Book Review: Anger Is a Gift

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Synopsis:

Moss Jeffries is many things―considerate student, devoted son, loyal friend and affectionate boyfriend, enthusiastic nerd.

But sometimes Moss still wishes he could be someone else―someone without panic attacks, someone whose father was still alive, someone who hadn’t become a rallying point for a community because of one horrible night.

And most of all, he wishes he didn’t feel so stuck.

Moss can’t even escape at school―he and his friends are subject to the lack of funds and crumbling infrastructure at West Oakland High, as well as constant intimidation by the resource officer stationed in their halls. That was even before the new regulations―it seems sometimes that the students are treated more like criminals.

Something will have to change―but who will listen to a group of teens?

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes again, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Tor Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on May 22, 2018.*

As a person of color, I’m well aware of police brutality and the injustice that occurs to people who look like me. That being said, I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. When I went to school the only thing we had to go through was the doors. We had one security guard, who was a POC and was quite chill but besides that, you just showed your school ID and you went inside. That was it.

My point in saying this is I did not grow up in an environment like the one Moss and his friends go through. If anything, I’d say I’m more like his best friend, Esperanza, who goes to a different high school, and doesn’t truly understand all that Moss and his friends have to go through on a daily basis, both at school and with the police in general. And recognizing that privilege in myself was definitely uncomfortable, but that’s the whole point of the book.

Moss is a young black man who’s father was killed by the police six years ago. Since then, Moss has suffered from anxiety and after seeing all the protests that were done for his father and how that didn’t really lead to change, Moss tries to stay away from protests and anywhere else where there will be a heavy police presence. That is until metal detectors are brought into his school. When one of the detectors ends up harming one of his good friends, Moss is rightfully angry and he decides to take action. Together with the help of his mother, Wanda, his friends, and his community, they stage a walkout at school. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end well.

Over the course of the novel, Moss struggles with wanting to do something about all the injustice he’s seen, but also feeling defeated, wondering if there really will ever be change. I think this is something that many POCs experience. I know I have myself. But what Mark Oshiro does so well with this story is he keeps it real about how bad it really is for POCS, particularly in areas like West Oakland where Moss is from, but Oshiro also shows the hope and joy in these communities as well.

While this book made sad, angry, upset, and uncomfortable, it also made me laugh and smile. Moss’ relationship with his mother was heartfelt and something I could definitely relate too, being close to my mom. Similarly, Moss’ meet cute with a boy named Javier and the romance that ensued, also made me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

And in between all of that, this book showed be a different experience that made me question my own worldview. Even having what I felt was a good understanding of police brutality, reading this book at times I found myself asking, “Is this legit? Do these things really happen?” When really I should be asking why does this happen and why isn’t anyone doing anything about it? The fact that this book raises those questions and will hopefully spark those conversations, is reason enough for me to say you have to read this book.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

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Tiffany Jackson & More In The City This Week (YA Book Events NYC 5/21-5/27)

Happy Monday, book nerds! There are two great events happening this week so check out the full schedule below for all the details and make sure to follow YA Book Events NYC on Twitter to get regular updates about the bookish events happening around the city.

Tuesday, May 22

Mark Oshiro + Tiffany Jackson at The Strand (7-8 p.m.)

Meet debut author Mark Oshiro and Allegedly author Tiffany Jackson as they celebrate the release of their new books, Anger is a Gift and Monday’s Not Coming. They will be joined by NYT bestselling author Dhonielle Clayton. Event admission is $15.

Saturday, May 26

Celia C. Pérez in Conversation with Shelley Diaz at Cafe con Libros, BK (6-8 p.m.)

Come to Cafe con Libros for an intimate conversation with Celia C. Pérez (The First Rule of Punk), and Shelley Diaz, the School Library Journal’s Reviews Team Manager. Admission is $5.

Everything I Wish I Knew Before My First BookCon

BookCon is quickly approaching and I’m so incredibly excited. This will be my third BookCon and I’m so ready to meet authors, get free books, and see all the panels. Although I feel confident about attending the con this year, my first year I didn’t really know what to expect. So if this is your first BookCon here’s some things I wish I’d known before my first BookCon.

1. Wear Comfortable Shoes

While I didn’t wear heels to BookCon, I also didn’t wear the most comfortable shoes and my feet hated me by the end of the day. My recommendation is to wearing running/athletic shoes. I’ll be wearing my Nikes.

2. Bring Snacks

Most likely you’ll be running from one panel to the next and stopping for food will seem like a detour you don’t have time for. Plus, the food at BookCon is typically expensive. So make sure to pack up snacks. I’m talking dry cereal, granola bars, a sandwich, and make sure you have a water bottle. You’ll want to stay hydrated.

3. You Don’t Have To Accept Everything

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One of the best things about BookCon is all the free things you get. People will be shoving swag and books into your face at all times. Last year, I somehow ended up with two copies of the same book. Thus, you will feel like you should take everything that’s being given to you. It’s free, right? Except then you’ll find your bag filled with things you’ll have to figure out how to get home and when you get home you’ll realize you don’t even want half that stuff. So don’t be afraid to say no or walk away from something. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you have to take it.

4. Plan Out Your Schedule Ahead of Time

BookCon has an app that you absolutely should use. On the app you can go through the schedule for the entire weekend and add the panels and autographings you want to attend to your own personal schedule. It’s easy way to see what things you want to go to and make sure you don’t have anything overlapping. You should also get a good look at the map. If you have an autographing in the Autographing Area at 12 p.m. but you want to make a panel that’s happening on the lower level at 1 p.m. you should know that in advance (although I’ll tell you right now, you’re not going to make it).

It’s much easier to actually get to everything you want to go to if you already have a game plan in mind. Additionally, by planning out your schedule you’ll be able to prioritize what you really want to go to so if you do have to choose between two things, you’ll already know which one is most important.

5. Get Your Autographing Tickets Ahead of Time

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If an author is doing a signing “In Booth,” this means the publisher is hosting it at their booth and you don’t need an advance ticket for that. However, if the signing is happening in the Autographing Area you will need a ticket. Thankfully, the set up is much better than it was at my first BookCon and now you can get your tickets for the autographing ahead of time online.

The way it works is on Saturday, May 19 at 10 a.m. EDT you will be able to use your badge number or confirmation number to get tickets to two author signings per day. These tickets go extremely fast so this is another instance where it’s best to know ahead of time who you want to see and have your badge/confirmation number ready to just copy and paste into the site. Additionally, it’s also good to check and see if the author your going to see requires a book purchase for the signing. Though you’ll most likely be able to pay with credit card, it’s always good to have cash just in case.

6. Find a Line Buddy

The lines at BookCon are LONG! They just are. There’s really no good way to get around it, except to have a line buddy. I’ve found that standing in line goes way faster if you have someone to stand with you. Additionally, if you’ve got a panel that doesn’t end until 1 p.m. and the in booth signing that you want to go to begins at 1 p.m. that’s when a line buddy can be a life saver because they can save your spot in line while you run to meet them. The only possible problem with this is many lines will give out tickets in the line before the signing begins and if you’re not there to get the ticket it doesn’t matter when you join the line, you’re not going into the signing.

7. Bring a Phone Charger

If you stick around for BookCon all day your phone will probably die. Between texting your friends about your location and taking pics with your favorite authors, your phone battery will get a lot of good use. That’s why you need to have a phone charger, preferably a portable one so you’re not tied to a wall outlet wasting time charging instead of having fun around the Con. If you’re like me and are attached to your phone on a regular day, I’d even recommend bringing two chargers.

8. Use a Backpack

You’re not allowed to bring a bag with wheels to BookCon for security reasons but you can bring a backpack. And you should. Unless you actually turn down every single thing that’s offered to you, you will leave BookCon with a ton of stuff. You will get tote bags, posters, ARCs, bookmarks, pens, notebooks, pouches, and who knows what else. You won’t only want some place to put all this stuff, you’ll need it. Trust me, it’s way easier to carry stuff in a backpack then in a tote bag or your pockets. And I’m not talking about those cute little tiny backpacks you’d see at Coachella, I’m talking about a Jansport, like you’d use for school.

9. Don’t Forget to Have Fun

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Honestly, BookCon can be crazy and even a little stressful. You might miss out on getting that ARC you were dying for or find out your favorite author’s signing is already full and you just missed it. But don’t let something small ruin your whole BookCon. Yes, getting free stuff and meeting your fave author is amazing. But you know what’s also amazing? Spending a whole weekend with a bunch of people who love the same things you do. Make friends with the people you’re stuck on line with. Take a break from running from panel to panel and actually just walk around the showroom floor. BookCon only happens once a year and it’s supposed to be fun, so if it’s not feeling fun take a second and figure out what could make your day better. And enjoy it.

Got any questions about BookCon? Leave them in the comments below! Can’t wait to see you all there!

ARC Book Review: My So-Called Bollywood Life

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Synopsis:

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Crown Books for Young Readers. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 15, 2018.*

I didn’t know about this book until I went to the New York City Teen Author Festival and Nisha Sharma was on a debut authors panel and read an excerpt of this novel. I thought it sounded hilarious, so when I saw it was available to request on NetGalley I immediately jumped on it and I’m so glad I did.

Told in a close third person narration, My So-Called Bollywood Life follows Winnie, a senior in high school who’s returned home from film camp to discover her boyfriend, now ex-boyfriend, Raj, is dating someone else. Although, in Raj’s defense, they were on a break. However, if he’d watched Friends he would know that’s not a reasonable excuse, but I digress.

The point is, Raj and Winnie are over, which is especially confusing for Winnie because all her life she’s believed in a prophecy she got from a pandit who said she’d meet the love her life before her 18th birthday and the guy’s name would begin with a ‘R’ and would give her a silver bracelet.

Now Winnie is fighting against believing that prophecy and wants to make her destiny, beginning with getting into NYU. To do that she needs to run the film festival at her school and be co-president of the film club…with Raj. Of course this doesn’t go well and it doesn’t help that another boy at school, Dev, is now showing renewed interest in Winnie and Raj just can’t seem to let go and still believes he and Winnie are meant to be.

With a love triangle, drama, a lot of Bollywood references, and the best parents you’ll ever meet, My So-Called Bollywood Life was a fun read that I just couldn’t put down. It also made me want to watch a Bollywood movie (I’ve never seen one!). My only issue was with the conflict at the end. It’s hard to explain without spoiling so I’ll just say I thought the conflict made it seem like Winnie should give up on something she worked quite hard for just for a guy, and the fact that her best friend, Bridget, seemed to also agree with this sentiment really irked me. If you want a more detailed explanation I’ll put it down below with spoilers.

However, this issue aside, I think the book kind of made up for it in the end, and overall I really did enjoy this book despite that one little thing, so I still highly recommend it. Definitely grab a copy of the book, which is on sale today!

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

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More Detailed Explanation Of My Issue With This Book Below (SPOILERS!)

In short, Dev and Winnie get together, they have a great time at the fundraiser dance for the film festival, but then the next day Dev is accused of stealing the money from the ticket sales and the money is found in his locker.

It obviously wasn’t him, but there’s no concrete proof it wasn’t so the faculty advisor for the club, Mr. Reece, pulled Dev’s movie from the film festival. Winnie was determined to clear Dev’s name, but she didn’t quit the film club, and for some reason both Dev and Bridget got angry with Winnie for not quitting. I thought this was absurd and for them to ask Winnie to quit the club, something that would boost her college application, was ridiculous.

Of course Winnie wasn’t going to quit the club and give up on something she’d been working towards for so long for some guy she just started dating. That’s crazy, and it was so unreasonable to me that everyone just agreed that’s what she should do. Maybe this why I’m still single but I think it’s a bit ridiculous to ask someone to give up on their dream for a guy, much less one she hadn’t even been dating that long.

That being said, I felt the novel sort of corrected the problem by having Winnie still pursue her dream, just in a different way. The epilogue also made it abundantly clear that Winnie could have both the guy and her career as a film critic, which I appreciated. Still, that one part just didn’t sit well with me at all.

The Bronx Book Festival & More Events Happening This Week (YA Book Events NYC 5/14-5/20)

Happy Monday, book nerds! This week there are plenty of great events to check out so make sure to read the full schedule and follow YA Book Events NYC to keep up to date with the latest bookish events happening around the city.

Tuesday, May 15

My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma Event at Barnes & Noble Tribeca (6 p.m.)

Join debut author Nisha Sharma as she discusses her novel, My So-Called Bollywood Life, with Trisha Sakhua-Walia, CEO of Brown Girl magazine. Free event.

Wednesday, May 16

Writing Young Adult Fantasy & Women in Publishing at Astoria Bookshop (7-8 p.m.)

Join Sara Holland (Everless), Laura Sebastian (Ash Princess), and Lexa Hillyer (Winter Glass) for a fun panel about YA fantasy. Moderated by Patrice Caldwell. Free event.

Friday, May 18

Launch Event for The Accidental Bad Girl by Maxine Kaplan at Books of Wonder (6-8 p.m.)

Join Maxine Kaplan for the release of her novel, The Accidental Bad Girl. She’ll be joined by Peabody Award-winning journalist Brooke Gladstone. Free event.

Saturday, May 19

Bronx Book Festival at Fordham Plaza (9 a.m.-6 p.m.)

Join authors Elizabeth Acevedo, Daniel José Older, Lilliam Rivera, Adam Silvera, and more for the first ever Bronx Book Festival. Free event, but you must RSVP.

Great Middle Grade Adventures at Books of Wonder Uptown (3-5 p.m.)

Join authors Camille DeAngelis (The Boy From Tomorrow), Lauren Magaziner (Wizardmatch), Rebecca Behrens (The Last Grand Adventure), and Sarah Beth Durst (The Stone Girl’s Story) for a fun panel. Free event.

Launch Event for All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor at Bank Street Bookstore (4-5:30 p.m.)

Join Lygia Day Peñaflor for the launch of her thrilling new novel, All of This Is True. Free event.

Sunday, May 20

Launch Party for Claire Legrand at Books of Wonder (2-4 p.m.)

Join NYT bestselling author Claire Legrand for the launch of her new book Furyborn. She’ll be joined by NYT bestselling author Melissa Albert (The Hazel Wood). Free event.

ARC Book Review: Save the Date

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Synopsis:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book while interning at Simon & Schuster Children’s. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on June 5, 2018.*

I haven’t read all of Morgan Matson’s books yet, but I’ve read enough to feel confident saying this is her best novel to date. I couldn’t put this book down no matter how hard I tried (and I had a 17 page paper to write so I definitely tried).

The novel follows Charlie Grant during the weekend of her sister, Linnie’s, wedding. Although Charlie wants this to be the perfect weekend with her family, especially now that her parents are selling their house and her mother’s popular comic strip, Grant Family Station, is coming to an end, everything that could go wrong does.

First, Charlie’s estranged brother, Mike, actually accepts his invitation to Linnie’s wedding and his plus one is his best friend, Jesse, who Charlie has a huge crush on and kissed, though she doesn’t want Mike to know about that. From there, everything begins to fall apart from the wedding planner being AWOL to a missing wedding suit. As hard as Charlie tries, her hopes for a perfect weekend slip further and further away and it becomes clear that her life isn’t exactly like the life her mother depicts in her comics.

Charlie quickly realizes that her family is more flawed than she thought and she’ll have to figure out how to deal with the truth that sometimes things change and the only thing you can do is continue to move forward. Unlike Matson’s other novels, I’d say this one is really more about family than romance, though the romance is certainly there. That being said, it was the family that really hooked me.

I loved all the Grant siblings, though J.J. was certainly my favorite. Additionally, Matson did a great job of showing just how close this family was with all their quirks, shared secrets, and games. I also really liked the character of Brooke, the girlfriend of Charlie’s oldest and favorite sibling, Danny, and Charlie’s best friend, Siobhan. As always, there are also cameos from characters in Matson’s previous novels, which I absolutely loved, and honestly they may have made this book even more special to me.

So if you couldn’t already tell, I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it. I can honestly see myself reading it again when it comes out. It’s just that good.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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Mackenzie Ziegler & More Are In The City This Week (YA Book Events NYC 5/7-5/13)

There aren’t too many events happening this week, but they’re all great so make sure to check out the full schedule below and make sure to follow YA Book Events NYC on Twitter to stay up to date with all the bookish events happening around the city.

Tuesday, May 8

Launch for A Lite Too Bright by Samuel Miller at Books of Wonder (6-8 p.m.)

Join Samuel Miller for the NYC debut of his thrilling, thought-provoking mystery, A Lite Too Bright. Free event.

Wednesday, May 9

Mackenzie Ziegler at Barnes & Noble Fifth Ave (6 p.m.)

Pre-signed copies of Kenzie’s Rules for Life will be available for purchase at 9 a.m. the day of the signing. This event will be a photo opportunity only with the purchase of a book. Wristbands will be provided at the time of purchase.

Thursday, May 10

Launch Event for All Summer Long by Hope Larson at Books of Wonder (6-8 p.m.)

Join Hope Larson as she introduces her new graphic novel, All Summer Long, answers questions from the audience, and signs copies of all her works. Free event.

Saturday, May 12

Back 2 Back: Floyd Cooper & Jackie Azua Kramer at Books Are Magic (11 a.m. – 12 p.m.)

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents Back 2 Back, a series celebrating veterans and newcomers in the industry. This month features Floyd Cooper and Jackie Azua Kramer. Free event.