09 October 2017

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: 3 Novels to Get Lost In

3 Novels to Get Lost InHappy Monday and welcome back to summer. It's been hot and sunny around here, which is one of those love it / hate it kind of things. I'm not sorry to have a few more days reading on the deck, but it's October -- where's my beloved fall weather?

Other than work, I've been gearing myself up for a major book culling. Twice a year or so, I go through my stacks and make sane decisions about which books  I still want to read or feature and which ones would be better off finding a new home.

No matter how selective I try to be when it comes to books, my eyes are always bigger than my available time. Drat that pesky job!

What I Read Last Week

Review: Warcross by Marie LuWarcross by Marie Lu (Putnam, Sept. 12): You might recall that I wasn't sure about this science fiction, techie novel (Kirkus called it "cyber punk") after the first chapter or so, but I'm glad I stuck with it. In the not-so-distant future, the world is so caught up in the virtual reality game Warcross that tournaments become major global events, complete with underground gambling and hacking. When security (both online and in real life) becomes an issue, the developer of the game hires a struggling bounty hunter to help him find the bad guy. Our hero is Emika Chen, who jumps at the chance to prove her coding skills and climb out of poverty. You don't have to be a big gamer to root for Emika, to get caught up in the action, and to try to figure out all the plot twists. The book ends with the promise for more Emi stories to come. The unabridged audiobook (Listening Library, 11 hr, 46 min) was read by Nancy Wu, who did a great job projecting Emi's emotions and pulling me into the fast-paced world of the game. Her accents and pronunciations seemed believable to me, and I really loved the way she captured Emi's personality. I'm already looking forward to the next audiobook in this series. (Thanks to the publisher for review copy.)

Review: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. SanchezI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez (Knopf, Oct. 17): Let me start off by telling you to put this book on your reading list right now. Julia (pronounced the Mexican way), has always felt misunderstood by her family, but when her older sister, Olga--the good daughter--dies in an accident, the teenager feels her different-ness ever more strongly. This powerful novel, told through Julia's voice, explores many important themes, especially teenage depression. Many of Julia's issues stem from her strong desire to leave home, go to college, and become a writer, all of which seem impossible because her parents are extremely poor and are undocumented immigrants. What's more, she knows she could never live up to Olga's standards, even if she wanted to. In an effort to connect more closely with her late-sister, Julia looks through her belongings and discovers she didn't know Olga at all. Sanchez explores sisters, mother-daughter relationships, depression, poverty, the pull of cultural traditions, the conflict of telling the truth vs. protecting those we love, and more. The book ends with a list of resources for troubled youth. The unabridged audiobook (Listening Library; 9 hr, 41 min) is brilliantly read by Kyla Garcia, who nails Julia's complex emotions. Garcia also wonderfully delivers the needed teenage inflections and easy use of slang and swearing. The accents, including the Spanish, flow smoothly, and help create Julia's world. I loved this book and will be thinking about it for a long time to come. (Thanks to the publisher for review copy)

Review: Etched on Me by Jenn CrowellEtched on Me by Jenn Crowell (Washington Square Press, Feb. 2014): The beauty of book clubs is that they encourage you to read books you never would have picked up. This novel, loosely based on a true story, is a case in point. Sixteen-year-old Lesley escapes her sexually abusive father and delivers herself to the British version of child services for protection and help. We follow Lesley's dark journey as she tries to deal with and move past the nightmares of her family life, all the while coping with the British legal system and various government institutions. The book begins and ends with her fight, at the age of twenty-two, to keep her infant daughter, who was taken away moments after her birth because the system decided Lesley's past mental health issues would make her an unfit mother. I have no firsthand experience with any of Lesley's issues, but I felt Crowell presented the difficulties Lesley faced and her efforts to find help in a realistic manner. Her relationships with her friends and mentors were also believable. Although eventually redemptive, it's a heartbreaking story that drums home the need for advocacy for survivors of abuse and the need to remove the stigma for mental health issues. You can find a reading group guide at the Simon & Schuster website.

Book News


Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 10/9/17, 7:10 AM  

Wow - that cover for the Sanchez is SO similar to Book of Unknown Americans. And it sounds like a good one. Adding it to my list!

Mystica 10/9/17, 7:59 AM  

Interesting reads here. All new to me so I enjoyed the update.

(Diane) bookchickdi 10/9/17, 8:27 AM  

Erika Sanchez's book sounds so good. My niece volunteers in a program for teenage girls and this book would be perfect for her. Thanks for highlighting it.

Susie | Novel Visits 10/9/17, 8:51 AM  

I'm adding both I'm not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and Etched on Me to my TBR list. They both sound wonderful. Thanks. I needed some good book recs!

rhapsodyinbooks 10/9/17, 8:53 AM  

All sound good! I have the Marie Lu already lined up....

bermudaonion 10/9/17, 8:55 AM  

I'm supposed to be getting the audio of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and now I'm really excited about it.

Jackie McGuinness 10/9/17, 9:17 AM  

Just put all 3 on my TBR list!

Kathy Martin 10/9/17, 10:42 AM  

Those books do all sound amazing. I'm adding Warcross to my list. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

UplayOnline 10/9/17, 11:20 AM  

All new to me so I enjoyed the update.


Daryl 10/9/17, 11:22 AM  

as a former nay-sayer to audio books i have to say listening is as good as reading AND often pronunciation of words unfamiliar to the reader are an aha moment for the listener ..

Iliana 10/9/17, 11:45 AM  

The Sanchez book sounds wonderful and your description sort of reminds me of Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, which I loved. Will be looking for this one!

Laurel-Rain Snow 10/9/17, 11:55 AM  

Oh, I like the look of all your books, but most especially Etched on Me, which will catapult me right back into the social services world where I worked, and with which I had such negative feelings at times. Let me begin by saying how much I hated the hasty judgments by some social workers at times, even though I was also one of them. I like to think I didn't rush to judgment.

I must read this book. Thanks for sharing, and here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

Emma Litttlefield 10/9/17, 2:40 PM  

I really like the sound of I am not your Mexican daughter and etched on me. Both sound powerful.

Harvee 10/9/17, 3:17 PM  

I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter looks like a timely topic for a book.

Yvonne 10/9/17, 5:28 PM  

Interesting looking books. The one by Erika L. Sanchez really looks like a good one. Have a great week!

Sue Jackson 10/9/17, 7:26 PM  

Glad to hear your thoughts about Warcross - I was looking at it, too. Sounds good!

The other two sound good, too.

And, of course, I totally agree about audiobooks!


Book By Book

Laurie C 10/9/17, 8:59 PM  

I can always count on you for great audiobook recommendations! Am checking out link to New Yorker article, as I'm several issues behind and don't think I've seen that yet!

Nise' 10/9/17, 11:14 PM  

I've enjoyed Marie Lu's previous books and I plan to pick up this one.

Greg 10/10/17, 5:04 AM  

Glad you liked Warcross, I did too. And I had the same thing- the first chapter or two I was wondering if it was going to for me, but once it go going I really liked it.

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