Saturday, May 31, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Starry-Eyed, MC Wax

Welcome to Short Story Saturday! Each week, I'll talk about a different story from the collection I'm working my way through and offer up some thoughts. I'm currently reading Starry-Eyed: 16 Stories that Steal the Spotlight.

Story: MC Wax
Author: Josh Berk
Summary: When the school board approves budget cuts that means an end to all fine arts programs, Max is willing to do whatever it takes to save the theater, even if it means asking his girlfriend's famous ex-boyfriend for help.
Thoughts: This one was silly and over the top which isn't my usual cup of tea, but I can admit that there were a handful of moments I found funny throughout the story. This story was light and fast, a quick read.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Armchair BEA 2014: Day 4 - Beyond the Borders

Logo by Amber
Day 4 of Armchair BEA, let's do this thing!

Beyond the Borders

Many authors and writers express the transformative power of books. How they allow us to experience worlds and points of view we might not otherwise know. When I do write my own works of fiction or even journal entries, I strive to do the same, to paint pictures of the world as I see it so it may become a shared experience with the reader. Harry Potter opened me up to more than just magic, but also to England, life as an orphan, and having great expectations thurst upon you. Thirteen Reasons Why let me look at the terrible world of suicide through two lenses: those who choose it, and those left behind. Memoirs are particularly fascinating to me because the truth can often be stranger than fiction, like in On the Edge, Richard Hammond's memoir about surviving a horrific car accident as well as a traumatic brain injury. To me, all of these play into the concerns about diversity in books and why it is so necessary. I believe that I only have this one life, that I will only see things through these eyes, but books provide me a way of being in two places, in two minds at once. There is my world, and the world of the writer, fictious or real. So break out of your comfort zone. Shake up your reading tendencies. I've been making a more conscious effort lately to read widely, reading books from a wider range of genres and whose writers or protagonists are different from me. So yeah. Diversity. It's a good time and we need a heck of a lot more of it in books. :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Armchair BEA 2014: Day 3 - Expanding Blogging Horizons & Novellas/Short Stories

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And here we are at Day 3 of Armchair BEA!

Expanding Blogging Horizons

Okay guys, here's the truth. My blogging horizons are very small. Much like this blog. I've been at this for about three years now (I think?) and very little has changed about this little corner of the internet. I've had the same design the whole time. I try out different memes and features. I always post my reviews on Sundays. And that works for me. I will say that the blogging world has opened me up to other kinds of social media (I love Twitter and Tumblr to connect with other book people) and the biggest jump was to YouTube where I upload video book reviews (though not as often as I used to - I'm not going to take the time to film, edit, and upload if I didn't love a book). I also have other book aspirations. I've written multiple YA manuscripts and have been on the agent hunt for a few years, plus I run another blog which leads perfectly into...

Novellas/Short Stories

I love short stories so much that I run another blog with my critique partner. Called Stories by SaM, we take turns giving each other prompts and we each post a story once a month. It's been a great place to try ideas out and branch out of my comfort zone. Plus I have a feature here on the blog called Short Story Saturday where every week I've been posting mini-reviews of stories in whatever short story anthology I am/was reading. Collections I've mostly enjoyed include Geektastic and Foretold, and I absolutely cannot wait for My True Love Gave to Me this winter!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Armchair BEA 2014: Day 2 - Author Interaction & More Than Just Words

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And it's Day 2 of Armchair BEA!

Author Interaction
I have been very, very fortunate in that I've had interactions with a number of authors, thanks primarily due to my access to a fantastic independent bookstore. If you live in the Chicagoland area like I do, I highly encourage you to check out Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, IL. Named one the best independent bookstores in the country by Publisher's Weekly, this store draws big names and sets up an atmosphere that makes events a hit. It was there that I met Meg Cabot, Sarah Dessen, Veronica Roth, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, David Levithan, Jay Asher, Stephanie Perkins, and so, so many more! I was also lucky to meet a number of authors when I attended the ALA Annual Conference in 2013 - Laurie Halse Anderson actually hugged me. It was awesome. However, my most recent author interaction was one I haven't gotten to blog about yet and now is the perfect opportunity.

I met John Green. I still can't quite believe it. My boss received an email that he was doing this year's Zena Sutherland Lecture at the Herald Washington Library, I got tickets for myself and a friend, forwarded the email to some coworkers who then also shared it with students, and wow. He gave a fantastic speech all about technology, diversity, where his ideas come from, the purpose of fiction, the role of book sellers/librarians, and so much more. It was amazing how much he was able to fit in 30 minutes. Afterwards there was a reception where he was kind enough to take pictures with almost everyone, including this selfie of us. It was an evening I won't be forgetting any time soon. :)

More Than Just Words
I'm a traditional print kind of girl when it comes to reading. I like the feel of a book in my hands, though I do love my e-reader especially when I travel (I recently purchased a new Nook Glowlight, my second device from Barnes & Noble). However I've been opening up more in recent years. I really should give graphic novels more of a chance, but recently I've been absolutely loving the world of audiobooks. I love taking long walks in the summer and a great narrator with an engaging story makes me actually want to get out and exercise! Maggie Stievfater's The Scorpio Races is perhaps my favorite audiobook, but I'm also very much looking forward to Ashley Clements narrating The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet due out along with the print book this summer.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Armchair BEA 2014: Day 1 - Introductions & Literature

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Welcome to another year of Armchair BEA!

First up, introductions and the random question portion of this post.
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! For those of you new to my little corner of the Internet, I'm Monica and this is The Fuma Files. When I started this blog back in 2011, I had no idea about the online book community. I thought an ARC was a boat Noah had put animals on. I was simply a library school student who was interested in keeping track of the books I was reading and wanted to share my thoughts with others, and so a blog was born. In addition to being a sporatic blogger, I am a licensed English teacher, have my MS in library and information science, and I actually work at the high school I graduated from in the library.

2. Describe your blog in just one sentence, then list your other social media outlets.
This blog is tiny, but what it lacks in size/hits/view counts/etc, it makes up for in enthusiasm!
Find me elsewhere online on Twitter (@mfumarolo), Tumblr (, and YouTube where I post video book reviews (

3. What genre do you read the most? I love to read because...?
I read contemporary YA more than anything, probably because I like feeling connected to characters who are also in the same crazy mixed up world as me. However, I also LOVE fantasy and magical realism, and science fiction has been growing on me in recent years. I love to read because I love the power words have and their ability to transform us and the world.

4. Share your favorite book or reading related quote.
"When you reread a classic, you don't see more in the book than there was before. You see more in you than there was before." - Clifton Fadiman

5. What book would you love to see as a movie.
The Fault in Our Stars, and luckily the wait is almost over! But also The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer - if they could turn that series into movies or a mini-series, that would be amazing!

So this is a really broad topic and since I've already written a lot, I'll aim to keep this brief. As someone with an English degree, I still think there is a lot of value in people reading what we have come to call "the classics." There is a reason these books have stood the test of time: they speak to the human condition. That being said, there are so many fantastic writers who are still alive and kicking, bravely venturing into areas that were long considered taboo or inappropriate. Since I work with teens and am passionate about YA, I vote for both. I vote for balance. I think YA has become a much stronger category than when I was a teen, but I also know many people who would benefit from also exploring the books and voices of those who came before. :)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Starry-Eyed, The Accompanist

Welcome to Short Story Saturday! Each week, I'll talk about a different story from the collection I'm working my way through and offer up some thoughts. I'm currently reading Starry-Eyed: 16 Stories that Steal the Spotlight.

Story: The Accompanist
Author: Eve Yohalem
Summary: Andie is happy out of the spotlight playing piano for the musical but her fellow seniors desperately want to leave their mark on their school, forcing Andie to consider her past and future choices.
Thoughts: There are two words for this story: shy and sexy (which is a word I really never use, but it perfectly applies here!)! This story was so well rounded with a great arc, clearly thought out, and I was left wanting more. I'm sad to see these characters go and would love a whole novel with Andie and the mysterious Henry. A fantastic start to this anthology!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

No People Like Book People: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2014

There's only one word that comes to mind when thinking about this novel: charming. A sweet ode to book lovers and book people, Gabrielle Zevin creates a Stars Hollow-esque town and a cast who all share one thing in common: a connection to perhaps the world's grumpiest man.

When readers meet the titular AJ Fikry, his life goes from awful to just about unbearable. Never a particularly kind man before, now he is still mourning the loss of his wife, his copy of Tamerlane (a very rare collection of poetry by Edgar Alan Poe) has been stolen, and someone has left a baby in his bookstore. But rather than toddler Maya being the straw that breaks the camel's back, she becomes the thing that returns AJ to the land of the living. What unfolds from there is a tale about second chances, turning wrongs into rights, opening up to the world, and discovering that the things that are worth the most in this life can't be measured by a price tag.

I'm always impressed when a story can be carried by an unlikable protagonist. Not to say that AJ is unlikable, neccesarily. Let's say prickly. Or set in his ways. Or closed off. As such, the growth that we see through is relationship with his adopted daughter, his sister-in-law, his friendship with the police chief, and his growing crush on Amelia, a young bookseller from a small publishing company, that change is always possible. Here is a story where every single character is flawed, everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has something to lose, but hope is never too far away. There truly are no people like book people, and each of us is a living, breathing story.

I really enjoyed reading this book over the course of several mornings while I ate my breakfast as it allowed me to start my day with a bit more spring in my step. If you liked Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, I think you'll be similarly enchanted with this novel. I'd be remissed if I didn't include this lovely sentiment from this book: "We are not quite novels...We are not quite short stories...In the end, we are collected works."

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading.

Gabrielle Zevin's Website
Gabrielle Zevin on Twitter
Gabrielle Zevin on Tumblr

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Foretold, Homecoming

Welcome to Short Story Saturday! Each week, I'll talk about a different story from the collection I'm working my way through and offer up some thoughts. I'm currently reading Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction.

Story: Homecoming
Author: Richelle Mead
Summary: Rose and Dimitri are in his homeland of Russia where he is nervous to be seeing his family again after having spent time as an undead and evil vampire.
Thoughts: I've never read the Vampire Academy series which these characters are from, and now I guess I don't need to since this story had a whole lot of spoilers going on. However this is a story that can stand mostly on its own outside the context of the series, complete with evil vampires, half-human warriors, and a grandmother who seems determined to make her grandson's girlfriend crazy. Funny and full of action, this was a win except for the spoilers.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Foretold, The Killing Garden

Welcome to Short Story Saturday! Each week, I'll talk about a different story from the collection I'm working my way through and offer up some thoughts. I'm currently reading Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction.

Story: The Killing Garden
Author: Carrie Ryan
Summary: Tanci has trained her entire life to take her father's place as executioner for the Emperor once she is old enough, but nothing could have prepared her for the price she would have to pay.
Thoughts: Aw, this story. So sad and heartbreaking and dark and twisted, but strangely hopeful? I've never read anything by Carrie Ryan before, but this was a nice introduction. While it took me a bit to wrap my head around the world and the rules of Court, once I got there I clung to hope that Tanci would be able to find a way out of this choice she'd made just as she must find a way out of the garden maze. I'll be thinking about this one for a while (in a good way).

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Foretold, Fate

Welcome to Short Story Saturday! Each week, I'll talk about a different story from the collection I'm working my way through and offer up some thoughts. I'm currently reading Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction.

Story: Fate
Author: Simone Elkeles
Summary: Carson has nothing in common with his neighbor Willow, but that doesn't stop an unlikely friendship from blossoming.
Thoughts: In this short story with dual narrators, readers see how quiet Carson would love nothing more than for plucky Willow to leave him alone, but a friendship, then a crush springs up in each of them. While the connection to the anthology's stated themes of prophecy and prediction wasn't as obvious as it was in other stories in this book, this was a tale about a young man afraid of being doomed to follow his father's footsteps and how he learns that he has the power to choose. This story was short and sweet.