During a recent conversation with a Twitter friend, I took a screenshot of my Kindle app, the library page showing the most recent downloads. Does it seem like I have an abnormally high number of books with women on the cover? 10 out of 16, or 63%, have women on the cover. It’s really just an observation. 13 of them have a shade of blue on the cover. Bout of Books is coming this month, so maybe my brain is getting ready for the readathon challenges. You know, find books with women on the cover. Find books with something blue. Etc. I tossed an idea out for the Bout of Books challenges. We’ll see if it gets used!
— J Lenni Dorner (@JLenniDorner) August 2, 2019
A Tiger Like Me by Michael Engler (Author), Joëlle Tourlonias (Illustrator)
Publication Date: September 1, 2019
Author I Haven’t Previously Read
The tiger (a child in a costume) doesn’t like to take baths, brush hair or teeth, and gets into a bit of mischief. There’s good imagination in the story. I love the use of orange and blue in the illustrations. It was a good book because children like to pretend they are something else, such as an animal. It’s fast-paced, easy to read, and entertaining. This was an August Amazon First Reads book, which is how I discovered it.
Mastering Book Hooks for Authors: How to Capture Reader Attention and Book Sales in 30 Words or Less by Rob Eagar
Publication Date: December 22, 2017
Writing Craft book
What if I told you… this is my review of this book! It was a quick, enjoyable enough read. I got a free copy on Amazon. It’s useful in its genre for authors looking to write a hook to entice readers. I read several writing craft books a year, which is perhaps I found this information to not be very new or different. I read the whole book to see if I could learn something new. I would consider reading another book by this author.
My attempt at a book hook after reading this. Thoughts?
In Fractions of Existence, Xavier, a being with omnipotent powers over an element, seeks a missing member of his kind, without whom he cannot prevent the apocalypse. Gwendolyn doesn’t know what she really is, but she journeys across the country in her clunker car without no guarantee of what’s on the other end.
They Could Have Named Her Anything: A Novel by Stephanie Jimenez
Publication Date: August 1, 2019
#WeNeedDiverseBooks, #DebutAuthor, Author I Haven’t Previously Read
My favorite character was Ricky, Maria’s brother. He steps up when it matters most, risking everything to do so. I was engaged by the unusual description of sex as a mundane activity, exhilarating but dreadful. Maria’s ease of putting her hair in a french braid in Chapter 5 seemed impressive (not that I’ve ever tried it, but I hear that french braids are difficult to do, especially on oneself). There’s a bit of Spanish in the book, which might be difficult for some readers.
I especially love the way the author handles the descriptions. For example, “a small sliver of skin came away from her mouth between her thumb and pointer finger,” is so much more inventive and appealing than just saying chapped lips. Great imagery. Maria’s thoughts and feelings about talking to Dr. Beth, especially in regard to how impossible it is to feel like there’s an adult on one’s side, was a rare and refreshing insight often left out of YA novels. And in Chapter 14 and 21, the title of the book is used in the story, which is something I love to encounter. I had never heard of slap-boxing before, so I ended up learning what that is because it’s mentioned in this novel.
Maria is asked to be more adult, putting her dreams on hold and prioritize her family first. She is often ungrateful of what she has, and that’s part of what makes her character arc so realistic. She was hard for me to like for most of the book, but that meant she had room to grow and change by the end of the story. I hate both of Maria’s love interests. (This is not a romance novel. But it’s a great example of just how wrong things can go with a love interest.) For example, Charlie is aware that he’s exhibiting pedophile tendencies and having an affair, but does it anyway. Maria contradicts how she feels about sex workers, as she both mocks and collects cards of prostitutes in Las Vegas, and then tries to essentially become one by offering to exchange sexual activity for tuition money. As she evolves and grows, she explores what consent really means and realizes why that was a bad idea.
A line I really enjoyed was, “saw the wisdom in the fragmented whole, how two things were sometimes better off when they were kept at a distance.” The theme, I believe, is the lesson that the grass always seems greener on the other side. There are other rags-to-riches Cinderella stories, but that’s not what this is. For one thing, Maria isn’t sickly sweet with birds and mice helping her get dressed, nor is she an orphan, and Charlie is certainly not a charming prince (though he is rich). It’s her soul that ends up richer at the end.
The author and I do not know each other, however, I did interview her for the Operation Awesome blog. That has no bearing or influence on my review. This book was a free Amazon First Reads. I don’t read many YA books that aren’t speculative fiction, but this one was really worth it. This diverse book is realistic fiction, controversial, meaningful, with a strong author’s voice.
Check out my interview with the author: