Unmissable Weekly: December 3, 2017

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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Cassandra Clare, the best-selling author of the YA series The Mortal Instruments, announced on Tuesday she’s set to write a new adult fantasy series for Del Rey Books.

The first book, Sword Catcher, is currently in progress and will feature the “criminals, princes, magicians, and warriors” which Clare has been toying with in her head for years. It will mark her first foray into high fantasy and is likely to come on the heels of Queen of Air and Darkness, a Mortal Instruments sequel slated for release at the end of 2018. No publication date information for Sword Catcher has been made available.

YA powerhouse Cassandra Clare is crossing over.

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In real life, of course, we’re all flawed, and perhaps a lack of good fictional dudes suggests a lack of flesh-and-blood inspiration. But it’s worth noting that if I tried to make a list of “good women characters in literature,” the difficulty would be confining it.

Perhaps my judgement is askew, but I’m pretty certain Willem Ragnarsson (A Little Life) should’ve made it into this list of actually decent men in fiction.

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So after thinking about it all year, I’ve decided that I want to do something new in 2018: no more Twitter.

Veronica Roth is leaving Twitter.

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Though Fox shied away from bringing the book’s title to the big screen, they’re not avoiding bringing up the gay storyline in the first trailer. Yes, Simon is a story about a closeted kid played by Nick Robinson. It’s the first story about a gay kid getting a wide release from a major Hollywood studio.

The trailer doesn’t get into the fact that Simon’s in regular communication with a gay pen pal — a key part of the book — but it does show the protagonist kissing a boy and pondering his sexuality. There’s also a great scene at the end in which he wonders why straight people don’t have to come out like the gays do.

The Love, Simon trailer dropped earlier this week and I’m still freaking out!

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Breaking Down the ‘Love, Simon’ Trailer

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As one does.

Okay. First of all, I think the trailer does a fantastic job of setting up the tone for this funny, poignant, and just heartachingly good story of coming out and coming of age. Second of all, whatever little uncertainty I had—uncertainty I have with book-to-film adaptations in general—Greg Berlanti (Arrowverse, Political Animals) threw out of the windows. And since gifs, memes, and what have you are beginning to pop up all over the interwebs, we might as well break down the trailer and discuss all its important—and maybe not so important—moments. Grab a pack of Oreo, kids.

In the rare case that you haven’t read Becky Albertalli’s debut yet (please re-evaluate your life decisions), I would have to ask you to skip now. Because this post contains a spoiler or two. You’ve been warned.

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The Opening Scene
If you think Simon and Leah lying on their backs opposite each other looks familiar, I’m pretty convinced I know exactly what you’re remembering. A couple of years back, 20th Century Fox—the same studio behind Love, Simon—brought to the big screens this book you might’ve heard of. It’s called The Fault in Our Stars, and its official poster has a very similar vibe, except in it it was the boy (Gus) who was upside down. Okay? Okay.

“Hour to Hour, Note to Note” Scribbled on Simon’s Bedroom Wall
It is no secret ‘Waltz #2’ is our homeboy’s favorite song by his favorite artist, Elliott Smith. In fact, this line from the song is also his e-mail address. And then we spot Radiohead on the wall much later in the trailer.

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“I Like Your-Your Boots!”
I mean, this scene right here. We all are Simon Spier trying to flirt with someone, aren’t we?

All the Hoodies
I love that Nick Robinson is in a hoodie in almost all of his shots. Because, to quote Simon himself, “There are only two kinds of weather: hoodie weather and weather where you wear a hoodie anyway.” And the creatives behind the movie were obviously paying attention. Robinson is seen in nine different hoodies, in case you’re wondering, which, duh, OF COURSE you are. That and two denim jackets.

Simon Jamming to Violent Femme’s ‘Add It Up’
Granted, this wasn’t referenced in the novel. But I did a quick Google search and I can definitely picture Simon listening to this.

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Bram Kissing a Girl
Or so he appears to be. This has gotten a lot of traction since the trailer premiered on Tuesday. And here’s what I think. I suspect they added this scene as a nod to Keiynan Lonsdale (who plays Bram) being bisexual. Because, unlike Simon, Bram doesn’t have an ex girlfriend (to my knowledge). It also cannot be in Simon’s head because in his head, Blue = Cal. Not Bram. Hence, the kissing under the mistletoe daydream/fantasy sequence, which I’ll talk more about in a second.

Oreos
Enough said. (Yes, B, they’re original.)

Simon and Cal Price Kissing Under the Mistletoe
Calm down, Simonites*! You think you missed this even after your sixth reread of the book. You didn’t. You couldn’t have. I’ll let the director explain: “There’s this one section of the film where Simon imagines this one boy and imagines them kissing underneath the mistletoe at Christmas.” That’s all this is.

Or is it?

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We are Still Getting a Theater Production!
And the EYES. It won’t be Oliver! like in the novel. But, hey, the EYES.

Jake and PB from ‘Adventure Time’ Making an Appearance
By way of figurines. Which is a nice touch, because Simon and Nick (played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr. in the movie) at one point (Chapter 3, to be precise) watches an episode of the Cartoon Network animated series on Simon’s phone.

Simon’s Best Friends Coming Out as Straight…
In one of his e-mails to Blue, Simon wonders, “Why is straight the default?” You bet your waffles I was thrilled to learn they explored this in the film with the gang coming out to their parents as straight! Abby’s mom’s reaction? Oh gosh.

…But Also, Leah Coming Out as Straight
But Leah is bisexual! I know. Relax, here:

TO SUM UP, REMEMBER: WE DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW HOW MUCH ‘LOVE, SIMON’ WILL DEPART FROM ITS SOURCE MATERIAL

But that can be and is a good thing. There will be room for surprises.

Love, Simon is set to hit theaters on March 16, 2018. Maybe consider gifting someone a copy so they can read it before the movie comes out?

Amazon | IndieBound | Fully Booked

*This is what we call ourselves in the fandom.

Now tell me: how many times have you watched and rewatched the trailer? ❤

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Unmissable Weekly: November 26, 2017

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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Some of the most difficult issues facing us this past year — sexual harassment, police brutality and mental health — surfaced as themes in children’s books and young adult literature. In his first novel since The Fault in Our Stars, beloved YA writer John Green tackled the anguish of living with obsessive compulsive disorder. Angie Thomas, a debut novelist, captured the internal turmoil experienced by a black girl who witnesses her friend’s death at the hands of the police. Jennifer Mathieu created a playbook for a new generation of teen feminists.

Here are Time’s Top Ten Young Adult and Children’s Books of 2017.

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Neil Gaiman, Antonia Fraser, Philip Pullman and Malorie Blackman are among more than 150 signatories to a letter calling on secretary of state for education Justine Greening to halt the decline in school libraries or “consign a generation to a lifetime of low attainment and mobility”.

File under Reasons Why Neil Gaiman is a Top-Notch Human Being.

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A mother has made headlines after calling for Sleeping Beauty to be removed from her son’s primary school curriculum for its “inappropriate sexual” message.

Sarah Hall, from Northumberland Park, near Newcastle, says the fairytale teaches children that it’s OK to kiss a [woman] while she’s asleep.

This will sound dismissive, but, really, the kids are all right.

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Long since “City of Bones,” which published 10 years ago, authors like Silvera have made young-adult novels a place where queer love stories feel mainstream rather than an exception to the rule.

And they’re about far more than coming out. The new generation of LGBT young-adult literature has room for romance, inclusion and happily-ever-after.

On queer love stories, inclusion, and positive representation.

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Unmissable Weekly: November 19, 2017

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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These authors weave examinations of race, class, and social justice into their stories of adolescence, and their characters are often left questioning everything they know. Dear Martin, for instance, features many of the hallmarks of high-school drama: fragmented cliques, awkward crushes, and shifting friendships. But from the first chapter, Stone, who worked in teen mentoring before writing the novel, sets her focus on graver concerns. A simple question—What would Martin do if he were alive?—guides the novel’s protagonist throughout his senior year, as he encounters everything from his white classmates’ racism (down to one guy dressing up as a Klansman for Halloween) to police profiling. And while Justyce is drawn to King’s teachings of resilience and nonviolence, he is put increasingly on edge as he observes the failures of the world around him.

A look at contemporary YA books exploring racial injustice and police brutality.

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Imagine Entertainment has picked up feature film rights to Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn.

The love story, told in the vein of A Thousand and One Nights, centers on the 18-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid, who takes a new bride every dawn only to execute her by sunrise. But when 16-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid, with a plan to stay alive and exact revenge for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls, she finds herself falling in love with him and that not all is as it seems with the young king. Shahrzad sets out to find the truth and stop the cycle of killing.

Congratulations, Renee Ahdieh!

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California has become the first state to approve LGBT-inclusive history textbooks for use in primary schools, the Advocate reports.

The California State Board of Education on Thursday approved 10 textbooks for kindergarten through eighth-grade students that include coverage of the historical contributions of LGBT people, and rejected two that failed to include such coverage.

California’s 2011 FAIR Education Act requires that schools teach about historical figures who were LGBT or who had disabilities. This is a victory!

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AHHHH! Check out Leah! And this color palette! It’s so beautiful and we CANNOT wait to see it on our shelves right next to Simon because the two books go together so well!

Becky Albertalli’s upcoming Leah on the Offbeat has a cover and it’s freaking amazing! Here is a fat, bisexual character on a cover and she gives precisely zero f*cks.

Sixteen Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Jasmine Warga

16 Things About Jasmine Warga

Hello, bookworms! So, I’m back, after a month-long unannounced hiatus. But worry not! I’m fine. In fact, I’m more than fine. Not only did I get to meet Jasmine Warga (a.k.a. one-out-of-four of the Beckminavidera Squad) over the weekend, I also got to hang out with some of my favorite people. Win win!

On Sunday, Warga, together with another beloved author Jennifer E. Smith, treated the Filipino reading community to an afternoon of lovely conversation, some Q&A, and signing in an event hosted by National Book Store. Warga talked about inspiration, wanting to be in conversation with her favorite books, who she wants to direct the My Heart and Other Holes adaptation, as well as which side she’s on in the Great Oreo War. Whether you missed it or were present but too busy fangirling to catch every single information the author said, here are sixteen things we learned about Jasmine Warga from #JenandJasinPH.

She is an Accidental Young Adult Author
And she feels incredibly lucky to have tumbled into it. The author explained, “for me, sort of the character chooses the story, and I can’t see My Heart and Other Black Holes working with any other-aged protagonist. She, [Aysel], always was sixteen.”

She Believes the Best Fiction is Emotionally Honest
“So, even if the things that have happened to my characters haven’t specifically happened to me,” Warga shared. “It’s either a feeling that I’ve wrestled with or a feeling that I’ve spent a lot of time meditating on to hopefully have stretched my empathy muscle enough that it seems true in the book.”

Which Also Means She Writes as a Way to Address Feelings or Questions She Had as a Teenager
…and still as an adult.

She Thinks of Herself Foremost as a Reader
And her writing as an offshoot of how much she loves reading.

‘The History of Love’ Reminded Her of Her Love of Reading and That She Wanted to Write and Be a Part of the Conversation…
Warga picked up Nicole Krauss’ work when she was seventeen, and that sort of set her down a path the same year she read Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and Junot Diaz’s Drown.

…And Jandy Nelson Continually Inspires Her
As well as some of her friends in the YA community.

‘My Heart and Other Black Holes’ was Optioned For a Film
And when asked to “fan cast,” the author admitted, “I feel like I’m not that familiar with stars that would be like the appropriate age to play the characters.” Then, she went on, “but the thing that would be most important to me is that they’re good at the roles and, for Aysel, it would be really, really important for me that it’s a woman of color playing her.” Although, on the flip side…

She Has a Director and Screenwriter in Mind
They are Damien Chazelle (La La Land) and Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), respectively.

She Didn’t Set Out to Write a Book About Mental Health
When she was writing her debut, she felt like she was just writing Aysel’s story and a story that grappled with all these big questions about what it means to live and what it means to die and what it means to be an unreliable narrator of your own life.

And The Most Emotionally Trying Scene She Has Ever Written Appears in Her Debut
It was during Aysel’s brother’s birthday party and it was heartwrenching because it drew home for her everything she knows about depression and captured everything she was attempting to convey about mental health.

‘Hard to Find’ by The National is the Number One Song She Associates with ‘Here We Are Now’
Especially since she listened to that song a lot on repeat while editing the book.

She was Asked by Becky Albertalli to Write a Freaks-and-Geeks Book with Her
“[Becky] wants me to write this book with her that’s like a freaks-and-geeks style thing. She always jokes that she was a geek in high school and I was a freak in high school. And so she wants to do this book, and she’s kind of mapped it out. But I don’t know if that will ever happen.” (Fingers crossed!)

She Does, However, Want to Collaborate with Someone For a Graphic or Illustrated Novel

She Had Been Surprised That People Think That the ‘My Heart and Other Black Holes’ Ending is Open-Ended
“That’s maybe the most definitive conclusion I ever see myself writing.”

She’s Team Adam Silvera, er, Golden Oreo
Well, okay, Warga is more a fruity candy girl (think Skittles). But if she had to take sides, she said she would totally be in Team Golden Oreo. (We love you, Becky Albertalli!)

And Lastly, She Just Turned in the Most Recent Draft of a Book She’s Currently Editing

Thank you, National Book Store, as always for cultivating such an active book culture for the Filipino readers! You guys are awesome! Shout out to JM @ Book Freak Revelations, Hazel @ Stay Bookish, and Inah @ The Bibliophile Confessions, to boot, for being the absolute best! I love y’all! Always. PS. Collagen. Wink, wink.

How was your weekend, beautiful human beings?

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REVIEW: Jek/Hyde by Amy Ross

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Title: Jek/Hyde
Author: Amy Ross
Format: ARC, 329 pages
Publication: October 3rd 2017 by Harlequin Teen
Source: Author (thank you Amy Ross!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Gothic, Mystery, Science Fiction
Other classifications: Retelling, Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Fully Booked

Synopsis

Lulu and Jek are science nerds, and have been best friends since they were young . . . or at least they used to be. Lately Jek has been pulling away from Lulu, just as she’s coming to terms with how she really feels about him. Just as she’s ready to see if there could be something more between them.

But Lulu’s thoughts are derailed by a mysterious new guy who’s showing up at local parties. Hyde is the definition of a bad boy, and everybody knows it . . . but no one can seem to resist his charms. Girls can’t stay away from him, and guys all want to be him. And even though Lulu’s heart belongs to Jek, she can’t deny Hyde’s attraction either.

She also knows that there’s something not quite right about Hyde. That the rumors of his backwood parties make them sound a little more dangerous than what any of her friends are accustomed to. And she doesn’t like the fact that Hyde seems to be cozying up to Jek, and that they seem to be intertwined in ways that have Lulu worrying for Jek’s safety.

If Hyde has a dark secret, Lulu is determined to find out what it is, and to help Jek . . . before it’s too late for both of them.

Review

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

Jek/Hyde is more a rehashing and less a retelling.

The book—Ross’ debut in young adult literature—centers on Lupita “Lulu” Gutierrez and Jayesh Emerson “Jek” Kapoor, two science nerds who have been best friends for as long as long as they can remember. But just as Lulu is coming to terms with her more-than-platonic feelings for her best friend, Jek starts distancing himself and spending all his time holed up in his room/lab with his experiments. It doesn’t help that there’s a mysterious—and unmistakably alluring—new guy in town, who is the very definition of a bad boy, and who may or may not have connections with Jek. Confession time: I have not read the Stevenson classic. Nor have I seen any of the bajillion movie adaptations. But I feel like The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been so embedded into our collective cultural consciousness that it’s almost as if I have read the book without actually having read it. And Jek/Hyde totally validates my judgment; whatever hope I had of mystery, I went to the wrong party.

“”But sweetheart. . .” He leans in close and takes a deep, slow breath, his eyes slipping half-closed. “No one is good all the time.””

To be fair, the novel kept me relatively entertained ’til the very last page. It took a couple of chapters for the story to find its footing, but find it it did and it maintained a good pacing all through out the book. I also like how the tone and setting effectively conjure a sense of helplessness and perpetual confinement. The book is set in a small town in the Midwestern, and that was executed well. But then we get to the actual narrative and it gets less than stellar. There is little character development, cases of present-but-not-present adults, and underdeveloped subplots, all culminating in a heavily expository conclusion and one that is out of touch with the rest of the main character’s journey.

“I know how it is. You think if you worry enough, if you take care of him and rescue him, that will make him yours. But you’ll never keep a boy like that.”

There’s also a huge disconnect between what the reader is being told versus what he is being shown. Lulu has a tendency to pine for Jek, which is fine, that’s her thing. But not once was I convinced of the friendship—or any sort of connection—between her and Jek she often talks about. He was a jerk to her and when the story reaches the part where certain things happen, it felt forced. And I’m not buying her science nerdiness either. Meanwhile, Jek’s arc had an interesting start. He is biracial; his mother is Indian, his father is black. And there’s a scene where he goes about being the only black person in town, even in his own house. About having “this whole part of [himself] that’s completely cut off from anyone like [him],” and I think that’s a fascinating conversation the author could’ve explored. Just as much as the minor plot line of LondonChem, an agrichemical/pharmaceutical company who may be causing its workers’ unidentified illness. Instead, they became background noises.

“I don’t know whether I’m angrier at the assumption that these two can read everyone’s race and ethnicity perfectly just from looking, or at their surprise that a black person could kick their ass at a science competition, but I can’t point out either one, since they didn’t actually say any of that.”

I’ve read in a conversation the author had with Cat Hellisen that the point is to keep the story as close to the original as possible, and I get that. Ross accomplished what she set out to do. But even so, I can’t help feeling cheated on because of how the book is marketed (“an inventive modern retelling”) which couldn’t have been more misleading. Sure, the story is set in modern-day suburban America and it has a racially diverse cast—albeit, the latter struck me as contrived in places. But that’s as modern as it gets. The other half of the equation, forgotten.

“This crazy town. Some guy nearly gets killed right in front of us, and all anyone can think about is where they can go to get fucked-up next.”

Jek/Hyde had potentials. It really did. But with plot holes and character-development inconsistencies that feel quite unresolved even towards the end, it leaves a lot to be desired.

3.0 out of 5

Author

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Amy Ross has an MFA from the University of Idaho and a bachelor’s from Brown University. She has lived in upstate New York, Providence, Paris, Chicago, Copenhagen, Kyoto, Idaho and Taiwan, and is currently in Indiana. She likes bad horror flicks, dense critical-theory texts, fomenting revolution, wild bears, cooking and the sublime. She hates everything else.

Twitter | TumblrWebsite

What is your favorite adaptation or retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

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Unmissable Weekly: October 15, 2017

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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In addition to trademark romantic and coming-of-age elements, the upcoming book features an array of pop culture references that should especially excite movie buffs. From Twinkle, With Love is told from the perspective of aspiring filmmaker Twinkle Mehra, and uses her passion to tell her story: The book takes the form of letters Twinkle writes to her favorite directors.

I love it when authors play with format, and this sounds very exciting. Plus, look at the cover with a Desi woman!

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It was really hard, especially at first, to write about this thing that’s been such a big part of my life. But in another way, it was really empowering because I felt like if I could give it form or expression I could look at it and I could talk about it directly rather than being scared of it. And one of the main things I wanted to do in the book was to get at how isolating it can be to live with mental illness and also how difficult it can be for the people who are around you because you’re so isolated.

John Green talked about mental illness and writing a book that mirrors his own life.

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At a news conference at his London publisher’s office on Thursday, Mr. Ishiguro was characteristically self-effacing, saying that the award was a genuine shock. “If I had even a suspicion, I would have washed my hair this morning,” he said.

He added that when he thinks of “all the great writers living at this time who haven’t won this prize, I feel slightly like an impostor.”

Congratulations Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature!

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“Excited to share the first poster for a film that celebrates love,” Berlanti, who directs the film, tweeted with the first poster.

The first Love, Simon poster is here and I HAVE ZERO CHILLS.

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