Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children

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Review: Tides by Betsy Cornwell

June 22, 2017 Diversity 3, Reviews 1 ★★★★½

Review: Tides by Betsy CornwellTides by Betsy Cornwell
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children on June 4, 2013
Genres: YA, YA Paranormal
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: ARC won in a giveaway
Goodreads
four-half-stars
When high-school senior Noah Gallagher and his adopted teenage sister, Lo, go to live with their grandmother in her island cottage for the summer, they don’t expect much in the way of adventure. Noah has landed a marine biology internship, and Lo wants to draw and paint, perhaps even to vanquish her struggles with bulimia. But then things take a dramatic turn for them both when Noah mistakenly tries to save a mysterious girl from drowning. This dreamlike, suspenseful story—deftly told from multiple points of view—dives deeply into selkie folklore while examining the fluid nature of love and family.

Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 2 (Lo is Chinese)
QUILTBAG: 4 (Lo and Noah’s grandmother is gay and in a relationship with one of the selkies)
Disability: 3 (Lo is recovering from bulimia)
Intersectionality: 2 (See: Lo)

Winning a giveaway feels ridiculously good, doesn’t it? I think the only way you lose that exhilarated feeling of winning is to enter and win giveaways all the time. And maybe even then, you might not. I dunno, I’m not a regular giveaway winner. But Tides is one of the few books I’ve ever won from a giveaway! I got it from the “retweet and win” style giveaway the publisher’s account @HMHKids held right before the book’s release date.

Yeah, that was in 2013. I’M SO SUPER PUNCTUAL, I KNOW. I heard good things about it back then and I’m happy I finally got to read it. Read more »

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Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

October 3, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★

Review: The Testing by Joelle CharbonneauThe Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Series: The Testing #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children on June 4, 2013
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, YA, YA Dystopian
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
two-stars
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one and the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0 (there’s one black guy and he dies pretty quickly)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Inteersectionality: 0

To be honest, I only bought The Testing because it was free and I was mildly curious. Post-apocalyptic dystopian novels like this aren’t my thing. Nor are they my thing if you separate them into post-apocalyptic novels and dystopian novels. Still, I wanted to see what it would look like if we put the SAT/ACT on steroids and made the test a life-or-death situation. It went about as expected, by which I mean it was nonsensical and pretty bad. Read more »

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Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

July 7, 2016 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: With Malice by Eileen CookWith Malice by Eileen Cook
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children on June 7, 2016
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
four-half-stars
It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.

As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Jill’s roommate Anna is Mexican)
QUILTBAG:
Disability: 2 (I believe Anna was paralyzed from the waist down when her boyfriend pushed her down from the stairs)
Intersectionality: (Anna; see above)

Once upon a time, this little book called Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas was a cult hit among book bloggers. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell very well at all and most casual readers had no idea it existed. If you haven’t read that book, go read it right now. If you have, congratulations! If you were into that true crime-inspired tale and its unreliable narrator, then With Malice here should be next on your TBR. 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: Hellhole by Gina Damico

December 29, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: Hellhole by Gina DamicoHellhole by Gina Damico
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children on January 6, 2015
Genres: Comedy, YA, YA Paranormal
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
four-half-stars
A devil is a bad influence . . .

There was a time when geeky, squeaky-clean Max Kilgore would never lie or steal or even think about murder.

Then he accidentally unearths a devil, and Max’s choices are no longer his own. The big red guy has a penchant for couch surfing and junk food—and you should never underestimate evil on a sugar high. With the help of Lore, a former goth girl who knows a thing or two about the dark side, Max is racing against the clock to get rid of the houseguest from hell before time, and all the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos this side of the fiery abyss, run out.

Gina Damico, author of the Croak series, once again delivers all the horror, hilarity, and high-stakes drama that any kid in high school or hell could ever handle.

So, funny thing with me and Gina Damico books. The first two books in her Croak trilogy failed to wow me, but the third one tore my fucking heart out and sacrificed it to Satan as I cried the best bookish cry in ages. Did I want to read Hellhole? HELL YEAH. (You’re going to be seeing a lot of that pun this time around. Get used to it.) Anyone who loved her Croak books or liked the humor in its more quotable bits will be all over Hellhole because it’s hellishly funny. Read more »

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Review: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

November 17, 2014 Reviews 1 ★★★

Review: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFeversMortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #3
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children on November 4, 2014
Genres: YA, YA Fantasy, YA Historical
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
three-stars
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...

Oh, the His Fair Assassin books. Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph held me at rapt attention, and the delayed wait for Mortal Heart (only delayed by six months, but still) was painful. After seeing devout Ismae bloom into a wiser woman and suffering through Sybella’s trials alonside her, what would barely-touched-on Annith have to offer as a character? It turns out she has a lot to offer as a dynamic character who rivals Sybella for my favorite assassin nun, but her overall story–especially the romance–failed me on so many levels.

Read more »

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Review: Mistwalker by Saundra Mitchell

January 31, 2014 Reviews 1 ★★★½

Review: Mistwalker by Saundra MitchellMistwalker by Saundra Mitchell
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children on February 4, 2014
Genres: YA Paranormal
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
three-half-stars
When Willa Dixon’s brother dies on the family lobster boat, her father forbids Willa from stepping foot on the deck again. With her family suffering, she’ll do anything to help out—even visiting the Grey Man.

Everyone in her small Maine town knows of this legendary spirit who haunts the lighthouse, controlling the fog and the fate of any vessel within his reach. But what Willa finds in the lighthouse isn’t a spirit at all, but a young man trapped inside until he collects one thousand souls.

Desperate to escape his cursed existence, Grey tries to seduce Willa to take his place. With her life on land in shambles, will she sacrifice herself?

Saundra Mitchell is an odd author for me. Her novels are all over the place, but her short stories are almost always impeccable. Mistwalker had me worried to begin with and I didn’t plan to read it, but the word “seduce” is one of my buzzwords and when an opportunity arises… Luckily, my whims decided not to bite me in the rear end this time. Mistwalker may be Mitchell’s best novel yet! Read more »

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