Review: The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia

December 8, 2016 Diversity 3, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana ZiaThe Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia
Published by Peachtree Publishers on March 1, 2016
Genres: MG Contemporary
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Source: YA Books Central
Aliya already struggles with trying to fit in, feeling confident enough to talk to the cute boy or stand up to mean kids — the fact that shes Muslim is just another thing to deal with. When Marwa, a Moroccan girl who shares her faith if not her culture, comes to Aliya's school, Aliya wonders even more about who she is, what she believes, and where she fits in. Should she fast for Ramadan? Should she wear the hijab? She's old enough for both, but does she really want to call attention to herself?

Diversity: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (Aliya and her family are Indian Muslims; her best friend Winnie is Korean; Marwa’s family is Moroccan)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 4 (the book’s focus on Muslim girlhood creates plenty of intersections between gender and racial-ethnic identity)

One review of The Garden of My Imaan calls the book a modern homage to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, that classic book parents gave to their kids when puberty threatened to rear its ugly head and begin the monthly misery of menstruation. I never got to read that one because I was an ace at odd things like not getting to read things that were “normal” for kids my age to read. That continued all the way into high school. ANYWAY. The Garden of My Imaan is far from perfect, but it has a lot of value for its audience even if it’s a bit didactic. Read more »


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
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
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 »


Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

December 2, 2016 Diversity 4, Reviews 0 ★½

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Diversity: 4 – This Is Our World

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (Natasha’s family is Jamaican, Daniel’s is South Korean, and their identities are explored well)
QUILTBAG: 0 (very brief appearance of a lesbian women in one interlude chapter)
Disability: 1 (a suicidal woman makes brief appearances in two or three interlude chapters)
Intersectionality: 5 (see all of the above)

Look, I don’t set out to be a black sheep. It’s not fun thanks to all the jerkwads who will eventually show up in the comments to tell me how wrong I am and how I should die (legitimately a comment someone left in Portuguese on my review of a Cassandra Clare book). Nicola Yoon? Her fans are dedicated and I completely understand why because there’s a lot to like in Everything, Everything as well as her newest, The Sun Is Also a Star. I simply have grievances with both books that run too deep and mean too much for me. Read more »


Bookish Bingo: Fall 2016 Wrap-Up

December 1, 2016 Links and Silliness 0

FUCK, I LOVE BOOKISH BINGO. I love Bingo in general for letting me indulge my inner old lady, but Bookish Bingo as hosted by Bekka of Pretty Deadly Reviews is obviously the best kind of Bingo.

Here’s how I did for the fall. I’m quite happy with two Bingos, especially since I play Bookish Bingo very literally due to my TBR Jar-controlled reading.


Standalone: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Backlist: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Multi POV: Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid

Killers: Vile by Benjamin S. Jeffries

Suspense: Die for You by Amy Fellner Dominy

Revenge: Interference by Kay Honeyman

Horror/Paranormal: Demonosity by Amanda Ashby

Illustrated: The Only Girl in School by Natalie Standiford

American History: Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Friendship: How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You by Tara Eglington

Black Cover: Avenged by E.E. Cooper

Fall Release: A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres

Creepy Cover: My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier


Review: Demonosity by Amanda Ashby

November 24, 2016 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: Demonosity by Amanda AshbyDemonosity by Amanda Ashby
Published by Speak on August 15, 2013
Genres: YA, YA Paranormal
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
An ancient myth + a mean girl + a reluctant warrior = a lively take on good vs. evil

The Black Rose--a powerful ancient force--has been let loose and has taken up residence in Celeste Gibson, popular girl at Cassidy Carter-Lewis' high school. Thomas Delacroix is the spirit of a fourteenth-century knight who is devoted to protecting the Black Rose, but he needs a contemporary living being to take on the challenge. That's where Cassidy comes in. She's a quirky high school junior who just wants to dress in her vintage clothes, hang out with her best friend, and take care of her father, who is recovering from surgery. She's the last person who would ever volunteer for such a task, but no one actually asked her.  Now, like it or not, she finds herself training before dawn and battling demons at parties, the mall, and even at school. But hey, no one ever said high school was going to be easy. . .

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 2 (Cassidy’s best friend Nash is asexual and defies most stereotypes about ace people)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

YA paranormal novels–specifically Ellen Schreiber’s Vampire Kisses series–are what made me a reader, so I’ll always have a soft spot for the genre. Sadly, the YA paranormal market dried up with the majority of Twilight mania. Such is the nature of fads. BUT LO, A MIRACLE: I got pointed to a YA book that was paranormal and had a major character who outright declared his asexuality. As your local aro ace, it was my duty to read Demonosity and enjoy the story of a teenage girl who gets suckered into chopping up demonic knights thanks to a temporary tattoo. (I think?) Read more »


Review: Bad Boy by Elliot Wake

November 21, 2016 Diversity 5 0 ★★★★

Review: Bad Boy by Elliot WakeBad Boy by Elliot Wake
Published by Atria Books on December 6, 2016
Genres: NA Thriller
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.

But Ren has been living a double life.

Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.

But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.

Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.

Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.

Diversity Rating: 5 – Diverse as Fuck

Racial-Ethnic: 3 (Tamsin is dark-skinned, though I can’t recall much else)
QUILTBAG: 5 (you’re honestly hard-pressed to find a het person in the novel)
Disability: 4 (Ren is depressed, Blythe is bipolar, and there’s a lot more than that)
Intersectionality: 5 (Wake’s characters are brimming with intersections of identity)

God help you if you try to read Bad Boy before Wake’s previous novels Black Iris and Cam Girl because it’s gonna spoil you hardcore on events and twists from those novels. I’m putting that first because I decided not to heed Wake’s warning and I regret it somewhat. The excellency found within Bad Boy‘s pages ensures I’ll go back to read the previous novels anyway! Read more »


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
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
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 »