Posts Categorized: Diversity 0

Review: One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman

January 9, 2017 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: One Silver Summer by Rachel HickmanOne Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman
Published by Scholastic Press on April 26, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 263
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
three-stars
The thinking girl's summer romance: a gorgeously written story of love and loss with a thrilling royal twist!

After a car accident claims her mother's life, Sass is sent to Cornwall to live with the uncle she's never met. All she wants is to be alone, to come to terms with the new Sass -- the girl who can't forget the screech of tires, the crunch of metal.

With its rocky beaches and secluded fields, Cornwall is the perfect place to hide. It gets even better when Sass glimpses a silver horse and starts sneaking off to spend time with the one creature who makes her grief feel manageable.

During one of her visits, Sass runs into Alex, the horse's owner. At first, he shows nothing but disdain for the trespassing American. But despite his brusque manner, he feels an affinity for the curious girl with the sad eyes, and offers to teach her to ride.

Sass never expected to feel anything again, yet soon she finds herself falling for Alex. But Alex has a secret -- a bombshell that could shatter Sass's fragile trust. . . and force him to abandon the only girl who made him believe in true love.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG:0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

Warning: animal death in this book. Specifically, a horse dies.

Let’s be real, we’re all here for a romance between a royal and a commoner at some point in our lives. Maybe it’s when we’re kids and we refuse to turn off Cinderella or we’re adults and the once-a-generation royal wedding is happening in the UK, but it’s an attractive trope for more than a few reasons. Even more attractive for book nerds: a royal romance that dives into the nitty-gritty. Does One Silver Summer manage to do that? Well, it tries. Read more »

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Review: The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

December 30, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah WilsonThe Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson
Published by Fire & Ice Books on August 15, 2012
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 224
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you're the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you've had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie's secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She'll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie's going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.

Diversity: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0 (Mattie is 1/4 Japanese, but this is mostly cosmetic and never explored)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

Growing up, one of the movies I watched most was A Cinderella Story starring Hilary Duff. It was on ABC Family (now Freeform) practically every other week and I’ve always been a sucker for Cinderella. The Disney film of it doesn’t exist to me because the only true Cinderella film is the 1997 one starring Brandy and Whitney Houston. If you feel the same way and would watch A Cinderella Story immediately if you found it on television, then The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back might be something you’d want to read. Read more »

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Review: Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast

December 23, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 3

Review: Moon Chosen by P.C. CastMoon Chosen by P.C. Cast
Series: Tales of a New World #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on October 18, 2016
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, YA, YA Fantasy
Pages: 608
Format: Hardcover
Source: finished copy from the publisher
Goodreads
zero-stars
Chosen to embrace her true identity. Chosen to follow her destiny. Chosen to change her world.

Mari is an Earth Walker, heir to the unique healing powers of her Clan, but she has been forced to turn from her duties, until she is chosen by a special animal ally, altering her destiny forever. When a deadly attack tears her world apart, Mari reveals the strength of her powers and the forbidden secret of her dual nature as she embarks on a mission to save herself and her people. It is not until Nik, the son of the leader from a rival, dominating Tribe, strays across her path that Mari experiences something she has never felt before…

Now evil is coming, and with it, a force more terrible and destructive than the world has ever seen, leaving Mari to cast the shadows from the earth. By breaking Clan Law and forming an alliance with Nik, she must make herself ready. Ready to save her people. Ready to save herself and Nik. Ready to embrace her true destiny…and battle the forces that threaten to destroy them all.

Diversity: -5 – What the Fuck Is This?

Racial-Ethnic: -5 (this is some goddamn racist shit)
QUILTBAG: 0 (one blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gay character; there’s a lesbian couple, but one of them dies soon after being introduced)
Disability: 0 (one blind girl, heavily fetishized)
Intersectionality: 0

This is gonna be a long review and I’m not even covering everything I want to, so I’ve uploaded my notes on Google Drive for easy viewing. Just click the link! All quote citations and page numbers are in that document and based on the US hardcover edition.

Once upon a time, there was Revealing Eden by Victoria Hoyt, a novel that turned white people into the oppressed class and made the white main character donning blackface a narrative necessity. It was rightly called out for racism then and is still ridiculously racist now. If I weren’t already familiar with the Cast family’s brand of racism thanks to their House of Night series, I’d think Moon Chosen was written specifically to out-racist Revealing Eden and all the cultural appropriation and Magical Native American fuckery from the aforementioned series.  Between blackface and all the racial coding, Moon Chosen may actually be the most racist YA novel of all.

Read more »

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Review: Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

December 6, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid PaulsonValkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson
Published by HarperTeen on October 9, 2012
Genres: YA, YA Paranormal
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

Once in a supermoon, HarperCollins will take an older YA novel of theirs that’s seemingly chosen at random and temporarily make it free free (previous titles have included The Ivy and Sweet Venom). That’s exactly how I ended up with Valkyrie Rising, which has been languishing on both my Kindle and my Nook for what feels like centuries in publishing years. I think that was two or three years ago? It’s been a while and the TBR Jar chose it, so that was that. Nice choice, TBR Jar. Read more »

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Review: The Only Girl in School by Natalie Standiford

November 18, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★

Review: The Only Girl in School by Natalie StandifordThe Only Girl in School by Natalie Standiford
on January 26, 2016
Genres: MG Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Source: finished copy from the publisher
Goodreads
two-stars
When Claire’s best friend, Bess, moves away, she becomes the only girl left in her entire school. At first, she thinks she’ll be able to deal with this -- after all, the girls’ bathroom is now completely hers, so she can turn it into her own private headquarters and draw on the walls. When it comes to soccer games or sailing races, she can face off against any boy.

The problem is that her other best friend, Henry, has begun to ignore her. And Webby, a super-annoying bully, won’t leave her alone. And Yucky Gilbert, the boy who has a crush on her, also won’t leave her alone.

It’s never easy being the only one -- and over the course of a wacky school year, Claire is going to have to make it through challenges big and small.  The boys may think they rule the school, but when it comes to thinking on your feet, Claire’s got them outnumbered.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

Reading has always been a solitary activity for me. As a little girl, my parents never read a book before I did to make sure it was safe for me, nor did they ever read it with me so I could discuss questionable stuff with them. Even when I was in elementary school and my fifth grade class read the entirety of Holes by Louis Sachar out loud with new students playing different roles from the book each day, I read ahead on my own. Well, The Only Girl in School is one of the very few books I’d ever think needs to be read by parent and child together. It’s important no matter the child’s gender. Read more »

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Review: The Drowning by Valerie Mendes

October 31, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★½

Review: The Drowning by Valerie MendesThe Drowning by Valerie Mendes
Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK on August 1, 2005
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
one-half-stars
More than anything, sixteen-year-old Jenna wants to dance, not just in her studio in St Ives, or in her local class, but professionally, in London, under the eyes of the best teachers in the world. She knows her father will support her all the way; that her aunt will help with the fees and give her a home in the big city. Her mother, however, is a problem. She remains unconvinced of Jenna’s talents and pours scorn on her dreams.

But then a fatal accident blows Jenna’s Cornish life and family apart. Left in her care one hot summer’s afternoon, her beloved younger brother, Benjie, drowns behind some lethal rocks. Blaming herself entirely, guilty and grief-stricken, Jenna puts all her plans on hold. She relinquishes her hard-fought place at ballet school to support her father and their family-run café, valiantly trying to pretend this is the life she wants.

Until she finds Benjie’s diary and starts to probe its secrets. It seems he was being bullied at school; that a pair of twins could have been involved. Jenna finds it impossible to discover who they are and whether they can give her any new details about Benjie’s death.

But a chance meeting with someone who was there with her that tragic afternoon could help. Who is he and what can he reveal? What does Jenna discover that puts the accident in a whole new light?

And will she find the courage and determination to pursue her dancing dream?

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

Once upon a time, I knew a website that posted daily about all sorts of free books I could download onto my Kindle and free stuff = good stuff, so I downloaded pretty much all the YA they ever posted about. Then I started reading the books I’d downloaded and realized most of them were awful. That’s why I can’t even remember the site’s name anymore! I just remember The Drowning was one of the titles I found out about through the website and happily acquired. Well, now I’m unhappy four years later because this is just bad.

There’s content here that works well, which makes the end result all the more disappointing. Jenna has the foundation for a great character and I genuinely cared about her. It actually isn’t that easy to make me care for a character, let alone one in a novel as flawed as this, but Mendes did it! As the novel went on, the potential for nuanced emotional scenes was clear on just about every page. Already-cruel mom gets crueler and more depressed? Time to let out some secrets! Dad reconnects with a friend from his youth? Hmmmm, that sounds like a recipe for infidelity.

But we don’t get any character development, nuance, or emotion from The Drowning. Each scene reads like a summary of what’s happening, not an in-the-moment description that readers will get sucked into. An entire eleven months pass from the first page of the book to the last, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Indiscriminate and heavily summarized timeskips are common and even the passages where we are in the moment with Jenna and her family feel like an outline, not a fleshed out scene.

Because the novel skips along like that, we miss character development. Jenna goes from pursuing dance to giving it up to taking it up again because her romance with a lifeguard encourages her to. As if it isn’t problematic enough that she only wants to dance again because of her bland love interest! If she ever longed to get back to dance for her own sake, we never witness signs of it, like her staring longingly at her studio or composing a dance in her head when she hears a good song. That is how to do characterization and character development: showing us the little things.

Once it comes up that Benjie’s brother was enduring bullying at school and his death might have been related to that, it’s a great opportunity to paint the portrait of a sister whose grief turns into anger and she has to question herself about whether she should seek revenge against these middle school bullies or not. The outline of that plotline is there, but once again, there’s no emotional depth to it. When the whole tale unraveled, I felt nothing–and I love a good vengeance story.

It bothers me as well that both major figures in her life as she’s recovering from her brother’s death are men. Her two best friends, fellow dancers, are completely shut out of her life. Jenna only has her pushover of a father and the love interest she decides to take up dance again for. It’s honestly sad to read when I’m used to so many novels with women on every page and plenty of female friendships.

The formatting isn’t great either. For some reason, the first paragraph of each chapter or section would be single-spaced and then the rest would be double-spaced until the chapter ended or a new section began. Rinse and repeat. Commas often lacked the necessary space after them. You take away the space that follows a comma and everything just looked smushed together.

As the saying goes, I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed. The Drowning is what happens when you take part in NaNoWriMo, get your 50,000 words by writing summaries of scenes you expect you’ll expand on later, and then you decide you’ll publish it as-is without any editing whatsoever. I’m honestly glad The Drowning is no longer available in the Kindle store because work so poor isn’t ready for the public eye no matter how old it is.

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Blog Tour Stop & Review: How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You by Tara Eglington

October 19, 2016 Blog Tours, Diversity 0, Reviews 1 ★★★★½

Blog Tour Stop & Review: How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You by Tara EglingtonHow to Keep a Boy From Kissing You by Tara Eglington
Series: Aurora Skye #1
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on October 25, 2016
Genres: Comedy, YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: finished copy from the publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Sweet sixteen and never been kissed . . .

That’s Aurora Skye’s big secret. And the way she wants it to stay. She’s not going to give away her first kiss to just anyone. Busy dodging suitors and matchmaking for her best friends, Aurora (not so) patiently awaits her prince.

But everything changes when Aurora is coerced into a lead role in the school production of Much Ado about Nothing. Which means she’ll have to lock lips with her co-star Hayden Paris―the smart and funny boy next door who also happens to be the bane of her existence, always around to see her at her worst.

Now Aurora is more determined than ever to have her first kiss with the one who’s truly worthy of it. But first she’ll have to figure out just who that person is.

Romantic and funny, Tara Eglington's How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You is a feel-good tale of finding love where you least expect it.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

I got bullied in school. Badly. If you were too, you might have heard the line that “maybe they’re bullying you because they like you!” I can even recall one specific person from high school everyone suggested was bullying me due to a possible crush on me. My response has always been “WHAT THE HELL KIND OF LOGIC IS THAT?” (In kinder words, of course.) If that’s the way the bully expresses their feelings, how would a proper relationship with their bullying victim be any kind of healthy? Because of all that, I’ve never been a fan of any hate-to-love relationships in fiction. They always manage to take a wrong turn or fail to convince me the characters will work.

Then I read How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You and finally got it. Tara Eglington does so much right in her hilarious, friendship-heavy novel that I finally ship a hate-to-love ship! Read more »

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