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review 2015-05-13 03:44
The Piano Lesson
The Piano Lesson - August Wilson

At the heart of the play stands the ornately carved upright piano which, as the Charles family's prized, hard-won possession, has been gathering dust in the parlor of Berniece Charles's Pittsburgh home. When Boy Willie, Berniece's exuberant brother, bursts into her life with his dream of buying the same Mississippi land that his family had worked as slaves, he plans to sell their antique piano for the hard cash he needs to stake his future. But Berniece refuses to sell, clinging to the piano as a reminder of the history that is their family legacy. This dilemma is the real "piano lesson," reminding us that blacks are often deprived both of the symbols of their past and of opportunity in the present. (source)

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review 2015-05-09 03:29
A Tale Dark and Grimm
A Tale Dark and Grimm - Adam Gidwitz,Khairi Rumantati,Lala Bohang

In this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.

Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after. (source)

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text 2015-02-11 20:49
Reading progress update: I've read 13%.
Luna - Julie Anne Peters

So, I was pretty excited to start this book - a) the cover is gorgeous and b) it's about an M-to-F transgender kid, and after reading Beautiful Music for Ugly Children last year, I was really excited to read another book from a trans teen's perspective. I've had limited interaction with transgender people in real life and BMfUC really helped me open my mind and try to see things from their perspective. I was looking forward to what would hopefully be a similar experience. 


First off, this one isn't wow-ing me from the beginning like BMfUC, which is, of course, disappointing, but it just goes to show that, just like other genres, not every LGBTQ book is going to be phenomenal. But what's really irking me is that the main character (who is the younger sister of the transgender character) is very clearly developing a crush on a character who's really rubbing me the wrong way. He's had one interaction with MC, and in an attempt to flirt (I guess?), he makes a "retard" joke. 


Whoa. Not cool. 


What's even more disappointing is that MC found it hysterical. This portion of the book has been a huge let down for me. I think it's great that the author wanted to write a book about a group of people who are discriminated against and try to open people's minds toward them, but the fact that the funniest thing she could think of for these two characters to bond over is a derogatory joke about another group of people who face discrimination, among many other challenges, is incredibly frustrating for me. I get that a lot of teenagers think that these kinds of jokes are funny, but should authors be reinforcing the idea that that's OK by having "good" characters make those kinds of jokes? I know I'm making a big deal out of this, but it really bothers me. I have to finish the book because it's been assigned for my YA Resources class, but I'm definitely thinking about bringing this up in our class discussion. 


What are some of your "turn offs" in literature? What do you consider to be so tasteless that it makes you want to stop reading, or at the very least, makes you less inclined to enjoy a book, even if the story itself isn't bad? 

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text 2015-01-28 03:28
Quick update - plus mini reviews!
The Moon and More - Sarah Dessen
Pretty Little Liars - Sara Shepard
The Battle of Jericho - Sharon M. Draper
Just Listen - Sarah Dessen

Hey everyone! I'm back in the swing of things with grad school, so sadly I haven't had as much time to be on here... bummer! Just wanted to give you a quick update on how things are going with me and post some mini-reviews of the books that I've been reading lately. 


The biggest news in my life is that my husband and I found out about a week and a half ago that our baby is going to be a GIRL! We can't wait to meet her - only about 18 weeks left, assuming she arrives on June 2 as planned! 


School, again, has me super busy, as I'm taking 15 credits this semester so I'll only have to take 9 in the summer when baby comes. In undergrad, this would have been sooo easy, but in grad school, it's definitely challenging! Thankfully, I'm very organized and as long as I continue to micromanage my schedule, I should come out alright. 


And here are the mini-reviews, as promised - all are for books I read for my Resources for Young Adults course: 


The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen - I read this for an author project that I have to do (also see my review for Just Listen). I selected Sarah Dessen because I'd adored her books in high school and wanted to see how I'd feel now, five years later. Thankfully, she did not disappoint! I really enjoyed reading about Emaline's reactions to all of the changes in her life and I loved the way that this book ended. I think that by the end of the book, Emaline was definitely a stronger, more confident individual who felt more in charge of her destiny, and that's a great way to leave things at the close of a story. 4 out of 5 stars for this one. 


Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard - This book was selected as a part of the theme "Why do we care about what others think about us?" I'd never read PLL before, but I'd been meaning to for a while. And wow, this  like the definition of a guilty pleasure book. Like, I was kind of embarrassed to admit to anyone outside of Library Land that I was reading this... but I secretly kind of loved it! All the drama just sucks the reader right in. I will say that I think that Shepard drew things out a bit more than necessary - I feel like she used a whole book to tell something that could've only taken half of a book, if that makes any sense? But this is definitely a series that I would like to continue, once my schedule goes back to normal. 4 out of 5 stars. 


The Battle of Jericho by Sharon Draper - Another book for the theme "Why do we care about what others think about us?" I had actually never heard of this before this past week, so for those of you who haven't read this or heard of it, basically it's about a high school with a social club that on the surface is super philanthropic but behind the scenes has a really horrible hazing culture for new members to endure. As an alumna for a sorority, this was fascinating to read. My sorority, ΣΣΣ, has a very strict anti-hazing policy (thank God!) so I was never hazed. At the time, I have to admit, the policy seemed a bit over the top - we weren't even allowed to do scavenger hunts with our new members because they were deemed "too dangerous." After reading this and seeing how something that seems like a harmless little tradition can get horribly out of hand, I can see why our national headquarters is so cautious! While this book definitely got me thinking, I was kind of bored while reading it. The dialogue didn't feel real to me and I also felt that this one was longer than necessary. But it definitely had a fantastic message to deliver! 3 out of 5 stars. 


Just Listen by Sarah Dessen - THIS BOOK. Omg. <3333 Okay, so this was part of my Sarah Dessen Author Project, and it's my first 5 star read of 2015! Which, honestly, isn't super fair because I read this SO MANY TIMES in high school and so I knew going in how much I'd adore it, but still. So many feelings for this book! I think it's just beautifully told, and the characters are wonderful - Owen Armstrong will forever be one of my top literary crushes, because he is just that fantastic, and Annabelle totally deserves his awesomeness. So yeah. This is hardcore chick lit and every time I read it, I turn right back into my swooning sixteen year old self. And that's exactly what should happen. 5 out of 5 stars. 


Hope everything's going well with all of you! Let me know if you've read any of these books and, if you have, how you liked them - do you agree with my opinions? Have a great week! 

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review 2015-01-22 00:21
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass - Meg Medina

One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is. (source)


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