Publisher: Greenwillow

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Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

June 13, 2017 Diversity 3, Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca ZappiaEliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Published by Greenwillow on May 30, 2017
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
five-stars
Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 2 (Wallace’s stepmom and half-sister are black)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 5 (Eliza and Wallace are both living with anxiety disorders)
Intersectionality: 3

A couple of years ago, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell came out and everyone loved it and I thought it was pretty awful, honestly. That the fictional fandom in the book got its own massive book last year mystifies me. But Eliza and Her Monsters? Yeah, I’d pay good money to enjoy the entirety of the fictional webcomic since it’s an original story all its own rather than the barely-even-veiled Harry Potter fanfic that Carry On was. Since Zappia’s debut novel Made You Up merely whelmed me, I wasn’t expecting Eliza and Her Monsters to knock me off my feet the way it did.

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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.

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Review: Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann

April 22, 2016 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine HeppermannAsk Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann
Published by Greenwillow on May 3, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
three-half-stars
How do you define yourself? By your friends? Your family? Your boyfriend? Your grades? Your trophies? Your choices? By a single choice? From the author of the acclaimed Poisoned Apples comes a novel in verse about a young woman and the aftermath of a life-altering decision. Fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins will find the powerful questions, the difficult truths, and the inner strength that speak to them in Ask Me How I Got Here.

Addie has always known what she was running toward, whether in cross country, in her all-girls Catholic school, or in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night, and she gets pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross country anymore; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places.

Once again, Christine Heppermann writes with an unflinching honesty and a deep sensitivity about the complexities of being a teenager, being a woman. Her free verse poems are moving, provocative, and often full of wry humor and a sharp wit.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 2 (Addie is bi)
Disability: ? (idk how to rate this because it’s unclear; Addie’s crush Juliana had a breakdown and slashed up some lotion bottles, so she sees a shrink regularly and is on meds)
Intersectionality: 1 (very positive portrayal of abortion)

I’ve been waiting in line for this book since the deal announcement–and I think that was before I even read Poisoned Apples, her stellar poetry collection. Abortion just isn’t something YA novels seem eager to touch regardless of genre. But it’s something teens may have to deal with! I came with high expectations because I’ve already read some of Heppermann’s work and she didn’t let me down. Though it feels incomplete in the ARC form I read, Ask Me How I Got Here is a necessary and beautifully written book. Read more »

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Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

July 3, 2015 Diversity 3, Reviews 3 ★★½

Review: Made You Up by Francesca ZappiaMade You Up by Francesca Zappia
Published by Greenwillow on May 19, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Goodreads
two-half-stars
Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (supporting black character)
QUILTBAG:
0
Disability:
5 (Alex has paranoid schizophrenia and Miles has an unnamed disorder)
Intersectionality:
3 (Alex and Miles are both from lower-class families, but Alex’s is mildly better off)

This little book got stuck in limbo for a little while, but it’s finally out! Hooray! As soon as it claimed to have the “ultimate unreliable narrator” in Alex, a teenage girl with paranoid schizophrenia, I was there and THERE as a fan of unreliable narrators who likes to be gently mindfucked on occasion. But it’s sad for me to say I was merely whelmed by Made You Up. Read more »

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Review: Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann

September 18, 2014 Reviews 1 ★★★★

Review: Poisoned Apples by Christine HeppermannPoisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
Published by Greenwillow on September 23, 2014
Genres: Poetry, YA
Pages: 128
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
four-stars
Every little girl goes through her princess phase, whether she wants to be Snow White or Cinderella, Belle or Ariel. But then we grow up. And life is not a fairy tale.

Christine Heppermann's collection of fifty poems puts the ideals of fairy tales right beside the life of the modern teenage girl. With piercing truths reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, this is a powerful and provocative book for every young woman. E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars, calls it "a bloody poetic attack on the beauty myth that's caustic, funny, and heartbreaking."

Cruelties come not just from wicked stepmothers, but also from ourselves. There are expectations, pressures, judgment, and criticism. Self-doubt and self-confidence. But there are also friends, and sisters, and a whole hell of a lot of power there for the taking. In fifty poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, Poisoned Apples explores how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies, and their friends. The poems range from contemporary retellings to first-person accounts set within the original tales, and from deadly funny to deadly serious. Complemented throughout with black-and-white photographs from up-and-coming artists, this is a stunning and sophisticated book to be treasured, shared, and paged through again and again.

A YA poetry book? Sounds sketchy. A feminist YA poetry book? OH YEAH, PUT IT IN MY HANDS AND LET ME LOVE IT, DEAR FEMALE-DEITY-OF-YOUR-CHOICE. Please feminism my YA until it no longer knows what the word “slut” is and how to use it against other female characters (or at least only do so if the ultimate point is how no one should use it; no more mean girls using it just to show they’re mean). It took me a little while to get used the idea and get to this little book, but once I settled in with Poisoned Apples, I swallowed it whole and very nearly died of happiness. It’s not always good feminism, but all these poems have girls and their needs/issues in mind.

Reviewing poems ain’t like reviewing an anthology; I can’t just list the titles of all fifty poems and give my impressions of them! Even for me, that would end up being a long review and I want some of these poems to surprise readers. “Sleeping Beauty’s Wedding Day,” “A SHAPE MAGAZINE Fairy Tale,” and “The Anorexic Eats a Salad” are a particularly good group of poems in that they all share the common theme of how hard it is for women to have a good perception of food and their bodies when everything is telling them they need to be thin and perfectly plucked and pretty in impossible ways. Though separated, I see the third poem’s subject as a result of the first two.

The occasional stumbling poems were either too poetically phrased to be intelligible in any way or kinda screw up in being feminist. Case in point, “Life Among the Swans” perpetuates the idea that girls who aren’t “pretty” are safe from harassment by the hounds of boys who put their hands where they shouldn’t and follow pretty girls like they’re prey. This is a really dangerous idea to propagate because any girl can be a victim of sexual harassment no matter what she looks like or what she’s wearing. That may not be the poem’s intended message, but the power of poetry is in its interpretation and that this is the interpretation I got.

Yeah, short review and all, but this is such a strong collection generally that I don’t have much to say. Just go ahead and pre-order or buy it if you like feminism. Even if you don’t care much for poetry, go for it. I don’t care for poetry either and still want a copy of the book for my own shelves! Smart enough to impress veteran feminists and newbies at once while being entertaining, Poisoned Apples is just a good little set of poems. I’d love to see more of Heppermann’s work.

Keep an eye out for my own Poisoned Apples-inspired poem I’ll be posting soon!

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Review: Meridian by Josin L. McQuein

May 12, 2014 Reviews 1 ★½

Review: Meridian by Josin L. McQueinMeridian by Josin L. McQuein
Series: Arclight #2
Published by Greenwillow on May 27, 2014
Genres: YA Sci-fi
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
one-half-stars
Marina thought that she had solved all of the Arclight’s mysteries. She had found her own history—that she was one of the Fade, that she never should have been human. She knows that the Fade who surround the Arclight don’t want to be the humans' enemies at all. She knows that the leader of those inside the Arc, Honoria Whit, never told the whole truth. But there is so much more that Marina is just discovering. There are more survivors out there. Only Marina—and her friends, all of whom have connections to the Fade they'd never known about—can lead her people to them. But there are also darker dangers, things that even the Fade fear. And Marina slowly realizes she may never have been “cured,” after all. The sequel to Arclight, Meridian is an intense, action-packed page-turner about the lines we draw between right and wrong, light and dark . . . and the way nothing is ever that black and white.

Though not a solid novel, Arclight was pretty fun (and shinyyyyyyyyy) and I had no qualms with staying for the sequel. Then I actually read the sequel and whoo boy, now I wish I hadn’t. If you really, truly loved Arclight and believe Meridian can’t possibly do you any wrong, you might be okay, but anyone below that level might be in trouble. Read more »

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Review: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

March 21, 2014 Reviews 0

Review: Salvage by Alexandra DuncanSalvage by Alexandra Duncan
Published by Greenwillow on April 1, 2014
Genres: YA Sci-fi
Pages: 528
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
DNF
Her life is a shadow of a life. Her future is not her own to fashion.

Her family is a tangle of secrets. She cannot read. She cannot write.

But she is Parastrata Ava, the Captain's eldest daughter, the so girl of a long-range crewe—her obligations are grave and many.

And when she makes a mistake, in a fragrant orchard of lemons, the consequences are deadly.

There are some who would say, there but for the Mercies go I.

There are some who would say Parastrata Ava is just a silly earthstruck girl who got what was coming to her.

But they don't know the half of it.

I tried to come up with a more content-centric opening, but all I can concentrate on it is the fact the cover is whitewashed. The girl spread out on the cover is clearly white and Ava is definitely not according to the novel. STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT. Oh, you want a quick summary of the book? Since  this is a DNF, there’s not a lot for me to say (LOL lies), but what should be a good feminist sci-fi novel falls into a trap of overused tropes, confusing worldbuilding, and amateur execution. This should be GREAT, but it just isn’t, which makes me sad. I want to support feminist books, but I’m only willing to if they’re good! Read more »

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