Morgan Matson is the bee’s knees and today is she gets even better because it’s her birthday! Happy birthday! Yay! To celebrate, here are five reasons why you should read her books.

five reasons to read morgan matson
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bad feminist by roxane gay

Release Date: August 5th 2014
Source: Review copy (Thanks, Harper Perennial!)
Add It: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon, Indiebound

A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.

“Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.”

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

MINI REVIEW

Roxane Gay’s collection of essays are so sharp, so true, and so genuinely good. If you’re like UGH WHY WOULD I READ SOME ESSAYS? I HAD ENOUGH OF THAT IN SCHOOL. Trust me. She nails it her essay about Sweet Valley High, nails it again about casual racism in feminism, nails it again about The Hunger Games, nails it again and again. I felt so lucky to be reading Bad Feminist. I am a bad feminist. Like, legit. I don’t really know much about feminist theory and feel wholly under-qualified to talk about feminism. So, I was really glad that Roxane Gay is proud to admit she’s a bad feminist. Because I don’t think you have to rattle off Gloria Steinem texts to believe in the equality of sexes and like Gay states, everyone is flawed. Bad Feminist is intimate and powerful precisely because it is also flawed.

Sound: Beyoncé – ***FLAWLESS
I woke up like this 

I feel like I’ve said “OMG I KNOW, REALLY OBVIOUS BUT” so many times now that I just have to admit it: I do pick obvious choices because there is a reason why there so obvious! Basically:

bad feminist

Hello!! Today, I am very very excited to talk about this phone interview with other bloggers I had talking to Marie freaking Lu about her new book, The Young Elites! When I got the e-mail, I immediately told my cousin (who does not read YA or even books at allll) about it. My cousin knew who Marie Lu was because I gush about her so much, that’s how big of a deal it was.

the young elites by marie lu

Release Date: October 7th 2014
Add It: Goodreads
Pre-order: Amazon, Indiebound

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

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i'll give you the sun by jandy nelson

Release Date: September 16th 2014
Source: ARC (Thanks so much, Kate!)
Add It: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon, Indiebound

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

After reading I’ll Give You the Sun, I can safely confirm Jandy Nelson is an eighth world wonder. Or at the very least: HOLY FREAKING GENIUS.

I’ll Give You the Sun is split into two narratives: Noah and Jude, twins who are together/apart. Noah is then and Jude is now but their story isn’t whole without each other because something turned their love/hate/love kinship into them being on totally different planets. Then: Noah daydreams with paint stains on his fingers while all the boys in California gets tangled up in Jude’s hair. Now: Noah’s world goes from vivid colors to black & white and is almost soulsuckingly normal while Jude has a big heart and pocketful of charms with good intentions. The journey from then to now is like the most important kind of journeys: full of bone-deep love that hurts, grief that pulls you within, and truths so sharp that you shield yourself. Noah and Jude both come of age through art. Thirteen-year-old Noah reaches towards the future, so art-hungry he spies outside classes. Sixteen-year-old Jude looks at the past, intent on turning stone into forgiveness. Art is its own character in I’ll Give You the Sun. Nelson shows us how profoundly it affects us and how the thrum of needing to create never leaves a true artist.

I am in love with the prose because no one writes the way Jandy Nelson writes. It is so BRIGHT, you gotta wear shades. Nelson does all of this in a way that completely pulls you into her world because her words are their own magic. They shake you like a big earthquake, smashing colors and leaving you dazed that a human being can bend language so effectively. Sometimes the prose is tremendous that you may want it to pull back but that’s what I love about it. I like it full stop; I want my words wild. I also think Nelson is a genuinely funny writer which makes me appreciate her even more. I can go on forever about the way Nelson’s words makes my head spin and how she makes me want to be a goddamn writer because I want to find the perfect words.

Here are the ingredients for I’ll Give You the Sun: think of a beautiful song, the smell of the ocean, the moment art kapows straight to your soul, and the last time you were brave. You’ll be thanking Clark Gable for Jandy Nelson.

Sound: Jónsi – Animal Arithmetic
You and I run away, blushing cheeks
Howling wolves, colourful fireworks

“Animal Arithmetic” always makes me want to burst. It’s the kind of music that hits you the right way the same way Jandy Nelson does.

The Beatles – Hey Jude
So let it out and let it in, hey Jude, begin
You’re waiting for someone to perform with
And don’t you know that it’s just you, hey Jude, you’ll do

I’m taking a class on The Beatles so I thought it would be fun little project to pair reviews with songs from them especially because they are pretty much all I listen to nowadays. I referenced “Hey Jude” in my things you should do while waiting for I’ll Give You the Sun for obvious reasons. I think it’s also PRETTY APT and I picked these lyrics in the song because for me, it means how Jude feels artistically stunted besides her mother or brother but she’s actually crazy talented herself.

this one summer by mariko tamaki and jillian tamaki

Release Date: May 6th 2014
Source: Review copy (Thanks, First Second!)
Add It: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon, Indiebound

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki is a gorgeous graphic novel that perfectly encapsulates the restlessness of summer. Unfortunately, while the art was beautiful, it failed to resonate with me.

The art, done by Jillian Tamaki (who designed gorgeous editions of Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics), are amazing. The artwork has a moody, purple hue that evokes a nostalgic feel. I really like that it isn’t your typical summer mood because there are so many days in summer where you do absolutely nothing.

I so wanted to love this because I enjoy summer coming of age stories and while This One Summer did touch upon things like teen pregnancy/martial problems/friendship/etc., it fell short. There’s one scene where the main character calls a girl a slut, her friend calls her out but the main character doesn’t learn from it? I didn’t really understand the scene. I like flawed characters a lot but there wasn’t enough depth in the characters for me. Ultimately, This One Summer is a physically beautiful book that didn’t impact me.

Sound: Asobi Seksu – Glacially
Hushed in silence I lose my way in the dark
Starting stepping we keep going too far
A crash is flowing while my heart is sinking in place
Hushed in silence we get up losing our way

I saw Asobi Seksu in my music library and really wanted to use a song from them because of their sound.