My Spring 2017 TBR List

Hello, hello!

Top Ten TuesdayHappy Tuesday! I’m home from school today thanks to a mid-March snowstorm, and while I can’t say I want winter to last any longer, I’ll take any opportunity to read a little longer, sleep a little later, and bake and blog a bit more. On that same note, it seems strange to write about the books I hope to read this spring with snow still piling up outside my window, but it’s that time of year for The Broke and the Bookish‘s seasonal TBR lists! At this point, you surely know how it works: I’ve rounded up several novels I hope to read in the coming months {in addition to the books I’ve already featured earlier in the year}. I like to think of it as a no-pressure way to bring some variety to my bookshelf. What do you want to read this spring?

A Season of Daring GreatlyTo kick off my list, I have A Season of Daring Greatly from seasoned author Ellen Emerson White. I’ll admit, I was originally drawn to the book solely for its clever cover, but the synopsis kept my interest: mere days after her high school graduation, the main character starts an athletic career on a major league baseball team. A similar premise has found success on the small screen {have you watched Pitch?}, so I have my fingers crossed it resonates with the YA audience  – myself included! – just as well. {already out}

FireworksLike many an author in the YA genre, Katie Cotugno is a writer I continually see in reviews and discussion, though whose work I have yet to check out. I’m hoping to change that this spring with the release of her novel Fireworks, a fun romp in which two best friends are unexpectedly thrown into stardom. Realistic fiction is right up my alley, YA can always use another music-centered plot, and ’90s settings are some of my favorites. Needless to say, I’ll be grabbing this as soon as it hits shelves. {out April 18}

Forget Me NotOn the middle grade side of things, I’m looking forward to reading Forget Me Not by debut author Ellie Terry. Already garnering several words of praise, the novel follows narrator Callie as she navigates moving to a new school, making and keeping friends, and dealing with Tourette syndrome; just as exciting as the plot is the prose, Callie’s story written in verse. It releases today, so I hope a copy will make its way into my local library circulation soon. {out today!}

I Believe in a Thing Called LoveIf the bright colors on the cover of Maurene Goo’s sophomore novel, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, doesn’t have you thinking spring, I don’t know what will. The story inside seems to me to be just as fun: after years of failed flirting attempts, Desi turns to Korean dramas for lessons on how to win over her crush. With promises of a sweet heroine, strong family relationships, and scenes that have readers laughing out loud, this sounds just like the fluffy, light-hearted read I’ll need come May. {out May 30}

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will MatterWith a title as humorous as One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, should I expect anything less than good things from Scaachi Koul’s memoir? Koul currently writes for Buzzfeed, and in her first published book, it’s said that she brings the same “clear eye and biting wit” that one can find in her work on the web. I love a good essay collection when things get busy {i.e. hours of AP preparation are made all the better with a few funny passages}, so I’m counting down the days until I have a copy for myself. {out May 2}

The Fashion CommitteeI consider Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission a hidden gem of the YA shelves; it has a set of memorable characters, a sharp sense of humor, and a wonderful blend of quirk and heart. You can thus imagine my excitement when I came across her newest book – and companion novel! – The Fashion Committee, slated for release this May, in which characters and friends Charlie and John compete for a spot at the same prestigious art school that won my heart the first time around. I can’t wait for its reappearance. {out May 23}

The RefugeesSince devouring Flying Lessons and Other Stories in one sitting, I’ve been itching to try another anthology. Add in the current political climate, and I think there’s no better time than the present to read The Refugees, a collection of short stories centered around the Vietnam War by author Viet Thanh Nguyen. Since its publication in February, it’s been praised by readers and critics alike; I think it will only be a matter of weeks before I too get to fall in love with the characters Nguyen has crafted. {already out}

The Sky is EverywhereMy spring reading list has no shortage of new releases, but when it comes to backlist novels I hope to read, I have my eyes on only one: Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere. Her debut, the book has been described as “a celebration of love [and] a portrait of loss” as the main character finds comfort in other after her older sister’s sudden death. I’m excited to fall for a new love triangle, of course, but more importantly, I’m excited to finally have reason to join in the Jandy Nelson fan club. {already out}

WindfallWhen someone is looking for well-developed characters and cute romances, I’m quick to recommend any book by Jennifer E. Smith, as she has time and time again delivered pitch-perfect contemporaries. That said, it’s been far too long since I last picked up a novel of hers, which is why, perhaps, I’m so anxious for the release of her next book, Windfall. With an interesting premise, a well-drawn protagonist, and a colorful cover to boot, I can’t see why Smith wouldn’t be keeping up her streak. {out May 2}

Word By WordFinally, for my fellow “word nerds” and budding lexicographers, can we all agree to read Kory Stamper’s Word by Word at some point this spring? Stamper, an editor and writer at Merriam-Webster, invites the audience into the history of dictionaries, including such tidbits like the first use of “OMG” and the length it can take to define a single word. Readers who have already seen a copy have awarded it high praise, which I take to mean that this nonfiction piece will have me smiling from beginning to end. Yes please. {out today}

Have a wonderful day!
Bella

Font Freebies / 14

Hi!

Font FreebiesHappy Tuesday! How is your March coming along? I’m a broken record, but I suppose that’s senior year for you: things are busy, and I’m simply doing my best to soak it all in! This month has me anxiously awaiting the admissions decisions from the colleges I applied to in the fall, but in the meantime, I’m noting cues and running scenes at rehearsal {our school moved on to semi-finals for the second time in a row}, planning our annual senior class fundraiser {I like to think of it as one step closer to graduation!}, and studying with both Ed Sheeran and Khalid in the background {have you listened to Divide or American Teen?}.

In other news, we’re nearly two and a half months into 2017, and I’ve yet to post another edition of Font Freebies! It’s a mistake I hope to remedy today, as I’ve again rounded up a few of my favorite – and free! – font downloads. With scripts to prepare, assignments to complete, and hand-lettering projects to come, I’ve kept a keen eye out  for new typefaces, an effort that has led me to such gems as Fish & Chips, whose “and” symbol and tiny slabs won my heart, and Bambino, whose uniqueness in stroke deserves a worthy use. Have you come across any fun fonts as of late?

Font Freebies 14Fish & Chips / California / Bambino / Cabo Slab / Shave the Whales / DK Spiced Pumpkin

The title is in Winter Calligraphy.

Have a wonderful day!
Bella

Flying Lessons and Other Stories: A Book Review

Hello friends!

Happy Sunday! Did you have a relaxing weekend? Can you believe it’s almost March? I sure can’t, especially given that I head back to school tomorrow to kick off what is sure to be a busy – but fun! – spring. On today’s agenda, however, I have a tech rehearsal this afternoon {our one-act play festival is a mere week away}, plans to watch the Oscars tonight {I have my fingers crossed La La Land, Moonlight, and Hidden Figures score big!}, and hopes to finish Here We Are, a collection of feminist literature and essays, in between my English questions and physics problems. If you too are looking for a literary escape, I hope today’s review, a look at the middle grade anthology Flying Lessons and Other Stories, provides you with your next read.

flying-lessons-and-other-storiesTitle: Flying Lessons and Other Stories
Author: Edited by Ellen Oh
Published: January 3, 2017, by Crown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 240
Genre: Middle Grade / Contemporary
Source: Library / Hardcover
Series: N/A

Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology — written by the best children’s authors — celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers. From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories. {Goodreads}

As I’ve done with other short story collections, I’ve decided to review each installment separately, but a general note before the fun begins: there’s never been a better time to read more diversely than now. It’s for that reason that I find Flying Lessons and Other Stories so important for young audiences. As a collection, it’s not perfect, but it succeeds in doing what it set out to accomplish: celebrating a wide range of voices from a variety of backgrounds.

how-to-transform-an-everyday-ordinary-hoopThe collection opens with a story by Matt de la Peña, in which the protagonist recounts the summer he spent on the basketball court. The story is heartening, and the author approaches the topic of police profiling with care, but what stands out most is the voice of the main character, a middle-school student whose dreams of a big basketball career read as realistic as his conversations with his soft-spoken dad. I think it’s clear: I’m a Matt de la Peña fan.

the-difficult-pathGrace Lin is an author whose work I remember fondly from my childhood, but it’s been several years since I last picked up a novel of her own. Reading The Difficult Path, however, reminded me of why I fell love with her writing in the first place: she crafts compelling narratives; her protagonists are flawed and fully-dimensional, and she weaves her Asian heritage into her work. The story takes an unexpected turn, but Lin pulls it off masterfully, sharing with readers of any age the power of words.

sol-painting-incIf there is one element that defines Meg Medina’s work, I believe it’d be her excellent portrayal of families on the page. It’s no different of a case in her contribution, Sol Painting Inc. in which a young girl is made aware of the sacrifices her family makes when she accompanies her dad at work. It’s a short story, but ultimately a sweet one, made even better by its summertime setting and sibling banter.

secret-samanthaI’ve been meaning to pick up a book by Tim Federle for what seems like ages at this point, and so, I was excited to see a piece of his own in Flying Lessons. My expectations were high, but Federle delivers: Secret Samantha, a short story about a friendship that blossoms over a classroom Secret Santa, is nothing short of daymaker. Readers may not share Sam’s sense of style or the strained relationship with her mother, but anyone can relate to the glee of finding a “kindred spirit.”

the-beans-and-rice-chronicles-of-isaiah-dunnFrom its inception, the We Need Diverse Books organization has made an effort to support aspiring and debut writers, such as newcomer Kelly J. Baptist, author of the short story The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn. There are a number of elements that make up the story – the death of a parent, a writing contest, struggling financial situation – but never does it feel disjointed. If this is an indication of her work to come in future years, we bookworms are in for a treat.

main-streetIt can be daunting to write about race in a manner accessible to middle grade readers, but if any writer can do it – and do it well – it’d be Jacqueline Woodson, whose story, Main Street, follows a friendship of two races in a small, predominately white town. Her writing lacks dreamy and descriptive language, but the story doesn’t ask for it; rather, its simplicity allows readers, even young ones, to ponder the ideas she presents. I wanted more.

choctaw-bigfoot-midnight-in-the-mountainsTim Tingle’s short story, Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains, builds upon the age-old tradition of storytelling as the protagonist listens eagerly to a tale told by his fun-loving uncle. While I’m delighted to see Native American representation, I can’t say I ever grew into this one. Would expanding upon it in a longer format or hearing it read aloud changed my mind? I don’t know, but in that lies the beauty of literature: it wasn’t my personal favorite, but that’s not to say the next young reader won’t fall in love.

flying-lessonsSoman Chainani is known for his magical fantasy stories, but his installment in Flying Lessons allows him to flex his contemporary skills – and he nails it. Following the fierce and adventurous Nani and her grandson on a vacation trip, the story is as humorous as it is profound. It’s light-hearted, in other words, but it still holds many a gem of advice, prompting readers to reflect on what they do out of a sense of obligation and what they do out of pure enjoyment. Needless to say, I loved it.

seventy-six-dollars-and-forty-nine-centsWhile I have yet to read the other books by Kwame Alexander, namely the Newbery winner The Crossover, I was nevertheless excited to read his installment about a boy granted with the ability to read the minds of his classmates, Seventy-Six Dollars & Forty-Nine Cents. It didn’t disappoint: Alexander’s prose is to be praised, as is his understanding of middle school life and its diversity of emotion.

sometimes-a-dream-needs-a-pushFinally, the anthology finishes with a contribution from Walter Dean Myers, a short story titled Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push. It’s another basketball tale, and yet, it feel fresh, standing out from not only the other stories in the anthology, but also the current titles available on shelves (it helps that it approaches it from a different perspective: that of a young boy who uses a wheelchair). At the very least, it proves that a story need not be long to have an impact.

Have a wonderful Sunday!
Bella