“Why is it that mental illness leaves its sufferers feeling guilty for something that is genuinely beyond their control?”
“Riots. not diets!”
I devoured Dumplin‘, by Julie Murphy, when I first heard of it a few years ago. Fat main character? Sold! Puddin’, the companion novel, was no different. Instead of following the trials and tribulations of Dolly Parton obsessed Willowdean, we hear from two complete opposites: dancer Callie Reyes and Miss Positivity, Millie Michalchuk.
Every spring brings two book festivals to Southern California: The LA Times Festival of Books and Yallwest. Over the years attending these two festivals, I’ve been able to meet some of my all-time favorite authors and listen to them discuss their process, the hardships of writing, and the joys of meeting readers. This was my first time where my health and my body really limited my time and experience but I tried to make it work. There was no way I was going to miss these events, as they are some of my favorite of the year. Without further ado, here is my wrap-up of the two festivals!
I used to be ashamed of my love for YA literature. When I was twelve, I saw the movie How to Deal, a mash-up of two Sarah Dessen books starring Mandy Moore. I LOVED it. It still is one of my favorite movies. So after seeing the movie, I immediately bought the movie tie-in book that included, Someone Like You and That Summer. After I devoured those books, I went through Dessen’s entire backlog of books and I was hooked. Young Adult literature had grabbed at my heart and it was never letting go.
- Author you’ve read the most books from? Hands down, Sarah Dessen. I’ve read everything she’s ever written. Her books are my biggest inspirations.
- Best sequel ever? I don’t read many books that are part of a series. Do the Harry Potter books count? And the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy.
- Currently reading? The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
- Drink of choice while reading? No preference.
- E-reader or physical books? Physical books all the way. I went through a phase thinking I could go the e-reader route, but that was really just an excuse to read during class in college.
- Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school? Dexter from This Lullaby or Owen from Just Listen.
- Glad you gave this book a chance? Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I’m not really into fantasy books (except Harry Potter) but I trust Rainbow with my whole heart and she did not disappoint.
- Hidden gem book? Just off the top of my head….Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. I was expecting a fluffy European romance but it had so much more depth. I loved it.
- Important moment in your reading life? When my best friend shoved Twilight in my hands during junior year of high school.
- Just finished? The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace
- Kinds of books you won’t read? Horror, SciFi, Fantasy
- Longest book you’ve read? Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Major book hangover because of…? We Were Liars by E. Lockhart fucked me up
- Number of bookcases you own? Four, but I probably need about seven
- One book you have read multiple times? Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Preferred place to read? My bed
- Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you read? “Just… isn’t giving up allowed sometimes? Isn’t it okay to say, ‘This really hurts, so I’m going to stop trying’?” – Fangirl
- Reading regret? Waiting so long to read Harry Potter
- Series you started and need to finish (all books are out in series)? I don’t have one
- Three of your All-Time Favorite Books: Just Listen, This Lullaby both by Sarah Dessen, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
- Unapologetic fangirl/fanboy for? Harry Potter. Let’s just say, I’m pretty sure I blacked out my entire time at the Warner Brothers studio tour in London. I also took a trip with my best friend and our moms to Forks, Washington for a Twilight tour…
- Very excited for this release – more than all the others? Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
- Worst bookish habit? Not remembering plots to books after I read them. They just *POOF* escape my brain.
- X marks the spot: start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book. Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
- Your latest book purchase? Pre-ordered Save The Date by Morgan Matson!
- ZZZ-snatcher (book that kept you up WAY late)? Most of them do. For some reason I seem to only read at night, so when I’m really into a book I won’t be able to go to sleep
This was fun! I found this from Bookchanted
Since I’m not going to be able to read a classic this month (preparing for book festivals!), I thought I would read some poetry—April is National Poetry Month.
I was never a very big fan of poetry. Honestly, it made me feel kind of dumb; I never understood the symbolisms and thought they were flowery mess of words, strung together to make “poems”. Junior year of high school, I slowly started opening myself up to more poetry. We had a whole unit on Edgar Allen Poe that I loved; his short stories and poems were so dark and eerie. I then got into an Ellen Hopkins kick and I read a bunch of other books in verse. In college I backed off again, though I do attribute that to my Old English class that really ruined all literature for me for a few months.
It wasn’t until seeing excerpts from Lang Leav’s poetry making the rounds on Tumblr. They were simple and relatable, something I had previously never connected with, even through novels told in verse. Then Rupi Kaur’s book, Milk and Honey, became such a huge hit that I began to look at poetry in a different way. Poetry started targeting a younger audience and became modernized in a really significant way.
“once upon a time, the princess rose from the ashes her dragon lovers made of her & crowned herself the mother-fucking queen of herself.
— how’s that for a happily ever after?”
A few months a got around to the much hyped The Princess Saves Herself in This One, by Amanda Lovelace. I read it in one sitting. I couldn’t stop annotating every poem that directly affected me. When the companion piece in “The Women are Some Kind Of Magic” series, The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One, came out I immediately purchased the gorgeous red cover copy from Target. This collection was no different from the first. I, once again, read it in one sitting and I could not stop marking my favorite poems. There are many trigger warnings in both books, something the author provides many times upfront: different types of abuse, trauma, death, eating disorders, etc.
“To be a woman is to be warbound, knowing all the odds are stacked against you.
—& never giving up in spite of it”
I liked both books for different reasons. I felt much closer to The Princess, relating to more of the poems on a personal level, and while I really enjoyed The Witch, it was more from a detached level. The poems were rough and visceral, every page a gut punch. This type of modernized poetry isn’t for everyone. Some people would rather have the old-school styling or structure, but for me, I prefer this simplistic nature. There is so much story being told very simplistically. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this series and I can wait for the third, The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One, published in spring of 2019
Here are some of my favorite poems:
The Princess Saves Herself in This One:
“The pain did not make me a better person. It did not teach me not to take anything for granted. It did not teach me anything except how to be afraid to love anyone. i am far too young to be so goddamn broken & if i could go back in time & give myself her childhood back, i would
— what was the point?”
“i’m sick to death of everyone telling me how strong i am. me? strong? i only act strong because it’s the only distraction from the thoughts of my inevitable motherless life
—a feather disguised as steel”
The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One:
“Curves and fat and rolls are a colossal ‘fuck you’ to the patriarchy – our accidental rebellion.
—my body rejects your desires”
“forget being ladylike (whatever the hell that means) &and allow yourself to show the world just how unapologetically angry this inequality makes you. let it all go.
—throw flames like a girl“
James Patterson presents this emotionally resonant novel that shows that while some broken things can’t be put back exactly the way they were, they can be repaired and made even stronger.
Kira’s Twelve Steps To A Normal Life
1. Accept Grams is gone.
2. Learn to forgive Dad.
3. Steal back ex-boyfriend from best friend…
And somewhere between 1 and 12, realize that when your parent’s an alcoholic, there’s no such thing as “normal.”
When Kira’s father enters rehab, she’s forced to leave everything behind–her home, her best friends, her boyfriend…everything she loves. Now her father’s sober (again) and Kira is returning home, determined to get her life back to normal…exactly as it was before she was sent away.
But is that what Kira really wants?
As a daughter of an addict, this story hit very close to home. My tells stories about the crazy things he used to do when he was young and drinking. I don’t remember much from my childhood when it comes to his drinking. I was eleven when he was forced to get sober. He was supposed to come home to take my sister and I out to dinner, mom was out at a work dinner. It started to get later and later and we were starving. We were calling both our parents and no one picked up. My mom finally got home a little after ten and she said she would talk to us tomorrow, then sent us up to bed. We then found out that my dad had crashed his new Lexus and had a DUI. His license was taken away for a year and he had to serve four days in jail. Because my mom worked, my dad started taking the bus to AA meetings at night. My friends never understood why my dad kept having “meetings” at night time and wasn’t available for carpool.
It wasn’t that all this was a big shock to me, but I guess I didn’t see it coming. My dad has always been a very silly and boisterous person. And loud. Oh, he is so very loud. It wasn’t that he would get smashed every night and was a fall-over drunk. To my sister and I, when he drank we would have dance parties and he would teach us about movies late into the night. But he was also very angry. My sister was 13 and not the best student—or the nicest teenager—so my dad would yell, or throw CDS at the wall, or throw open her door so hard it made a hole in the door. I think the drinking helped him get through the shit time he was having at work and the stress of a long commute. And it wasn’t like he drank all day, every day. He just didn’t have the voice in his head to tell him to stop.
My dad just celebrated his 15th sober birthday. He is extremely involved with AA, going at least three times a week. He leads meetings on occasion, done talks at the Salvation Army, and even sponsored a few people. He’s traded in the wine stains for food stains and beer for cookies.
I know how Kira is feeling in this book. She just wants everything to go back to normal when she returns from her aunt’s house, but it can’t. Though she’s afraid to admit it, things can’t go back to the way things were before. People have made mistakes, herself included, and people have changed.
Overall I did like this book. I flew through it. I think the reason I flew through it so fast is because it wasn’t that deep. The emotions that the characters were feeling and express were at times, but the writing itself didn’t provide much depth. The characters felt very young. I usually read YA books that have a more mature voice, despite still being set in high school but 12 Steps felt more on the younger side of high school even though they were starting their junior year of high school. It seemed like ideas and feelings became very repetitive and redundant. Kira would be feeling a certain way about a character and then the next time they return she has completely flipped her opinion. This would happen multiple times throughout.
Penn mentions in the author’s note in the back that she really wanted to focus on the recovery aspect to addiction, which I really enjoyed. It’s rare to see this perspective because the rock bottom angle can offer higher stakes and drama. I thank her for this book.
Rachel Lynn Solomon’s debut, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, is a story that dives deep into the relationships within a Jewish family, who’s results of a genetic test try to rip them apart. Especially the relationship between two twin sisters. Tovah and Adina watch their once strong Israeli mother slowly succumb to the rare degenerative disease Huntington’s. They decide to get the genetic test to reveal if either of the girls have the same gene that is gradually killing their mother. One tests negative, while the other positive. The results push these sisters further away from each other than ever before.
I usually don’t do TBR’s, I pick as I go. Maybe sometimes I’ll have a theme to my reading, like summer books during summertime (groundbreaking, I know), but other than that I mostly go on mood. However at the end of the month, I’m heading to the LA Times Festival of Books. I used to go to this festival when I was young and it was at UCLA, but I’ve been to this iteration at USC for the past four years. I’m also going to YALLWEST the first weekend in May. I spend most of my time at these festivals at author signings. I bring my suitcase with all my books of the writers I’ll be meeting that day. I hate going to a signing having not read the author’s book, so my reading for the next month will be dedicated to finishing off the list of the writers I’ll be seeing. Some I’ve already read but others were recently released so I’m only getting the chance to read them now. I won’t say much about them, obviously, because I haven’t read them yet, but also no spoilers!
For my college graduation present, my family went to London for 12 days. About halfway through our trip, we took the Chunnel to Paris to spend the day. My goal for my first time in Paris was to visit the famous bookstore, Shakespeare & Company. This legendary bookstore is down the street from Notre Dame and on the Seine. The first location housed writers like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald while the writers from the Beat Generation like William Burroughs and Allen Ginsburg made the current location their home. After walking through the two-story shopped where writers could come to write amongst all the books, I decided to pick out my own books to buy. I decided to add to my Fitzgerald collection with some short stories.