Posts Categorized: Diversity 2

Review: This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston

January 16, 2017 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: This Is Our Story by Ashley ElstonThis Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Published by Disney-Hyperion on November 15, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Five went in. Four came out.

No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.

Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the district attorney’s office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.

Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As investigates with Stone, the aging prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot, she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (one minor black character)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 4 (Kate’s boss has macular degeneration and remains a top-notch attorney)
Intersectionality: 0

Sometimes, you’re sold on the cover moreso than the book’s description. That’s somewhat the case with This Is Our Story, where the choice to depart from the white font to put “his story” in a darker font got me thinking like an academic. Might the book focus on how in patriarchal societies, men’s versions of events often define everyone else’s as is often the case with our history books? After all, history is just “his story” smashed together into one word. I also happen to love YA mysteries. This Is Our Story managed to hit the spot pretty well. Read more »

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Review: Macarons at Midnight by Suzanne Nelson

January 5, 2017 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Macarons at Midnight by Suzanne NelsonMacarons at Midnight by Suzanne Nelson
Series: Wish
Published by Scholastic Paperbacks on June 28, 2016
Genres: MG Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
three-stars
When Lise Santos stumbles into a bakery's midnight taste test, she meets a supercute boy. He's as sweet as the macarons they share, and Lise is totally smitten. She's pretty sure he is, too -- but they never get a chance to exchange names. Now Lise has to find him again....

When Lise finally discovers who her mystery guy is, he's not at all what she expected -- and suddenly they don't get along anymore! Things become even more complicated when her friend Viv starts to express interest in him. Now Lise's head and heart are all in a jumble. Can she gather the courage to admit her true feelings ... or is this a recipe for total disaster?

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (the love interest Rajeev is Indian, the principal’s wife is Thai, and Elise’s dad is Brazilian)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

This is one of those reviews I’ve been putting off for months because Macarons at Midnight is pretty easily summarized. Very cute, a bit outlandish in parts, but worth reading if you’re in a bad mood and want something fluffy. BUT I MUST WRITE A PROPER REVIEW FOR IT. I almost wish I weren’t swamped in review books now so I just could review what I wanted when I wanted the way I did when I started six years ago. So. Reviewy thing now.

(I know, I’m a master at transitions and subtlety.) Read more »

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Review: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

November 17, 2016 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. SchneiderSummer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider
on May 3, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (Sloane and her brother are Native Hawaiian through their mom)
QUILTBAG: 1 (one supporting character is a lesbian)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 2 (Maile, Sloane’s co-worker, is a lesbian and presumably Native Hawaiian based on her name)

If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you probably have very vivid memories of it. I only went once when I was eleven and my dad won a trip there, but I still remember everything from the trip clearly. That includes my raging carsickness while we drove up a dormant volcano and the absolute monsoon that my family got drenched in at the top of said volcano. Summer of Sloane surfed onto my radar because of its Hawaiian setting and I’m glad it stayed around. Infidelity is everywhere and the characters are the best kinds of messy.

Read more »

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Review: Winning by Lara Deloza

July 28, 2016 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: Winning by Lara DelozaWinning by Lara Deloza
Published by HarperTeen on June 28, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
four-half-stars
House of Cards meets Election in this wickedly entertaining story about an uber-ambitious high school junior.

Whoever said being nice would get you to the top?

Certainly not Alexandra Miles. She isn’t nice, but she’s more than skilled at playing the part. She floats through the halls of Spencer High, effortlessly orchestrating the actions of everyone around her, making people bend to her whim without even noticing they’re doing it. She is the queen of Spencer High—and it’s time to make it official.

Alexandra has a goal, you see—Homecoming Queen. Her ambitions are far grander than her small town will allow, but homecoming is just the first step to achieving total domination. So when peppy, popular Erin Hewett moves to town and seems to have a real shot at the crown, Alexandra has to take action.

With the help of her trusted friend Sam, she devises her most devious plot yet. She’ll introduce an unexpected third competitor in the mix, one whose meteoric rise—and devastating fall—will destroy Erin’s chances once and for all. Alexandra can run a scheme like this in her sleep. What could possibly go wrong?

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 4 (Sam is lesbian; Erin is either lesbian or bi, but it’s never specified)
Disability: 2 (Lexi’s mom is drug-addicted)
Intersectionality: 1

About five years ago, Charlie Sheen had a meltdown and coined phrase after phrase. One of them was “winning” and it seems apt that this novel has the title it does. Why? Because Winning the novel is just as ridiculous and terrifying as Sheen’s downward spiral and will have you reacting in many of the same ways. (Still more entertaining than most Charlie Sheen-starring shows or films, though.)

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Review: Run by Kody Keplinger

July 25, 2016 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: Run by Kody KeplingerRun by Kody Keplinger
Published by Scholastic Press on June 28, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who's not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn't care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents' overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter -- protect her from what, Agnes isn't quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it's the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn't hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo's dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and -- worst of all -- confronting some ugly secrets.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 4 (Bo is bisexual)
Disability: 5 (in #ownvoices representation from Keplinger, Agnes is legally blind)
Intersectionality: 3 (Bo’s family is very poor and her mother is a meth addict)

A blind girl and a bisexual girl get into a car, steal it in the middle of the night, and drive straight into my heart. That’s this book in the form of a bar joke, but if I can be real a second (for just a millisecond), it’s better than a stale bar joke. If you have any assumptions about a book with a “two friends go on a road trip” premise, Run will defy them and leave you tearing up as you turn the last pages.

Read more »

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Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

July 7, 2016 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: With Malice by Eileen CookWith Malice by Eileen Cook
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children on June 7, 2016
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
four-half-stars
It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.

As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Jill’s roommate Anna is Mexican)
QUILTBAG:
Disability: 2 (I believe Anna was paralyzed from the waist down when her boyfriend pushed her down from the stairs)
Intersectionality: (Anna; see above)

Once upon a time, this little book called Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas was a cult hit among book bloggers. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell very well at all and most casual readers had no idea it existed. If you haven’t read that book, go read it right now. If you have, congratulations! If you were into that true crime-inspired tale and its unreliable narrator, then With Malice here should be next on your TBR. Read more »

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Review: Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

April 28, 2016 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★½

Review: Ketchup Clouds by Annabel PitcherKetchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Published by Little Brown BFYR on November 12, 2013
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
two-half-stars
Dear Mr. S. Harris,

Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner. It's jam, not blood, though I don't think I need to tell you the difference. It wasn't your wife's jam the police found on your shoe. . . .

I know what it's like.

Mine wasn't a woman. Mine was a boy. And I killed him exactly three months ago.

Zoe has an unconventional pen pal--Mr. Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate and convicted murderer. But then again, Zoe has an unconventional story to tell. A story about how she fell for two boys, betrayed one of them, and killed the other.

Hidden away in her backyard shed in the middle of the night with a jam sandwich in one hand and a pen in the other, Zoe gives a voice to her heart and her fears after months of silence. Mr. Harris may never respond to Zoe's letters, but at least somebody will know her story--somebody who knows what it's like to kill a person you love. Only through her unusual confession can Zoe hope to atone for her mistakes that have torn lives apart, and work to put her own life back together again.

Rising literary star Annabel Pitcher pens a captivating second novel, rich with her distinctive balance between humor and heart. Annabel explores the themes of first love, guilt, and grief, introducing a character with a witty voice and true emotional resonance.

Before anything else, SPOILER WARNING AHOY. HERE THAR BE SPOILERS. To adequately review this, I’ve got to reveal THE big twist.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 3 (Zoe’s youngest sister Dot is deaf/hearing impaired and it’s simply part of the family’s life to sign with her)
Intersectionality: 1 (Zoe’s family is in pretty dire financial straits)

Really, when a book’s premise rests on the idea that the main character killed someone, it turns out in one of two ways: they either did kill the person or they feel so guilty about the person’s death that they blame themselves to the utmost degree and say they committed murder. See: Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore and this book right here, which has recently been reprinted as Yours Truly. It’s a simple psychological thriller idea–did they do it or not?–but there’s so much room to explore the human mind that it’s not simple at all. More like an idea that occurs often.

Having read Thicker Than Water so close to reading Ketchup Clouds (aka three months apart) when the two were published close to four years apart, I can’t help but compare them. The former helps me pinpoint exactly how my opinion on Ketchup Clouds changed so quickly and it all comes down to how the “did they do it or not?” question is explored/handled. (Don’t worry, I won’t be spoiling Thicker Than Water for you. I want you to read it.) Read more »

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