Spring Book Festival Wrap-up

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!

My Love of YA

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.

Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn

Goodreads synopsis:

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.

 

 

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone – Review

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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.

April TBR: Festival Addition!

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!

Love, Simon

“I like your boots!”

AHHHHH!!! THE FEELS!!!! MY EMOTIONS, MY HEART!!!!

Okay, I got it out of my system.  I have just come home from seeing Love, Simon, the new movie based on Becky Albertalli’s novel Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda.  I have been waiting for this movie to come out for ages.  The book is so heartwarming and hilarious, about a closeted teen who has a secret online relationship with a secret admirer.  Ugh, I suck at explaining things, here is the movie premise from Wikipedia:

Simon Spier is a closeted gay teenager attending high school in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Simon has yet to inform his family or friends about his sexual orientation and has begun communicating with an anonymous fellow closeted classmate who goes by the pseudonym “Blue” online, using his own pseudonym of “Jacques”. This email exchange is uncovered by fellow classmate Martin, who blackmails Simon by threatening to out him to the entire school unless he helps Martin get a date with one of Simon’s best friends. Simon is then forced to balance his friends, his family, and the blackmailer, while simultaneously attempting to discover the identity of the anonymous classmate he has fallen in love with online.

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A Charlotte Holmes Story

I have a thing for boarding school books—I was also a big Zoey 101 fan back in the day. It’s such a foreign concept, but there is a small part of me that wishes I would have gone to one.  They just seem so sophisticated.  Another thing I love is Sherlock Holmes.  Okay, most of my knowledge comes from the show Sherlock.

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Goodreads synopsis for the first book, A Study in Charlotte:

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other

Favorite Authors of 2017

I read 95 books in 2017.  95 BOOKS! This was the best reading I’ve ever had.  I read diversely—both in authors and subject matter.  I branched out of my comfort zone and discovered I kind of like mysteries?  Yes, most of the books I read are Young Adult, but the atmosphere there is so inspiring.  If I made a list of my favorite books of the year it would probably be over 50 books long. So, I decided to do a list of my favorite authors I read this year instead.  The list will be in alphabetical order and some authors are listed with more than one book. Let’s get started!