Saturday, April 21, 2018

Letter to Alisa Kwitney

Hi everyone! I know that this April has been rather cold and rainy in Rochester. However, there is some good news, TBF is only one month away. I am so excited to get to meet all of the wonderful authors that are coming to TBF this year, but I am particularly excited to meet Alisa Kwitney, the author of Cadaver and Queen. I got lucky enough to get this fantastic book as an ARC and I knew from the first page that it was going to be one those books that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. In a previous post I reviewed Cadaver and Queen so if you want to know more about the story you can check it out. I highly suggest that all of you read Cadaver and Queen as soon as possible because it truly is fantastic. Because of my intense love of Alisa Kwitney’s book, I decided to write her a letter to put my incredible excitement of meeting her into words.

Dear Alisa Kwitney,
First of all, how did you come up with this fantastic idea for a book? A romantic retelling of Frankenstein with themes of empowering women that is so well done I found myself wishing that there were ten more similar to it waiting on my bookshelf the second I finished? Sign me up! You will absolutely love TBF, one of the best events in Rochester. Trust me, us Rochestarians love to read and enthusiastically discuss books. Don’t be surprised if multiple people want to talk about the little details in Victor and Lizzie’s life. For example, what are Lizzie and Victor’s favorite books? (Perhaps Frankenstein?) Do they enjoy solving mysteries together as a pastime or was it just a one time thing? Are they still together, study in school and cutting up cadavers? Have the teachers finally started to respect Lizzie for the fantastic person she is? And the ever important question, will there be a sequel? I am hoping that the answer to this question is yes because I really want to read more about Victor and Lizzie. In fact, I will probably be one of the people eagerly asking these questions and a million more. When I found out about Cadaver and Queen, I was so insanely excited to read it. Of course, that was a few months before it came out so I had to grudgingly be patient (I will admit that patience is not my strong suit when it comes to books). When I got the book, I was so excited that I immediately had to begin reading it. From the first page, I knew that I would have a fantastic next few days immersing myself in Victorian England. I think that my favorite thing about the book was the theme of empowering women that you brought into the story and that the main character was a brainy and independent female inventor in Victorian England. I never thought that someone would attempt a feminist retelling of Frankenstein, mainly because the idea never occured to me, but I am so incredibly happy that you did. The story turned out truly fantastic and the characters were incredibly three dimensional. I wish that I was friends with Will and Aggie. I truly wish that I knew someone like Victor, who experienced fascinating character growth throughout the story. Of course, the star of the story was Lizzie with her fierce and stubborn intelligence. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Lizzie grow and learn about herself throughout the story. I cannot wait to get a chance to meet you and discuss all of these things with you in person. I am counting down the days until TBF (27 to be exact).
Best Wishes

I hope that all of you get a chance to read some amazing new books this April! Until next time!


Thursday, April 19, 2018

ARC Review: Aru Shah and the End of Time

Hey readers! TBF is only about a month away and I'm getting more and more excited each day. Over my spring break I had the joy of reading Roshani Chokshi's new middle grade adventure Aru Shah and the End of Time a few days before it was released, and it was an incredible adventure.

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur? One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them. The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

I truly adored every part of this novel, and the adventure it took me on. Firstly, I absolutely loved loved loved the cast of characters. I've always loved Roshani's characters and this book did not disappoint. Aru is an incredible and hilarious narrator, Mini is an adorable best friend and Boo is one of the best animal sidekicks I've ever read about. While the writing in this story was different than the dazzling and picturesque writing found in Roshani's YA books, her descriptions of all the incredible places our heroes visited still left me wonderstruck. Going into this novel, I knew very little about Hindu Mythology, but I quickly learned about many of the gods, stories, and heroes of the mythology, leaving me wanting to know even more. Just like Rick Riordan taught me all I know about Greek mythology, I have the feeling my knowledge and appreciation of Hindu myths will only grow as the series progresses.

One of the main things I loved about this novel though, was how nostalgic it made me for about seven years ago, when I first read a Percy Jackson book and my love for reading took root in me. I have the feeling Aru Shah will be that series for a whole new generation of readers looking for a book full of adventure, humor, and a hero (or heroine as Aru would correct you) who succeeds against all odds.

I hope to see you all at TBF in a month, make sure you check out all the other great posts and author interviews our other bloggers have put out recently!


check the book out here!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tiny Pretty Things

Hey all I am back with another great book. This week I read Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. I am looking forward to meeting Dhonielle Clayton after reading this, and reading her other books. This book drew me in very quickly and kept me hooked the whole time.
Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.
Image result for tiny pretty thingsWhen every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Once you pick this book up you will not be able to put it down. It is super addicting and a quick compelling read. I love a book that gives multiple perspectives, I think it really enhances the book and this is certainly the case with Tiny Pretty Things. Each character has such a good story line and unique personality, that allows all types of readers to feel connected to at least one of them. They each have their problems and their strengths and it is really fun to see the differences and the similarities between the charecters. It really feels real, and seems like something that could happen. I really liked that the image of ballerinas were not as gentle as it is often portrayed. I am super excited to read the sequel, which is out.

I am really horrible about coming up with other books like it, but I would just recommend it to anyone who wants to read a drama filled book, with really interesting charecters.

That's all for today. Hope everyone has a great day and I hope to see all of you at tbf!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Gloria Chao

Hello TBF readers!

TBF is a month and TWO days away! Can you believe it?! I chatted with Gloria Chao, author of AMERICA PANDA. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: AMERICAN PANDA is your first YA novel. What is it about?

Gloria Chao:
AMERICAN PANDA follows a seventeen-year-old MIT freshman whose traditional Taiwanese parents want her to become a doctor and marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer. Problem is, she hates germs, falls asleep in her biology classes, and has a crush on her Japanese classmate, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

Miranda Reads: What was the inspiration behind AMERICAN PANDA?

Gloria Chao: I wrote this book when I switched careers from dentist to writer and was having a hard time communicating with my parents. I wanted to write the book that I needed in that moment and also the book I needed as a teen. Just like my protagonist, Mei, I had a different vision for my life than my parents, and I needed to find the strength to pursue my dreams and communicate with my parents.

I hope American Panda can show readers that they aren’t alone, that it’s okay to not feel wholly one thing or another, and that cultural gaps can be difficult. I wanted to capture the struggles I went through as a teen that were difficult to explain to my friends, and I wanted to write a character that was relatable to many but also specific enough to show a window into another world. I also wanted readers to know that things can get better, as they did for me in real life.

Miranda Reads: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Gloria Chao: Write the story only you can tell. Write for yourself first, then let everyone else in during revisions. And find your writing community so you have the support you need.

And to improve craft, read as much as you can! The library is a wonderful resource, and reading across genres and age categories will help you learn what to do and what not to do.

Miranda Reads: What was your favorite book as a teen? Why?

Gloria Chao: In my teens, I unfortunately wasn’t reading very much. My family stressed math and science growing up, and by high school, my love for reading and writing had fallen by the wayside to make room for the likes of BC Calculus and AP chemistry. I found my way back to reading in dental school, where young adult books were my one escape from a tough environment in which I didn’t really fit. I started with the popular books: Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, and eventually discovered to my true love of YA contemporary. Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon, David Arnold, Jenny Han, Adam Silvera, and Becky Albertalli are some of my favorite authors in this genre, and I highly recommend their books!

Miranda Reads:
Which TBF Author are you most excited to meet this year?

Gloria Chao: TBF has an all-star lineup that I’m honored to be a part of it, and really, I am excited to meet everyone. If I had to pick just one, I’m very excited to meet Dana Mele, who is a fellow Electric Eighteen and Class2K18 member, and her book, People Like Us, is one of my most anticipated! I already feel like I know Dana, and it will be so wonderful to finally meet in person!

Thank you so much, Gloria! We can't wait to meet you in May!

You can purchase AMERICAN PANDA at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable event) or check it out at your local library!

That's it for today! Be sure to check out the blog again for more author interviews, book reviews, and fun posts!


Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Fun Post: Dear Roshani Chokshi

Dear Roshani Chokshi,

Hi! Let me start out by saying I am incredibly excited to see you at TBF. I read your first novel, The Star-Touched Queen, when I was in middle school after a friend raved about it to me, and it was one of those books that I had to read a second time because it had gone by so quickly (I think I read it in a day!) and it had left my mind whirling. I can’t remember the story that well, but I can remember one specific moment- it was a forgiveness, and I remember thinking how powerful it was. Last year, I read your companion novel, A Crown of Wishes, and from that experience I remember staying up to midnight, stifling my laughter at Gauri and Vikram’s exchanges because everyone else was asleep. Their banter was so memorable, and they complemented each other perfectly. Your stories left feelings with me, even if I can’t remember everything that happened. It’s been a while, but I’ll definitely revisit them before TBF.

I’m also incredibly excited to read your newest book Aru Shah and the End of Time. I was absolutely thrilled to receive it, and even though I haven’t had the time to read it yet, it’s high on my list of priorities.

In all, thank you for your magical stories and I can’t wait to see you at TBF!

Best wishes,

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book Review: Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg

Hey guys! Katie C. here with my last book review for this TBF season. This week: Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg

Bobby Framingham is the star quarterback at Durango High School and one of the most talented high school football players in California. He's waiting on scholarship offers from big schools and hopes he'll go pro after college. On the field, his teammates are like his brothers. But off the field, he knows he's different -Bobby is gay.

Image result for out of the pocketCan he still be one of the guys and be honest about who he is? And even more, if people knew, could he still get that scholarship? Bobby's not sure. After all, there are no openly gay male athletes in any of the major college or pro sports. Can he help change that? He doesn't want to be a hero or a poster boy for gay rights - he just wants to play football - but how he handles his situation will send a big message. 

Just like in football, once Bobby's forced out of the pocket he'll have to make a play. He'll have to deal with the changing dynamics of the team and his changing relationships with his friends and family, and accept that his path to success might be more difficult, and more public, than he'd hoped.

As soon as I heard Bill Konigsberg was gonna be at TBF, I jumped at the chance to read one of  his books. I'm not much of a sports fan myself (unless track counts), but despite that, this book hooked me from page one all the way to the very end!

One of the greatest things about this book is how well written the characters are. Bobby, and almost everyone else around him, weren't perfect and yet were still understandable. In this book, characters did some things that made me want to dance around my room, and some things that made me want to throw a chair. But in the end, no matter how they made me feel, no character was under written or didn't seem like someone I could stumble into walking though high school. And that's why I think this story is so important: because in the end, its capturing a piece of everyday life, everyday people, and spinning it into a something that's a bit more than your average football book that you'll find in the sports section of your local library.

Overall, this was more than just a football story and a gay story. Yes, the main focus was on bobby coming to terms with his homosexuality, but this book was also about family issues, friendship issues, and dealing with life when it turns completely upside down. Above all else, it was just an honest book about a kid going though the twists and turns of his life in high school. And that's a story almost all of us can relate to.

I think everyone in one way or another should read this book. If you're part of the LGBT community like I am, I 110% recommend it! But even if you're straight, it's a good story about life and might even make you see the world a bit differently once you've turned that last page. At least that's what it did for me.

That's all for today. make sure to say hi to Bill Konigsberg at TBF 2018 this year! this is Katie C., signing off!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

TBF Author Interview with Justina Ireland

Hello TBF readers!

We are getting closer and closer to TBF! I chatted with Justina Ireland, author of Vengeance Bound, Promise of Shadows, and Dread Nation. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: Dread Nation, your latest novel was released last week! What can readers expect?

Justina Ireland: Danger! Drama! Intrigue! And old-timey zombies. People keep telling me it’s like nothing they’ve ever read before because no one expects zombies to appear during the Civil War, I guess. But it’s sort of like The Walking Dead meets Grownish, but set in 1880.

Miranda Reads: What was the inspiration behind Dread Nation?

Justina Ireland: I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and I had a really hard time imagining well-to-do white women defending themselves from zombies. And then I rewatched Gone With The Wind and started thinking about how poor Mammy does just about everything and a half for Scarlet. And next thing you know, I started writing the first draft of Dread Nation. It’s gone through a lot of changes since then, but the core of the story is still there.

Miranda Reads: Do you outline a WIP (Work-in-progress) or do you just dive right into it?

Justina Ireland: I am a terrible outliner. I hate them so much, and even when I do them I end up just doing what I want. I prefer to just jump into things. That, of course, means I have to do a lot revising.

Sooooo much revising.

Miranda Reads: What was one of your favorite books as a teen?

Justina Ireland: I loved Christopher Pike books, and one of my favorites of his was Remember Me, about a dead teen who solves her own murder. I still have a copy of the book, and the cover just haunts me, it’s so good. His books were so weird and twisty, and one day I want to write books that stick with readers as much as his books stuck with me.

Miranda Reads: Which TBF Author are you most excited to meet this year?

Justina Ireland: Bruce Coville. I read My Teacher is an Alien as a kid and it’s pretty surreal to be at a festival with an author whose name I remember from my school library.

Thank you so much, Justina! We can't wait to meet you at TBF!

You can purchase Justina's books at Barnes and Noble or Amazon (Be sure to use Amazon Smile and make the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival your charitable organization) or you can check out her books at your local library.

That's all for today! Be sure to check out the blog again for more author interviews, book reviews, and fun posts!