Recent Reads / 04

Hi friends!

Happy Monday! How are you? Did you have a wonderful weekend? And perhaps most importantly: can you believe it’s already August? I certainly can’t – I’m home for just a few days before I return to the Cape for the last three weeks of my internship (!!!). We open our run of Sweeney Todd tomorrow before we round out the season with productions of Iolanthe and Cabaret. Needless to say, there’s a lot of fun ahead before the summer officially comes to a close – if quite a bit of packing too!

I’m also hoping to fit in a few more books before I head back to school at the end of the month. My July produced many a new favorite, so I have my fingers crossed August will be similarly successful (and while I’m home, you can be sure that a stop by my local library is on the agenda). In the meantime, however, I wanted to share the novels I’ve enjoyed most as of late. What are you reading?

Recent Reads 3[1] First, Everything All at Once is a book I have come to recommend time and time again since I devoured it last summer; author Katrina Leno won me over with her lyrical prose and skillful use of magical realism. Naturally, I was giddy with excitement when Summer of Salt, her latest book, came in at the library – and it didn’t disappoint. Following twin sisters Georgina and Mary during an unusual summer on their home island of By-the-Sea, it’s as empowering as it is atmospheric (and it deserves an extra kudos for its diverse cast of characters). It may be too early to say, but I have a feeling this will be topping my list of favorites at the end of the year.

 [2] Promises of a “fun, feminist, eccentric romp” had me delighted and so excited to finally get my hands on a copy of Everything Must Go, a 2017 debut by author Jenny Fran Davis. The contemporary epistolary novel chronicles the junior year of Flora Goldwasser as she transfers from her status-obsessed private school in NYC to the environmentally focused, Quaker-founded Quare Academy in the Hudson Valley. It took me a bit to settle into the novel’s sense of humor; if you run into the same problem, I urge you to continue with it, for you’ll be rewarded with a thought-provoking coming-of-age narrative. I’m itching to read it again, but until then, I have my fingers crossed that we’ll be hearing of the next Davis YA novel soon!

[3] I’ve enjoyed Kate Messner’s books in the past, but her most recent work, Breakout, absolutely blew me away. Another epistolary novel, it follows the lives of three middle school students after two inmates escape from their town’s prison. From the thoughtful attention to detail to the honest confessions of the characters, Messner leads readers through a tale of racial injustice, the acknowledgment of privilege, and the dimensions of trust. I suppose it’s no surprise that it comes from an author who is often considered a staple of middle-grade literature, as I imagine this will be finding a home on many classroom bookshelves in the fall. Needless to say, if there’s one MG book you read this summer, make it this.

[4] And finally, another author I adore is Morgan Matson, whose books have been consistent favorites of mine and hold a cherished spot on my bookshelf. It was no different with her latest release, Save the Date, an entertaining, family-centered romp that follows the ups – and downs! – of a wedding. While it wasn’t my favorite of her books, it still had all of the elements for which Matson is known best: an adorable, unexpected romance (it’s a relationship made for the movies), a plot chock-full of funny moments (there’s no shortage of potential disasters for the bride-to-be), and strong family and friend dynamics (can I be an honorary Grant?). In short: be sure to grab this one too!

Have a terrific start to your week!
B

Recent Reads / 03

Hello!

Happy Tuesday! How is your week coming along? I had a wonderful and restful long weekend with my family—it was just what I needed, especially now that my winter break has come to a close! I move back to Brown today for the new semester; classes start next week, but over the next few days, I’ll be in non-stop rehearsals for my next stage management project: an all-femme production of Julius Caesar in February.

I’m excited for the coming months, but I admittedly wish I didn’t have to swap my young adult novels for course textbooks. I may not be able to read as much as I did on break, but I can at least share a few reviews that have been sitting in my drafts! I did a similar format back in the summer, and I loved how it allowed me to highlight a few favorites from my recent reading pile. What books have you read (and would recommend!) as of late?

Recent Reads 03[1] To start, anyone in the literary world would have to be living under a rock not to have heard about Angie Thomas’ stellar debut, The Hate U Give, at this point. It has been on my feeds since it was published last February, it continues to dominate the NY Times Bestsellers list, and filming for its big picture adaptation has already begun! Such praise is wholly deserved. While I felt it was a touch too long, the areas that plod – and there are few – are readily made up with dialogue that immerses you in every scene, an authentic and touching family dynamic, and a plot that speaks to the injustice of police brutality. This is a book that the YA community needed years ago. I’m only glad it’s found such a large following now.

[2] For middle-grade readers, let me recommend Greenglass House, a wintery, adventure-filled mystery from author Kate Milford. It was the first book I read this year, and I can’t think of a better note on which to start. It’s modern, yet timeless, charming, yet distinct, existing in a world where winter storms are reason to share stories around the fireplace, inn guests are not who they always claim to be, and attics hold trinkets and decades-old secrets (If you couldn’t guess, Milford has a way with atmosphere). You can be sure that my next snow day will be devoted solely to reading the newly released sequel, if only because I’m anxious to return to main character Milo’s story.

[3] Have you read anything by Emma Mills yet? If you haven’t, can we remedy that? I myself waited until this past Christmas to read a book from the well-established YA author, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t check out one of her novels sooner. Foolish Hearts, her latest work, is nothing less than pitch-perfect contemporary. Following narrator and high school senior Claudia as she works on a school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it has a plot that had me grinning from beginning to end and characters that I want as my very own friends. If that all isn’t enough to convince you, grab it simply for the stunning cover. In short: love, love, love.

[4] Finally, another book I read on my winter break was Being Mortal, a thoughtful and sobering meditation on modern aging from surgeon Atul Gawande. In just under three hundred pages, he deftly switches from an explanation of nursing homes and current elderly care practices to recounts of his experience with patients nearing the end of life to finally, a reflection on his own father’s passing. At times, it felt intense, but that’s less a fault of Gawande’s skillful prose than a result of a culture that so rarely discusses death. If the subject piques your interest, I think you’d do well to read it alongside When Breath Becomes Air and What Makes Olga Run?. 

Have a terrific Tuesday!
Bella

Psst. In December, The Hate U Give was banned from school shelves in Katy, Texas. Fortunately, as I write this post, it’s back for students to read, but it nevertheless highlights how stories can be taken from and made inaccessible to the very readers who need them most. That in mind, and if budget allows, consider donating a copy to the campaign above and/or to your own local Little Free Library. It’s a book that deserves to be in the hands of high schoolers.

2017 End of the Year Book Survey

Hi friends, and happy Saturday!

How are you? Can you believe it’s the last weekend of 2017? I love the calls for reflection and organization that come with the start of a new year, and from conversations with friends, I know I’m not the only one. That in mind, I’m hoping to use today and tomorrow to tend to my planner, look ahead to a few 2018 projects, and, of course, read my final book of the year (!!).

Speaking of books, I’m really excited to participate in Jamie’s annual end-of-the-year reading survey. I completed it a few years back, and I enjoyed the opportunity to look over and assess the books I had read. 2017 personally proved an excellent year for reading, and I know I can name numerous titles that I will surely recommend for years to come. There are a number of novels coming your way, so I have only three final notes: I tried my utmost best to name books only once (variety!), I kept to the bookish questions only, and HERE‘s the link if you want to join in on the fun too.

Number of books you read: 52 (but we’ll see if I can fit in one or two before Sunday night!)
Number of re-reads: Just one! I love to revisit Caroline Kennedy’s A Family Christmas every holiday season.
Genre you read the most from: YA contemporary, per usual.

1 Favorite Books1. Best book you read in 2017?
Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, and How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore | Is it okay if I cheat a bit at this question? Though I read fewer books in 2017 than I would have liked, narrowing down my favorites still proved difficult. I settled on the three above, all of which entered my life at exactly the right time (and I will gladly gush about them to anyone who asks). Literature at its finest.

Runner-ups, because three just wasn’t enough: Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert and The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Read More »