Genre: YA Horror

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Review: The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

January 5, 2018 Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-JonesThe Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Published by Little Brown BFYR on August 8, 2017
Genres: YA, YA Horror, YA Paranormal
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: finished copy from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
four-half-stars
When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

But Who Does it Represent?

  • Dee is a Latina girl from an abusive, alcoholic home
  • Riley is trans

Ah, a novel in which someone might say “it cost me an arm and a leg” and mean it literally! The novel’s blend of magical realism and the paranormal entertains with its team of portal destroyers and brave, desperate heroine Dee as much as it horrifies with its homunculi and the more mundane, reality-grounded horror of exactly why Dee sold her heart away for boarding school tuition money.

The outlandish and the unfortunately everyday blend seamlessly, though the novel’s pacing is a bit lax and it’s somewhat repetitive toward the middle. Luckily, James and Dee’s developing romance helps pick up some of the slack. One major event that isn’t satisfactorily handled may ruin the book for some readers, but I found myself engaged enough that I overlooked it for a while.

And that ending? I CRIED A LOT, READER. Though I find it unlikely I’ll reread this book due to those waterworks, it’s going on that bookshelf I reserve for all books with value to me as a writer–because it gave me some serious writerly inspiration.

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Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

January 1, 2018 Diversity 4, Reviews 1 ★★★★★

Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke NijkampBefore I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 23, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, YA, YA Contemporary, YA Horror, YA Thriller
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via NetGalley, YA Books Central
Goodreads
five-stars
Days before Corey is to return home to the snow and ice of Lost Creek, Alaska, to visit her best friend, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter...

But Does It Represent?

  • #ownvoices asexual representation in Corey
  • Kyra is pansexual and has bipolar disorder
  • Roshan and Sam are gay and together
  • Roshan and his father are Indian and from the UK
  • Native and indigenous people are mentioned regularly but never appear on the page

Ah, Alaska: the US state where the people have Canadian accents, can see Russia from their backyards, and have one of the only decent Republicans in the entirety of Congress. (Their senator Lisa Murkowski has been instrumental in stopping ACA repeals, though her general record is spotty and she’s very pro-gun.) You won’t find many YA books set in Alaska and now Before I Let Go joins the small club. It also joins the “books I’m gonna get but never reread” because it’s SO GOOD but omfg I can’t put myself through this book again. MY HEART.

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Review: The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow

March 30, 2017 Diversity 0, Reviews 1 ★½

Review: The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol OstowThe Devil and Winnie Flynn by David Ostow (illustrator), Micol Ostow
Published by Soho Teen on October 15, 2015
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Horror, YA Paranormal
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Goodreads
one-half-stars
Told as an ongoing letter to a friend, Winnie’s story is a heartrending mystery and a pop culture critique in the vein of Libba Bray’s Going Bovine and Beauty Queens—with illustrations throughout that recall the quirky, dark, and distinct aesthetics of Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Winnie Flynn doesn’t believe in ghosts. (Though she wouldn’t mind a visit from her mom, explaining why she took her own life.) When her mysterious aunt Maggie, a high-profile TV producer, recruits Winnie to spend a summer working as a production assistant on her current reality hit, Fantastic, Fearsome, she suddenly finds herself in the one place her mother would never go: New Jersey.

New Jersey’s famous Devil makes perfect fodder for Maggie’s show. But as the filming progresses, Winnie sees and hears things that make her think that the Devil might not be totally fake after all. Things that involve her and her family. Things about her mother’s death that might explain why she’s never met Aunt Maggie until now.

Winnie soon discovers her family’s history is deeply entwined with the Devil’s. If she’s going to make it out of the Pine Barrens alive, she might have to start believing in what her aunt is telling her. And, find out what she isn’t.

Diversity: 0 – What Diversity?

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

The Devil and Winnie Flynn is one of those books I didn’t know about until a good while after it came out. I like to think I stay on top of current and upcoming releases, so this doesn’t happen often! In addition to finding an ARC in my local used bookstore, I discovered my library had gotten a copy of it. SWEET! Using my loophole that I can check out a book from the library and it can skip my TBR jar whether I already own the book or not, I dove right into this spooky little tale. Except it wasn’t that spooky, just bad.

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Review: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

March 23, 2017 Diversity 1, Reviews 1 ★★

Review: The Women in the Walls by Amy LukavicsThe Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
Published by Harlequin Teen on September 27, 2016
Genres: Gothic, YA, YA Horror, YA Paranormal
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Goodreads
two-stars
Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

Diversity: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 2 (Lucy self-harms)
Intersectionality: 0

A few days ago, I was at the local used bookstore with my best friend and I found a copy of Daughter Unto Devils. I’d read the book and loved it; she hadn’t. Meanwhile, she’d already gotten to The Women in the Walls and was terrified by it when I hadn’t even gotten to read it yet. Naturally, I peer pressured her into buying it and happened to pull The Women in the Walls out of my TBR jar the very next day. Reader, for how much I enjoyed my previous experience reading a novel from Amy Lukavics, I am disappoint. Read more »

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Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

June 10, 2016 Diversity 1, Reviews 3

Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah JudeThe May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children on May 3, 2016
Genres: Gothic, Mystery, YA, YA Horror
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
one-star
Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

Warning: lots of animal death in this book.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Ivy is half-Mexican through her mother; her parents’ “love story” is nasty)
QUILTBAG: 0 (Heather is a lesbian and her story falls right into the old Bury Your Gays trope)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

It shouldn’t be nearly as difficult as it is to find a good horror novel. I’m fully aware it’s a genre as worthy and full of quality as any other, but I have such a bad radar for horror that I wonder sometimes if the good ones are just exceptions to a “YA horror is bad” rule! (Then I slap myself for being ridiculous.) The May Queen Murders was yet another novel that promised isolation, creepy happenings, and death, but it’s a letdown in almost every respect. Read more »

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Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

November 27, 2015 Diversity 1, Reviews 4 ★★½

Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay KristoffIlluminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Knopf BFYR on October 20, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Horror, YA Sci-fi, YA Thriller
Pages: 608
Format: ARC
Source: BEA 2015
Goodreads
two-half-stars
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Kady’s mentor is Chinese)
QUILTBAG: 0 (quick mention of one gay man with a husband and child on another planet)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

If you like YA novels and are on the Internet, it’s impossible to not have heard about Illuminae right now. It’s one of the most hyped YA novels in recent memory, is still climbing on the New York Times bestseller list and has been there since its debut, and is generally beloved by all for its brutality and readability. I can agree on the brutality and readability–Jesus, no one warned me this is horror in addition to sci-fi–but have to be the black sheep yet again. Read more »

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Review: Insanity by Susan Vaught

November 19, 2015 Diversity 3, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Insanity by Susan VaughtInsanity by Susan Vaught
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on February 18, 2014
Genres: YA, YA Horror, YA Paranormal
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: ARC won in a giveaway
Goodreads
three-stars
Never, Kentucky is not your average scenic small town. It is a crossways, a place where the dead and the living can find no peace. Not that Forest, an 18-year-old foster kid who works the graveyard shift at Lincoln Hospital, knew this when she applied for the job. Lincoln is a huge state mental institution, a good place for Forest to make some money to pay for college. But along with hundreds of very unstable patients, it also has underground tunnels, bell towers that ring unexpectedly, and a closet that holds more than just donated clothing....When the dead husband of one of Forest's patients makes an appearance late one night, seemingly accompanied by an agent of the Devil, Forest loses all sense of reality and all sense of time. Terrified, she knows she has a part to play, and when she does so, she finds a heritage that she never expected.

With her deep knowledge of mental illness and mental institutions, Susan Vaught brings readers a fascinating and completely creepy new book intertwining the stories of three young people who find themselves haunted beyond imagining in the depths of Lincoln Hospital.

Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 5
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 2
Intersectionality: 2

There’s a certain sickness among readers wherein we get excited for a book, acquire it, and proceed to not read it because we’re excited about a different book by the time we acquire the first. Repeat into infinity and you may understand why bookworms own so many unread books. Insanity is one book that fell victim to Excitable Reader Synrome and sat on my shelf for a year and a half after I got it. Thankfully, Halloween always comes around and that means getting out all the spooky readers for a great big Spookython. Insanity is entertaining, unique, and has a strong start, but its potential quickly peters out and it’s hard to finish the book by the time you’ve gotten to part four.

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