only-in-Hollywood moments, Be Frank With Me is a captivating and heartwarming story of an unusual mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their unforgettable world.

How I Got It: 

I have the uncorrected proof that my friend lent to me earlier this year. (She won the proof in a Goodreads giveaway because she is lucky and I am not.)

Why I Want To Read It:

I love books about writers and other books. This one seems to tie in some nice family drama, which always makes for a fun and entertaining read. My friend also enjoyed it, and she has good taste.

When I Am Going To Read It:

This is one of my next 10 books that I’ll read. So I will definitely finish this in the next two months. I’m determined to not let the library distract me too much.


That was pretty fun! Get ready for these weekly from now on.

Until Next Time World…

Dystopian Fevor

I don’t remember if I’ve said it hear yet or not, but I’m not a fan of dystopian literature. After The Giver, I was pretty much tapped out. I’ve read The Hunger Games trilogy, but overall was unimpressed with the plot. (Very impressed with the character development though.) All that being said – dystopian novels are very popular among the blogging/YouTube scene. Most of the time I don’t pay attention to those novels people rave about, because it’s just not my scene. However, I had previously read two books by Patrick Ness A Monster Calls and The Rest of Us Just Live Here, both of which I enjoyed to varying degrees. So when I saw so many people raving about the Chaos Walking trilogy, I had to check it out.

When I first began to read The Knife of Letting Go, my immediate thought was confusion. I wasn’t expecting a regional dialect and was taken aback. After I got over that small hump, I had to adjust to Ness’s writing style which is a mix of thoughts and spoken words. As the trilogy went on, the written style made more and more sense considering the world building  that happens over the course of the series. Our main protagonist is a not quite “13” year old boy named Todd. He has a dog that he’s impartial to named Manchee, whose thoughts can be heard on this planet he lives on called “New World.” After the first few chapters we are introduced to our other protagonist, Viola, who has just arrived to the New World from a ship bringing more settlers.

The overall premise of this New World is that humans came from what we consider earth, to start a new community free from the inconveniences (I think pollution and war.) of the old world. However, this New World has devolved into the same bad habits of the Old World. Genocide, war, lying, and destruction to name a few. I read through the first book pretty fast, and there was enough of a cliff hanger at the end of that book to keep me reading along. I finished the second book amidst my road trip to Georgia, at a slower pace. I wasn’t quite as interested in the story, and I found myself disagreeing with a lot of what the characters were saying or doing. I just finished the third book as a part of #tometopple and all I have to say is

WOW

That will make sense to you if you’ve read a print copy of the books. I truly had no idea what Patrick Ness was doing until I was half way through the third book. Ness crafted a world full of characters that were so human like, that you didn’t know who was good or who was bad. You didn’t know what you would do in their shoes or if that would make you good or bad. I’ve seen really good things written about this series, and I’ve seen really bad things written about it. What I will leave you with, as someone who doesn’t generally like this genre, is that you have to read the entire series to understand the power behind Ness’s story. I gave this book increasing stars as I read on (3 for the first, 4 for the second, and 5 for the third). For the overall series, I would give a very solid 4 star review. It’s not often that I put down over 1500 pages of reading and think – I need to revisit that soon. But I definitely need to revisit The Chaos Walking trilogy soon. If you haven’t read this book yet, I definitely encourage you to pick it up.

Until Next Time World…

June TBR & #tometopple

I don’t normally plan out what I’m going to read in the course of a month, but this June is a little different. I’m moving toward the end of the month, and all of my books are already packed away in little boxes, as you can see below.

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So I had to be selective and actually choose which books I was going to attempt to read during this month, because I probably won’t unpack my books again until July. The other reason that I’m planning a specific TBR this month is because I’m participating in #tometopple hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Here’s the link to the video introducing the readathon, the link to the video where she talks about specific challenges and her list, and her blog to sign up for the readathon! Sam is really great. If you’re interested in sci-fi/fantasy books, she reviews a lot of them.

Now that I’ve talked about all of that – let’s get into what I’m going to read this June.

I’m still #manbookering, because there were a lot of books on that long list. Currently reading Ladivine by Marie NDiaye, which is a family drama about a mother with a secret that her daughter must discover after her mother is brutally murdered. It didn’t make the shortlist (which I can see why being half way through the book), but has been enjoyable so far. I’m also reading The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater because everyone and their moms are talking about this series. I’m only 20% through the book, but I’m not in love. We’ll see how I feel about it by the end of the book. The other books I plan on starting shortly are listed below; the ones in red I plan on reading as a part of #tometopple / the Uncovered Book Club June pick.

So if this list holds true, I’ll read at least 9 books in June. Hopefully I’ll get through some of these pretty quickly and be able to read more like 12-15. I also don’t know if I’ll love the Raven Boys series…so I might have to finish all of those this month. It’s also pride month(!!!) so I have to read some sort of queer literature this month as well. I have my work cut out for me!

Until Next Time World…

May Wrap Up

MAY! I had a goal for May to read more books than I had the past two months, and I think I reach my goal. I read some long, hard books. I crossed off more categories on my Read Harder Challenge list. I listened to more audiobooks than I have in any other month this year. Overall, I’m pleased with how I started out my first summer reading month. As always, my top 5 books are in red. I actually DNF’d the book with the star, needless to say, not my favorite.

  1. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  2. Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila
  3. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
  4. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  5. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  6. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
  7. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  8. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
  9. The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
  10. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
  11. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  12. A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk
  13. If I Were Your Girl by Meredith Russo
  14. Lumberjanes. vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson
  15. Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes*

 

Until Next Time World…