Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, March 18, 2016

Checking out some reading recommendations from BookTube

As a reader, finding out how good(or bad) any book is can be quite the exhaustive search these days, between the standard newspaper/magazine reviews to numerous websites and online social media arenas, it's a huge stack of information to look over.

Yet, finding a couple of reviewers that you truly feel you can trust is still a very viable option. One way of doing so is through YouTube with their "BookTube" of friendly folks who are eager to spread the good word about what they're reading, be it old,new or yet to be discovered.

At the moment, I have on my TBR and Current Reading lists a pair of books that have been highly recommended by YouTube channels that I subscribe to. Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia I first heard about from Rincey of Rincey Reads(more about that in a moment) and recently, another rave review of this debut novel came from The Poptimist motivated me to seek it out.

The story is set in two different points in time but in one place: Mexico City in 1988, where fifteen year old Mercedes "Meche" discovers that the music on her records can be used to cast magic spells. Along with her friends Sebastian and Daniela, she sets out to change her life for the better while not heeding the warnings of her grandmother that magic often commands a high price.

Twenty years later, Meche returns home for her father's funeral and runs into her now former friends, going over what went wrong between them in the past and dealing with consequences of their mystical methods. I was able to borrow Signal to Noise from Booksfree and started reading it as soon as it arrived.

The flow of the writing is crisp and compelling, with characters that feel true to life and full of energy. It's a short novel but I'm taking my time with it in order to slowly savor the rich goodness of the story line. Thanks to both Rincey and The Poptimist, I have been introduced to a wonderful novel and a great writer to watch for(she has a second book coming out in October called Certain Dark Things and yes, it has vampires!), which is more than enough reason to be happy here:

Rincey's reviews, I've been following for awhile now and one of the books she raved about,Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown, became one of the best books that I read last year.

So, to accompany Signal to Noise, I had Booksfree loan to me a title that I know she loved, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus. Ever since her novel Americanah received such major acclaim back in 2013, I have been curious about Adichie's work but held back on checking it out. Perhaps the abundance of praise intimidated me.

Rincey's enthusiasm convinced me that I should give it a try. This novel also has a teen protagonist, a girl named Kambili who lives in postcolonial Nigeria and while her family is reasonably well off, her father's religious strictness with both of his children makes their home a harsh place to live at times.

When Kambili and her brother Jaja are given an opportunity to experience life outside of their household(thanks to a visit with their Aunty Ifeoma), Kambili in particular starts to question her way of life and grow up emotionally. From what I've heard, this story has a tapestry of complex characters and feelings that heralds the beginning of great things from this author so I'm pleased to have this book awaiting me once I am done with Signal to Noise:

At the moment, I am waiting for another book that has gotten some Booktube love as well, The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. Not only did Rincey read it and found it interesting enough, there was a great review of the book at The Reading Outlaw, a YouTube channel that I recently began subscribing to.

The library in question exists slightly outside of our regular reality and is governed by the mysterious Father, who has his adopted children specialize in certain arcane subjects in order to maintain the order of the books and possibly the wider world.

When Father disappears, Carolyn decides to search for him on her own yet with the help of a few reluctant mortals. Finding Father may have more than one set of consequences,especially for Carolyn and her various siblings.

 Blogging for Books will be sending me a review copy and I hope it arrives soon, as I may want to read it during the Spring Into Horror readathon coming up in April. The Library at Mount Char seems to fall into more than one category but that shouldn't be a problem for the readathon. Even if it shows up later on, I'm still intrigued to see what this wonderfully weird book is all about:

Having BookTube reviewers to check in with does help a lot in finding great books to read as well as discussing literary topics and current reading trends. It's almost like being a part of more than one book club, only without having to be on the spot with an opinion of the newest selection.

 No doubt some people look to these reviews as the best of both worlds, getting to share a love of books while avoiding the pressure to read more. I think it's not an either/or and yet, find true delight in seeing a new review up on my feed. It's almost like saying hi to a friend while you're book shopping:

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