Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Book Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Author:  Maria Dahvana Headley

Genre: Young adult, fantasy

Publisher: Harper

Publication Date: April 28, 2015

320 pages, hardcover
Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Aza Ray has never been able to breathe correctly. She’s struggled her whole life, and she even has a disease named after her, though she’d much rather call it Clive. But one day, she sees a ship in the sky and someone calling her name. No one believes her except her best friend Jason, who tells her stories of similar happenings from long ago and a magical place called Magonia. Soon after, Aza is lost to our world but returned to Magonia.
This book, you guys. WOAH. Magonia is so unbelievably unique, creative, and absolutely stunning. I’m still pretty speechless over it and I’m not sure how to write a review that isn’t just READ IT READ IT READ IT. It’s fantasy, but also reminded me quite a bit of magical realism because I sometimes forgot all of the things weren’t actually happening. Maria Dahvana Headley’s writing is gorgeous and poetic and beautiful. Like, she describes the sound of a boat coming: “The sails are made of hum and speed (ARC 252).” How perfect is that?
Aza Ray is a bit of a smartass, but I love her. She’s accepted her disease and lives with it. She’s…strange and sarcastic, which is pretty much exactly what I love in a character. I also loved the dual POVs of Aza and Jason. Jason’s POV was sad, distressing, and so very smart.
Magonia was incredible. I could feel the atmosphere and world all around me as I read. I devoured this world and these pages. This book is just…mad and weird and strange and so very good. I will say that I don’t think this book is for everyone, but it was most definitely for me.
The bottom line: 
-- Stefani
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Want this book to invade your dreams too? Find Magonia on the CMRLS catalog and check it out!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Music Monday: Beach Boys

It’s Music Monday! What does that mean? The Central Mississippi Regional Library System has a ridiculous amount of FREE to you resources available for patrons. One of those is Freegal, a free and legal service that now allows patrons to download five songs each week for FREE (notice the emphasis on free). Every Monday we’ll be picking five songs that we love that are available on Freegal for you to download.
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So I don’t know about you, but with this crazy Mississippi weather, I’m dreaming of warm, sandy beaches. And, to me, nothing means beachy music like the Beach Boys. Here are five of my favorite Beach Boys songs (all available to download on Freegal!) to help you escape this icky weather for a while.

Wouldn’t It Be Nice

Good Vibrations

Fun Fun Fun

Surfin’ USA

I Get Around



If any of these catch your eye, head on over Freegal and download them, or check out some of their other music! All you need is your library card and pin number.

Plus, don’t forget that you can stream any of the music that’s on Freegal for 3 hours every. single. day!


-- Stefani

Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

Author:  I.W. Gregorio
Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBT
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
352 pages, hardcover

None of the Above is incredible. I finished reading it more than two weeks ago and I still can’t quite figure out how to properly tell you why you should read this important, incredible, entertaining, beautiful book.
Kristin is in her senior year of high school and she’s the star of her track team and loved by both her friends and her boyfriend. But when Homecoming night doesn’t really go the way it should, she makes an appointment with an ob-gyn and finds out that she’s intersex. Her life, identity, and world are completely turned upside down and she must figure out who she really is while everyone else does too.
Like a lot of people, I didn’t know much about what being intersex meant. I had a general idea, but this book taught me so much (I love when I can learn about something real when reading). This book is so important for that very reason – not only is it a well-written, entertaining, heartbreaking, uplifting story about a fictional character, it’s also a book about a real condition and realistic reactions to it. None of the Above is exactly what a book about diversity should be. Yet another book I wish I could make everyone read.
Something that has come up in conversations recently (I posted about books that feature characters with mental illnesses which sparked conversation in the comments but also with friends) is a certain lack of empathy that some people have, which is disheartening in a lot of ways, but that’s not the point. I’m bringing this up because I am not intersex. Nor do I know anyone that is (as far as I know). But I connected so well with Kristin because of her struggle with identity throughout the book. Her identity (as a woman, as herself) is challenged several times throughout the novel. (Quick note to say how heartbreaking it was to read the sections in which Kristin is bullied, which felt so, so realistic; I hated it, but I’m glad that nothing felt exaggerated nor sugar-coated). Kristin no longer knows who she is (her doctor tells her that she is a woman, but is she when everyone tells her she isn’t? When she has male chromosomes?). Is she Kristin because of her chromosomes? What makes you you?
The bottom line: None of the Above is important, and you really don’t want to miss it, not only because it will teach you more about something you may or may not be familiar with, but because everyone can relate to Kristin’s struggle to figure out how she is. We all deserve to be reminded that we can get through anything.
-- Stefani
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Does this sound like something you want to check out? Find None of the Above on the CMRLS catalog and place a hold on it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Review: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Author: Isabel Bandeira
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: January 12, 2015
350 pages, paperback

A young adult book about a girl who loves young adult books and is a complete book nerd? Yes, please! I was so excited to read Bookishly Ever After because, I mean, it’s a book about ALL OF US. Phoebe is in love with all of her book boyfriends and loves to dress up as her favorite character; she even learned archery because her favorite heroine is an archer. That’s pretty cool, right?
Overall, the book was cute and I appreciated what it was trying to do, but I had some problems. I think my main problem was the romance. As much as I liked Dev (the love interest) as a character, I 1. Didn’t really understand why the two liked each other, and 2. Got really irritated with the back and forth nature of their “relationship”. They would flirt, then nothing, then flirt, then nothing. For practically the entire book. It got seriously exasperating by the end. There are also several instances when we jump a few hours or even half a day into the future and skip scenes that could’ve shortened the story a bit had they been included.
However, the bookish parts of the story – Phoebe standing in line for her favorite author; Phoebe inspiring Dev to start reading more; her “journal” in which she analyzed characters’ flirtatious ways to better flirt in real life – were all really cute and relatable (though that last one is probably a bit more suited for younger girls).
The bottom line: Cute, bookish story that had a few problems – mostly in terms of the romance – but was still quite enjoyable. On the younger, lighter side of young adult romance. I’d still recommend this one for any looking for a cute romance about a book nerd.
-- Stefani
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Want to read a book about a book nerd? Find Bookishly Ever After on the CMRLS catalog and check it out!