Unmissable Weekly: February 25, 2018

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news, lists, and/or think pieces from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

The Most Anticipated Book of 2018

Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther” is heading for a stunning $235 million debut over the four-day President’s Day weekend at 4,020 North American locations, estimates showed Monday.

“Black Panther,” starring Chadwick Boseman and directed by Ryan Coogler, has blown away its original tracking in less than a month. The film, which carries an estimated $200 million production cost, had been tracking to bring in between an impressive $100 and $120 million when first estimates emerged on Jan. 25.

Wakanda forever! (Yes, I am totally chill and not freaking out.)


This book is set to come out amidst a national conversation about student activism and weapon use on campus. It’s surreal watching it happen; Anger was born out of my desire to explore my own experiences with police forces on high school campuses, becoming an activist while still a teenager, and learning how to join with fellow students to fight for what’s right. It is unfortunate that this is all relevant again, nearly 16 years since I graduated high school. That’s one reason I love this cover so much: it conveys a sense of hope more than anything else. It’s my desire that Anger inspire kids everywhere to join a long tradition of student activism and to feel supported while doing so.

Mark Oshiro’s debut Anger is a Gift has a new cover art and IS IT MAY YET!


Yara Shahidi is in talks to star in the adaptation of the best-selling YA novel The Sun Is Also a Star.

The Nicola Yoon book centers on Natasha, a girl in New York City whose pragmatism is challenged when she falls in love right before her family is set to be deported back to Jamaica.

The Sun is Also a Star may soon find its lead actress.


We’ve been told the same story for so long. We’ve seen literally 1,000 Lord of the Rings movies. I keep thinking about what it would have been like if I had seen this growing up — if I’d seen someone even darker than me, someone who doesn’t have straight fantasy hair, but a curly magical afro. I know what it would have done that for me, because I know what it did for me when I did see these things for the first time. Like with Kerry Washington on Scandal. I remember being like — that’s me, I’m the main character! I’m badass! I’m emotionally complex! I’m making out with the president! Cool cool cool! You don’t realize what’s missing until you see it. And then once you do, you’re like, why do I feel like I could lift a car right now? So this is why white men feel so great all the time.

Tomi Adeyemi is coming for y’all, starting with the book trailer for Children of Blood and Bone and a fantastic interview.

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Unmissable Weekly: February 18, 2018

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news, lists, and/or think pieces from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

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It was sitting down and thinking about what it was that brought me to write THUG. Starr’s story [from THUG] is a tragedy we see unfortunately too much, and it always makes headline news. But I had to think back to when I was a teenager, and I had to think about what was my big tragedy as a teenager. I never saw a friend get killed by a cop. My big tragedy as a teenager was when my mom lost her job. Kids like Bri, they don’t end up on the news like that. Kids like Bri, they become statistics and numbers. We hear numbers about poverty. We hear statistics about poverty. Then we see the stereotypes about poverty. Those kids are never seen as actual people. Their stories are never told. For me, I sat down and I said, “You know what, I want to write something about that big tragedy that happened in my life, because there are so many kids out there who are going through that same thing, and we don’t talk about that enough.”

Angie Thomas’ sophomore novel, On the Come Up, has a cover and she talked to EW about it and what the process of writing this follow-up was like.


Girls Trip star Tiffany Haddish and Bridesmaids’ Melissa McCarthy are finalizing deals to star in The Kitchen, based on comic by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, published through DC’s Vertigo imprint. Andrea Berloff, who co-wrote Straight Outta Compton, is writing the screenplay and making the film her feature directing debut.

I have yet to see Haddish in a project but I’ll definitely watch anything McCarthy works on, so yes please!


In a recent post on his blog, comedically titled “Not a Blog,” about the Hugo Awards nominations, Martin engaged with curious fans in the comments section. There, he revealed that “Fire and Blood,” a spinoff about the Targaryen family history, will be split into two volumes – both of which will come out before “Winds of Winter.”

At this point, I’ll be more surprised to see a press release actually talking about Winds of Winter.


The week began with the world of children’s and young adult literature celebrating its most prestigious awards, the industry’s version of the Oscars. It ended with surprise and confusion as trade groups, literary agents and a publisher broke with several best-selling authors over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.

The industry’s sudden reckoning with the #MeToo movement primarily involved complaints that a long list of prominent writers and editors exploited their power and position at keystone industry events to make sexual advances, particularly toward female authors hoping to further their careers.

These past days have been heartbreaking and enraging and, for some people, confusing. But with everything that has been happening in Hollywood, it was only a matter of time. The publishing industry still is an industry after all. An industry with men and power imbalance.

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REVIEW: Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi (+ Giveaway)

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Title: Down and Across
Author: Arvin Ahmadi
Format: ARC, 322 pages
Publication: February 6th 2018 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via blog tour (thank you Penguin Random House and JM @ Book Freak Revelations!)
Genre: Fiction—Coming of Age, Contemporary, Realistic
Other classifications: Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | National Book Store


Scott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. Writing the Great American Novel? Three chapters. His summer internship? One week. His best friends know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion.

With college applications looming, Scott’s parents pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path like engineering or medicine. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success.

He never expects an adventure to unfold out of what was supposed to be a one-day visit. But that’s what Scott gets when he meets Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy college student whose life ambition is to write crossword puzzles. When the bicycle she lends him gets Scott into a high-speed chase, he knows he’s in for the ride of his life. Soon, Scott finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even giving the crossword thing a try—all while opening his eyes to fundamental truths about who he is and who he wants to be.


I received a review copy from the publisher which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

Welcome to the last stop of the #DownandAcrossPH Blog Tour!

Smart, funny and exceedingly relatable, Down and Across is a solid debut from YA newcomer Arvin Ahmadi.

It centers on sixteen-year-old Iranian-American Scott Ferdowsi who doesn’t quite know what to do in life. He has tried several clubs in school and has considered and changed career paths one too many times. His strict immigrant parents want him to take things seriously and choose medicine or engineering or law, but Scott doesn’t want to settle. So, the summer his parents fly to Iran to take care of an ailing grandfather, Scott quits his internship and hops on a bus to Washington, DC, where he intends to seek counsel from a Georgetown professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of passion, perseverance, and success. What Scott doesn’t intend to do is to stay more than a day. Or befriend the girl she meets on the ride to DC. Or pick up another at the National Zoo. But Scott is definitely in for some adventure. And that is what’s so refreshing about Down and Across, because it’s at once fun and enjoyable and moving. I can’t even tell you how many times I snickered or downright laughed in my commute to work. Scott is charming and funny but he doesn’t make the best decisions. And that made me root for him all the more.

“I woke up that morning with a throbbing headache and some nausea, but the worst offender was the foul stench that had taken over the inside of my mouth. The corpse of my adolescence. I could feel it escaping through my teeth and lips. It felt permanent, like I could brush my teeth a million times and still be stuck with that awful taste. (I brushed twice.)”

‬In Lorde’s latest album, Melodrama, she has a track that goes, “You asked if I was feeling it, I’m psycho high / Know you won’t remember in the morning when I speak my mind / Lights are on and they’ve gone home, but who am I?” And my reading experience with Ahmadi’s novel reminded me of those lines. Only Lorde will take her hangover as an opportunity for existential reflection. And she does this with such eloquence. Just as how Ahmadi takes up this conversational tone and somehow manages to drive home and capture articulately the anxieties of growing up and not knowing what it is you want. The way he commands his words, his every clever turn of phrase, Ahmadi has a pinpoint-sharp awareness of voice.

“I wondered about Jeanette, who was so assured in her beliefs that she knew exactly how to shoot down the skeptics. Wouldn’t that be nice? Not to question your identity every second of every day, but to simply know.”

The author said in an NPR interview that it was important for him to represent not just diversity of skin color or culture but a diversity of interests and backgrounds. And that, to me, translates really well into the pages because the cast of characters Scott meets in DC is just as colorful and diverse in terms of experiences and personalities, which is reminiscent of another debut that came out a couple of years back—David Arnold’s Mosquitoland. Fiora is this seemingly manic pixie dream girl who turns out to be flawed. I love how Scott doesn’t romanticize her. He gets mad at her. He calls out her bs. There’s Trent. Oh Trent. He is such a pure person. The world needs more Trents! Jeanette, meanwhile, is whatever. She’s infuriating, but her actions make sense. She’s obviously wrong and there’s no reality where I’d agree with her but she’s very firm with her values and acts accordingly and you have to appreciate that. Then there are Scott’s parents, who want what’s best for him even though they don’t necessarily know what that means. There’s this one scene where Scott phones his dad and I totally lost it.

“I spent the night on Fiora’s couch and dozed off thinking about the universe. How it’s indefinitely incomplete—like us. How the best ideas, events, people, and lives don’t need to wrap up nicely to mean something.”

I’m obviously stoked that we’re getting more representation in literature and cinema—especially in the young adult community—where the narrative is leaning towards “issues” and talking about the experience of a person from a specific marginalized race or cultural background. But at the same time I’m delighted that we’re seeing this other dialogue where the protagonist’s skin color isn’t directly linked to the plot. And Down and Across—along with Jasmine Warga’s sophomore book Here We Are Now—is such a fantastic example of this. Because these stories show us that while there’s a multitude of little and significant ways in which people are different, even if we share the same culture, even if we have the same sexuality, there are also things that make us alike more than we realize. And that is so affirming.

Down and Across is not a page-turner. It might not even be something you haven’t seen before. But it gets me. And I’m almost positive it gets you, too.

4.5 out of 5

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Arvin Ahmadi grew up outside Washington, DC. He graduated from Columbia
University and has worked in the tech industry. When he’s not reading or writing
books, he can be found watching late-night talk show interviews and editing
Wikipedia pages. Down and Across is his first novel.


You can read Down and Across, too! Enter THIS giveaway for a chance to win one (1) advance reader copy. Entries are open worldwide and will be accepted until 11:59pm (EST), March 5th.

Check out the rest of the tour stops!

Arctic Books
The Ultimate Fangirl
The Bibliophile Confessions
Divergent Gryffindor
Stay Bookish

Are you picking up this debut anytime soon or are you really picking up this debut anytime soon? If you’re lucky to have read this in advance, can we talk about Trent? ❤ Also, what are some of your recent favorite contemporary YA reads? Sound off in the comments below!

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Unmissable Weekly: January 21, 2018

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news, lists, and/or think pieces from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

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With the help of an administrator, 10 fifth-graders started a book club at this school in the Brightwood neighborhood of Northwest Washington — and it has fast become the most popular club on campus, with staff members struggling to keep up with their students’ voracious literary habits.

A book club for boys of color! #BrilliantBrownBoys


It’s time to re-examine the decade-old culture surrounding Twilight-bashing.

“Dear Stephenie Meyer, I am sorry.” Agreed. Everything else, hard pass.


This year, among the biggest names to be featured as editors are Roxane Gay (Hunger), who will helm the Short Story collection; Cheryl Strayed (Wild), guest-editing the Travel Writing section; and Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker theater critic Hilton Als, who will oversee the Essays book. In addition, legendary food critic Ruth Reichl will edit the Best American Series’ first-ever book on Food Writing.

The 2018 Best American Series finds its editors!


“One of the great things about YA right now is we’re getting more and more diverse books.”

Arvin Ahmadi on the importance of representation in books and how we shine a light on it.

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REVIEW: The Gwythienian by Savannah J. Goins

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Title: The Gwythienian
Author: Savannah J. Goins
Format: Paperback, 351 pages
Publication: November 3rd 2017 by Mason Mill Publishing House
Source: Author (thank you so much, Savannah!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Fantasy
Other classifications: Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Fully Booked


Seventeen-year-old Enzi Montgomery had worn the stone around her neck for years. It was set in a cheap metal fitting, nothing fancy. But it made her wonder if she was crazy. Sometimes, when she had it on, she could disappear. She couldn’t make it happen. It just worked on its own. But always at convenient times, like when she’d needed to hide again from Caleb. Maybe she’d only been imagining it; insomnia could do that to you. The nightmares had never left since that day seven years ago and she’d never really learned to cope with them.

But what if she wasn’t crazy?

When she finds out that someone else has been searching for the stone—someone from another world—she must decide what to do with it. Should she get rid of it? Or find out what other secrets it holds?


I received a review copy from the author which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

The first title in a planned trilogy, The Gwythienian is an enjoyable if a bit unpolished debut.

It is about a girl named Mackenzi “Enzi” Montgomery who, in the week she turns seventeen, learns not only that her mother has been hiding a huge secret from her but also that another realm exists and is subsequently abducted and taken to it. All for the stone in her necklace. There, she meets a dragon-like creature named Gaedyen who asks her to join him in a quest. Head reeling from her mother’s betrayal and the discovery that someone she thought dead is very much alive and maybe thrilled by the idea of escaping her boring world—along with a haunting childhood trauma—for a while, she agrees. But is she ready to take on such a task? The thing about books and reading is that each encounter is very subjective. And while I think The Gwythienian leaves much to be desired, I quite liked certain parts of it and I’d be remiss not to point out that it has potential and that it might be more fitting for other readers.

“None of the things that I tried to do worked out like they were supposed to. All I wanted was to do something right for a change. Was it so much to ask for it to just once work out like it was supposed to?”

Possibly my favorite aspect of the book is the dynamics between the MCs, Enzi and Gaedyen, which is delightful. There are banters and the gap between the two—the gap born out of innate differences between two different creatures—is often amusing. I also appreciate the fact that the heroine is fat and has to go on this very physical journey. That on top of her insecurities on top of her traumatic past. Really, Enzi has every reason not to agree to this, and I’m not even talking about her companion being a sentient dragon whom she just met. She has very real and very immediate concerns: the trip is physically demanding and her body isn’t used to running and long hikes. And yet, she takes up the challenge and not once is the subject brushed off. And then, there’s—and this is not a spoiler; it’s hinted at in the synopsis and the first chapter of the book—implied sexual abuse. I thought it’s handled well. It’s this constant sort of presence and, even though the ordeal happened years before the story begins, it’s evident that Enzi is still processing it.

“Wasn’t I entitled to a little privacy where my body was concerned?”

I must say, however, that I’m not well versed in fantasy novels but the world building seems pretty solid to me. The mythology of it is accessible and easy to follow and, despite its own set of vocabulary, I had no trouble with information overload. Although, I did find the pacing odd; the book almost opens in a conflict then nothing much happens until you’re suddenly moving from one significant scene to another, all crammed towards the last half. I believe there is a compelling way to introduce the plot line and establish your characters even if there are just pages after pages of dialogue between them. Instead, there are moments in the last third of the novel that felt strained.

“”That’s a lot to take on, Gaedyen.”
His eyes bored into mine, and they were full of such sadness that I felt a tear emerge from my own for his pain.
“Has your future never depended on proving your worth?””

If you’re looking for a quick, enjoyable read, check out Savannah J. Goin’s The Gwythienian.

3.0 out of 5


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YA fantasy novelist and professional dragon wrangler, Savannah J. Goins, fell in love with the genre through C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia many years ago. Since then, it’s been nothing but dragons, sword fights and talking animals. She spends her days in a veterinary hospital working with real animals, and her nights giving voices to the ones in her stories. She also enjoys sketching, drinking tea and coffee, and discovering new bookshops.

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Have you heard about this title prior to reading my review? Will you be checking it out anytime soon? What is your stand on books having their own sets of vocabulary? And what are your favorite YA fantasy novels? Let’s talk!

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Unmissable Weekly: January 21, 2018

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news, lists, and/or think pieces from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

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“Sulwe,” which means “star” in Ms. Nyong’o’s native language, Luo, is the story of a 5-year-old girl growing up in Kenya. In the book, Sulwe has the darkest skin color in her family, a fact that makes her uncomfortable and determined to find a way to lighten her skin. As the story unfolds Sulwe embarks on a whimsical adventure in the night sky that, coupled with advice from her mother, helps her see beauty differently.

Lupita Nyong’o to publish a children’s book that will touch on her own experience with complexion, self-image, and acceptance.


A hardback first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone worth about £40,000 was one of a number of rare books stolen during a burglary.

The book, J.K Rowling’s maiden novel of the globally successful series, was stolen from SN Books in Thetford, Norfolk, between 8 and 9 January.

There’s a literal book thief in England.


“If you’re a writer and you have young people in your life,” Junot Díaz told PW, “they naturally demand that you write them books.” For years, Díaz had nothing to share with his goddaughters, nieces, and nephews. “I always had the sense that they thought I was something of a fraud,” he said.

Now all of that is about to change with his latest effort: a picture book, illustrated by Leo Espinosa, which tells the story of Lola, an immigrant from the Island, who is growing up in New York City. When her teacher asks the class to draw a picture of where they’re from, Lola can’t remember the Island. So she interviews the people in her neighborhood to find out about it.

Junot Díaz’s upcoming debut children’s book, Islandborn, will reflect the Dominican expat community in the U.S. that surrounds the author.


Call Me by Your Name has been met with plenty of love from critics and awards bodies in the few months since it was released in select cities. Now, finally, the Oscar contender has made it to theaters nationwide. Whether you were one of the lucky few to catch the film already, or are planning to head to your local theater this weekend, here are 10 great LGBTQ books to read after the credits finish rolling.

Of which I’ve only heard about exactly two. The list also mostly features gay characters.

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Unmissable Weekly: January 14, 2018

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news, lists, and/or think pieces from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

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“The book is back on shelves at all of our high schools, but it includes a parental consent – that can be given by a phone call, email or an in person consent by the parent,” said Maria DiPetta, manager media relations for Katy ISD.

Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give temporarily returns to high school shelves in Katy, Texas.


The new year brings the usual spate of movies and TV shows adapted from books, offering a variety of thrills. Some are historical, as in The Little Stranger, set in a haunted English house post-World War II and based on the novel by Sarah Waters. Others are futuristic, as in Steven Spielberg’s highly-anticipated adaptation of Ernest Cline’s video game adventure story Ready Player One.

I just found out that a Where’d You Go, Bernadette is being adapted to the big screen, b it stars Cate Blanchett, and c it hits theater this May. I have zero chills right now!


In a post on its website, One Million Moms took particular issue with one book, George, a chapter book intended for kids in grades 3 to 7. Written by the queer activist and author Alex Gino, George tells the story of a transgender fourth grader. The 10-year-old hopes that by playing Charlotte in her school’s upcoming production of Charlotte’s Web, she’ll finally get her parents and teacher to look past the gender that was assigned to her at birth and accept her as a girl.

George, which was published by Scholastic in 2015, was praised by critics as a “profound, moving” book. But One Million Moms doesn’t think the book is “family-friendly” material.

“Scholastic is not safe for your child and parents should be warned,” the group wrote. “Scholastic does not have our children’s best interests at heart.”

Listen, Martha. Is it Martha? Please take a seat. TAKE SEVERAL SEATS.


I have tried for a long time to figure out how E. B. White did what he did, how he told the truth and made it bearable.

And I think that you, with your beautiful book about love, won’t be surprised to learn that the only answer I could come up with was love. E. B. White loved the world. And in loving the world, he told the truth about it — its sorrow, its heartbreak, its devastating beauty. He trusted his readers enough to tell them the truth, and with that truth came comfort and a feeling that we were not alone.

Kate DiCamillo on why kids books should be a little sad.

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