Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (#68) - Ten Backlist YA Contemporary Novels I Want To Read

Keeping up with the flood of new releases often means that I don't have time to read backlist titles, meaning older books available to different publishers. Since there are quite a few backlist titles on my Goodreads to-read list as well as on my Kindle and iPad, I thought I would make a list of YA contemporary titles I would like to get to at some point this year, hopefully already this summer.

I have liked everything I've read by Courtney Summers and I hope that before she publishes something new, I am able to catch up with her backlist titles - Fall for Anything would be a good starting point for that. 

Sign Language sounds like it is about families, friendships, falling in love and grief. Those kind of books always destroy me (the grief up), but for some reason I always keep navigating towards them. 

I read Sarah Ockler's The Summer of Chasing Mermaids when it was published, and now I want to read something else by her - The Book of Broken Hearts is one that has been recommended to me multiple times, so maybe it would be time to finally pick it up. 

I LOVE story lines where best friends fall in love, and Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg seems to fit the bill. 

Faking Normal sounds like it could be a perfect blend of more serious subjects and romance. I have heard good things!

I am weirdly obsessed with books that deal with cults, which is why I am surprised I haven't read The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly yet. 

Rites of Passage sounds like my kind of book - military academy setting, kickass female protagonist and a secret/forbidden relationship. 

I saw someone on Goodreads recommending The Things You Kiss Goodbye to fans of Courtney Summers which instantly caught my interest. 

The Summer of Letting Go seems to deal with grief, romance and more, and the title alone says that it should be read during the summer. 

These Gentle Wounds sounds tragic and beautiful. Also, Queen Emery Lord gave it a five star review on Goodreads which means I HAVE TO READ IT!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Best of 2016...so far (#5): Bloggers

I love sharing my love for other bloggers because the book blogging community is so freaking awesome! Today I am going to share a few bloggers I've come across for the first time during the first month of 2016. If you have a new blog or if you think I've never visited yours, please leave me a link so I can come and share some love!

Chelsea blogs at Sparkles & Scribbles and her blog is about books, beauty and more. I came across Chelsea's blog after stumbling to her Twitter page and I love checking out her "Monthly Scribbles" wrap ups where she shares her favorite books, beauty products, tv shows, podcasts and so on (these are always filled with great recommendations!)

I have chatted with Ely on Twitter and from her Twitter profile I found my way to Tea & Titles which is run by Ely and her co-blogger Michelle. Tea & Titles is updated actively and in addition to reviewing books they participate in different weekly memes, share lists of things (like what they have on their Netflix queues) and so on.

I fell in love with Stephanie's blog design at Chasm of Books and I have been going back for her reviews and discussion posts (like this one on why you should try audiobooks!) Chasm of Books is specially dedicated to science fiction and fantasy, which are not typically my go-to genres, but when I am in the mood for something that isn't contemporary, I often check Stephanie's blog for recommendations.

Tika's blog Fangirl Confessions is not only visually gorgeous but also features awesome reviews for books from a lot of different genres. Tika is also very active on Twitter which is something I love since I am also bit obsessed with Twitter at the moment.

I also want to bring up a two awesome young readers/writers from Twitter: 

Michael is a writer himself as well as a reader of YA fiction. He also contributes to @BNTeens and @MTV and I think he has a lot of great things to say. In his Twitter profile he describes himself as a "Lucille Bluth enthusiast" which made me instantly hit the "follow" button since, as some of you might now, Arrested Development gives me life (so much so that I am doing my master's degree on that show). One of my favorite pieces by Michael is I Might Be Gay, But Please Don't Call Me Your 'Gay Best Friend' from MTV.com. You can find more about Michael from his website.

When Camryn is doing big things in Hollywood or in the publishing circuit (OR BOTH!) I am going to be one of those really pretentious people telling that I followed her on Twitter when she was still in the process of reaching world domination. Camryn is so wonderful with words and she has got me thinking about race, white privilege, intersectional feminism and so on. This girl is going to be doing big things one day and I can't wait! (MTV named her as one of 8 inspiring teens using social media to change the world!)

As I said, if you want me to check out your new blog or if you think I haven't been over to your blog in a while, leave me a comment and I will come over and share some bookish love!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Best of 2016...so far (#4): Television

Yesterday I shared with you some of my favorite books from the first half of 2016. Now it is time to talk about television. Like with films, I will only count shows that I have started watching this year since if I were to list shows that I have continued watching in 2016 this list would be VERY long. So new-to-me shows only.

I started watching Six Feet Under just a few weeks ago, but I am listing it here as a favorite because I know that by the time I finish with it, it will most likely be one of my favorite shows ever! The cast, the way it is written and the drama of it all work so well together! No wonder this show is considered to be a classic and referenced SO OFTEN in television studies academia.

Okay, Grandfathered was no masterpiece, but I found it really entertaining and I'm sad it's not coming back in the fall. John Stamos is such a babe and the cast around him worked really well together. As I said, not a comedic masterpiece, but one that was fun to watch. If you are looking for a comedy to binge on, give this one a go!

OKAY, THIS SHOW IS FREAKING PERFECTION! I saw everyone talking about this on Twitter and finally caved in and started watching it. I wasn't able to stop until I reached the end. They better make more of this because I need to see how the relationship between Phryne and Jack develops. If you are looking at one of those shows that teases a perfect romance in EVERY SINGLE EPISODE, watch this. The chemistry is SIZZLING.

I still have about a season to watch of this, but like with Six Feet Under, I already know this one will be one of my all-time favorites. I love Kristen Bell and even though I never expected I would fall for Logan after seeing the first few episodes, it happened.

I am a massive Full House fan so obviously I was very excited about the Netflix "reboot" Fuller House. According to critics Fuller House was a massive failure, but I think the fans (like me) loved it because they are doing season 2 now. Full House has always been one of those shows which I can just put on and feel happy, and Fuller House was exactly like that for me as well.

You're the Worst is described as "not your typical romantic comedy" and I think that description fits pretty well with the show. It is about a young couple who are not ready for the cliche love-story despite the fact that they are clearly so into each other. The way this one tackled depression was done, in my opinion, very well and I can't wait to see how this continues!

This show is a freaking national treasure! Humor, romance and some of the best songs I've ever heard all in one! Also, a bisexual male character who is given an actual storyline and a happy relationship. I am in awe of this show and cannot wait for season 2 to start.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Best of 2016...so far (#3): Books

Now that I have shared with you some of my favorite documentaries and films from 2016... so far, I will take a break from the visual stuff and list to you some of my favorite books from the first half of 2016.

Jeff Zentner's The Serpent King broke my heart into tiny little pieces, but managed to put it back together in the end! This book was so well-written and filled with interesting characters and character relationships. Once I started reading it, I had a very difficult time putting it down, even when tears were running down from my eyes to the screen of my Kindle. Truly a beautiful piece of literature for everyone, not just fans of young adult literature.

I FINALLY read Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and it instantly became one of my favorite books ever! Plath writes so beautifully and the story is extremely interesting and one I was able to relate with on many different levels. If you are like me and have been hesitating to pick this up, please do it now! It is so worth it!

I have never seen the film adaptation of this one, but after seeing videos from the Broadway production, I thought it would finally be time to read this one! Alice Walker's The Color Purple covers a great span of time in a relationship of two sisters. It deals with issues of feminism (the role of women in the society), sexuality, marriage and so much more. Extremely touching and interesting and after reading it, I definitely want to see the film at some point too.

I haven't been a super enthusiastic short story reader, but this one definitely made me want to look for more short stories. The stories featured in Jhumpa Lahiri's The Interpreter of Maladies are extremely interesting, touching and entertaining. Some are set in India, some in United States. They introduce characters from all walks of life and discuss many things from identity to family relationships and so on. If you are interested in the short story format, I recommend starting with this one!

This beautiful novel by Wendy Mills will be published in August and I have a feeling it will be making waves in the bookish community. It is focused on stories of two different young women. One of them is Aila who gets stuck in one of the twin towers on September 11, 2011. The other is Jesse, whose brother died as a result of the 9/11 attacks. This was extremely sad, but also filled with bravery, kindness and second chances.

I have had a copy of George Orwell's  1984 on my shelf since 2014 and I finally picked it up while I was in the mood to read and annotate something. While reading this I made annotations to the pages, underlined my favorite lines and so. Though I have been one of those people who never wants to make markings to a book, I enjoyed the annotation process so much that I am planning on doing it with other classics as well. I probably got much more out of this book by annotating it that I would have gotten if I would have read it "normally".

I think Shannon M. Parker's The Girl Who Fell was the very first book I read in 2016 and it certainly has left an impression on me. The story is extremely intense, the characters are interesting and not quite what they first seem and as a cherry on top, there are hockey players there (hockey players make EVERYTHING better!).

Which books have you loved so far in 2016?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Best of 2016...so far (#2): Films

My first Best of 2016...so far post focused on the best documentaries I've seen so far in 2016 and I thought it would be fun to continue with visuals and share with you some of the best films I've seen so far in 2016. So without further ado, here we go... (I am only counting new-to-me films in order to keep this list fairly short!)

In Jocelyn Moorhouse's The Dressmaker Kate Winslet plays a glamorous woman who returns to her small Australia hometown to take care of her elderly mother. She left home when she was young as a result of rumors that turned her into a criminal, and pretty soon after her homecoming she starts to make waves with her confidence and glamorous wardrobe.

I have never been a fan of Liam Hemsworth, but in this one he is a TOTAL BABE! If you like kickass ladies who take revenge on those who have hurt them, WATCH THIS ONE!

I have watched Skins for four times already this year because it is just do damn good! My postcolonial theory and my ethnicity in North American cinema classes introduced me to Native American cinema, which is something that I had never really been that familiar with before this year. I had seen Chris Eyre's Smoke Signals before, but I think I like this one even more!

Now and Then lowkey changed my life this year and now I question my choices of not watching it before because I know I would have loved this as a child/teenager. I have a friend group similar to the group depicted in this film, and this really made me want to call my friends and tell them how much I love and adore them. I most definitely identify with both child and adult Sam the most!

After seeing a film like Sandra Nettelbeck's Mostly Martha I question my choice of not to watch more foreign cinema (by foreign I mean non-English speaking productions). Mostly Martha is so funny, occasionally tragic, and also super romantic at times! American rom com fans out there might be familiar with No Reservations starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart, which is a remake of this one! THE ORIGINAL IS SO MUCH BETTER! Even if you didn't like No Reservations, you definitely should watch this one because it is so different!

I will forever love my postcolonial theory class for introducing me to Ousmane Sembene's Moolaadé, which tackles issues of genital mutilation and the role of women in a small community. No special effects, no fancy cinematography, but interesting plot and characters and a look into a culture very different from what I am used to! If you are interested, you can find this from Youtube!

Gina Prince-Bythewood's Love & Basketball is honestly one of the best romantic dramas I've ever seen... And I have seen a lot of them, so that statement should be considered to be a BIG DEAL. It has an amazing cast, romance, funny scenes and just so much to love! If you like new adult novels that center around sports, you definitely should watch this one!

Beyond the Lights is also directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and it is also almost two hours of perfection! The cast is amazing (the female lead is played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw who's also in Belle and the male lead is played by Nate Parker who is a total BABE!) and the story it tells feels very current and important (the struggles of instant fame and certain expectations set for celebrity women, etc). It is also extremely romantic and the chemistry between the leads is INSANE!

I didn't end up seeing Carol in 2015 and waited for the release of the DVD to watch it. Though it would have been awesome to see this one on the big screen, I liked the intimacy of watching it alone and really getting swept up to the feelings and emotions of it. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are amazing and I guess I should mention as one merit of this film the fact that IT REALLY TAKES TALENT TO MAKE ME THINK THAT KYLE CHANDLER IS AN ASSHOLE.

Emily Ting's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong might not be the most perfect film, but it felt pretty perfect for me. I am a huge fan of films that rely on dialogue and this one truly is a film like that - a Chinese American woman visiting Hong Kong meets an American expat, they walk around and talk to each other. Both are in a relationship, but there is a spark there that cannot be denied. The ending might be disappointing to some, but it made me very excited because MORE FILMS SHOULD WRAP UP LIKE THIS!

Which are some of the best films you've seen so far in 2016?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Best of 2016... so far (#1): Documentaries

We have almost reached the half point of 2016 (CRAZY, right?) and I thought I would do a few lists about some of my favorite things from 2016 so far.

I have watched a fair amount of documentaries during the first six months of 2016 and I figured it would be interesting to share some of them here. There are so many documentaries out there, and I always have a hard time deciding what to watch, so I hope that maybe people with a similar problem could find some recommendations from here.

As a film lover, I found The Wolfpack to be extreme interesting. This documentary directed by Crystal Moselle focuses on a set of brothers who have lived most of their lives locked away from the society. When other children played outside, they watched films and recreated scenes from their favorites with video cameras. When one of the brothers decides to enter the outside world, everything changes.

The Wolfpack is an immensely interesting study about families, brotherhood and about the impact films have on people. If you are a film fan like me, or if you like stories about families, you should check this one out!

This documentary classic by Jennie Livingston is one I had seen before years ago but ended up rewatching for my postcolonial theory class earlier this spring. Paris is Burning was filmed in the mid-to-late 1980s and it focuses on the New York ball room scene and the generally poor gay and transgender community involved in it.

If you are interested in queer representation and the queer community, you definitely should check out this classic!

Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man is the tale of Timothy Treadwell who spent the last years of his adult life living among the grizzlies in Alaska wilderness. What makes Treadwell's tale tragic is the fact that he ended up dying among the bears (he was killed by a grizzly - don't worry though, none of this is shown in the documentary or anything). The documentary is built using Treadwell's own videos of the grizzlies, and though nature documentaries are not usually my thing, I found this one to be extremely interesting, mostly due to Herzog's approach of representing it as a study of Treadwell and his character.

If you end up watching this one and become interested about Treadwell's relationship with the bears, I have an interesting article to share with you (we watched this as a part of my queer mediation class where this film was used as an example of media product that queers the relationship between human and animal).

Frida and Lars Barkfors's documentary Pervert Park is focused on the lives of convicted sex offenders at Florida Justice Transitions which is a trailer park more often known was "Pervert Park". The documentary gives voice to the residents of the park - some have simple misdemeanors on their record while some have done some pretty horrible things (they are all criminals and they all are aware of that - if you are afraid of seeing criminals trying to deny their crimes, don't worry, this one does not have that). I think it was interesting to hear these people talk and see a side to them that might not often be seen in media etc. Not the easiest thing to watch out there, but one that I deem extremely important.

Making a Murderer is probably one a lot of you have already watched! If you have time for a lengthier documentary series, look no further because Making a Murderer is extremely engaging and interesting. It also made me question the American juridical system as well as the clear class division that becomes evident here. If you liked Serial or The Jinx, I promise you will like this one too!

I was glad to notice while doing this list that every other documentary except The Grizzly Man was at least partly made by female filmmakers! Hopefully a similar trend will be visible from my favorite films list that will be posted in a couple of days. 

Are you a fan of documentaries? Are the any docs you would like to recommend to me?