March 23, 2020

Review: Tiny Pretty Things

Tiny Pretty Things By Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Available now from HarperTeen
Review copy

There are a number of review copies stacked in various places around my house. Yes, I know I haven't reviewed any of them in more than a year. I moved Tiny Pretty Things up my to-read list after a Netflix adaptation was announced. They have a good track record with YA properties, so I'm looking forward to what they'll do with this story of scheming ballet students.

Tiny Pretty Things is told in alternating points of view between ballet students Gigi, Bette, and June, with the prologue from the school's former top ballerina, who has to leave after an engineered accident. Gigi is the new girl who gets bullied because she instantly rises to the top; however, she's hiding a medical condition that could end her chances of dancing professionally. Bette is balancing romantic drama with trying to reclaim the top spot, while her mom berates her for not being her sister, a current ballet star. June works to hide her eating disorder while trying to discover who her secret father is.

I honestly found all three of the girls somewhat hard to like, but I liked that all three had real determination and drive, despite often channeling it in destructive ways. (The academy has male dancers, too, each with their own agenda, though they don't get their own point of view sections. They're mostly suitably hunky love interests who might perform some of their own backstabbing.)

If you're read Gossip Girl or one of the many series it spawned, this is pretty familiar ground. (Even the escalation to attempted murder.) The setting at least means the girls are fighting over something real; it is their future career on the line. Still, don't go in expecting realism. Their antics are pretty over the top. Conversely, I often found June's eating disorder too real, especially the explicit details in how she fakes a higher weight for weigh-ins. The potential tips felt slightly irresponsible to me.

I did appreciate that packager CAKE Literary made a commitment to diversity. For example, June is Asian and Tiny Pretty Things addresses the race problem in the ballet world and that June knows she'll always have to be better than the white girls to get picked for roles ahead of them.

While I enjoyed Tiny Pretty Things as a frothy, dramatic read with ballet flair, I have not yet picked up the sequel, Shiny Broken Pieces. I have made it a goal to read it before the Netflix series comes out. I'm looking forward to seeing who ends up on top!

March 21, 2020

Self Isolation, Not Shelf Isolation

In this time of social distancing, I know I'm not the only one turning to books to fill my spare time. Books are not only entertainment, but a connection to our fellow humans (that can be made from more than six feet away).

The blogger in her Matilda sweatshirt
Things in my part of Texas have turned for the cold and rainy, so I pulled out my Matilda sweatshirt from Out of Print. (By the way, they're donating 25% of profits from their current promotion to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation to help booksellers through this time.)

Wearing this sweatshirt reminds me of reading Matilda, and I find its messages comforting in this time:

So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.

February 2, 2019

October 12, 2018

Prime Book Box Kids?

At the beginning of October, I was browsing Amazon and saw a banner ad for a program I hadn't heard of before: Prime Book Box Kids. I instantly clicked.

Amazon has tried to move into the subscription box marked before; most notably, with the Prime Sweets Box. Books seem like a more natural fit for Amazon.

Now I did try the Prime Sweets Box a few times. However, it had one huge drawback: you couldn't list any preferences or choose your sweets in any way. As I currently have braces, this meant a quarter to a third of each box I received I had to give away due to nuts, caramel, or other foods I'm not supposed to eat.

Amazon seems to have learned for Prime Book Box Kids. First, none of the books in your box will be ones you've previously purchased on Amazon. Second, you'll have a number of alternate choices to choose from if you aren't interested or already own one of the choices in your box. That freedom to make sure you get what you want is a nice bonus. I do like my subscription boxes a surprise, but not too much of a surprise.

You can also adjust the frequency to every 1-, 2-, or 3-months and you can skip boxes. Both are good options for further flexibility. (More is listed in the FAQ.)

The price is a little rich for my blood. Each box is $22.99 (including shipping) and includes two hardcover books (for the older age ranges) or four board books (for the babies). Amazon promises each will be at least 35% off list price and no more expensive than it would be on the site. So it is a deal, but personally, I prefer paperbacks, and not just for the price point. Especially for children's books, where they can go through a large quantity. $11.50 isn't bad for one book, but it's more than a paperback.

I do think it is a good idea, and bet a lot of families will love it. It might make a good gift during the Christmas season.

Are any of you subscribed to a book box?

October 10, 2018

Recommended: As a Person, I’d Love to Stop Separating Children from Their Families, but, as a Pied Piper, I Can’t

I don't often get political on this blog. It's not that I don't have thoughts on politics; it is that it isn't what I made this blog for, and I often feel that if I address one thing on here, then I have to address all the things.

But I don't. This blog is what I make of it.

So today I am recommending a bit of political satire that appeared in The New Yorker. Because I enjoyed it. Because it has a fairy-tale theme that suits this blog.

I may recommend similar pieces in the future. I may not. But today, I am recommending this one.

"As a Person, I’d Love to Stop Separating Children from Their Families, but, as a Pied Piper, I Can’t" by Matt Doyle

It’s not like I can change the law.

Look, I’m not happy about having to do this. Try, for a second, to ignore that I was dancing while I coaxed all the children away from their parents. That wasn’t performative cruelty, it was more like law enforcement, performed.

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