Sep 20, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read!

Jessica's Waiting on:

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Title: The Poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018


Summary: A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo. Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems. Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Okay, for starters, the summary alone makes it clear that this is going to be one of the most kickass books of 2018. Poet Sarah Kay mentioned it on her Twitter a few weeks ago, and that's what caused me to look up the book on Goodreads and decide that it was definitely something I wanted to read. I can't wait to have this book in my hands and read it, because not only does this seem like a book about creativity and finding yourself and standing up against expectations, but this book also seems to be speaking to the power of words, which, as a reader and writer, I think is totally awesome. I'm really looking forward to 2018 so I'll get a chance to read this book!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so I can stop back! 


Sep 19, 2017

Brooklyn Book Festival Recap!

Hi guys! This past Sunday I went to the Brooklyn Book Festival for the very first time with my school's creative writing club, and it was such a spectacular time. I met so many great readers, authors, and publishers that I just had to talk about it, so here we are!

So, for starters, I was totally shocked that this entire event was free. I didn't know what to expect, but several club members had gone before and assured me that the event was free, the panels were free, and you were given all sorts of swag and books and totes for free as well. (Think a mini-BookCon!) So when I stepped off the subway and looked around, I was totally floored. There were so many booths stretching as far as the eye could see -- seriously so many! I wasn't even able to see the entire layout of the festival from the entrance. There was just so much going on. There were booths with publishers and booksellers and authors, food trucks, outdoor panels, and even live music. It was basically a fantastically bookish street fair, so I was immediately like count me in. 


So I walked around and checked out the booths of a lot of the publishers that we've worked with before, which was awesome. I also got some info about grad school writing programs and writer's workshops, which got me super psyched. By the end of the event, I was itching to get back to my laptop and start hammering away at my current work in progress, which had been stalled recently and left me feeling helpless and anxious about it -- but just the entire atmosphere of the event made me crave my notebook, my laptop, and a quiet place to write. I practically sprinted to the subway to get back once the day was over, and it's already been a few days since the event and my motivation to write seems to have stuck, which is really exciting. 


But back to the event itself. I grabbed a quick snack for lunch, which was exciting because they were these DELICIOUS fries from Home Frite with some lemon garlic butter dipping sauce, so even though my calorie count for the day wasn't enthusiastic about it, my tastebuds certainly were. 


And then it was time for the panels! The panels were also totally free at the event, which I was shocked (but really impressed) by. I decided to look up the panels a few days before just to kill some time, and when I found out that Sarah Dessen and Adam Silvera were going to be there...I lost it, guys. I totally lost it. If you've been around for awhile, you'd know that Sarah and Adam are two of my favorite writers of all time, and my literary heroes that I am constantly striving to emulate because they're half the reason I write what I write. 

So when I got to go to a panel of theirs for free and be in the same room as them (as well as Lilliam Rivera and Gabby Rivera!), I was practically buzzing with excitement. I also got the chance to meet Taylor, one of our book blogger friends from Stay On The Page, which was awesome, even if we only got to say a quick hello before the panel started! And once the panel did start, I got so many awesome tips and tidbits that I needed to learn how to better write a romance story for my new book. I left feeling starstruck and totally satisfied, and also loaded with tons of new book recs, which is always an awesome thing.



Overall, I really enjoyed the Brooklyn Book Festival. I can't believe that I didn't go last year, but I can now safely say that I've learned my lesson and will be attending next year and far into the future as well! 

Did you go to the Brooklyn Book Festival this weekend? If so, what was your favorite part? And if not, do you think you'll be going in the future? Comment down below and share your thoughts!


Sep 18, 2017

Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith


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Title: Windfall 
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Delacorte Press
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 418 Pages
Published May 2017



Summary: Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

 

I've been a Jennifer E. Smith fan for a pretty long time now, so I was super excited when I heard about Windfall. Her stories just have a way of always making me smile at all the right moments, and I'm always left with such a warm, fuzzy feeling. So when Emily and I went book shopping right before we went back to school, and this one's beautiful cover caught my eye and I was reminded of how excited I had been for this book -- so it was one of my top purchases that I brought to school with me!

As I've mentioned before, it's really hard to keep up with reading when you're in college, especially when you're an English major. You're given so many other books to read for assignments, and I've never been a good multitasker when it came to reading multiple books at the same time, so I had to get through this one pretty slowly. However, slowly but surely, I managed to find snippets of free time where I had a chance to sit down and just soak up as much of this book as I could. Even though it was 400+ pages, I felt myself fly through it like it was nothing, because I was so hooked on wanting to find out what happened next.

As the summary explains, Alice and Teddy have been best friends for an incredibly long time. So for Teddy's eighteenth birthday, Alice jokingly buys him a lottery ticket, not expecting anything from it. But when Teddy ends up winning over 141 million dollars, everything changes.

The only problem is that not everything changes in a good way. While Teddy's life (and the lives of everyone surrounding him) suddenly stumbles into this much wealth, people naturally come out of the woodwork wanting to take advantage of this -- one of the most notable people being Teddy's deadbeat father who had a gambling addiction and up and left him years ago. So the book takes you through his struggles of suddenly being "cursed" with so much money, and having to balance between pleasing the do-gooders around him (such as his parents and Alice) while also splurging a little bit, having grown up in a home with very little money and finally being given the golden opportunity that he never had. It also takes you through another struggle -- Alice has been in love with Teddy for years, but she can't find the heart to tell him. Until she suddenly does -- and things definitely don't go as planned. (But I won't spoil that part for you -- you'll have to read the book yourself to find out what happens!)

My favorite character in this book was definitely Alice. She spent so much of her time trying to do good for others, and it was honestly incredibly inspiring. Of course everyone in this world (or at least, everyone with a heart) wants to do good for others, but it takes a certain person to dedicate so much of their free time towards being selfless and going to soup kitchens and raising money and tutoring orphaned children. Which is why Teddy coming across all of this money causes a rift between him and Alice -- because she has plans for him changing the world with it, and he can barely think past the present day. 

(Minor spoilers in this paragraph -- please skip to the next one if you don't want the book ruined for you!) Towards the ending of the book, Teddy and Alice's little romance had me so excited and smiling so big that my roommate looked over at me several times to ask if I was okay, because I was sitting there grinning at my book like a goon. At first I was shocked when she didn't take the offer Teddy gave her with the program, but then it was quickly made up for by that adorable ending. I mean, guys. I almost felt my heart stop, it was so dang cute. My cheeks seriously hurt from smiling. I loved it. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Windfall. Jennifer E. Smith did another spectacular job of creating a feel-good romance while also creating a story that I'd never wandered into before -- the story of someone having so much wealth so suddenly that they had no idea what to do with it, and the pros and cons of each decision they made that followed thereafter. If this book wasn't on your TBR already, it definitely should be -- as well as the rest of Jennifer E. Smith's books! I really enjoyed tearing through this one and I'm eagerly awaiting some of her future work as well. :-)