Review: Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

January 12, 2017 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★

Review: Ticker by Lisa MantchevTicker by Lisa Mantchev
Published by Skyscape on December 1, 2014
Genres: Steampunk, YA, YA Historical, YA Sci-fi
Pages: 270
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
two-stars
A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count.

When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.

On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings...or is the motive more sinister?

Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0 (one guy might be bisexual?)
Disability: 3 (Penny’s bad heart and subsequent bad replacement heart count)
Intersectionality: 0

Lisa Mantchev’s Theatre Illuminata trilogy is one of my all-time favorite series and I don’t think that will ever change. Its whimsical tone and imaginative use of theatrical mainstays like Shakespeare’s plays (among many others) enchanted me from the very first page. Naturally, a steampunk novel from her would have much the same effect on me! Well, that was the assumption. It was as intensely readable as her past works, but like its heroine Penny, it has a bit of a defective heart.

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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: 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: And I Darken by Kiersten White

January 4, 2017 Diversity 4, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
Series: The Conqueror's Saga #1
Published by Delacorte Press on June 28, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Historical
Pages: 496
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Goodreads
three-half-stars
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

Diversity Rating: 4 – This Is Our World

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (Most of the cast is Muslim once we get to the Ottoman Empire; Lada and Radu are Slavic)
QUILTBAG: 3 (Radu is gay; his arranged marriage enables a lesbian couple to life happily and safely)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 3 (if I remember correctly, Radu’s sexuality and religion don’t come into conflict with one another)

Kiersten White’s debut novel Paranormalcy was one of the first books I read once I started reviewing and I loved it then, but White’s novels have failed to impress me since. Then And I Darken started gathering all sorts of praise from major outlets and even people who disliked White’s previous books like I did. With so many like-minded people saying her latest was very different from her earlier works, of course I’d pay attention! I’ll add my voice to the chorus: And I Darken is much darker, features a brutal, unapologetic heroine, and is just plain good. 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: Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

December 29, 2016 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Afterward by Jennifer MathieuAfterward by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by Roaring Brook Press on September 20, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from the publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
When Caroline's little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can't help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can't see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend--and their best option just might be each other.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 1 (Ethan has PTSD; Caroline’s brother Dylan is autistic, but the author cites poisonous org Autism Speaks)
Intersectionality: 0

Jennifer Mathieu can write some incredible novels. Both The Truth About Alice and Devoted occupy precious space on my bookshelf and the latter especially has stuck with me since I read it. Of course I was going to read Afterward! Sadly, I come away from the novel with mixed feelings and without the same kind of deep impression her previous works left. It’s still good, but it’s definitely not something I can recommend if you’re looking for good representation of autism for a number of reasons. 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.

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