Review: Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

August 29, 2016 Reviews 1 ★★★★

Review: Sex Object by Jessica ValentiSex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
Published by Dey Street Books on June 7, 2016
Genres: Adult, Adult Memoir
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
four-stars
Author and Guardian US columnist Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Now, in a darkly funny and bracing memoir, Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes from the every day to the existential.

Sex Object explores the painful, funny, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City, revealing a much shakier inner life than the confident persona she has cultivated as one of the most recognizable feminists of her generation.

In the tradition of writers like Joan Didion and Mary Karr, this literary memoir is sure to shock those already familiar with Valenti’s work and enthrall those who are just finding it.

Jessica Valenti can be problematic as a feminist, but her book The Purity Myth introduced me to other works of feminist criticism and was generally my gateway to feminism’s more academic form. There will always be a place in my heart for her and her works. Throughout her essays in Sex Object, Valenti embraces just how problematic she is in the form of exposing how she behaved in her teens and early twenties, how that conflicts with who she is now, and the way what she went through changed her. Read more »

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Review: Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker

August 26, 2016 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★

Review: Smash & Grab by Amy Christine ParkerSmash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker
Published by Random House BFYR on July 19, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
two-stars
Ocean’s Eleven meets the star-crossed lovers of West Side Story. Grab some popcorn and get ready for an adrenaline-filled heist!

LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.

CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful. . . .

Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.

Told in alternating points of view, this caper is full of romance and fast-paced fun. Hand to fans of Perfect Chemistry, The Conspiracy of Us, and Heist Society.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Christian and his friends are Mexican stereotypes; twins Elena and Whitney have “dark brown skin” and Oliver is Japanese)
QUILTBAG: 1 (Leo is gay)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0 (as part of the stereotype, Christian and co. are poor)

Saying my family is a fan of the 2001 film Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels is an understatement. WE LOVE THOSE FILMS (but not really Ocean’s Twelve because it’s not that interesting). By happenstance, my parents were staying in the Bellagio for a business trip while Ocean’s Eleven was being filmed there. They got to watch the “chaos in the casino” scene be filmed and my mom shook Andy Garcia’s hand! Sadly, her attempts to hunt down George Clooney were unsuccessful. He was hiding in one of the nightclubs.

ANYWAY. I was raised on those films. If you compare a book to Ocean’s Eleven, there’s a very high chance I’ll read it. Everyone loves a good heist book! Too bad Smash & Grab isn’t a good heist book. Read more »

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Review: Dreamers Often Lie by Jacqueline West

August 19, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 1 ★★

Review: Dreamers Often Lie by Jacqueline WestDreamers Often Lie by Jacqueline West
Published by Dial on April 5, 2016
Genres: Magical Realism, YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: finished copy from the publisher
Goodreads
two-stars
Jaye wakes up from a skiing accident with a fractured skull, a blinding headache, and her grip on reality sliding into delusion. Determined to get back to her starring role in the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Jaye lies to her sister, her mom, her doctors. She's fine, she says. She's fine. If anyone knew the truth - that hallucinations of Shakespeare and his characters have followed her from her hospital bed to the high school halls - it would all be over. She’s almost managing to pull off the act when Romeo shows up in her anatomy class. And it turns out that he's 100% real. Suddenly Jaye has to choose between lying to everyone else and lying to herself.

Troubled by the magnetic new kid, a long-lost friend turned recent love interest, and the darkest parts of her family's past, Jaye’s life tangles with Shakespeare's most famous plays until she can't tell where truth ends and pretending begins. Soon, secret meetings and dizzying first kisses give way to more dangerous things. How much is real, how much is in Jaye's head, and how much does it matter as she flies toward a fate over which she seems to have no control?

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0 (possible gay guy, but that uncertainty is why I’m marking this as bad/no rep)
Disability: 0 (while Jaye has a major head injury and hallucinations, I’m not happy with their handling)
Intersectionality: 0

I’m sure Dreamers Often Lie will earn all sorts of honors and awards in the coming year. I’ve got a habit of recognizing literary YA and disliking it! See: Printz winner/National Book Award finalist Bone Gap, Printz Honor novels And We Stay, The Ghosts of Heaven. I like the occasional literary YA, but this book ain’t one of those exceptions. This novel wants so badly to be discussed that it leaves almost everything vague, which creates something that doesn’t make much sense. Read more »

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Waiting on Wednesday (24)

August 17, 2016 Waiting on Wednesday 1

Waiting on Wednesday (24)Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee
Published by Duet Books on September 8, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary, YA Sci-fi
Pages: 262
Format: Paperback
Goodreads
Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.

Bi Vietnamese-Chinese girl gets an internship with a supervillain and adventures ensue. There’s really nothing else I need! I did get to hear about future releases from Duet Books during an event at ALA, though, and hearing that this title in particular had “a lot of buzz” around it made me plenty happy. Support QUILTBAG books from QUILTBAG publishers of all sizes!

(Can I say I wanted to read it before it was cool, hipster glasses and all? I did create the Goodreads page for it…)

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Pretty Preview (2): Unscripted Joss Byrd

August 16, 2016 Pretty Kitty Preview 0

I own so many books I know I can’t review them all, but I want to make sure they’re seen. You never know who might pick up the book on a whim and then love it! That’s the core of my new feature: Pretty Preview!

The rules:

Post a roughly page-long excerpt from a book you own but haven’t read yet.

Whether it came out two years ago or comes out in two months, it’s fine!

Excerpts come from the first 50 pages (less than 300 pages) or first 100 pages (300+ pages).

This week:

Unscripted Joss Byrd by Lygia Day Peñaflor!Joss Byrd

(subject to change; excerpt comes from p. 46)

“Ah! Rice pudding day!” Terrance calls from the back of the line. “No hoarding, ladies and gentlemen! One per customer!” he jokes, pointing at Chris. “I see you, Christopher Tate! That is a direct violation of catering code 421, section B!”

“Just get your food, and sit with me out back, okay?” Chris says, walking toward the back door.

“Okay.” I try not to look surprised, but I am. We never eat together, just the two of us. Sometimes Chris eats with Jericho, to talk about how to get to the next level on a video game or to quote some TV show I’ve never heard of.

I thought it’d be easy to make friends with other kids who act. But it isn’t, not when they think I’m Miss Thing when I’m not. When we got to Long Island, Chris asked if I wanted to go to Splish-Splash water park with him and Jericho. I wanted to go so bad. They were all excited about the Giant Twister–three slides that twist through the trees and end up in one pool. The three of us could’ve gone down at the same time. But, like a complete snob, I told them I didn’t want to go because water parks are where you get pink eye and foot fungus. How could i tell Chris that I had to stay in to memorize lines because I’m dense? I couldn’t.

Like what you’ve read? Add it on Goodreads!

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Review: Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan

August 11, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowanMaid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan
Series: Maids of Honor #1
Published by Simon and Schuster BFYR on May 7, 2013
Genres: YA, YA Historical
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
four-stars
In this breathtaking start to a series, a secret society of young women make up Elizabeth I’s most trusted royal guard. God Save the Queen—or the Maids will.

Orphan Meg Fellowes makes her living picking pockets—until she steals from the wrong nobleman. Instead of rotting in prison like she expected, she’s whisked away to the court of Queen Elizabeth and pressed into royal service, where she joins four other remarkable girls in the Maids of Honor, the Queen’s secret society of protectors.

Meg’s natural abilities as a spy prove useful in this time of unrest. The Spanish Court is visiting, and with them come devious plots and hidden political motives. As threats to the kingdom begin to mount, Meg can’t deny her growing attraction to one of the dashing Spanish courtiers. But it’s hard to trust her heart in a place where royal formalities and masked balls hide the truth: Not everyone is who they appear to be. With danger lurking around every corner, can she stay alive—and protect the crown?

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

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

I’m semi-proud to call Maid of Secrets a book I bought twice, but that’s not entirely on purpose. My cat Shadow threw up all over my hardcover, which had my preferred cover, so I had to buy the ebook to read it. Y’all don’t even want to know how thoroughly she wrecked that book with her upset belly. BUT ABOUT THE BOOK. It was absolutely worth buying twice because Maid of Secrets is a fun romp akin to the His Fair Assassin books–but without the paranormal fixins, of course.

Read more »

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Review: Entwined by Heather Dixon

August 5, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Review: Entwined by Heather DixonEntwined by Heather Dixon
Published by Greenwillow on March 29, 2011
Genres: Retelling, YA, YA Fantasy
Pages: 480
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
five-stars
Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it's taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

Due to a reading slump/me being more interested in video games and trying to get a job, I’ve run out of books to review. Whoops! It’s a good thing there are a ton of posts from my original blog that weren’t imported to WordPress properly, so here’s an old review of a longtime favorite novel: Entwined by Heather Dixon. Enjoy!

Entwined is one of those novels that would have done very well if it were published within the last two years, but it came out before the retelling trend really kicked in post-Cinder. Sad, really. This atmospheric, sweet gem of a book is lost in the backlist. Y’all, go buy this book. You need to experience this book if only for the incredible characters and the strong bonds of sisterhood.

Read more »

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