September Book Discussion: Dumplin’

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Hello, hello, and welcome to the September book discussion! For this edition, I brought in one of my very best friends and one of the most intelligent people I know, Alex Luterbach. Several notes:

  • The sound is, once again, not fantastic. I am still working on figuring out another way to record these conversations.
  • There are two (gasp!) swears, including an f-bomb. So be aware of that if you are listening at work or around children.
  • If you are interested in doing one of these book chats with me in the future, let me know!
  • When you leave a comment, make sure that you check the box to have a notification email sent to you when someone else comments on the post. That way, you can come back to the post to respond to other people’s thoughts. 🙂

Without further ado, our discussion about Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy.

 

Vote for October’s book selection here. I will announce the result Thursday morning.

September Book Discussion: Dumplin’

September Book Selection: Dumplin’

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Coming in with a full 75% of the vote, September’s selection is Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. I am so excited for this one, guys! I have been reading a lot of books lately about body positivity and fat positivity and this is just supposed to be an incredible read. (PS. Read “Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls” by Jes Baker if you haven’t already. It’s a (non-fiction) revelation.)

From Goodreads:

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

***

As always, feel free to post any thoughts you have while reading on this post, and if you want to get caught up on our past discussions, go here.

September Book Selection: Dumplin’

August Book Selection: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

The votes are in and our book selection for August is The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow. This should be an interesting read, with, I’m sure, some difficult situations and themes. Can’t wait to dive in! Have you picked up your copy yet?

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This debut novel tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I. who becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy. With her strict African American grandmother as her new guardian, Rachel moves to a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring mixed attention her way. Growing up in the 1980s, she learns to swallow her overwhelming grief and confronts her identity as a biracial young woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white. In the tradition of Jamaica Kincaid’sAnnie John and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, here is a portrait of a young girl – and society’s ideas of race, class, and beauty.

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Feel free to share your thoughts here while reading. 🙂

(Find the rest of the Young Adulters Book Club posts here.)

August Book Selection: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

July Book Discussion: Nimona

Yay, this is the first time that we are going to try out the new format! Be gentle, I don’t have much (haha, any) experience with this kind of thing, so forgive the weird long pauses (I was trying really hard not to say “um” and “er” a whole lot!). I would love to hear what you think about the new format (love it? hate it? ambivalent about it?), if you have any suggestions for making it better, or if you want to scrap it completely. And of course, most importantly, what did you think of Nimona?! Comment below! <3

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Summary of points covered in audio discussion:

  • A simplistic concept with on-the-nose character names (Goldenloin and Blackheart, seriously?) led to a surprisingly layered story about morality.
  • Blackheart’s morality is generally reserved for heroes like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Clark Kent; our first hint that he was going to be our actual hero, not Goldenloin or the Institute and in contrast to Nimona’s apparent love of destruction.
  • In my opinion, Nimona wasn’t just a monster. She wouldn’t have loved Blackheart if she was. She was being the monster that she had been made into.
  • Class issues were brought up several times in the story but it felt heavy-handed and unnecessary to me because it never really went anywhere.
  • Gloreth = girl power, rah rah!
  • I find fight scenes in comics so hard to follow. 🙁
  • Goldenloin and Blackheart just set aside their years of fighting and were totally fine? Hmm.
  • OH! And I forgot to mention one thing completely! Thoughts on whether or not the girl at the end was ACTUALLY Nimona or if Blackheart just wanted it to be?

See the rest of the Young Adulters Book Club posts here.

Vote for August’s book selection here.

July Book Discussion: Nimona

July Book Selection: Nimona

This month we are doing something a little bit different! Our book selection is a graphic novel, which I am really stoked about; there are some truly phenomenal stories being told in this medium and I’d love for us to explore them a little more. So in that vein, our first graphic novel for the Young Adulters Book Club is Nimona by Noelle Stevensonyoung-adulters-book-club-becoming-jessica-nimona

As well, as I mentioned in the June book discussion post, I am going to be experimenting with a new discussion format this month. Carlia had a great suggestion to do a live cast where everyone can participate, perhaps on Facebook Live or Periscope, and then post the audio on the blog afterwards for others to interact with and post comments, etc. I haven’t quite ironed out all the kinks yet but I will be sure to let you know when I do!

As always, happy reading and feel free to post any thoughts you have during that process here. 🙂

July Book Selection: Nimona

June Book Discussion: The Lies About Truth

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  • I liked the way this book dealt with grief. How Sadie was wrapped up in her own experience and didn’t really realize that Gina and Gray were going through their own stuff, too. I liked that it treated grief like the individual experience that it is.
  • I wished that Trent hadn’t turned out to be gay, simply because I loved the idea of there being a very strong male-female friendship that didn’t involve romantic feelings. But it certainly added an interesting dimension to the story, such that people are kind of unknowable, and even when we think we know them better than anyone, they can still surprise us.
  • I thought the author did a great job of capturing the before and after of the accident, even though I didn’t love the extended flashbacks. It was important for us to see how life had changed for Sadie, Max & company.
  • I liked that the adults were real characters, too, though it would have been nice for there to be a bit more of Max and Trent’s parents. I liked the relationship that Sadie had with her parents, and how supportive they were of her, while also pushing her to get better and get through the really hard time she was having.

What did you guys think? Did you enjoy this book?

Vote for July’s book here.

Also. I have been thinking that I want to change up the format of the discussion a little bit. I am currently planning on having a sort of podcast type thing where I will talk about the book in an audio file which I’ll post and then you guys can respond to that. It would be nice to be able to have an actual discussion with someone, though, so if anyone is interested in potentially Skyping in for a discussion or something like that, let me know!

June Book Discussion: The Lies About Truth

March Discussion: Across the Universe

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Well! That turned out to be a pleasant surprise. For the first, oh, three quarters of the book, I was banging my head against a wall, wondering why I was wasting my time. But then, around page 300, things started to pick up, and I raced through the last 100 pages quite happily.

There are so many things to talk about with this one! Let’s get started. Obviously, here by spoilers, so if you haven’t finished the book and you care about that sort of thing, maybe come back later.

  • I felt so bad for Amy when she realized that she was not going to see her parents again. On top of knowing that she would never see earth again. That is just cruel! Talk about leaving your entire life behind.
  • What do you think about the ethics of what Eldest did? The ethics of treating a whole population as though they were animals, keeping them as domesticated and docile as possible, even controlling their reproduction. The whole idea was so skeevy to me. (Also, I’m no prude, but the whole Season made me vastly uncomfortable.) And that they were called Feeders?! That is some next level creepy stuff. But do you think that there was some merit to Eldest’s methods? Elder seems to think so, and I am not sure that I entirely disagree. Their situation is a strange and precarious one: a population stuck on a ship, nowhere to go, no ending in sight. That’s tough. But I also wonder what would have happened if they didn’t know about Sol-Earth OR Centauri-Earth. If they just knew that this was their lives and that was that. Would that have been better?
  • Not to brag or anything, but I totally called that Orion was the previous Elder (just ask my mama!). I did think the cloning aspect was a bit much, but it does bring up some interesting questions about cloning and whether or not it is possible for a situation like that to arise, where three people with the exact same DNA turn out to be so different. I don’t know enough about DNA to even begin to make a hypothesis about it, but I am interested.
  • Harley. Broke my heart. That is all.
  • I actually think I might read the rest of the series! The me of even yesterday would be shocked, but there you have it. Across the Universe actually turned out to be as good as I was expecting, despite a really lackluster beginning.

AND NOW! Over to you guys. What are your thoughts?

(Also, vote for next month’s book selection here. Remember, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about what we read!)

March Discussion: Across the Universe

January Book Discussion: Life in Outer Space

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This was such a sweet book, and a fun, quick read. Set in Australia (it actually took me a little while to realize this…anyone else?)! I love trying to hear accents in my head, haha.

A few quick thoughts:

  • 150 bonus points for mentioning the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, which I think I have seen about 100 times and can probably still quote beginning to end.
  • I love that Sam watches horror movies with his mom. I thought their relationship was very sweet and I would have liked to have seen more of it, though I recognize that that was not really what this book was about.
  • Camilla was an interesting character who could have been a cliche but felt very fleshed out and real. I think all of the main characters were, actually. At first, I thought Allison was going to be kind of a cardboard cut out character, but she ended up having some depth and layers, too. I liked that Mike was gay but that it wasn’t “a thing.” He wasn’t “the gay character.” He was just a character.
  • What are your thoughts on what the title means? I didn’t notice any specific references to life in outer space (though I will admit that I read quite quickly and have a tendency of skipping over paragraphs that don’t look like they contain pertinent information. Yes, this does occasionally/frequently bite me in the ass). I think perhaps it is referring to the idea of becoming untethered from our normal way of thinking about things and being catapulted into a different perspective, but I don’t know. I’d love to know your theories!
  • I like that Sam was a writer. His obsessions were a nice framework and provided a good through-line that helped guide the book. It wasn’t just “my character will be a writer and this will have no relevance whatsoever.” The ideas of creation and creativity and genuine love for something are a major theme (Sam’s writing, Camilla’s music, Mike’s karate). It was a nice touch to have his writing tie in with his eventual realization of Camilla’s reciprocal love for him.

Okay, guys. Your turn. Thoughts in the comments!

PS. Pick the book for next month here

January Book Discussion: Life in Outer Space

Book of the Month – The Raven Cycle Series

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Surprise, surprise, more young adult fare!

I picked up the first book in this series, The Raven Boys, on a whim. It was on the Staff Recommended shelf at the library, and I had a vague memory of reading somewhere that Maggie Stiefvater was a highly accomplished writer. So I thought, What the hell, and gave it a shot. Little did I know that it would lead down a dark path! The second I finished the first book, I put holds on the second and third, and waited with zero patience for them to arrive. (As always seems to be the case, the third one came in first. I went to the library three times in two days just to get my fix of Blue, Gansey, and the rest.)

Here is the premise: Blue comes from a big, cosy, enmeshed family of psychics, but she herself is not psychic. She is more like an amplifier; when she is around, everyone else’s supernatural powers are stronger. Every year, on St Mark’s Eve, she accompanies her mother to a particular church, where the spirits of those who are going to die in the next twelve months make themselves known. Blue never sees anything. Except, this year, she does. And his name is Gansey, and he is one of the supremely privileged boys who attends Aglionby Academy. He also happens to be on a years-long search for Glendower, an ages old Welsh king whom he believes is slumbering somewhere, waiting for the right person to come along and wake him up. Oh, and did I mention that every psychic Blue has ever encountered has told her that if she kisses her true love, he will die? So Blue is sucked into the magical, tortured, privileged lives of Gansey and his friends, Ronan, Noah, and Adam.

On the surface, the premise sounds ridiculous. I was not immediately sold on it. But whoever it was that put it into my brain that Stiefvater is a consummate storyteller, pat yourself on the back, because oh. my. God.

I love paranormal young adult fare. It is my bread and butter. But I got sucked into Henrietta, Virginia, and the world of Blue and her raven boys in a way that I haven’t since Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I tore through those pages as fast as I could possibly go. I thought about them before I went to bed and immediately reached for my book upon waking.

And when I got to the end of the third one, I wanted to throw my book across the room, because it’s not a trilogy, it’s a fourlogy, and the fourth book doesn’t come out until September. 

This sent me into paroxysms of fangirl pain. My fourteen year old sister, who is pretty much the only other person on the face of the earth that I know of who gets as into fictional things as I do, received a very long post on her Facebook page about how demolished I felt that I would not get to know what happened to these people that I had come to care about so deeply until September. I have had a book hangover ever since. It took me three or four days to settle into another book at all, and even now, I am still thinking about The Raven Cycle.

It isn’t just a paranormal romance. There are so many layers to this book. There’s Welsh folklore and the verdant soil of divided classes (Adam Parrish, one of Gansey’s best friends, comes from a trailer park and works three jobs to make his way through Aglionby Academy); domestic abuse and forbidden romance; confused sexuality, feeling like an outsider in your own family, and what happens when you discover that your entire world is, quite literally, a dream.

Go. Read these books. I’ll wait here. Then we can talk for hours about all the little things we love and hate about it.

What are you waiting for?

PS. My favorite character is, of course, Ronan Lynch, the resident psychopath with a core of deep pain and love. Anyone who knows me well will have already guessed this. What can I say? I have a type.

PPS. My favorite book so far is the second one, because, surprise, it is Ronan-centric.

Book of the Month – The Raven Cycle Series