Book Chat: Dumplin’ & Other Book-to-Screen Adaptations

Hello there, and happy Wednesday! I’m here today chatting about book-to-movie adaptions. With Netflix and Hulu especially, we can look forward to more (hopefully!) amazing adaptations in the coming years.

Book-to-movie adaptations are hard because usually there’s already an established fanbase of the book. They have certain things that are imperative to following from the books, and some details, unfortunately, have to get left out. Some adaptations are so bad that the author doesn’t even endorse the movie (can anyone say Percy Jackson?).

Today I want to talk about some of the best book-to-movie adaptations that I’ve seen and loved.

  1. Dumplin’ Originally a YA novel by Julie Murphy, this movie hit the small screen on December 7, 2018. Thanks to Netflix, people everywhere (in America at least, I’m unclear about the rights within other countries) were able to see this fantastic movie. This movie follows Willowdean Dickson, the fat daughter of a beauty queen. Grappling with the loss of her aunt, Willowdean goes searching to become the woman her aunt always saw in Willowdean. Willowdean decides to rebel by entering the pageant her mother won all those years ago. Let me tell you, guys, I had so much fun watching this movie! I felt that it was a great one with proper representation. This one is definitely one you want to consider watching over and over again. Be sure to check out the book first! You can add it on Goodreads and read my review of it here.

2. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

I was super excited for this book to become a movie. I absolutely adore Jenny Han, and this series means a lot to me. I was not disappointed! Released in late summer, this movie was perfect to wrap up the season and get people back in the mood for that sweet high school romance. This movie is an ode to sisters and makes itself right at home among the classic 80s movies starring Lana Candor and Noah Centineo. This movie also does a great job with representation thanks to Han fighting for the Song Sisters not to be white-washed. Don’t miss out on this movie! (Unfortunately, it’s only available on Netflix as well.) I highly encourage you reading the book first! Add it on Goodreads.

3. The Hate U Give

For some reason, it took me a little bit of time to really read this book, but once I did, it was awesome. This movie was phenomenal. I saw it twice in theaters, and both times I cried. The story follows Starr Carter, a girl who feels caught between her worlds of living in her poor neighborhood and going to a wealthier private school across town. When she witnesses her childhood best friend get shot by a white cop, Starr becomes the key witness on the case. Tensions rise and sides are taken. Make it a double-feature and add the book on Goodreads.

4. Love, Simon

Originally titled Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this movie is the perfect one to watch on your night in. I absolutely loved the book and when I found out it was becoming a movie I think I squealed out loud. Love, Simon follows Simon Spier, a not-so-out gay teen in Georgia, when he begins exchanging emails with the elusive Blue, another gay student at his high school. As Blue and Simon get to know each other more, their secrecy is threatened when someone blackmails Simon with the emails. Navigating an increasingly tense friend group and his suddenly uncertain relationship, Simon finds he needs to step out of his comfort zone. I highly recommend you read this book first! It was so good, and I love all of Becky’s novels. Add it on Goodreads and read my review.

What are some of the YA adaptations that you have seen lately? Have you seen any of these? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

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Posted in Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Sneak Peek Sunday: The Antidote by Shelley Sackier

Hi and happy Sunday! I’m here again with another installment of Sneak Peek Sunday, and today I’ll be discussing The Antidote by Shelley Sackier. I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the publisher!

Title: The Antidote

Author: Shelley Sackier

Publisher: HarperTeen

Expected release: February 5, 2019

My rating: 3/5 Goodreads stars

Magic is not allowed, under any circumstances — even if it could save someone’s life. Instead, there are herbal remedies and traditional techniques that have been painstakingly recorded in lieu of using the mystical arts. Fee knows this, so she keeps her magic a secret.

Except her best friend, Xavi, is deathly ill. He’s also the crown prince. Saving him is important, not only for her, but for the entire kingdom.

Fee’s desperation to save her friend means she can barely contain the magic inside her. And after the tiniest of slips, Fee is thrust into a dark and secretive world that is as alluring as it is dangerous.

If she gives in, it could mean she can save Xavi. But it also means that those who wish to snuff out magic might just snuff her out in the process.

Review

I have to be real with you guys, I didn’t really like this book. It wasn’t really my cup of tea. I found the world to be a bit confusing, and I couldn’t really parse out who I was supposed to ship together and who I wasn’t supposed to like other than Princess Quinn.


Part of what was confusing to me was the world itself. I didn’t really understand the rules. It seems like part of it was a fake country, but they also had the same rules as an old European country, but also they had magic? I felt this wasn’t explained very well and I felt confused the whole time reading it.

I think another part that made me iffy on this book was the dialogue. I felt that it was very stilted and didn’t work in some parts. It didn’t always move the scene forward, and I felt that I got minimal information from it.

In the end, I didn’t quite like this book. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I think you should give it a try!! My opinion isn’t the end all, so you should read it for yourself.

Happy reading,
Sophie 🙂

Hi there and happy end of January! I can’t believe the first month of the year is already over. It’s crazy to think that we’re already one step closer to the end of the year.

If you remember, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to blog 3 times a week. I’ve already sort of failed at this one, but seriously, college and blogging aren’t always compatible! I actually had wanted to post this yesterday, but it got pushed back to today because I still had a lot to do even though I had the day off yesterday.

Anyway!! Here I am again with a wrap up post for the month! In this post, I’m going to talk about the books I got to read this month (Ahh so many!!), and I will definitely link my reviews if they are live.

This month I managed to read a total of nine books. I’m pretty impressed with that! I had been struggling to read two books in the fall, and I’m even busier this semester.

Something that helped me this semester was getting back into listening to audiobooks. I absolutely adore audiobooks because they let me get other work done while still engaging with a good book. I think my favorite book to listen to was The Wicked King by Holly Black. The narrator is excellent and the book itself is incredible! I can’t wait for Queen of Nothing to come out next year!!

Here’s what I read this month:

Eleanor & Park was a re-read, and I’m so glad I did. I think that was the third or fourth time I’ve read that book. Every time I read it I remember how much I love Rainbow Rowell’s writing. I can’t wait for Wayward Son!!

Have you read any of the books I read this month? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Chat: January 2019 Wrap-Up

Q & A Friday: Morgan Matson on Change, Weddings, and the Grant Family

Hi, there! Welcome to my last post in this series. If you wanted to read the previous posts I had in this series, you can read them here and here.

Today I’m going to talk about the swoon-worthy novel Save the Date by Morgan Matson. This was the second Matson book I read, and it was such a sweet read. I found the characters so relatable, and I loved the Grant family so much! If you wanted to know more of my thoughts on this book, be sure to check out my review. I can’t wait for you to read this interview I did with Morgan!

A little about Morgan:

morgan dog.jpg

Morgan Matson was born in New York City and grew up there and in Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College as a theater major, but halfway through, switched her focus to writing and never looked back. She received an MFA in Writing for Children from the New School, and then a second MFA in Screenwriting from USC.

She is the New York Times bestselling author of five books, all published by Simon & Schuster. 

She currently lives in Los Angeles with her rescue terrier, Murphy, in a house with blue floors that’s overflowing with books.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Want to know more about Save the Date? Here’ the 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, distractedly 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.

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Interview

Hi, Morgan!! Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me about Save the Date. I can’t wait for everyone else to read it. It was such a fun read!

To start things off, why don’t you start by describing your book in 10 words or less.

Okay, I’ll give it a shot! I don’t write short books, so brevity is always a challenge for me. But how about this:

Wedding disaster, little sister, cute boys, unexpected dog, happy ending?

Perfect!! Weddings are so much fun. What made you want to write about one?

Aren’t they? I feel like there’s so much inherent drama in a wedding! All the family members coming together, and people from two different families joining up.  I’ve never been to a wedding where there wasn’t at least one last minute crisis, and so I thought it would be a great setting for a novel. And I also thought it would be fun to write about a wedding not from the POV of the bride or of a planner, but the younger sister, who’s both a part of the wedding and seeing it from the outside. It let me have my (wedding) cake and eat it too!

Charlie’s sister’s wedding goes through quite a few classic wedding disasters. What was the most fun one to write about?

I think the most fun one to write about was the decorations mishap. I thought to myself, what would be the worst event to have your wedding decorations mixed up with? And a nine-year-old’s Australia-themed birthday party seemed to be just the perfect amount of terrible. Nobody wants a wedding with koala decorations!

Yes! That scene was hilarious!! Who doesn’t love koalas anyway 🙂 Do you have a favorite part of a wedding (both fictional and in real life)?

I have two favorite parts of any wedding. The first is the moment when the officiant asks if anyone knows a reason why the couple should not be married, to speak now.  The part of me that loves drama is always holding my breath at that moment, even though I’ve never been to a wedding where anyone has ever said anything.  But we’ve all seen so many movies and TV shows that we’re primed for high drama at that moment!

And my other favorite is the couples’ first dance. It always makes me well up! I love that moment when these two people, who’ve been through this whole ceremony together, are now able to exhale and dance together as a married couple for the first time ever.  In every wedding, you can kind of see the couple look at each other like, “We did it! We’re married!” It’s just my favorite moment.

The dance is so touching! I love it too. I loved the Grant family! They reminded me of mine. Do you have a lot of siblings too? Does the Grant family remind you of your family?

Oh, I’m so glad you liked them! They were such a blast to write. I do not  have a lot of siblings – I have just one older brother, so we were a smaller family. But maybe because of that, I always wanted a ton of siblings and a big family.  I was even jealous of my friends who had three siblings in their families – it just seemed like there was always more going on!

So the Grant family was more of what I’d imagine a big family to be – lots of coming and going and drama and fights and laughter.  I wrote the big family that I always wanted to have! But of course, bits of my family made it in there too – the little sayings and rituals that are totally normal to your family that nobody else understands.  My mom, like Mr. Grant, is a really accomplished gardener, so that’s where that came from.  And parts of the Grant house, especially the front hall and the kitchen, were based on my family’s home in Connecticut.

I also noticed a lot of Easter eggs hiding within your book. How many did you include? What was your favorite part of writing them in?

Good eye! I love including little Easter eggs in my book – it’s one of my favorite parts of writing a new book, getting to check in with characters from other books.  My favorite part was probably getting a bunch of characters from Unexpected Everything in there, especially because in the past, many of my Easter eggs have just been passing references or little hints.  When I saw a way to actually have these characters engage with the Grants, in a way that didn’t feel forced, I got really excited.  I felt like I actually got to reconnect with the characters from Unexpected Everything, and catch everyone up on what they’d been up to.

There’s also a pretty quick reference to Amy from Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, and most of my books now have had a long-running reference to something first set up in Second Chance Summer, and it pops up again here too.

Charlie struggles a lot with change throughout the book, whether it be moving houses or choosing which school to go to in the fall. Is this something you struggle with yourself? How did your own experience help you shape Charlie’s?

This trait, of struggling with change, is absolutely something that Charlie and I both share.  I hate change, and have ever since I was little.  And Charlie’s feeling regarding going to college in the fall – her ambivalence about it – was my exact same feeling.  All my friends were so excited to be going to college and I just didn’t feel that way. It was like I could sense that what we’d had during our high school years was going to be very different very soon and I just wanted to hold onto it a little longer rather than rushing onto the next chapter.  But like Charlie, I soon realized that life moves only forward and if you can (it’s hard to do) it’s better to think of change like an exciting adventure rather than something to be dreaded.

But since I had this feeling that I hadn’t seen expressed much in books or movies, I wanted to give this to Charlie – and maybe someone else who feels this same way will see their feelings reflected!

I love this! Thank you so much for your time!

Big shout out to Morgan for being amazing! Her interview was awesome, and I had so much fun coming up with questions. Be sure to check out Save the Date if you haven’t already.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope you’re having a good week so far. This remember when I said I would make a longer list of books that are coming out this year with Asian characters? Well today is that day! I’ve been looking forward to this day for so long, and I can’t wait to make this compilation for you. I will be including ones that have been or will be released in 2019, so get ready.

1. Descendant of the Crane by Joan He | April 2

Described as Chinese Game of Thrones, He’s debut follows Hesina as she’s thrust into her crown when her father, the king, is murdered. As she investigates her father’s death with illicitly retrieved information, Hesina must protect her court and navigate the deception.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

2. The Girl King by Mimi Yu | January 8

Lu and Min are betrayed when their father, the king, names their male cousin the heir to the throne. The sisters descend on two very opposite paths, but both pursue what they believe to be their rightful place in the kingdom: the throne.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

3. Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo | May 7

K-pop idol Lucky is on a sole mission to find a burger after her performance in Hong Kong, and tabloid writer Jack sneaks into her hotel on assignment. When the two accidentally bump into each other, sparks may catch fire.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

4. Hungry Hearts ed. by Elsie Chapman & Caroline Tung Richmond | June 18

This anthology chronicles lives through one of the best parts of culture: food! While it’s not particularly Asian focused, it does include many tales written by Asian authors, and I can’t recommend this enough. I can’t wait to read it myself!

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

5. There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon | May 14

Ashish Patel gets dumped and loses his mojo, so he grudgingly agrees to be set up by his parents. Sweetie Nair, a formidable track and field athlete, is tired of her parents telling her that her fatness makes her lacking. In a turn of events, the two find themselves together and sparks may be flying.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

6. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim | July 30

Maia’s dream of becoming the best tailor in the land is suddenly rocketed forward when she answers a summons from her father at the court. Posing as a boy, Maia weaves her way through court intrigue, and will face the ultimate challenge of sewing the gown of the emperor’s bride-to-be.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

7. Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim | June 11

Returning to her childhood home in San Francisco’s Chinatown upon the news of her mother’s passing, Natalie Tan find the transformation of businesses that were once booming. Natalie also finds that she inherits her grandmother’s restaurant. Facing the choice of helping her community grow and her own harbored resentment toward it, Natalie finds help in unexpected people.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

8. I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn | May 28

Fashion enthusiast Kimi Nakamura is determined to turn everyday things into her own original projects. As things become a mess at home, she jumps at the chance to visit her grandparents in Kyoto and is swept up in the gorgeous new-to-her city. Unbeknownst to her, Kimi may just find things are closer to her heart and discover more about her mother than she thought she would.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

9. The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala | April 23

Esha moonlights as the Viper, the top assassin combating the fallout of what she lost in the coup. Kunal has been a trained soldier his whole life, and he has never strayed from his path under the watchful eye of his uncle. When their paths cross, their worlds are blown apart with both vying to be the one on top.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

10. Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye | January 22

Sora and Daemon seek to set themselves apart in their society and become part of the elite warriors Society of Taigas. During one of their scouting missions, Sora and Daemon encounter a mysterious group of soldiers and decide the best way to help is to infiltrate them.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

11. 96 Words for Love by Rachel Roy and Ava Dash | January 15

Raya Liston feels bound to her path with her acceptance to UCLA. When her grandma passes and the opportunity to spend the summer in India with her cousin in the place her grandma spent many of her formative years, Raya jumps at the chance. What surprises her the most is the abundance of love and herself.

Add on: Goodreads Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

12. Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao | June 4

With an affinity towards blood, Anastacya Mikhailov has learned that she is a monster. An accident in the middle of the night results in the death of her father, and she is sentenced for his murder, but Ana flees with the truth. On the run, Ana must find allies and uncovers the deadly world that would kill her father to stage a coup.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

13. Caster by Elsie Chapman | September 3

Aza Wu has been burned by magic before — it has taken her sister from her, and she knows to stay far from it. In the shadow of her sister’s loss, Aza must save the legacy of her family’s teahouse, Wu Teas. Stumbling upon a secret invitation, Aza decides to take a chance and enters an underground casting ring, where the stakes may be higher than what she bargained for.

Add on: Goodreads Pre-order: Amazon| Book Depository | IndieBound

That was an awfully long list, I know, and that doesn’t even cover half of what I want to read. I’m sure that I will come out with another list once more releases are announced, especially toward the middle of the year. I hope that you make sure to check them all out this year and support this amazing community.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Chat: 13 Anticipated Reads ft. Asian Characters & Authors

Posted in Blog Tours, Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Sneak Peek Sunday ft. Blog Tour: Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Soloman

I’m so excited to be on this blog tour! Here is one of my highly anticipated reads, Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Soloman. Last year, Soloman debuted with her novel You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, which was also featured right here! Check that out here. I was lucky enough to win an ARC in Rachel’s newsletter.

Title Our Year of Maybe

Our Year of Maybe

Author: Rachel Lynn Soloman

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Expected publication: January 15, 2019

Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult

My rating: 4/5 Goodreads stars

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | iTunes

About the Author

Rachel Lynn Solomon lives, writes, and tap dances in Seattle, Washington. Once she helped set a Guinness World Record for the most natural redheads in one place. She’s the author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (out now from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse), Our Year of Maybe (1/15/19), and Today Tonight Tomorrow (2020). A short story of hers will appear in the anthology It’s a Whole Spiel (Penguin Random House/Knopf, fall 2019).

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook| Pinterest

Review

This was such a fun read!! I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I absolutely loved Rachel’s debut, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone and I had high hopes for this one. One of the main characters and I even share a name!

I love the dual POV in the book. I felt that Rachel really got into their heads, and it was well written. Sometimes I felt more connected to Sophie, but other times I felt more connected to Peter. I wish I could meet them IRL! I especially liked the new dance friends that Sophie makes. They reminded me a little of Bebe and Denice from Eleanor & Park.

There are a lot of different elements in this book, from religion to sexuality, Soloman writes in a respectful but real way. I’m always captivated by her writing. Each piece is woven in with skill that I admire greatly.

I really like her realistic portrayal of sexual health and masturbation in this book. This is also done in You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, and it needs to be done much more often in YA. This fights against the stigma, especially for women, in a positive way, and this definitely won points in my book.

Religion is another theme embedded within this novel. I like how Peter wants to find his and what it means to him while Sophie doesn’t really practice. It provides a good picture of how people approach this topic. I related to Peter when he talked about being caught between worlds, how he didn’t feel like he was enough of something to really claim the label. I often feel this way toward my race (Asian) because there is such a stigma and discussion about what makes someone “truly” something.

For the sake of keeping this from getting too long (seriously, I could wax poetically about this book all day), I’m going to wrap it up here. I really hope you guys read this amazing book!

Playlist

Here’s a playlist I created for the book! Unfortunately, I don’t know much Rufus Wainwright, much to Peter’s chagrin. I did include a lot of angsty songs (this book is so angsty and I love it), and one BTS song that I felt really fit the book!

Favorite Quotes

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the books!

He is the earth, and I am the moon.

I have never been enough, and he has always been too much.



There’s something else, though, something that takes me a few moments to identify—a pang of missing. Like I miss Sophie even though she’s right here, gliding along the ice in her gray beanie, fiery hair peeking out from beneath it.

Giveaway

Prize: One (1) SIGNED copy of Our Year of Maybe.

Terms & Conditions: US only, please read the terms on the rafflecopter

Run time: January 9-20th

Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d9681b86336/

Tour Schedule

January 9th

The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club – Welcome Post

January 10th

Charis Rae – Review | It Starts at Midnight – Review + Favourite Quotes | The Clever Reader – Review + Dream Cast + Favourite Quotes

January 11th

Read.Sleep.Repeat.org – Interview | A Court of Coffee and Books – Review + Favourite Quotes | Kait Plus Books – Review + Favourite Quotes

January 12th

Literary Meanderings – Guest Post | Sinfully Wicked Book Reviews – Review | Morgan Vega – Review + Playlist + Dream Cast

January 13th

The Mind of a Book Dragon – Review + Playlist + Favourite Quotes | Blunt Book Blog – Review | Amy’s Booket List – Review + Favourite Quotes

January 14th

Utopia State of Mind – Guest Post | Camillea Reads – Review | We Live and Breathe Books – Review

January 15th

The Heart of a Book Blogger – Interview | Blossoms and Bullet Journals – Review | Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Playlist | The Layaway Dragon – Review

Q & A Friday: Brendan Kiely on Tradition

Hi guys! In the spirit of continuing my mini-series on some fabulous 2018 reads, I have an interview with the great Brendan Kiely, the acclaimed co-author of All American Boys. In 2018, Kiely published his latest novel, Tradition. This book tackles tough topics in an accurate yet sensitive manner. I devoured this book once I started it! I hope you love it as much as I did, and be sure to keep an eye out for a review of it on the blog soon.

Here’s some things you might want to know about Brendan:

Brendan Kiely

Brendan Kiely received an MFA in creative writing from The City College of New York. His writing has appeared in Fiction, Guernica, The AWP Writer’s Chronicle, and other publications. Originally from the Boston area, he now teaches at an independent high school and lives with his wife in Greenwich Village.

Find Brendan here: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Want to know more about Tradition? Here’s the synopsis below!

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep

school where history looms in the leafy branches over its brick walkways. But some traditions upheld in its hallowed halls are profoundly dangerous.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. She wants freedom, but ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends are determined to keep her in place.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us.

When Jamie and Jules meet, they recognize in each other a similar instinct for survival, but at a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks, athletes stack hockey pucks in dorm room windows like notches on a bedpost, and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and remain silent about the school’s secrets intensify, they see Fullbrook for what it really is. That tradition, a word Fullbrook hides behind, can be ugly, even violent. Ultimately, Jules and Jamie are faced with the difficult question: can they stand together against classmates—and an institution—who believe they can do no wrong?

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Interview

Hi, Brendan!! Thank you for taking time to sit down to answer some of my questions. I loved Tradition, and I can’t wait to discuss it!

Thank you so much for reading it, and caring, and thank you for this interview!

To start things off, why don’t you give a brief overview of your book.

            Tradition is about two outsiders, Jules Devereux, a whip-smart, confident, rabble rouser, and James Baxter, a tough, and sensitive kid on a hockey scholarship, who become friends as they learn just how dangerous the school’s old-boy, misogynistic traditions can be. When Jules is assaulted by an ex-boyfriend, she and Bax risk everything they’ve spent their entire high school careers working for to break the school’s culture of silence and complicity.

This is a very heavy, but important topic that you cover, and you write it in such a lovely way. What was it like trying to tackle it?

            Thanks for this question. It means a lot to me. I write contemporary realistic fiction, and though this is a novel, and Jules and James are characters, not people, I try to be as careful as I can because their stories are so viscerally similar to real people’s stories, and so, when I write, I try to listen to the characters with as much care and consideration as if they were real people sitting in front of me, telling me their stories.

I think writing, like living, is all about practicing empathy.

Did you write this book with a certain intention or message?

            All my books begin with a question that is deeply affecting me. In this case it was this: How can our community better listen to and support women, especially those who have been speaking out about misogyny, harassment, and assault for so long, and in particular, how can men become better feminists? I tried to address that question by writing Tradition.

Jules is so awesome. Can you talk a little about where the characters came from? Do you start with characters or a place?

            Thank you! I think Jules is awesome too, because she reminds me of some of those awesome students I had the honor to teach, advise, and watch soar out into the world. I worked in a high school for ten years, and the students who peered around the school’s walls and stared out into the wider world, are the students who inspired Jules. And Bax too. So many young men (myself included) grow up with so much pressure to try to be tough athletes, and when those some of those boys get together, in order to prove to each other how tough they are, how much of a “man” they are, they say terrible things about women, or worse, sometimes act in disrespectful or even harmful ways towards women. But then there are the guys who witness all this and think to themselves, “this isn’t right.” I remember those students too—the guys who did want to listen, the guys who turned around to the other guys and said, enough is enough. Bax and his big, soft heart reminds me of those guys who are out there too.  

I always start with characters. I write scene after scene after scene getting to know them, and though most of those scenes get thrown out, I do it because it takes time getting to know someone—just like in real life!

How did writing these characters and this story contrast from your other works?

I love this question, because I think Jules in particular is so different and unique. As a man writing a book in which half of it is from a woman’s perspective, it was essential for me to get feedback from women along the way. In order to try to be as accountable as possible, I asked nine women to read over my shoulder as I wrote Tradition—while I’ve always asked for feedback from readers while working on a project, I’ve never had so much feedback at once, and I’m forever grateful for the time, attention, and care!

There’s a distinction between a harmful tradition and a fun, silly one. Is there a fun one that you enjoy?

            Yes! Absolutely. Tradition itself isn’t a bad thing, it’s only when the tradition is used an excuse to protect some people while others are being harmed that it’s a problem. Every year in Barcelona, on April 23, couples exchange books and roses with each other, the tradition is called the festival of St. Jordi. It’s been going on forever, and no one really knows how it started, but it’s awesome and still continues today—it’s like a super bookish Valentine’s Day! And closer to home, right where I grew up, it was a tradition for many years that many of the neighborhood families would gather at my friend Adam’s house for Christmas Eve, and his father would make the same calzone every year, and we’d all sit around the piano and sing while another friend’s father played the songs. But what makes these traditions fun is that they are inclusive—everyone feels a part of it. The traditions that bother me are those designer to make some people feel excluded, or insignificant, or disrespected in some way. Those are the kinds of traditions Jules and Bax want to tear down and expose for their ugliness.

Is there anything you’re currently working on that you can share a little about?

            Ahhhh!!! This is always the hardest question because when I’m in the middle of something I never know what it really is until I get to the end of the first draft. I will say this though, I love telling stories that are full of heart and emotion and people learning how to better listen to each other, and my next project follows in the same… well… tradition. Ha! Thanks so much for asking!

Thank you so much to Brendan for taking the time to speak with me on the blog! I encourage you all to go out and get yourselves a copy of this excellent novel.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

I know, I know. There are just about a bajillion lists like this out there already, but not one from me. I’m going to make more categorical lists in the future, but for now I’m going to stick to a big list overall.

2019 is going to be such a huge year for YA! There are more and more books with #OwnVoices rep coming out every year, and I’m so excited for the ones we have in store, especially the Asian-American ones! I’m going to write one specific list on that bad boy, but for now here are 4 of my highest anticipated ones.

1.Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy — March 5

Gender bent King Arthur? Nonbinary rep? A badass cast of characters? If that’s what you’re looking for check out this lovely novel! I love Cori and Amy Rose, they are my favorite writing duo, and my favorite duo in general. Keep an eye out for this gem come March!

Add it on: Goodreads Pre-order from: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

2. We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia — February 26

Set in a gorgeous world where people are discriminated against by their proximity to the unlivable conditions near the sea, this book brings political intrigue and mystery to your front door. This book has excellent rep and multiple badass women. Prepare to scream at that cliffhanger! Read my review of it here.

Add it on: Goodreads Pre-order from: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

3. Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Soloman — January 15

Best friends Peter and Sophie are inseparable, so much so that Sophie gives a kidney to Peter. No, really. Peter has been on the kidney donor list for years, and when Sophie turns out to be a match, she becomes his donor without hesitation. As they navigate their worlds post-surgery, they find that their relationship may not be what the other hopes and thinks. This book is an unrequited love gone bad, and I absolutely love that.

Add it on: Goodreads Pre-order from: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository Pre-order incentive: Rachel’s Website

4. The Wicked King by Holly Black — January 8

I read The Cruel Prince over break, and I was SCREAMING! I think that everyone and their mother has been ready for this book, and I can’t wait for my copy to come in!

Add it on: Goodreads Buy from: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

What are you hoping to get your grabby hands on as soon as it comes out?!

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂

Book Chat: 4 Anticipated Reads of 2019

Posted in Bloggers, Reviews, Sophie

Sneak Peek Sunday: We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope the holiday season has treated you well. I’m here with a new review of one of my anticipated reads of the year. Seriously, guys, if you haven’t added this to your TBR, you need to right now. Thank you to the publisher for sending a copy for review! This had no influence on my reading and reviewing of this book.

Title: We Set the Dark on Fire

Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Expected release: February 26, 2019

My rating: 5/5 Goodreads stars

In this daring and romantic fantasy debut perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Latinx authors Zoraida Córdova and Anna-Marie McLemore, society wife-in-training Dani has a great awakening after being recruited by rebel spies and falling for her biggest rival. 

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.

Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.

And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.

Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

Review

Once I opened this book it was really hard to set it down. I was swept up into the world of Medio immediately, and I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen.

Dani was fun to watch grow. Her strength and evolution throughout the bus was compelling. I love how she wasn’t afraid to stick up for herself, but knew when to back down. She knew her weaknesses, and while they seemed like a setback, they proved to be a strength in the end.

I didn’t know what to think of Carmen the whole book. She seemed on the fence, never truly committed the whole time. That’s all I’ll be able to say about her without giving much away.

One of my favorite parts of the book were the Latinx elements. They were rich within the story, and slipped in flawlessly and respectfully. I couldn’t imagine a better setting.

There were so many twists and turns in the plot. I didn’t know who to trust! Everyone seemed suspect, and I didn’t even know who I wanted to win. I wish we got to know Alex more, and I hope that we do in the second book. I loved it so much, I am already dying to read book two!!!!!!

Make sure to get that pre-order because you’ll want to read it as soon as it comes out.

Happy reading,

Sophie 🙂