December 9, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Bookish Academy Awards 2019 Tag

Tanvi of A Reader to Whatever End tagged me to do this really fun tag based on the Oscars. I also want to credit her for the feature image I used for the post as she created it, as well. Thank you! Needless to say I’m coming to the party fashionably late. Fret not, the fashionably late get the most attention and have the most fun! There were a couple awards I left out because they didn’t fit with my year or reading habits. Other than that… let’s do the thing!

This Oscar party is for our favorite artists and the art they create. The best part is that unlike the stuffy oscars that are only based on movies released the previous year, this is based on all the books I read during January 2018-Dec 2019 (doesn’t matter when they were actually released), which is a riot because that is the year I really got hooked into YA and either led me into starting my blog or were some of the first books I reviewed! This tag was originally created by BOOKadoodles and modified by Jasmine @ Jasmine’s Reading Blog. 

P.S. For all those already wandering? Yes… all the Six of Crows. I mean it won’t win EVERYTHING… but… you know…

Best Actor: Best Male Protagonist

Kaz Brekker by merwild. Crooked Kingdom. Leigh Bardugo
Photo Courtesy of Merwild

Kaz Dirtyhands Bastard of the Barrel Brekker- Six of Crows Duology-I would describe him but I would like to keep this under a million words. So. I’m going to let Inej and the man, himself do it for me.

Inej- Six of Crows (and what better opening to a book, I ask you?):

Kaz Brekker didn’t need a reason. Those were the words whispered on the streets of Ketterdam, in the taverns and coffehouses, in the dark and bleeding alleys of the pleasure district known as the Barrel. The boy they called Dirtyhands didn’t need a reason any more than he needed permission – to break a leg, sever an alliance, or change a man’s fortunes with the turn of a card.

Of course they were wrong, Inej considered as she crossed the bridge over the black waters of the Beurscanal to the deserted main square that fronted the Exchange. Every act of violence was deliberate, and every favour came with enough strings attached to stage a puppet show. Kaz always had his reasons. Inej could just never be sure they were good ones.

Six of Crows Page 96:
<He’s> A liar, a thief, and utterly without conscience. But he’ll keep to any deal you’ll strike with him.

Six of Crows Page 428 (Narration):
There was no part of him that was not broken, that had not healed wrong, and there was no part of him that was not stronger for having been broken.” 

Kaz on Kaz Six of Crows:

“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”

Best Actress: Best Female Protagonist


To say I am excited for A Kingdom for a Stage (the second book in this series) would be like trying to tell HarperCollins I haven’t already started dropping hints that I would give a kidney to review it, as I did For a Muse of Fire (the first). Jetta is a lead female protagonist that Heilig writes with precision and nuance. She is complicated and driven by both her malheur, the french word for misfortune (Jetta is as Heilig discusses in the author’s notes, bipolar), family loyalty, gift for necromancy and her need to do the right thing.

Heilig demonstrates how Jetta’s manic highs drive her family’s successful shadow plays, her ability to defend herself and control spirits through necromancy. However, it also causes rash decisions and leads to actions that harms herself and those she cares the most about. This comes with the depressive lows where she withdraws, has panic attacks and oversleeps due to the exhaustion of fighting it all. An exhaustion also fueled by a driving resilience, intelligence and need to not have her malheur define who she is nor her life. This is a female heroine to be cherished, heralded and applauded.

Best Plot Twist

So here’s the deal. I’ll tell you the book. Actually I’ll tell you the books because I’m not choosing between them and because no shocker… they are by the same author. Because. Well. Because Tiffany Jackson. That’s why. And it is what she does to us poor readers that love her.


Actually, you should go straight to the bookstore, buy both books and then hang your head in shame as you read both books and like me throw them across the room multiple times because it isn’t just ONE plot twist in each book. It is a million of them.

Allegedly and Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Best Supporting Actor and Actress: Best Male and Female Sidekicks/Supporting Characters

If for one fleeting second you thought we were done with the Six of Crows Duology. Well…

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There is no other group of unruly sidekicks more deserving of this award. The love/hate interrelationship dynamics? The loyalty that always seems to come through at the end? Even from Kaz himself, even if he doesn’t quite know how or want to show it; whether it suits him or not (See: Helping Nina get the Grisha out of Ketterdam or telling Jesper no when asked for Jurda).

Both times he refused to admit it to them but he was protecting Jesper and while last minute shifts in plans never made him comfortable, there were parts about saving the Grisha that helped him but he wasn’t about to tell Nina as much.

Let’s not forget Jesper almost getting them all killed right at the beginning, especially Inej. What did she say? There is no Suli word for sorry. You just say you will try to do better, when you can, when you mean it. This action will have no echo.

And then Matthias and Nina… talk about a whole lot of mess to a whole lot of love, loyalty and heartbreak. They were never ready for each other and ultimately we will never know if the world would have ever been ready for them.

Wylan? LOL. Who’s Mark?

He went from being the group’s punching bag to the little brother everyone protected. Even Kaz, who stole all Wylan’s money back and gave it to him, along with a lot of important philosophical advice along the way. Yes, there were other things Kaz should have told Wylan instead of letting him be blindsided. But again, this is Kaz. He needed Wylan Righteous and what Kaz needs usually trumps everything.

Best Original Screenplay: Most Unique Plot

I have to admit I went back and forth on this one and in the end? It is a tie.

By categorical definition, The Girl with All the Gifts is Young Adult. The main character is a teenager. However, when I am in a bookstore that isn’t where I find it. Not that I look for it. Lord knows the first time I lost four nights of sleep over it was enough.

It also could have gone in the best plot twist category except the whole book is one big fight to not remain in the fetal position while reading. I can’t say much else without giving away the whole shebang. That is the beauty of M.R. Carey. He unravels the plot in his time, in his way. Your feelings? He doesn’t care about your feelings. Not at all. The only thing I will say and have ever said? If you didn’t think you could actually feel complete empathy and complete disgust for a main character at the same time? Yes, you can. You can also scare your neighbors by throwing a book across your apartment too much at three in the morning.

A Room Away From the Wolves is a completely different book. Completely. However, it is also completely unique. In Nova Ren Suma’s atmospheric writing style, to the setting, the plot, the twists, the “come on man” moments and the time travelling magical mystery tour (yes I went there) you take? There is nothing quite like this book.

As I said in my review:

Be careful with beauty. It can become monstrous very quickly. Often lulled into this luxurious platitude of brilliant colors, mysterious people and a quick-witted city, Suma wrenches and lurches the whole thing ajar. Suma utilizes atmospheric prose to mix brutal reality that is bested by mystical madness while interweaving unreliable childhood flashbacks, horrific time-traveling recounts and things seen but not to believed.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Best Book-to-Movie Adaptation OR A Book That Should Be Adapted into a Film

No brainers.

If I have to explain the premise of the The Hate U Give (book or movie) I’m not sure why you are reading this blog but shoot me an email and we’ll talk.

The Hate U Give deserves every accolade, praise and award it has received. I can’t even begin to imagine Angie Thomas’s whirlwind of a life since it was released. For all the highs and amazing blessings, life-changing stories she’s heard based on the story told, the amount of backlash, intrusion on her person and outright hostility makes my blood boil. While I had the great fortune to meet for all of a minute at one convention, I don’t know her on any level outside of that one moment in time. However, some of the stories I’ve read online that she has experienced at the hands of the ignorant and the obsessed shames me. I will leave it there.

This is Where it Ends was, at one time supposed to be a movie. I know I read that it would be. I know for a fact that I read it. I haven’t heard anything since and that was when I first read it. I remember thinking that this book has to be a movie.

Told over a harrowing 54 minute mass school shooting, through multiple points of view, author Marieke Nijkamp weaves in representation, family trauma, loss, abuse, utilization of social media and the arts. All of this is done while not once holding back on the brutal violence witnessed by those that have endured these horrific events. I stand by the fact that it should be a movie.

Best Animated Feature: Best Graphic Novel

Deadly Class – What is it with boarding schools gone way wrong?? Maybe it is because I’m reading about one at the moment but no, I’m sure there is a trend here! In fact, there is an ARC I want that pretty much guarantees there is a trend here.

I’m sure you thought this would be the Umbrella Academy but I read that long before 2018. However, like Umbrella Academy, Deadly Class is now a well-adapted series on SyFy that is well worth watching.

Anyhow, before this really does become longer than the actual Oscars I’m going to let the publisher handle the description.

It’s 1987. Marcus Lopez hates school. His grades suck. The jocks are hassling his friends. He can’t focus in class. But the jocks are the children of Joseph Stalin’s top assassin, the teachers are members of an ancient league of assassins, the class he’s failing is “Dismemberment 101,” and his crush has a double-digit body count. Welcome to the most brutal high school on earth, where the world’s top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained. Murder is an art. Killing is a craft. At Kings Dominion School for the Deadly Arts, the dagger in your back isn’t always metaphorical.

Best Short and Foreign Film: Best Book with Diverse Representation and Short Story CompilationF

Fresh Ink is dedicated to the late Walter Dean Myers and is composed of twelve “label-defying stories.” Edited by the co-founder of We Need Diverse Books, Lamar Giles, the anthology includes topics on coming out, poverty, untimely death, transitioning and romance. Contributors include the first transgender division one athlete. Stories tackle coming out around not just culture and generational norms but also tackling ageism.

Fresh Ink is one of the first reviews I ever wrote. You can find it here: Review

My only complaint about Fresh Ink is that I haven’t heard of any plans for a second volume. The world needs one.

Fresh Ink: An Anthology

Hopefully that solves all technical glitches and concludes this year’s bookish Oscars for 2019! Being I was so fashionably late, I’m not tagging anyone but feel free to utilize as you wish!

Most importantly don’t forget to tell me what you thought I got right, wrong and what you would have given awards to or not given? And did you see who was wearing what on the red carpet? I know! I couldn’t believe it either…

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