Genre: YA Historical

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Review: The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill

April 13, 2017 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie MorrillThe Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill
Published by Blink on February 7, 2017
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Historical
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
three-stars
Lydia has vanished.

Lydia, who’s never broken any rules, except falling in love with the wrong boy. Lydia, who’s been Piper’s best friend since they were children. Lydia, who never even said good-bye.

Convinced the police are looking in all the wrong places, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail begins her own investigation in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. With the reluctant help of a handsome young detective, Piper goes searching for answers in the dark underbelly of 1924 Chicago, determined to find Lydia at any cost.

When Piper discovers those answers might stem from the corruption strangling the city—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

Diversity: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0 (the only POC is a black woman employed by Lydia’s family as a servant and her 1-2 lines of dialogue have a rather stereotypical phonetic accent)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0 (Lydia has seizures due to an unidentified disease or disorder)
Intersectionality:  0

The 1920s was a big, extravagant mess of a time in American history. We had the Harlem Renaissance going on and we tend to associate the decade with glamour, but we also had Prohibition and organized crime basically owned the city of Chicago. That’s the setting of The Lost Girl of Astor Street and the background for one girl’s search for her best friend. It was an alright novel, I guess. I have a few bones to pick, though. Read more »

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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.

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: Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

October 13, 2016 Diversity 4, Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Review: Outrun the Moon by Stacey LeeOutrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons BFYR on May 24, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Historical
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Goodreads
five-stars
From the author of the critically acclaimed Under a Painted Sky, an unforgettable story of determination set against a backdrop of devastating tragedy. Perfect for fans of Code Name Verity.

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty of Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. Now she’s forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

Stacey Lee masterfully crafts another remarkable novel set against a unique historical backdrop. Strong-willed Mercy Wong leads a cast of diverse characters in this extraordinary tale of survival.

Diversity: 4 – This is Our World

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (Mercy is Chinese and Lee accurate depicts the diversity of San Fancisco’s population)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 2 (a deaf black man appears for a scene and Mercy’s role model Mrs. Lowry is blind)
Intersectionality: 5 (see above; also discussions of how sexism Mercy faces differs from sexism white girls face)

The 2016 US presidential cycle has made it difficult to have any faith whatsoever in humanity and the goodness of people’s hearts. Seeing as one Australian show reported on our election with circus music in the background, I doubt even international readers need me to explain why. We still have a month left of this madness as I write this! This little tangent might seem unrelated, but it really isn’t. Outrun the Moon did what I thought wouldn’t happen until Hillary Clinton’s election as president: It made me believe even the worst people can come together and be good. Read more »

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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.

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Review: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

July 8, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth RossBelle Epoque Published by Delacorte BFYR on June 11, 2013
Genres: YA, YA Historical
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought (Used Bookstore)
Goodreads
four-stars
When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new "friend" is the hired help, and Maude's very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTLBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

As I learned when pumping my mom for camping-buddy-related gossip, I learned a dear family friend of ours has a lot of self-esteem issues. I’d say I don’t know why because she’s gorgeous and funny, but of course I know why: our culture. The US is a patriarchal society built on knocking women down. Swimsuit ads, diet ads, makeup, it goes on and on and on. (The only thing she should feel bad about is being a fan of Donald Trump, but that’s totally unrelated.)

Anyway, if she were a reader, I’d give her Belle Epoque. If you feel ugly, this book will remind you that you’re beautiful inside and out no matter what your culture or your own insecurities have to say about it.

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Review: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

June 24, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. AndrewsFlowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Series: Dollanganger #1
Published by Simon Pulse on November 1979
Genres: Gothic, Historical, Suspense, YA, YA Historical
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
three-stars
Such wonderful children. Such a beautiful mother. Such a lovely house. Such endless terror!

It wasn't that she didn't love her children. She did. But there was a fortune at stake--a fortune that would assure their later happiness if she could keep the children a secret from her dying father.

So she and her mother hid her darlings away in an unused attic.

Just for a little while.

But the brutal days swelled into agonizing years. Now Cathy, Chris, and the twins wait in their cramped and helpless world, stirred by adult dreams, adult desires, served a meager sustenance by an angry, superstitious grandmother who knows that the Devil works in dark and devious ways. Sometimes he sends children to do his work--children who--one by one--must be destroyed....

'Way upstairs there are
four secrets hidden.
Blond, beautiful, innocent
struggling to stay alive....

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

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

Way back when the Lifetime movie of Flowers in the Attic premiered on television and I watched it (aka about two years ago), I finally decided to read the infamous book people the teens of the 80s passed around. Really, there’s not a person in the United States who doesn’t know this series is one big dramatic saga about incest. I knew what was coming and yet I wanted to read it anyway. Whoo, was that an experience! Read more »

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