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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Review: The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

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Title: The Wicker King
Author: K. Ancrum
Format: E-ARC
Publication: October 31st 2017 by Imprint
Source: Author (thank you so much, Kayla!)
Genre: Fiction—Psychological Thriller, Realistic
Other classifications: Depression and Mental Illness, LGBTQIAYoung Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Fully Booked


When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.


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

Ancrum examines love, friendship, and mental illness in her debut The Wicker King—a quiet, dark, and beautiful novel told in vignettes.

It’s 2003. August Bateman, a poor boy of mixed race, tries to earn extra money by running drugs in their high school. Jack Rossi, a popular, light-haired varsity rugby player, seems to enjoy a perfect life. The two are so far apart on the social spectrum that it shouldn’t make sense for them to be friends and yet they are. In fact, they know each other better than anyone knows anyone. So when Jack starts showing signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, August comes to his aid, determined and inclined to do anything. But can two boys keep each other from spiraling into madness? This is at the core of Ancrum’s work. This sense of responsibility one imposes upon himself to save and protect someone. And the author does a remarkable job of writing in this raw, muted, and haunting style, of exploring what it means to be a friend, to love someone so fiercely, and to be young and believe you’ve got everything under control but at the same scared that something will go wrong.

“They were only seventeen. The world was so big and they were very small and there was no one around to stop terrible things from happening.”

In her website, Ancrum described the type of kids she writes about as “complex and beautiful and interesting and passionate” but “frightening.” And I think that’s such a spot on observation of her own writing because what’s really striking about The Wicker King, for me at least, is how nuanced August is and how complex his relationship with Jack is. There certainly were scenes where I wanted to simultaneously hug August and punch him in the face. And there were parts where I longed to care for him, to take him as far away from his home of parental neglect as possible. But it wasn’t just him. I spent half the book rooting for Jack to be okay, for things to work out in the end, but also wanting to shake him. For all the terrible decisions. For all the twisted ways they treated each other. And then there were those quieter moments where a secondary character did a random act of kindness and I was left tearing up. Clearly, I was very emotionally invested in this narrative.

“I am doing this for you. Not the Wicker King. Not what we have become. But for you. If anything goes wrong, I want you to remember that.”

Another central theme of the novel—one I wasn’t expecting but turned out to be so embedded in the story—is codependency. I’m lucky to have never had any personal experience with serious mental health issues, but I think it’s worth noting that the manner with which the author addressed such an important conversation was thoughtful and brave. I won’t go into details lest I give away too much, but August and Jack’s friendship is intense, underscored by hunger and a distorted sense of duty, and not once did Ancrum shy away from that.

“They were stronger together; they were always stronger together.”

There’s the technical aspect, to boot. The story unfolds in these extremely short chapters, which I absolutely adore. Although, I can see how this fragmented style might not be for everyone. The writing is gorgeous. There were passages (“like a secondhand kiss on a breath of ash”) where I was silently sobbing but also thinking, that is a beautiful line. It’s wistful, eerie and poignant. And then there are the police reports, photographs, and notes and the color of the pages gradually darkens until the last act plays out and it’s white type on black. A brilliant metaphor for the overall tone and trajectory of the book.

The Wicker King is without a doubt one of the best titles I read in 2017 and I strongly recommend it, especially for people who are always on the look out for something different to read.

5.0 out of 5


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K. Ancrum grew up in Chicago Illinois. She attended Dominican University to study Fashion Merchandizing, but was lured into getting an English degree after spending too many nights experimenting with hard literary criticism and hanging out with unsavory types, like poetry students. Currently, she lives in Andersonville and writes books at work when no one is looking.

Twitter | TumblrWebsite

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Are you going to be picking up Jack and August’s story anytime soon? How can you not? Have I convinced you to? What are some of your favorite quiet YAs? Or novels in verses? Sound off in the comments below!Signature 02

REVIEW: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu (+ Giveaway)

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Title: Batman: Nightwalker
Author: Marie Lu
Format: ARC, 252 pages
Publication: January 2nd 2018 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via blog tour (thank you Penguin Random House and JM @ Book Freak Revelations!)
Genre: Fiction—Science Fiction
Other classifications: Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Fully Booked


Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City. The city’s elites are being taken out one by one when their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. And Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

Bruce is about to become eighteen and inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Industries and all the tech gadgetry that he loves. But on the way home from his birthday party, he makes an impulsive choice and is sentenced to community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most nefarious criminals.

There, he meets Madeleine Wallace, a brilliant killer with ties to the Nightwalkers. A girl who will only speak to Bruce. She’s the mystery he has to unravel, but is he convincing her to divulge secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees?


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

Welcome to the ninth stop of the #NightwalkerPH Blog Tour!

The DC Icons series continues with Marie Lu’s fast-paced, riveting, if slightly disjointed, Batman origin story.

Nightwalker follows Bruce Wayne before he dons the cape and cowl. The night of his birthday—as he turns eighteen and inherits his parents’ legacy—Bruce acts out of impulse and ends up having to do community service at Arkham Asylum, a place for the most horrible criminals of Gotham City. A place where he meets Madeleine Wallace, a brilliant killer with ties to the Nightwalkers who are currently terrorizing the city. Here’s my caveat: my reading experience brought me to the immediate but perhaps unsurprising realization that I knew close to nothing about the Batman mythos. Even the modicum of characterization I vaguely recall from my childhood, watching Batman Returns and Batman Forever and endless runs and reruns of the animated Justice League series, wasn’t much. I skipped the Christopher Nolan films entirely. Because, although I loved the X-Men and Justice League growing up, I wasn’t big on superheroes. And Bruce Wayne was the least I was interested in. (That was rather lengthy, wasn’t it?) But Lu somehow manages to capture in the meager 250 pages the nuances of this boy who lost his parents at a very young age, who is on the cusp of adulthood, who is naive and good and reckless. Suddenly, I was rooting for Bruce. I wanted him to figure out what he would do after graduation (well, spoiler alert: he would become the caped crusader). I wanted to protect him from Arkham Asylum. And I found myself getting frustrated at some of his less than astute judgment.

“It’s not up to you to save the world, Bruce.”

I appreciate that Nightwalker isn’t peppered with comics references and too much foreshadowing; there isn’t a need for Easter egg hunting. It’s still clearly a Batman novel, but the author’s imprint is also very evident here. Like Bruce’s training regimen involves a neat virtual reality and there are robotic drone police reinforcements at one point. It’s hard to classify this title in terms of genre but it surely has a strong speculative tinge. Then there are the original characters. I was mildly startled to learn Bruce have friends, but definitely thrilled that one of them is of Filipino descent. This adds to the YA appeal I’m pretty certain. Just as I’m certain the rice-and-egg breakfast of Dianne’s (Bruce’s Filipina friend) lola was garlic fried rice. #Yesrepresentation! I was not, however, startled to learn that the main villain is unreliable. I enjoyed the interactions between Bruce and Madeleine, even if I itched to drag the former away half the time.

“”The first rule of fooling someone,” she said, “is to mix a few lies in with many truths.””

The only thing that felt off to me was the tone of the book. It was almost as if Lu and her editor wanted this to be dark but had to pull back mid-punch. Or that wasn’t the intention at all; it’s just that Bruce’s story is inherently dark. In any case, it was bizarre to have this sort of disconnect between where the reader thinks the narrative is headed, tone-wise, and where it actually goes. And what’s up with sending an eighteen year old to a psychiatric hospital/prison with “the city’s most nefarious criminals”? That’s extreme for me, but okay.

“”I’m saying this objectively,” Bruce snapped. “I’m not crazy.”
“No. You’re just naive.””

Intriguing and positively entertaining, Batman: Nightwalker will most likely please both fans and newcomers.

3.5 out of 5


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Marie Lu is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Young Elites, as well as the blockbuster bestselling Legend series. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry as an artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing games, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

Facebook | Twitter | TumblrWebsite

You can read Batman: Nightwalker, too! Enter THIS Twitter giveaway for a chance to win one (1) advance reader copy. Bonus point if you leave a comment on my review! Entries are open worldwide and will be accepted until 11:59pm (EST), February 2nd.

Check out the rest of the tour stops!

Stay Bookish
The Hogsmeader Reader
Bibliophile Kid
The Ultimate Fangirl
Divergent Gryffindor
Book Freak Revelations
Book Allure

Happy New Year, bookworms! How was your holiday? I hope it was all kinds of fun and lovely and magical! ❤ Are you a fan of the dark knight? Have you already picked up Lu’s take on his origin story? What did you think? Alternatively, we can talk about your current read. Sound off in the comments below!  

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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.


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.


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.


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.

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:


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.


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.


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.


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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