Reading Challenge (BIPOC Authors) Update 1

Today, I added another book to my total for the BIPOC authors challenge, bringing it to three. To complete the square “Coretta Scott King Award Winner,” I read Walter Dean Myer’s Monster.

This book has been around the “Own Voices” circuit for awhile, but I had not gotten around to reading it. I was instantly drawn into the story by the main character (Steven’s) choice to tell his story as though it was a movie. Withdrawing himself from his own incarceration and trial, he made a powerful statement about the current plight of some teens of color. It also made the story a quick and engaging read.

The only thing I wanted was a little less of the actual court procedure. I wanted more of all the very human characters in the the times outside of the court room and less of the constant objecting by the opposing councils. I understand the Steven observed this and that real lawyers do this, but these moments were never my favorite parts of the story.

Doing a BIPOC authors challenge or trying to diversify your TBR list? This book, while a little on the older side now in 2020, is worth a look and a read .

On YA Tropes

Tropes get a bad reputation in the literary world. And I get it.

They are seen as “the easy way” out for writers and any book with these tropes cannot possibly have the same literary value as a text without them.

I even stumbled upon a checklist of tropes and how to avoid them in writing.The blog post claims that readers of YA are sick of them (and some are) and avoiding them or innovating them can help make your writing better (very true.)

As a reader who reads often reads for comfort and enjoyment, I think I like tropes. Well…some of them. They are predictable, relatable, and deliciously cringeworthy. There is something to be said for knowing how something is going to end.

My favorite tropes are “All adults are useless,” especially in a boarding school setting and “The love triangle.” As a 32 year old adult and teacher, I shouldn’t like these tropes. No one is ever in a love triangle basking the symbolism of choosing between their past and present or two sides of themselves through a romantic partner. And, I am an educator! I would never leave students unsupervised long enough for them to solve a murder. It is our job to pay attention!

However…

What I like about these tropes is that they allow for the ultimate literary fantasies to be played out. Isn’t it wonderful to immerse yourself a world where the main character can prove their daring and intelligence, running around and solving conflict without interference from overbearing adults with no sense of fun or visible moral compass? If you are a teen, this trope reinforces the idea that you have a voice and that you can change the world. Isn’t it also wonderful to imagine that you have the choice between two great partners that represent different sides of yourself, choosing who you really want to be with and choosing who you really want to be in the process? Oh, to be young and fictional.

If all of that is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

I do hate forehead kisses and fainting to change the scene…but that is for another day.

How do you feel about tropes? Favorites? Least favorites?

Book Review: What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli

A few years after its publication, I finally got around to reading What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli. After reading it, I realized why it took me so long to get to it.

What If It’s Us tells, in alternating POVs, the story of the ultimate meet-cute. Ben and Arthur run into each other at a post office in New York. Ben is mailing things back to his ex-boyfriend and Arthur followed him into the post office, because he thought Ben was cute…duh. Sparks fly. A flash mob starts. They lose track of each other and spend the rest of the book trying to find each other. Cute right?

Ehh.

I love me some teen drama, but this was almost too much drama. I felt like no one in the book had any fun ever. But that is just me! I appreciated all of the Broadway allusions and the meet-cute was super cute, but I just wasn’t a huge fan of the book in general.

Also, I wish that the book alternated fonts with POVs. Sometimes, I lost track of whose POV it was supposed to be.

Maybe I am not the target audience for it and that is okay. Check it out because it might be for you!

Review: Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

Once again, I picked up a book thanks to a list. This time it was a list of Queer YA Books, from Buzzfeed. So much love for Buzzfeed Lists. The premise looked great and I am a big fan of the author. I saw them speak at Book Con in 2015 and just had to devour everything they write.

In Dark and Deepest Red, McLemore deftly wove magical realism, contemporary fiction, and historical fiction. The novel followed the POVs of three characters connected by family, by Romani culture, and by the dancing plague of the 1500s. Two characters were modern teens and the other, a teen from the 16th century.

I do not say this often, but I loved, loved, loved this book.

I was drawn in the magical worlds, the magical words, the culture, the history, the diversity of love.

I cried. I squealed. I sighed.

I’ll probably think about this one for awhile.

That being said, if magical realism is not your thing or if you, like some of my wonderful bookish friends, cannot get through historical fiction, this may not be your thing. But, if you are like me, and love a little magical realism with a little historical fiction, this book is for you.

YA Book Review: Mirage

I am allowed to read Young Adult books.

We are all allowed to read this genre. Some of the most moving and interesting stories that I have encountered in my adult life have been about teenagers. There seems to be this freedom in the genre for the authors. Perhaps they don’t feel that they have the limitations of adult literary fiction and they have a less critical audience. Whatever the reason, us benefit from their ability to indulgence in their own imaginations.

I pretend that I read YA for my job. I mean, I DO read YA for my job, but often read it for me. Last week, I read Mirage by Somaiya Daud. Here are my thoughts about it.

 

Mirage

BEYOND THREE STARS RATING: 3.5 Stars.

In Mirage, the main character Amani, is kidnapped by an evil regime due to her resemblance to its princess. Amani must try to impersonate this princess or risk the lives of her family and herself. While she does does enjoy the benefits of living in a palace, rather than her poor village, she is always in danger of being discovered and losing everything.

I did not do enough research on this one before I read it and did not realize that it was scifi/fantasy. That one is on me. I am never good with world building and trying to picture a new world always makes the reading experience a bit challenging.

Setting/genre aside, I really like the main character and her gradual development of confidence and sense of identity, even as she was trying to learn to become someone else. The mythology and poetry were gorgeous, as was our main love interest Idris.

I am not great with books that take place on a variety of planets, with new technology, but I enjoyed everything else about this one. I probably would have loved it, if I was more of a sci-fi/fantasy fan.

 

But first….introductions

Hi! I’m Kelly (Ms. Proulx to some of my social circle) and I read a lot. I often don’t have the patience to sit and watch TV or a movie, but I usually have the patience to read. By day, I am a middle school teacher. By night, I am an avid reader, puzzler, football fan, baker, runner, lifter, and fashionista (not my words.)

Not to brag, but, according to Goodreads, I have read over 3000 books in my life….I know…that is a lot. So, it is no surprise that I get this question: do you have any book recommendations?

My students ask me, their parents ask me, my friends ask me, my family asks me, strangers ask me. If someone finds out you are a reader, suddenly, you become an expert in all things literary. Luckily, I love giving recommendations and have read a little of everything. I do not pretend to be an expert, but a know a lot of books.

To answer your question: Oh, I do. But, first, I need to know:
-What is the last book you read?
-What is the last book you loved?
-What type of books do you normally choose?

I created this blog to help me to answer my favorite question “Do you have any book recommendations?” To keep reviews and links in one place. Check out my posts for my personal favorites for all ages.