Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

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Review: A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo

October 2, 2017 Diversity 3, Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: A Line in the Dark by Malinda LoA Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo
Published by Dutton Juvenile on October 17, 2017
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
four-stars
The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift.

As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.

When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

“It doesn’t even matter that she probably doesn’t understand how much she means to me. It’s purer this way. She can take whatever she wants from me, whenever she wants it, because I’m her best friend.”

A Line in the Dark is a story of love, loyalty, and murder.

Diversity: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (Jess and her family are Chinese, as is Jess’s new friend Emily)
QUILTBAG: 5 (Jess, Angie, and Margot are all queer and none of them die)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 3 (Whoo, queer girls everywhere!)

Fun fact: I have a copy of Ash signed and personalized by Malinda Lo, but it’s signed to someone named Whitney. I found it in a used bookstore and it is my precious. Anyway, a mysterious book starring queer girls and someone ending up dead? I’m always here for mysteries! Add queer girls everywhere and I’m on the hook just waiting to be pulled out of the lake.

And no, none of the queer girls end up dead. THE REPRESENTATION BAR HAS BEEN SET SO LOW THAT THIS ACTUALLY EXCITES ME. Gotta love the state of media, y’all.

Read more »

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Review: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

June 22, 2015 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie RyanDaughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Published by Dutton Juvenile on May 26, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary, YA Thriller
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
three-stars
I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (minor character is Hispanic)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 1 (Frances shows signs of PTSD)
Intersectionality: 0

Me? I’m always on the hunt for a good revenge thriller as someone who holds grudges like nobody’s business, is generally fascinated by the darker sides of the human psyche like obsession and vengeance, and generally likes to see bad people get their just desserts as someone whose abusers and tormentors more often than not escaped significant punishment. Living vicariously, you know? Carrie Ryan’s try at such a thriller is better than others I’ve tried but isn’t without flaws. Namely, the romance that really puts a damper on the vengeance party.

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Review: Inland by Kat Rosenfield

May 22, 2014 Reviews 1 ★★★½

Review: Inland by Kat RosenfieldInland by Kat Rosenfield
Published by Dutton Juvenile on June 12, 2014
Genres: Magical Realism, YA
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: eARC from the publisher
three-half-stars
The psychological labyrinth of a young woman’s insidious connection to the sea, from the Edgar Award nominated author of Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone.

Callie Morgan has long lived choked by the failure of her own lungs, the result of an elusive pulmonary illness that has plagued her since childhood. A childhood marked early by the drowning death of her mother—a death to which Callie was the sole witness. Her father has moved them inland, away from the memories of the California coast her mother loved so much and toward promises of recovery—and the escape of denial—in arid, landlocked air.

But after years of running away, the promise of a life-changing job for her father brings Callie and him back to the coast, to Florida, where Callie’s symptoms miraculously disappear. For once, life seems delightfully normal. But the ocean’s edge offers more than healing air … it holds a magnetic pull, drawing Callie closer and closer to the chilly, watery embrace that claimed her mother. Returned to the ocean, Callie comes of age and comes into a family destiny that holds generations of secrets and very few happy endings.

A couple of years ago, I went to my favorite used bookstore and found an ARC of Kat Rosenfield’s first novel Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone. The novel did not interest me, but I bought it to get it out of the store and ended up swapping it with someone who did want it. After hearing how much praise it got, I wondered if I missed something spectacular with my apathy and committed myself to checking out Rosenfield’s next work, especially once I actually found out what it was about. Inland is an eerie novel and I’m glad I read it, but at the same time, I wanted so much more from it. Read more »

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17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma

March 12, 2013 Reviews 0 ★★★½

17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
Buy from AmazonBuy from The Book DepositoryBuy from Barnes & NoblePublished by Dutton Juvenile on March 21, 2013
Genres: Magical Realism, YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: ARC won in a giveaway
three-half-stars
Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.

Winning an ARC of this book made my week when it happened. I was sick with an upper respiratory infection, dealing with pains in my side I feared were appendicitis (they weren’t, thank goodness), my parents had driven six hours that morning to get from home to my college campus in order to get me to a doctor, and I felt miserable. When I checked my email on September 10, 2012 and saw I’d won a signed copy of one of my most anticipated reads of 2013, written by one of my favorite authors, everything seemed better. When it arrived, I couldn’t stop jumping around like an idiot and squeeing at the top of my lungs–in the laundry room. The very public laundry room.

Was 17 & Gone ultimately worth that level of excitement? Read more »

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Just One Day by Gayle Forman

December 24, 2012 Reviews 0 ★★★

Just One Day by Gayle FormanJust One Day by Gayle Forman Published by Dutton Juvenile on January 8, 2013
Genres: YA Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: ARC won in a giveaway
three-stars
A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay.
 
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

This is my third attempt at this review. Third. Usually, a review needs only one draft and some quick revision for me, so this is definitely not your average novel. Allyson and Willem’s adventures in Paris were a blast and her first year in college do so much for her, but once she gets back to Paris to try and find Willem again, she starts to lose me. I see why Forman is respected as a masterful YA writer, but she may not be for me.

Allyson’s character arc is masterfully written, and the pivotal moment she experiences in her Shakespeare Out Loud class was good enough to nearly bring me to tears. Readers may not be so entranced if they’re familiar with the tight-laced-girl-loosens-up story, but Forman is Forman and she makes it work. Ninety percent of the time, it’s easy to understand Allyson’s reaction to losing Willem, but other times, the question of if he’s worth all the pain she goes through comes up.

Speaking of Willem… Given only one day to get to know him, his characterization is a little one-sided. As Allyson uncovers more about him after their day in Paris, his playboy side becomes clear and it becomes all too easy to want to kick him. This problem will undoubtedly be fixed in Just One Year, but what I’ve seen of him and his character in this novel makes me not want to read on.

Just One Day is also heavily character driven. Allyson handles the weight up until she makes her triumphant return to Paris with knowledge of the French language, money to spend, and fewer rifts in the family that pressured her for so many years.  It’s during the last portion of the novel and Allyson’s solo tour of Paris that she loses the strength to carry everything to its proper conclusion. This is most likely just me, though.

However, characters who emphasize every other word they say, especially when that quirk is all that defines them, are irritating and often unnecessary. Just One Day has a character just like this in Kali, one of Allyson’s roommates. Characters like this inspire the urge to strangle someone when they’re around for too long. Punching every other word they speak (as the novel describes it) is too much no matter who you are.

(See what I mean?)

Fans of abrupt endings and readers anxiously awaiting Willem’s point of view in Just One Year will love the ending, but I’m not either of those. Honestly, it’s the ending that really tripped me up. Until I go to it, I knew exactly what I wanted to say. This is one of those novels that is going to render the readers speechless one way or another. That’s almost certain!

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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

August 11, 2012 Reviews 0 ★★

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins Published by Dutton Juvenile on December 2, 2010
Genres: YA Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
two-stars
Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.

With my summer almost over, I wanted to indulge in something fluffy–you know, the kind of fluffy fun summer reading is made of. With rave reviews all around praising its swoony male lead and cute romance, Anna and the French Kiss seemed like a good bet.

It wasn’t.

Perkins undeniably has talent as a writer. Anna’s narrative voice is engaging and some of the scenes are so adorable that I smiled a little bit despite my annoyance. It was only when I remembered who was having the cute scene (usually Anna and St. Clair) and what kind of people they were (really terrible people) that I stopped smiling. That the author’s talent is wasted telling the story of despicable characters like Anna and St. Clair is a shame because with more likable characters, I could see myself loving this book the way everyone else does.

See, Anna makes me want to scream because she hates all other women who are her “competition” in any way, shape, or form for a guy she likes. Amanda, Bridgette, Ellie, eventually Meredith–all of them. She describes them badly (which isn’t help by the narrative portraying them badly and I have a boatload of issues with that) and is generally a hypocrite. I’m not into abundant girl-hate in novels and that’s exactly what Anna and the French Kiss has to offer. Her melodrama about non-problems like going to a beautiful boarding school in France didn’t endear her to me either.

Meanwhile, St. Clair is an asshole. No other way to say it. He spends the entire book leading Anna on when he already has a girlfriend while also discouraging any guys who show interest in Anna and that is the sign of a guy who isn’t worth any girl’s time. He doesn’t like change? Too bad. How much I care is less than or equal to zero. I feel he would have done something about it much earlier than he did if she really mattered to him. Seeing him be praised as THE BEST GUY EVER makes me want to find a trash can.

I estimate that I began skimming somewhere around page 100 and didn’t stop until the book ended. Everyone good pronouncing Anna and St. Clair to be the best people ever when they’re not was too annoying to sit through for long. I wanted them to be together solely so no one else had to deal with being in a relationship with them. If they can tolerate each other’s crap, why not let them? It saves other people the pain of having to deal with it.

This book is very, very lucky I’m gifting it two stars and not just throwing one badly-constructed star at it. The cheesy, soapbox-like way homosexuality is declared okay and slut shaming is declared wrong (but only when it’s Anna being called a slut; all the other girls are fair game and this hypocritical position is yet another reason why I hate this book) made me want to give the book only one star, but with writing this great, I couldn’t. Anna and the French Kiss should consider itself lucky.

Recommendations of well-written, non-offensive fluff, please? I’m a little tired of being negative.

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