Waiting on Wednesday: The Fix by Natasha Sinel

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

The Fix by Natasha Sinel

Expected Release Date: September 1, 2015

One conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open.

Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone.

On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother.

But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.

The Fix follows two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets and the hope and fear that comes with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.

(summary via Goodreads)

I haven’t been reading a ton of YA recently, but there’s certainly a lot of YA that’s coming out that I’m interested in getting my hands on.  This is one of them.  I love that the book’s blurb doesn’t give away too much, but still hints at what the book is likely about.  Here’s to hoping it’s a good read.

What are you waiting on this week?

Fall Books on My Radar

As we get closer to fall, there are all sorts of posts about the best books to look forward to in fall.  These are the ones I’m most excited about.  In no particular order:

M Train by Patti Smith (October 2015): As someone who loved Just Kids (but really, who didn’t?), this follow-up memoir about Smith’s favorite “haunts” from around the world is guaranteed to be a great read.  Smith is an unbelievable writer and wholly fascinating.  I can’t wait.

Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy (September 2015): The buzz on this one has been great, so I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  It’s about a self-proclaimed fat girl who is wholly comfortable in her skin, and it looks to put to shame so many of the other YA books about fat teens.  I can’t wait.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (September 2015): I really liked Kaling’s first humor-memoir-essay collection, and it’s well-established that I’m a sucker for celebrity essay/memoirs, so this is a given.  I think Kaling is awesome and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with in this second collection.

Reckless: My Life as a Pretender by Chrissy Hynde: I love The Pretenders, and Chrissy Hynde is basically amazing, so this memoir is a must-read for me.  It’s getting good buzz and is definitely considered one of the most-anticipated memoirs for the fall.  I’m legit excited about this one.

What books are you excited about this fall?

My Weekend in Pop Culture

These are the pop culture goodies I consumed this weekend while in the throes of pretty crippling back pain (lift heavy, deal with the fallout I guess):

royal painsRoyal Pains, Season 2: Last night, I described this show to J. as being like oatmeal: it’s bland and predictable, but it’s also totally comforting.  The show follows a pattern in every episode and you know that everyone is going to be okay, but it still remains watchable, especially when you’re mildly distracted.  I’m tearing through the episodes on Netflix as a result.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari: I’m really enjoying this funny, smart look at dating and love in the modern age.  Ansari’s book is much more researched than I realized, and he’s taken pains to really explore what it means to search for love in an era where there’s a deluge of choice.  Every page offers actual insight as well as laugh out loud humor, and on the whole it’s a delight to read.

rickiRicki and the Flash: Saturday was wicked hot, so my mom and I had a date to go to the movies (she currently has no air conditioning).  We went to see Ricki & the Flash because we love Meryl Streep, emotionally-wrought family dramas, and knew no on else would see it with us.  And we loved it! It’s written by Diablo Cody but is a departure from some of the other stuff she’s written, and it’s sweet and kind of silly and so fun to watch Meryl sing again.  I really liked it! The perfect way to while away a super hot summer afternoon.

What pop culture did you consume this weekend?


Book Review: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

Scarlett is a super-smart teen who graduated high school super early and spends her days trawling her city doing private detective work on her own terms.  When a young kid comes to her asking for help regarding another young boy’s suicide, Scarlett agrees to investigate.  But she’s in for much more than she bargained for, because the suicide is just the tip of the iceberg of a larger conspiracy that might or might not be supernatural.  It may also lead Scarlett to the answers she’s been looking for regarding her own father’s murder years before.

Jennifer Latham’s debut novel is a refreshing take on the teen detective trope.  Scarlett is already drawing comparisons to beloved teen-sleuth Veronica Mars, and while there are certain aspects of this novel that will work for a read-alike (Scarlett’s sarcasm and gritty determination come to mind), this book lacks much of the wit and humor that made Veronica so charismatic. Even so, teens looking for a heroine obsessed with uncovering the truth about mysteries should find this one to be a fast page-turner.

Latham has created an interesting protagonist in the character of Scarlett, a girl who is Muslim but conflicted about her religion, and whose personal tragedies help inform her view of the world.  The diversity at play here is nice to see, but Latham occasionally veers into a clunky, didactic tone that distracts from the naturalness of the story and its characters.

This noir-lite novel should work for younger teens (as long as they don’t mind a bit of mild violence) as well as older ones.  There’s a lot to like here, and Latham is a promising author to watch.  There are hints that this might just be the beginning of Scarlett’s adventures (there’s certainly room for sequels here), and there’s every indication that Latham could grow stronger as a writer as the books progress.  On the whole, this is a solid debut that should attract fans.

Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: 2015. Library copy.

Waiting on Wednesday: Dead Upon a Time by Elizabeth Paulson

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Dead Upon a Time by Elizabeth Paulson

Expected Release Date: August 25, 2015

It’s a fairy-tale nightmare . . .

One girl is kept in a room where every day the only food she’s given is a poisoned apple. Another is kept in a room covered in needles — and if she pricks her finger, she’ll die. Then there are the brother and sister kept in a cell that keeps getting hotter and hotter. . .

A sinister kidnapper is on the loose in Kate’s world. She’s not involved until one day she heads to her grandmother’s house in the woods — and finds her grandmother has also been taken. Already an outcast, Kate can’t get any help from the villagers who hate her. Only Jack, another outsider, will listen to what’s happened.

Then a princess is taken, and suddenly the king is paying attention — even though the girl’s stepmother would rather he didn’t. It’s up to Kate and Jack to track down the victims before an ever after arrives that’s far from happy.

(summary via Goodreads)

The past few weeks have been pretty horror-book heavy, and this week is no different.  I’m excited about the Halloween season and can’t wait to read some good fun horror.  This looks like it might fit the bill, in a fantastical sort of way.  I can’t wait to see what the book has in store.

What are you waiting on this week?

Book Review: Dietland by Sarai Walker

Plum Kettle tries hard to be the invisible woman.  She is fat, and she feels judged whenever she is noticed.  So she spends her days trying to blend into the walls, and answers the emails of desperate teen girls looking for advice from the editor of a popular teen magazine.  Plum knows that she’s just waiting for her real life to begin after she has her weight-loss surgery.  When a mysterious woman starts following her, Plum realizes there might be more to her right-now life.  She gets involved with a group of women who live life according to their own rules, and Plum begins a self-radicalization that will have lasting effects.

Readers of Sarai Walker’s ambitious debut novel should know a few things going into it: it pulls no punches and is subversive as hell.  Readers looking for a light romp through the world of diets and a culture obsessed with thinness should look elsewhere.  This book is not it.  But this book is brilliant and hilarious, angry and pointed in its razor-sharp criticism.  Readers who like their fiction prickly and complicated will be satisfied by this weird, smart novel.

Although the novel originally presents itself as the story of an unhappy woman trying to come to terms with her true self, it twists that story on its side by introducing the increasingly violent acts perpetrated by a terrorist group who calls itself “Jennifer.”  They dump rapists off of freeway overpasses and out of planes.  They blow up misogynists.  As Plum becomes more enmeshed with a collective of women who may or may not have anything to do with Jennifer, she starts to realize that the life she’s been waiting for–the life she’ll have when she’s thin–might not be a life she wants at all.  And that is where the novel’s teeth really come into focus.

Walker could easily lose control of her narrative and send it spinning off into a world of hollow platitudes about loving yourself the way you are.  Instead, she keeps a firm grasp on the story and pushes the characters–and her readers–into darker and more complex territory.  The result is a mostly successful feminist novel that is well worth a read.

Recommended.  Not for the faint of heart.

Dietland by Sarai Walker. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 2015. Library copy.

My Weekend in Pop Culture

These are the pop culture things I consumed this weekend.

blacklistThe Blacklist, Season 1: I’ve been watching this with J. because we’re both sort of at a loss at what to watch these days.  I mostly enjoy the show but also think it’s pretty dumb.  James Spader is wonderfully creepy with just a dash of bizarre glibness.  It’s often way more violent than I’d like, but overall it works well as something we can agree on when we just want something mindless to watch.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: I started this after seeing some recommendations for it on a forum I frequent.  It’s perfect summer reading, in my opinion: silly, light, and full of opulence.  It’s also super funny, which works in its favor.  I can’t wait to get back to it.

What pop culture did you consume this weekend?