July 2017 Reading Recap – My Month in Reading

My July 2017 reading recap has to start with how this crazy month both ate into my reading practice and made me love reading again. At the end of June, I started a new job that had very specific and brutal hours that ultimately I could not adjust to since I am so sensitive to losing sleep. But there were a few weeks there where I was working about 20 hours there and still had all my regular freelance work, so it was 15 hour days for enough days to wear me down. Anyway, I decided to pursue other opportunities, and now reading (and writing) have come back into my life. When that happens, an intense crush of reading deprivation, it makes me love reading even more, crave it even more. Which is a good thing because for those days when I was chained to my MacBook for 13 hours straight, I sought out the quiet peace of a book rather than watch TV. Can I just say, it is so nice to unplug and read? Even though I have been reading on my Kindle more, there is a beauty to shutting down your computer, turning off your phone, and just losing...

Narration, Authorship, and Memorial in John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars”

(This post contains spoilers for The Fault in Our Stars… also, I wrote this as part of my application for MFA programs in spring 2017—and it worked!) Upon a first read, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (2012) might seem to be chiefly concerned with death. Indeed, the gut-wrenching novel about star-crossed teens is filled with morbidity and mortality—it has to be, for it is about terminal cancer. Hazel Grace Lancaster, bright and practical, knows that sand is falling through the hourglass of her short life. There’s no question that she will die, it’s when she will, likely when the miracle drug trial she is on fails to work or loses funding or she contracts an illness that would fatally cripple her compromised immune system. When Hazel meets Augustus Waters, aka Gus, at a church-basement support group for kids with cancer, she is intrigued by his easygoing-yet-blunt attitude. Gus smashes the defense-mechanism cage where Hazel guards her love and trust captive. Earlier Grace confessed to her mother that, “I’m like. Like. I’m a grenade, Mom. I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?” (Green 99). Later, Gus...

Christmas-Themed Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction – Updated 2016

A few years ago, I stumbled down the rabbit hole of a Goodreads list devoted to Christmas-themed Chick Lit Novels. I am a sucker for a good romance, and anything British, so I ordered a good four or five novels from The Book Depository to be sent over here to my American doorstep (Many of those novels were not published in paperback here in the US.) I spent many a magical evening soaking up these whimsical, spirited stories. I especially loved the ones set in small towns or villages. I was going through a pretty rough depression at the time, too, so these comforting reads not only put me in the season but also lifted my mood. They were even better than Love Actually because I could savor them slowly, and there was an almost endless supply. Even after Christmas was over, I kept an eagle eye watching Book Depository for sales on Christmas-themed chick lit and also possible new Christmas chick lit published in 2016. Now here we are, with December right around the corner, and I’ve got the best of the best holiday chick lit novels for you with buying options in the US and international. I write to...

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy: Not Worth the Hype | Book Review

(Thank you to HarperTeen for giving me a galley of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This did not in any way affect my review.) In Short: Dumplin’ (September 15), Julie Murphy’s follow-up to her debut novel, Side Effects May Vary (2014), offers a painful-yet-vividly visceral look at teenage obesity through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Willowdean “Will” Dickson, who lives in the shadow of her mom, a minor celebrity in the contemporary beauty-pageant arena of Clover City, Texas. Although Will tells her story in reflective narration, often providing glimpses of poignant bravery and astute observations on challenges overweight women face, she cannot overcome quite a few flaws in Murphy’s character development, reliance on stereotypes, and a turgid plot structure. A flat tone and predictable plot that relies on YA tropes are not helped by an unsympathetic, unremarkable, and ultimately unlikable heroine in what should have been a novel that celebrates individuality and originality. Plot Summary: Dumplin’ is narrated by Will, nicknamed “Dumplin’” by her mother, over the course of a few months that present challenges and changes in her life. Will works at a fast food restaurant, her after school and summer job, and is grieving for her...

YA Novels about Disability and Illness: Some History and a Forecast for 2015

A Little Personal History The first time I officially recognized my illness as a disability was in 2006 when I registered with Student Disability Services at Barnard College, which I attended at the time before transferring to Penn. I was initiated into the world of Reasonable Accommodations and Documentation. I was encouraged to frame my “invisible disability” illness to professors in terms of “flare-ups.” I was encouraged to disclose my illness but also “not let it define me.” Was my illness a crutch? Or was sitting some classes and assignments out crucial to maintaining my already fragile health? And so began a cycle of shame and pride, secrecy and disclosure. For someone like me, who was frighteningly ambitious and set her sights on the top, not to mention negotiating an intensely competitive academic environment, accepting what I could and could not handle was a process that took the better part of 8 years. Saying “I think I can, I think I can” didn’t apply anymore when it was my mind that was affected. The “thinking” was the root of the issue. At Penn first as a student and later as an employee, I navigated my abilities and disabilities as I accepted...

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Welcome to Broke By Books, a blog by Sarah S. Davis, where the guiding mission is to spread a contagious love for reading through helpful, thought provoking, and enjoyable writing about books. Please join me in growing an inspired, engaged, and fearless reading life.

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