Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

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Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

March 17, 2017 Diversity 1, Reviews 1 ★★★★

Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid KemmererLetters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on April 4, 2017
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

Diversity: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Declan’s best friend Rev was adopted by black parents; Declan’s community service supervisor is Hispanic; Juliet’s friend/photography rival has the surname Cho, presumably marking him as Asian)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0 (Juliet’s thoughts on the refugees her mom photographed are… ew)

Brigid Kemmerer made her name and developed a cult with her YA paranormal Elementals series, but I still haven’t gotten around to reading my copy of that series’s first book Storm. Funny how I end up reading her foray into YA contemporary first thanks to the TBR jar! Maybe it’s setting me up for disappointment to read an author’s most recent work first and then go backwards, but Letters to the Lost was pretty darn good.

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Review: Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

February 6, 2017 Diversity 4, Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Review: Piecing Me Together by Renee WatsonPiecing Me Together by Renee Watson
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on February 14, 2017
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Goodreads
five-stars
A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success, from acclaimed author Renée Watson.

Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.

Diversity Rating: 4 – This Is Our World

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (the vast majority of the cast is black)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 5 (the book is 100% focused on the realities of black girlhood; Jade’s family is also extremely poor to the point of barely getting by)

To a class of creative writing students, half of whom were Those Guys and cited Hemingway as one of their favorite writers, I described Renee Watson’s 2016 novel This Side of Home as “a punch in the face–in a good way.” Saying I’m a big fan of what Watson writes? THAT WOULD BE AN UNDERSTATEMENT. But as much as I loved Watson’s debut, I think I love Piecing Me Together even more. Read more »

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Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

February 18, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 5, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Fantasy, YA Paranormal
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought (Used Bookstore)
Goodreads
one-star
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin--one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin--and his world--forever.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 1 (Lucien is missing an eye, but it doesn’t do much to impair him)
Intersectionality: 0

Ah, ACOTAR: the book so hyped up by the book blogger community that I waited seven months to read it and kept a lid on my thoughts while I did so. I needed the madness to die down a bit before I felt comfortable touching it; I did the same thing with Mad Max: Fury Road (loved it) and Hamilton (LOVE). Mentioning ACOTAR in the same paragraph as them feels a bit like an insult, though. Sometimes, the hype is absolutely justified. A Court of Thorns and Roses doesn’t justify any of its hype. It just takes tropes I remember from the heyday of paranormal YA and throws them into a fantasy novel. 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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Review: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

June 4, 2015 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: The Devil You Know by Trish DollerThe Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on June 2, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars
Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (barely-present Korean character)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: o

Okay, so maybe I’m a little biased as a Trish Doller fan and as a woman who kinda creeps on her a little when she’s at work because I go to college near her. That’s probably one of those things worth mentioning? Well, now it’s mentioned. I’m a big fan of thrillers in the first place, so hearing that one of my favorite authors is publishing a thriller means it’s time to settle in with a copy and get reading. Though the more mystery/thriller elements of it are on the backburner until the very end, The Devil You Know is still a great deal of fun with wonderful characterization and a great view of Florida. Read more »

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Review: Exposed by Susan Vaught

April 6, 2015 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★

Review: Exposed by Susan VaughtExposed by Susan Vaught
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on November 25, 2008
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
two-stars
Chan Shealy’s got most things going right in her life—straight A’s, a shot at the regional majorette championships in baton twirling, and the best best friend a girl could wish for. But after the football quarterback spreads a vicious lie about her, and the whole school decides she’s too trashy for words, Chan begins to wonder if the only place she’ll find love is online.

She’s careful. She follows all her parents’ rules, mostly anyway. A girl’s got to trust herself at a certain point, right? But what if your gut is telling you something that you’re just not hearing… until it’s too late?

From the moment Chan logs on and meets Paul, until the truth begins to show through, Susan Vaught sends readers on a fast-paced and gripping ride. Even when you know something bad will happen, you still might not see it coming…

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (best friend is black)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 1? (Chan has herpes)
Intersectionality: 0

Once To Catch a Predator hit it big in 2004 and kept airing episodes through 2007, precautionary tales were sure to follow. Some were brilliant and chilling like Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman. Others were the Rainbow Party of novels (overdramatic and anticlimactic messes). Though reviews were discouraging, I had hopes Exposed would be another Want to Go Private?. NOPE. Rainbow party.

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Waiting on Wednesday (18)

March 4, 2015 Waiting on Wednesday 1

Waiting on Wednesday (18)The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on June 2, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 256
Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

God, why don’t I want to read this book? I’d have an easier time answering that question! Well, I’ve met Trish a couple of times and she’s fabulous and sweet every time (and especially good considering I think I scare her a lot). I’ve read both her previous YA novels and they were fantastic, so I don’t expect The Devil You Know to disappoint at all. FLORIDA. TERRIFYING ROAD TRIP. EVERYTHING I’M CURRENTLY IN THE MOOD FOR. My need is a mighty one, it is. June won’t be able to get here fast enough and give me my fix. Until then, I guess I’ll just keep showing up and scaring her. (I feel bad about it, I swear. Don’t fear me, authors! I have a sharp tongue, but I’m really just a tiny, curvy ball of happy. I can hold onto grudges as easily as you can hold onto a bar of soap without the help of your thumbs.)

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