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What I Should Have Read on my Indian Vacation

16 Mar

Sorry for being MIA for a while there. My husband and I went to India for the last few weeks of February and I spent all my free time leading up to the trip getting prepared to miss three weeks of work and graduate school, leaving no time to prepare blog posts for my time away. And of course the last couple weeks have been spent catching up with work and school and recovering from jet lag (fun!), but now we’re back and what an exciting trip we had!

This was my third time in India, though the first time in 14 years, and I was beyond happy to see my Indian host family and friends, and to travel throughout India with my husband for the first time. We also visited one of his good friends from college, explored the beautiful backwaters of Kerala (a state with 94% literacy rate – not too shabby!), found snow in the foothills of the Himalayas, visited several libraries, and attended the wedding of two good friends in Jaipur, where peacocks served as our beautiful yet unpredictable alarm clocks.


We traveled by train quite a bit and while generally I love reading on trains, this time around I felt like I would miss too much if I took my eyes off the landscape. In the end, aside from a few Bollywood magazines, the only thing I read during our vacation was She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick – that’s right, just one book. This is unusual for me as I love to read while traveling, but I think this trip was just too fast paced and packed with activity to warrant some relaxing reading time. I do, however, believe I would have read more if I had brought books that were either set in India or that featured Indian characters. And so I’ve compiled a list of books that, if I were to do it all over again, I would bring with me to India.

Born Confused
Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier
Why I should have read this book on my Indian vacation:
Because even though it doesn’t take place in India, it is a well-respected, “classic” South Asian coming-of-age story that has been on my TBR for far too long.

Dimple Lala doesn’t know what to think. Her parents are from India, and she’s spent her whole life resisting their traditions. Then suddenly she gets to high school and everything Indian is trendy. To make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a “suitable boy.” Of course it doesn’t go well — until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web. Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue. This is a funny, thoughtful story about finding your heart, finding your culture, and finding your place in America.

BabyjiBabyji by Abha Dawesar
Why I should have read this book on my Indian vacation:
Because the description starts off with some great S words.

Sexy, surprising, and subversively wise, Babyji is the story of Anamika Sharma, a spirited student growing up in Delhi. At school she is an ace at quantum physics. At home she sneaks off to her parents’ scooter garage to read the Kamasutra. Before long she has seduced an elegant older divorcée and the family servant, and has caught the eye of a classmate coveted by all the boys.

With the world of adulthood dancing before her, Anamika confronts questions that would test someone twice her age. Ebullient, unfettered, and introducing one of the most charming heroines in contemporary fiction, Babyji is irresistible.

Abby Spencer
Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj
Why I should have read this book on my Indian vacation:
Because I secretly wish to be an extra in a Bollywood film (or at the very least for those around me to randomly break into song and dance).

What thirteen-year-old Abby wants most is to meet her father. She just never imagined he would be a huge film star–in Bollywood! Now she’s traveling to Mumbai to get to know her famous father. Abby is overwhelmed by the culture clash, the pressures of being the daughter of India’s most famous celebrity, and the burden of keeping her identity a secret. But as she learns to navigate her new surroundings, she just might discover where she really belongs.

KarmaKarma by Cathy Ostlere
Why I should have read this book on my Indian vacation:
Because I love books in verse and one of the few biographies I ever enjoyed enough to finish was on Indira Gandhi.

On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi is gunned down by two Sikh bodyguards. The murder sparks riots in Delhi and for three days Sikh families are targeted and killed in retribution for the Prime Minister’s death. It is into this chaos that sixteen-year-old Maya and her Sikh father, Amar, arrive from their home in Canada. India’s political instability is the backdrop and catalyst for Maya’s awakening to the world.

Do you have a favorite book featuring Indian characters or set in India? What books should I add to my list?

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall 2013 Releases

17 Sep

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature created at the fabulous The Broke and the Bookish, featuring weekly top ten lists on a variety of bookish topics. This Tuesday’s topic is Top Ten Books on my Fall To Read List. I’ll be reading a lot of books for tweens these next few months as I’m taking a class on materials for ages 9-14, but I’m sure I’ll find plenty of time for some 15+ reading too. And luckily there are some fantastic sounding books coming out this fall. Here are the ten that I’m most excited for:


All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
September 26, 2013

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
October 3, 2013

Battling Boy by Paul Pope
October 8, 2013

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
October 22, 2013

Reality Boy by A.S. King
October 22, 2013


The Trap by Andrew Fukuda
November 5, 2013

Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin
November 12, 2013

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
November 12, 2013

Bandette Volume 1: Presto! By Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
November 19, 2013

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
December 10, 2013

What books are you dying to read this Fall?

TBR: Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin

11 Sep

Loud Awake and Lost
“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that bloggers are eagerly anticipating. This week I wanted to highlight the upcoming Adele Griffin release, Loud Awake and Lost. Griffin’s Picture the Dead and All You Never Wanted were two of my favorite reads of 2012, The Julian Game was a favorite from 2011, and Tighter is on my nightstand just waiting for that perfect free reading moment. Each book is unique and thoroughly engrossing. I can’t wait to see where she takes us next….

LOUD. There was an accident. Ember knows at least that much. She was driving. The car was totaled. She suffered back injuries and brain trauma. But she is alive. That’s the only thing left she can cling to.

AWAKE. Eight months later, Ember feels broken. The pieces of her former self no longer fit together. She can’t even remember the six weeks of her life leading up to the accident. Where was she going? Who was she with? And what happened during those six weeks that her friends and family won’t talk about?

LOST. One by one, Ember discovers the answers to these questions, like a twisted game of dominos. And little by little, the person she used to be slips further and further away.

In the wake of her critically praised young adult psychological thrillers, Tighter and All You Never Wanted, National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin has created another triumph. Loud Awake & Lost is an unflinching story of loss and recovery.

I have appreciated every Adele Griffin book that I have read and I imagine this one will be a welcomed addition to that list. Loud Awake and Lost is scheduled for a November 12, 2013 release (Knopf Books for Young Readers). Be sure to add it to your TBR list!

Hello again! (a little update)

18 Aug

You may have noticed we haven’t been posting as much as usual. We took a momentary break during the month of June…that stretched into July…and then on into August. This break took us completely by surprise, so apologies for the lack of a heads up!  What have we been up to? Em has been busy balancing the incredibly busy summer months at her library and summer session of her grad program, while also taking time for family trips and out-of-town visitors, and co-hosting the incredibly fun youth radio show Bound By Books. Meanwhile, Alicia has been busy traveling and performing her hilarious feminist stand-up routine!  She even collaborated this summer with two of Em’s friends (now Alicia’s friends too!) on a stand-up program and gendertastic coloring book workshop. In her “spare time”, she is working on launching a live pop and gender talk show, coming Fall 2013 (get excited Chicago!).

Though we’ve given the blog a break, we haven’t fallen behind on our reading. We’ll be back shortly with reviews of all the fabulous books we have been reading this summer!

Please also check out our kid sister blog: This site is run by the greatest group of pre-teens and teens EVER. They host a weekly radio show (available for listening on their blog), compete in a book trivia battle each year, and read like nobody’s business.

June 2013 Releases

3 Jun

Can you believe it is June already? We’re almost halfway through 2013! While I just picked up a lot of exciting Fall 2013 titles at BEA, I’m holding off until closer to their release dates to dig in! Good thing there are plenty of fabulous summer books headed our way! Here’s my list of June releases that I’m excited for:


Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg
June 1: Scholastic
A teen who has been out since middle school decides to keep his sexuality a secret when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school, not for fear of intolerance, but rather to start out with a clean slate – to be seen as a regular guy rather than “that gay guy”. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a coming-out-again story – sounds interesting.

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
June 4: HarperTeen
Justine and four of her childhood friends who have had their lives video-documented every five years since they were in kindergarten, reunite for the next installation, Five at Sixteen. Life in front of the camera as a teenager…doesn’t that sound fun? Jennifer Castle is a local author who I have yet to read and I’m looking forward to finally checking her work out! Plus, I love the documentary film angle.

Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox
June 11: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
A sixteen-year-old on holiday in New Zealand finds herself in an enchanted valley inhabited by children who all share the same last name and the same special magical power. When she discovers that she too shares this magical ability, she learns some unexpected things about her past. How beautiful is that cover! And having a Printz Honor attached to your name doesn’t hurt!


Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
June 11: First Second
In their latest graphic novel, Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks tackle “Leakey’s Angels”, or the “Trimates” if you prefer, i.e. three groundbreaking primatologists, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Biruté Galdikas, whose research greatly impacted our understanding of three of our closest animal relatives: chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. I’ve already read Primates and it is absolutely fabulous – beautiful artwork, engaging narrative, and it inspires further exploration of the story’s subjects, both human and non-human primates.

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
June 11: St. Martin’s Griffin
Andrew Winston Winters is a young man at war with himself. Win is a lonely teenager sent to a remote boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy, while Drew is the angry and violent wolf within him. When something horrible happens in the woods near his school, Andrew is convinced he is to blame. This dark, psychological tale sounds like it’ll be an emotionally challenging read. Good thing I’m always up for a challenge.

Proxy by Alex London
June 18: Philomel
Knox is a wealthy teen who has everything he could possibly want, including a Proxy, i.e. a person who will take on all his punishments for him. One day, Knox takes things too far and his Proxy, Syd, is sentenced to death. In an attempt to save Syd’s life, the two run away together, but a cross-country chase ensues, because as it turns out Syd is no ordinary Proxy. According to the publisher’s copy, this adventure novel was inspired by The Whipping Boy and Feed – one book I enjoyed as a child and one that I enjoyed as an adult. As the start of a new series, I hope this one is as good as it sounds (and doesn’t leave us hanging too much at the end).


There are also a handful of adult titles coming out this month that 1) I’m excited for and 2) sound like they’ll have some crossover potential: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (June 4: Mulholland Books), The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls (June 11: Scribner), She Rises by Kate Worsley (June 18: Bloomsbury), Lexicon by Max Barry (June 18: Penguin), and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (June 18: William Morrow)

What books are you looking forward to reading this month? Have you read any of the above mentioned titles? Let me know what you think of them!

Top Ten Tuesday: Cover Love

21 May

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature created at the fabulous The Broke and the Bookish, featuring weekly top ten lists on a variety of bookish topics. This Tuesday’s topic is Top Ten Book Covers – specifically covers from books that we have read. I thought about just making a YA list, but I kept coming back to a couple of these adult titles. I didn’t include picture books because that would have taken me all night to narrow down (confession: I love picture books as much as YA!). But after much deliberation, here is a nice sampling of books that win big time in the judge them by their covers competition.


The Passage by Justin Cronin
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Since I have read all these books I can vouch for them all being as fabulous on the inside as they are on the outside, with one exception…. Can you guess which book I was more crazy for the cover than the story and writing?

If you’re reading this…

19 May

CONGRATULATIONS! We have been having some web hosting issues in the past couple weeks, which have made accessing the site impossible at times and all around frustrating. After a recent migration to a new server, the site has been working very slowly or not at all. We are planning to make a move soon to a new server and new provider. Hopefully, we’ll be back to usual in the next few days. Thanks for your patience! And happy reading!

If You Find Me Giveaway!

20 Mar

This week I’m reading two great St. Martin’s Griffin releases, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell on audio and If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch. The former title is a sweet story of first love set in the 1980s. The latter is a debut YA novel about a teen girl, abducted by her mother as a child and hidden away in the woods for years, who is forced to reenter society when her mother goes missing. If You Find Me will be celebrating its release Tuesday, March 26. To help celebrate we’re offering a giveaway!

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin, we have 2 advanced reader editions of If You Find Me to share with Love YA Lit readers! Enter using the Rafflecopter entry form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit author Emily Murdoch’s blog to learn more about her life and her books!

Finishing the Month Off Strong

26 Feb

February is a short and busy month for me. But the publishing world isn’t slowing down for this girl! There are so many exciting books that have been released this month that I can’t wait to check out, and some which I’ve been lucky enough to read already. Last week’s and this week’s releases finish the month off strong! Here are the books from the last two weeks of February that I’m most excited for:

Mind Games by Kiersten White
February 19, 2013

I’m listening to Mind Games on audio this week. From the author who brought us the popular Paranormalcy series comes a story of two sisters with special abilities – one with flawless instincts, one who has visions of the future – attending a school where the girls are forced to use their powers for corporate espionage. It’s a quick read at 256 pages, or on audio just over 6 hours of listening pleasure, which is just what I need when overwhelmed by how many books I want to read!

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
February 21, 2013

Rounding out our month of YA releases with bizarre schools (see Mind Games above, and Gail Carriger’s Etiquette & Espionage from earlier this month), Kirsten Miller’s Mandel Academy is an exclusive school where only the most ruthless of young criminals graduate and the rest disappear. This one made it on my must read list after one of the tweens that I work with told me week after week that it was one of her favorite books of all time.

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks
Dark Horse
February 26, 2013

This graphic novel is ridiculously fun and entertaining, portraying the trials and tribulations of Superhero Girl, a young Canadian superhero who is struggling to pay the bills, find a nemesis, escape the shadow of her popular superhero brother, and avoid skeptical guy and his snarky comments. I read the egalley for this book and the web version (with commentary!) as well. Both of those versions are in black and white, but when the book releases today it will be in full color. The few sample color pages that I’ve seen look fabulous.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s Press
February 26, 2013

Set over the course of one school year in 1986 (great year btw), Eleanor and Park are two sixteen year-olds experiencing first love. Our blog buddy Capillya of That Cover Girl may not review books on her blog, but we still trust her reviews and she gave this one her stamp of approval (and some), so there you go. High hopes for a stellar read.

Also Known As by Robin Benway
Walker Childrens
February 26, 2013

Many have compared Robin Benway’s latest book to Ally Carter’s Heist Society series; some have even said that it is better than Carter’s popular spy stories. Either way, I’m excited to check out this story of a young safecracker on the case at her new school.

What were your favorite February YA releases?! Which of these titles are you most excited for?! Hope you have all had a fabulous month!

Two New Releases to Get You Through The Week

13 Feb

I love how short February is. Granted it’s only a few days shorter than other months, but it feels short, and that is all that matters as I’m trying to make it through the cold, dark winter. Looking ahead at the exciting books coming out this month, it’s hard to imagine that I’ll be able to get through all the ones that I am looking forward to in this short month. With such an extensive list of highly anticipated February releases, I decided to do things differently this month by highlighting not a month of new releases, but rather week by week. So, here are the two releases of the week that I am most excited about!

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Philomel (Feb. 12)

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

Pivot Point by Kasie West
Harper Teen (Feb. 12)

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

What new releases this week are you excited to read?