Reflections on Turning 16

Sixteen laps around the sun! Woohoo! I know sixteen is supposed to be one of the big birthdays, like 18 or 21, but while I feel different than I did last year, there’s certainly not been some veil that’s been lifted in a journey to adulthood. But, still, I had a good day!

Me and Tahereh Mafi, Yallwest 2016

I’ve been writing book reviews since I was seven, which is more than half of my life. Book Reviews by Ava has served as a record of my growth- both as a reader/writer and as a person, and it is one that I am immensely grateful for. It is so gratifying to be able to look back on myself at seven, at ten, at thirteen, and now finally, at sixteen. It’s empowering to see myself face challenges and overcome obstacles through my writing and I can’t wait to chronicle the next chapter in my life. Continue reading

January Wrap Up

What I’m Up To:

I cannot believe it’s 2019! 2015 seems like it was just yesterday. After a long holiday break, school has started back up for me. So far, my highlights have been an interesting soa.jpgclass on the culture of the Hispanic Caribbean and another on the intricacies of arguments.

What I’m Reading Right Now: 

Just like I promised in my review of Circe by Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles is what’s currently sitting on my nightstand. This novel follows Patroclus, Achilles’ friend and lover, as he navigates his life and the Trojan War by the famed hero’s side. I’m only 25 pages into the story, but Miller’s signature attention to detail and lush storytelling have already captured my attention.

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New Year, Same Blog (Kinda)

My Year in Review

2018 was crazy for me. For starters, I finished my first year of boarding school and started my second. In June I studied abroad in Chile, where I studied poets like Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral. Lately, I’ve just been studying hard in school, which starts back up in a few days.

yjyMy Favorite Books of 2018

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin: Zevin’s vivid female characters- a mother, a daughter, a wife illuminate her latest novel. Both timely and timeless, Young Jane Young explores marriage, affairs, and love through vibrant female perspectives, painting a hilarious, lively portrait that is not to be missed.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali: Abdulali’s novel is a difficult work to read. She does not shy away from harsh realities, showing readers compelling stories and undeniable statistics, but ends her novel with a necessary glimmer of hope, which I intend to carry into the new year.

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor: I cannot get enough of Taylor’s lush fantasy worlds. Last year, Strange the Dreamer, the predecessor to Muse of Nightmares made its way on to my best of list, so I delight in putting Taylor’s latest onto this list as well. Her clear gift for spinning stories so wildly imaginative and yet so fiercely human makes her one of my favorite authors to date.

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November Wrap Up

What I’m Up To:

 I’m writing this wrap up on my way back to school, ready for the dreaded two and a half weeks between Thanksgiving break and winter break. It’s time to get some work done, but as soon as it’s over, I’ll be back in New York to celebrate Christmas with my family, where I can get some reading done.

avleof What I’m Reading Right Now:

 I’m almost finished with A Very Large Expanse of Sea, Tahereh Mafi’s realistic fiction debut (which was long-listed for the National Book Award). I was a huge fan of Mafi’s fantasy series when it came out a few years ago, but her newest is both a thematic and stylistic departure. Gone are the flowery sentences and angsty action-packed chapters, replaced by sharp wit and politically-charged narratives. A Very Large Expanse of Sea follows Shirin, a Muslim teenager grappling with her identity in a post 9/11 world.

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What I’m Thankful For: 8 Years of Book Reviews by Ava

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, which means I’m in Arkansas visiting my lovely relatives. This year, I have a lot to be thankful for, from my amazing, supportive family to the incredible education I am lucky enough to have access to thanks to a generous scholarship. But, one thing I wanted to highlight this season was how thankful I am for the wonderful book review community- everyone from my loyal readers to bookstore owners, librarians, publishers, publicists, authors, and many more.

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Since my first review for Warwick’s Bookstore in San Diego, book reviewing has been an integral part of my life, one that I can’t imagine my life without. As a young reader, I am grateful for the platform to share my ideas and opinions about literature. The empowerment that comes from expressing my thoughts has been integral to my growth into a young adult who is passionate about reading.

My first review followed little Lulu, a drama-queen wishing for a brontosaurus as a pet. It was three sentences long and emphasized the cute illustrations and laughable dialogue. Back then, I had my dad edit my reviews down to the sentence and only posted a review when I loved the book.

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September Wrap Up

What I’m Up To

I’m back at boarding school, working my way through sophomore year. I love school and the chance to be back with all my friends, but I miss being able to pick up a book and read whenever I wanted.

wwtawwtar.jpgWhat’s On My Bedside Table

Right now, I’m reading What we Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali. Thanks to Mary Beard’s Women & Power which I read in July, I’ve been getting more into nonfiction recently. Abdulali’s account of her gang rape in India went viral in 2013. Now, she’s channelled many of the ideas she mentioned in her op-ed into her memoir/essay/research/manifesto about rape, which will be released later this month. As a young woman, I find Abdulali’s story is both unflinchingly terrifying and galvanizing.

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August Wrap Up

What I’m Up To

August was a month of relaxation for me. I’m only home for a few months every year, so I loved spending time with my family- especially by the pool. But, I’m so excited to start school next week.

Last school year, I really struggled with keeping up with my blogging schedule, so this year I’m making a change. I’ve scheduled posts to post automatically through November. In November, during Thanksgiving break, I’ll schedule posts up until winter break. I’m optimistic that this system will work fantastically, but if there’s any problems, feel free to reach out on my contact page.

pcWhat’s On My Bedside Table

Paperback Crush by Gabrielle Moss. Moss, a features writer at Bustle chronicles the history of 80’s and 90’s Young Adult cult classics, from Sweet Valley High to Goosebumps. Think: Everything after Forever but before Harry Potter. I’m only 100 pages in, but it’s so interesting to learn about an era of YA that I know almost nothing about. Check out my review soon and check out Paperback Crush when it hits shelves October 30.

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Curating the Perfect Bookshelf

w&pFeeling at home is important wherever you are. A sanctuary to  ground you in difficult times or somewhere you can relax, away from the world around you, is vital. But, especially for students, finding that small sanctuary in an environment like a dorm can be difficult.

I find my sanctuary in books. I grew up in libraries and bookstores and my room at home has always had an overflowing bookshelf. Obviously, I can’t bring this bookshelf to school every year. But, I can bring a few books to remind me of home. The books I chose are more mementos than stories. They carry memories of the people they were gifted from or ideas that changed my life.

No matter what you chose to bring to create your home, there are a few categories that your mementos can fit in to. When using these categories, I find it easier to choose what comes with me and what stays behind. Hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration for your own packing list.

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News Years Resolutions + What I’m Excited for in 2018

Year In Review

I can’t believe 2017 is over! It feels like just yesterday I was making new years resolutions for last year. It’s been a tough year, but I’ve grown from it and there’s been many moments I know I will cherish. For instance, the transition to boarding school was a welcome challenge and I cannot wait for the next four years. However, it can be easy to overlook big (and small) moments of joy when we are faced with the current news cycle. This year, I learned it is important now more than ever to use my voice to contact my representatives, stand up for what I believe in, and to fight for my rights.

“That’s the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” – Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

 

bestofBest Young Adult Books of 2017

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway. It is hard to imagine any “best books” list without Benway’s National Book Award winning Far From the Tree. This story of three siblings begins with middle child Maya grappling with giving her baby up for adoption just as she was given up for adoption sixteen years ago.

Warcross by Marie Lu. Lu’s sci-fi thriller was an unexpected favorite. I am not usually drawn to either genre, but something about heroine Emika Chen was immediately compelling.

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No More Book Reviews by Ava

I started blogging about books in 2010 when I was seven. Now, for half of my life, I’ve written weekly about books online. I originally started on Tumblr because of the free platform and easy customization. Now, I blog on WordPress, where I pay a small annual fee for my own URL and more advanced customization options. Book Reviews by Ava is small- consisting of around 500 followers across all platforms (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and WordPress). Because of this, if the FCC repeals net neutrality, Book Reviews by Ava will likely be no more.

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I am a full time high school student, so I do not make a steady income. Book Reviews by Ava is my passion project. I love blogging and I love the fact I can reach anyone in the world with my writing. Net neutrality makes sure I have an equal playing field to do so. Net neutrality is the simple idea that the internet is equal for all. This means all can access and create whatever content they wish. Without net neutrality, internet service providers (ISPs) such as Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast can charge fees to be able to look at certain websites or slow down websites that compete with their own.

Net neutrality protects everyone from start up companies like Etsy or Reddit to small book blogs like mine from predatory ISPs who will speed up or slow down our internet speed based on if we pay a fee. I will not be able to pay additional fees so that my blog loads at a competitive speed.

Not convinced that you should be worried? Check out this graphic from the Washington Post. In 2014, while Netflix and Comcast were in negotiation Netflix’s loading speeds plummeted on that network. In February 2014, Netflix loading speed shot back up. This proves companies will slow down the speed of competing websites if net neutrality is repealed.

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