Friday, December 30, 2016

Must Reads 2016

Last year, in an attempt to avoid having to pick my favorite books from the year for one of the "Best of" things, I created the Must Read shelf. Basically, I don't want to have to pick! Thusly and therefore, throughout the year, I have added books as I read them that I think are really worth reading or recommending for some reason. (Ignore the fact that I came up with categories and best of books for a series of twitter posts. No one asked you to point out my inconsistencies and no one likes a smarty pants.)

For 2015, there were enough books across both YA and non-YA categories for two separate posts. This year, though, most of the books I thought were Must Reads were YA and there were only about 20 in total. I actually may have read mostly YA this year, to be honest. But let's not quibble over facts! What did I say about being a smarty pants!? 

Because I tend to do reviews as often as possible for books that I really like, many of these have full reviews floating around this blog somewhere. Even for those without full review posts, I probably did a related outbox post so feel free to look around if you want to see what I had to say about these gems.

 Without further ado, here are the 2016 Must Reads!!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Challenge- Cheater Recap: TBRs and FairyTale Retelling 2016

I signed up for both the 2016 TBR Pile (#2016TBRPile) and the ROck My TBR Challenges (#RockMyTBR). Both of these challenges were supposed to be focused on reading books that I already own. However, I cheated. I don’t buy a lot of books (heh, only kind of true) but I really wanted to use these challenges to get books off my TBR list regardless of whether I owned them or not. Basically, I counted any book for this challenge that I read this year that was already on my Goodreads TBR shelf before 2016. This makes a little overlap with my I Love Libraries challenge but not much. That recap posted yesterday. It's almost like I check out a bunch of stuff that's not even related to what I've said I want to read. Crazy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dominique from Pirates and Pixie Dust: Songs to Accompany Shades of Magic (Guest Post)

Hello, Kenya's friends!

I'm Dominique and you can find me over at Pirates and Pixie Dust when I'm not reading (or tweeting about reading).'s post is about music, inspired by Kenya's love for musicals. I'd love to share which songs remind me of the Shades of Magic series by VE Schwab. Though I won't be revealing anything major about the stories, my song choices may be considered spoilery to some, especially if you're planning on reading the stories soon. However, if you have read the books (my favorite reads of 2016!), then I apologize. You'll never hear these two songs the same way again:

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Challenge Recap: I Love Libraries 2016

The I Love Libraries Reading Challenge (#ILoveLibraries2016) was hosted by Bea’s Book Nook. The hashtag wasn’t getting much play on Twitter, so either it kind of fizzled out or most people were posting on the -gram or the -Tube. I didn’t really set a goal because most of my books I read come from the library. this challenge I did not include any of the audiobooks that I listened to through Overdrive but only physical books checked out from the library. I'm also not counting any books that I checked out but then had to return before I could read them. 

This post is basically a testament to the awesomeness that is the Monroe County Library System. 

Here are a couple of favorites: 

And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner 
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brenden Kiely 

Challenge Status
Goal: meh
Completed: 53 (when I wrote this)

Below, in picture blocks, are the Goodreads cover photos for all the books I read from the library this year with highlights and regrets.

Friday, December 23, 2016

As Told by Tina - Why I’m Not Doing the Goodreads Challenge In 2017 (Guest Post)

Hi! My name is Tina and I blog over at As Told By Tina. First, I would like to thank Kenya for having me on her blog today.

Today, I am going to talk to you about why I’m not doing the goodreads challenge for 2017 and how I plan on tracking my reading in 2017.

I’ve thought hard and long about what my goal should be for 2017 when it comes to the goodreads challenge. For the past two years my goal has been 150 and both years I didn’t make it. I was reading really short books in order to attempt to make my goal and most of the time this lead to me being in a reading slump. It also made me feel like a lot of pressure to meet my number. It was taking time away from my family because I was so focused on trying to reach this reading goal I set for myself.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Book Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

I’m not sure where I got this book or how long it’s been sitting on my shelf, which made it a great candidate for a ClearAShelf challenge book. I have not read the sequel (published September 2016), yet, but plan to.

The GoodReads lead in:

The world is at peace, said the Utterances. And really, if the odd princess has a hard day, is that too much to ask?

Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies. [Link to GoodReads page]

First, the summary doesn’t really do the book justice, which is why I didn’t post the whole thing as I typically do. So let me just cut to my bit.

My Two Cents: 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Series Review: Lockwood and Co by Jonathan Stroud

I read this book because it was suggested to me through my Overdrive app and was available “now” at the time that I was looking for something to download. I had never read any other Jonathan Stroud books but had already heard great things about The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Sequence #1), which I own. That series is also available on Overdrive and it’s likely I will listen to it super soon.
Ok, so Lockwood and Co. is a series about a supernatural detective agency. The world is London following an unknown event that has led to the infestation of the dead. The dead here are ghosts, phantasms, spirits and the like, not zombies. Children and teens, being those with the most sensitively to see other worldly being are recruited and trained to be Watchmen or hunters.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Book Review: A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith

I got this book in one of Book Riot’s quarterly boxes last year. I love the cover. I love all the silhouette book covers that came out a while back. You know the ones. Anyway. A Sense of the Infinite is my first Clear A Shelf book for December. And it was a pretty good way to start.
The (edited) Goodreads bit [Link to GR page]:
It's senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn't prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe's new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she's been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe.

But most especially, she isn't prepared to lose Noe.

For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don't involve Annabeth. Without Noe's constant companionship, Annabeth's world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she's really meant to be—with her best friend or without.

Hilary T. Smith's second novel is a gorgeously written meditation on identity, loss, and the bonds of friendship.

My Review:
This is a book where nothing big happens. It is also a book in which many important things happen.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

What Role... (Is "Theatre Tag" a Thing?)

This is from a Facebook post that a friend of mine posted. I decided to do it as a blog post so I could add pictures… because, duh! It's pretty self- explanatory. Unfortunately, I don't know any other people who have blogs that are theatre people so I can't tag anyone else, so if you want to do this, Jump in!

Role that was the most fun: Mary Poppins was the most fun show, I think, because the cast had so much fun, together. I played a few ensemble characters in it. Hopefully, no pictures will ever be released with me in that damn striped jacket. Urgh.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

This Year's Firsts! (NaBloPoMo)

Ok! Final day of NaBloPoMo!! Whooo hooo!!! I’ve decided to make my final post about FIRSTS in honor of the #BHPChat last night. Congrats to BHPChat for the chattaversary!!

Here are the questions and my answers from the chat. HOWEVER!! You can’t understand the fun of twitter chats based on this watered down, dumb regurgitation of the questions!! You gotta get your chat on! There are plenty of bookish chats, though BHPCHats is probably one of the more active ones lately. Check out Emily’s calendar here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November Might as Well Be Over - Book Outbox Post

I might get to read one more book before the month is out. Maybe. I have every intention of starting Crooked Kingdom and once I start I have the feeling I will finish it quickly, but I just haven’t been sitting in one place long enough to even get started.

So, here is a possibly premature Outbox post for November.

It’s been a super lame-ass reading month. But I did attend Book Riot Live, having been chauffeuring my kids around, and have been focusing more on blogging for NaBloPoMo.  As a result, I have posted 20 blog posts but have only read a measly 6 books. Oh! And my head phones are on the fritz so my audiobook game has been nonexistent. I really need to do something about that.

Here are the books I read. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Why I Don't Have Money for Christmas

Shows I’ve seen in 2016 so far.

Not counting the several youth/ kid productions (and RAPA’s production of My Son Pinnochio was definitely a high light). Plus, Broadway Con wasn't a show but a CON! Duh. Also, full discloser: the Rocky Horror and Charlotte’s Web picture represents shows I was actually in… so I guess, technically, I didn’t really see them.

Planned shows for the end of 2016 (Tis the season and all that junk.) 
A Christmas Carol at Geva
Youth production of Elf at RAPA (My kid is the stage manager.)

Related Posts:

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Book Tag: Mulan

I WAS FINALLY ACTUALLY TAGGED IN A BOOK TAG AND ALMOST FORGOT!! This is the tragedy of my life, y’all. It’s only 6 prompts so even I can do that… probably. Here’s the original book tag post from Kirsty and the Cat Read

The Rules:
·         Mention the creator (Kirsty and the Cat Read)
·         Thank/mention the person who tagged you
·         Match books or characters to the questions below
·         tag as many people as you like

1. Reflection “When will my reflection show who I am inside” – An inaccurate book cover that doesn’t really reflect what the book is about.

This is a super hard one. I scrolled through the covers of all 1104 books on my Goodreads read shelf and I apparently mostly read very transparent books! I’ll go with something that just has words on the cover. Lame, I know.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Broadway to Books: Something Rotten

Broadway to Books is a (possibly) unique feature that I do that I originated as a guest post that was way too involved. I have pared it down so that I could make it a regular thing.

It was just recently announced that Something Rotten is going on tour…

…oh. I fainted from excitement!! Yes, yall! One of my favorite musicals is going on tour! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!! Thusly and therefore, I changed my mind about doing a Broadway to Books post because I have been obsessively listening to the soundtrack since the announcement. 

I feel like I have to make a confession… I haven’t really seen THAT many musicals. I mean, I’ve probably seen more than the average person because average people don’t seem to understand the magic of musicals, but it’s not like I’m a Broadway critic or anything, who gets into theaters for free. IF you can hook me up with tickets to just about anything, let me know ASAP.

I saw Something Rotten this year on a family trip into the city to see Aladdin. Yes. So, what!? The musical is about the Bottom brothers, two playwrights who are attempting to come up with The Next Big Thing to compete with that rascally writer, Shakespeare, who has become an overnight playwright sensation. The eldest brother seeks the services of a Seer to predict what the next great play will be and ridiculous doth ensue.

Book Recommendations:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Book Review: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

I read The Female of the Species because I wanted to. I liked the cover and its eye catching color but it was just any other book I picked up at the library that I was pretty sure I had heard something about, but I didn’t know what.

(Part of ) The Goodreads Summary [click here to go there]:

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. So does Peekay.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

My five cent review:

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Reviewing Across the Age Range (Discussion and Question)

Here’s the beginning of a post that I will likely come back to sometime with more thoughts and edits, etc. Feel free to comment below.
I read a range of books. I love middle grade books, YA, and adult fiction. But I find it difficult to rate these books using the same criteria (like a star system) and/ or add different things to my Must Reads list because I really have different expectations for books, pending their audience.

For books written for younger audiences, I expect a fun story and likable characters. I don’t really care if there are a few plot holes and sometimes I don’t even care if the writing seems a little less polished.

However, as the anticipated audience gets older, I expect more from the book…

 Does anyone else find it hard to group books together and/or rate them similarly based on your different expectations of the book?


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Clear A Shelf Challenge Two: Sign Up Post

In August, I challenged myself to read books that I already owned. I called the challenge ClearAShelf (ingenious, right?) and invited tweeps to join me.

Here’s the wrap up post from last time, which shows my meager success and includes how the others did, as well. 

I have decided to do it all again for December! Actually… Lorryn asked me if I was planning to do it again and said she was interested and why the hell not!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Where I Am Right Now Instead of Writing a Real Blog Post

Attending the Rochester LGBT Giving Circle tonight on behalf of Rochester Association ofPerforming Arts. Tiny food. Great company (my table- mates were board members from The Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival) and an honor to accept grant to support RAPA’s production of The Wild Party next summer!


Related Posts:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My Heartbreak, Today.

The unread books I had to return to the library. Booooo!!

Related Posts (or, at least, posts with more words) :

Monday, November 14, 2016

What the Hell is a Food Memoir? #ReadHarder 2016

Yesterday at Book Riot Live, I went to the Read Harder IRL panel to talk about the books that people are reading for their challenges. Here’s the link to the challenge if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, I never officially do Read Harder because, really, let’s be honest. I don’t like to read things that I don’t want to read and each year there are two or three categories that I am just WAY not into (here's my post about 2015, if you don't believe me).

There are also a few categories that I push myself into and really enjoy. But, it is time to figure out how many categories I have read already and see if I’m willing to let myself complete the challenge this year.

What the hell is a food memoir?

And, I'm perfectly embarrassed to admit this, but I'm not totally sure where SouthEast Asia is, either. I know. I'm an asshole. But the whole point of the challenge is to read beyond your usual and learn a few things. 

So, overwhelmingly, a common theme for the categories that give me "trouble" is non-fiction, my arch- nemesis. I'm going to spend a little time with this and see how it goes... 

Update! I just found out that The Jungle Book won an Audie. BOOM!! (So did Furiously Happy!)