Publisher: Simon Pulse

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Review: Past Perfect by Leila Sales

June 15, 2017 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: Past Perfect by Leila SalesPast Perfect by Leila Sales
Published by Simon Pulse on October 4, 2011
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Goodreads
three-half-stars
A sweet and clever novel about the woes of (boy) history repeating itself, from the author of Mostly Good Girls.

All Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village (yes, really), it turns out Ezra’s working there too. Which makes moving on and forgetting Ezra a lot more complicated…even when Chelsea starts falling for someone new.


Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think that a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. But with Ezra all too present, and her new crush seeming all too off-limits, all Chelsea knows is that she’s got a lot to figure out about love. Because those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it….

Diversity: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Chelsea is a Ukrainian Jewish girl; her camp’s teens are led in the “war” by a black girl named Tawny)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

Good God, I’ve been waiting to read this for YEARS just for the historical reenactment stuff. History is kinda my thing? I was one of the handful of kids who enjoyed field trips to historical sites like the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Clinch. (I’ll always regret being a racist little shitnugget and buying a Confederate hat there when I was thirteen.) Still, Sales’s other novels failed me badly. Of course I’d be worried I wouldn’t like it! Read more »

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Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

March 16, 2017 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn BennettAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 4, 2017
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
three-half-stars
In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Diversity: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 3 (Porter is Chinese, Hawaiian, and Polynesian; best friend Grace is Nigerian; minor character Davy is Hispanic)
QUILTBAG: 1 (a gay character way in the background)
Disability:  3 (Porter’s dad is missing an arm thanks to a shark; Davy suffers from chronic pain due to a surfing injury)
Intersectionality: 3 (see above; bothered that Porter’s Polynesian heritage is not specified)

Jenn Bennett is best known for her bestselling urban fantasy novels, but she’s clearly getting into the YA contemporary game. She’s building a fanbase among YA readers too based on how many of my friends were in love with The Anatomical Shape of a Heart! Alas, that novel failed to enchant me on that level. Hate-to-love between two people who unknowingly have been talking to each other online for ages, though? YES. Alex, Approximately is a step up with a cute couple and a whole lot of dramatic irony. Read more »

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Review: We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash

September 19, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0

Review: We Know It Was You by Maggie ThrashWe Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash
Series: Strange Truth #1
Published by Simon Pulse on October 4, 2016
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Goodreads
zero-stars
Twin Peaks meets Pretty Little Liars in acclaimed author Maggie Thrash’s new Strange Truth series.

It’s better to know the truth. At least sometimes.

Halfway through Friday night’s football game, beautiful cheerleader Brittany Montague—dressed as the giant Winship Wildcat mascot—hurls herself off a bridge into Atlanta’s surging Chattahoochee River.

Just like that, she’s gone.

Eight days later, Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds will be the only ones who know why.

SPOILER WARNING TIME. I’m spoiling some major stuff here.

Diversity Rating: -5 – What the Fuck is This?

Racial-Ethnic: 0 (one Nigerian girl and three Korean men, but they’re ALL villains; Benny is Jewish)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

WOW, have I been waiting to rant about this. I read We Know It Was You alllllllllllll the way back in April 206 because my TBR Jar told me I had to. Seeing as I was legitimately excited, I wasn’t keen to defy the almighty jar either. Twin Peaks meets Pretty Little Liars sounds fascinating and twisty! Well, it’s a lie. Instead of the magnetic surrealism of Twin Peaks, we get cockamamie bull that’s also kinda racist. Read more »

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Review: Secrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. Morgan

July 14, 2016 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Secrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. MorganSecrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. Morgan
Published by Simon Pulse on July 5, 2016
Genres: Suspense, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Goodreads
three-stars
Nothing ruins summer vacation like a secret…especially when it involves a dead teacher.

Ivy used to be on top of the social ladder, until her ex made that all go away. She has a chance to be Queen Bee again, but only if the rest of the group can keep quiet.

Tyler has always been a bad boy, but lately he’s been running low on second chances. There’s no way he’s going to lose everything because someone couldn’t keep their mouth shut.

Kinley wouldn’t describe herself as perfect, though everyone else would. But perfection comes at a price, and there is nothing she wouldn’t do to keep her perfect record—one that doesn’t include murder charges.

Mattie is only in town for the summer. He wasn’t looking to make friends, and he definitely wasn’t looking to be involved in a murder. He’s also not looking to be riddled with guilt for the rest of his life…but to prevent that he’ll have to turn them all in.

Cade couldn’t care less about the body, or about the pact to keep the secret. The only way to be innocent is for someone else to be found guilty. Now he just has to decide who that someone will be.

With the police hot on the case, they don’t have much time to figure out how to trust each other. But in order to take the lead, you have to be first in line…and that’s the quickest way to get stabbed in the back.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 2 (Cade is Japanese; Kinley is black)
QUILTBAG: 1 (Mattie is bi but plays out a bi stereotype)
Disability: 0 (off-screen character with an unspecified mental illness fulfills the “mentally ill people are dangerous” stereotype)
Intersectionality: 1 (See above; though bare-bones diverse, the novel doesn’t handle it particularly well)

There’s nothing like a good YA suspense novel that keeps you up at night and results in you dropping your Nook on your face! (Yeah, that happened. It also hit my cat Shadow, who’d crawled up onto my chest to take a nap, but I digress.) I didn’t know how much I wanted this book until I started reading and took down somewhere between 250 and 300 pages of it in one night. Read more »

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Review: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

June 24, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. AndrewsFlowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Series: Dollanganger #1
Published by Simon Pulse on November 1979
Genres: Gothic, Historical, Suspense, YA, YA Historical
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
three-stars
Such wonderful children. Such a beautiful mother. Such a lovely house. Such endless terror!

It wasn't that she didn't love her children. She did. But there was a fortune at stake--a fortune that would assure their later happiness if she could keep the children a secret from her dying father.

So she and her mother hid her darlings away in an unused attic.

Just for a little while.

But the brutal days swelled into agonizing years. Now Cathy, Chris, and the twins wait in their cramped and helpless world, stirred by adult dreams, adult desires, served a meager sustenance by an angry, superstitious grandmother who knows that the Devil works in dark and devious ways. Sometimes he sends children to do his work--children who--one by one--must be destroyed....

'Way upstairs there are
four secrets hidden.
Blond, beautiful, innocent
struggling to stay alive....

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

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

Way back when the Lifetime movie of Flowers in the Attic premiered on television and I watched it (aka about two years ago), I finally decided to read the infamous book people the teens of the 80s passed around. Really, there’s not a person in the United States who doesn’t know this series is one big dramatic saga about incest. I knew what was coming and yet I wanted to read it anyway. Whoo, was that an experience! Read more »

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Review: The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker

April 12, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0

Review: The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. ParkerThe Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker
Published by Simon Pulse on March 1, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Goodreads
one-star
His obsession. Her fall.

Zephyr Doyle is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and attending her dream school, Boston College.

But love has a way of changing things.

Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.

Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…

Terrifying?

But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.

So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.

If she waits any longer, it may be too late.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

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

About halfway into The Girl Who Fell, I said in a Goodreads status update that I was unimpressed and likely going to DNF the book. For reasons even I can’t remember now, I continued on with the book anyway. TERRIBLE DECISION. This is going to be one of my shortest reviews because a book this unimpressive just doesn’t inspire me to go on a rant about how X is bad and Y is wrong. It’s just a weak book. Read more »

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Review: Consent by Nancy Ohlin

December 18, 2015 Diversity 3, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: Consent by Nancy OhlinConsent by Nancy Ohlin
Published by Simon Pulse on November 10, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Goodreads
three-half-stars
In this sexy and intriguing novel, an intense—and passionate—bond between a high school senior and her music teacher becomes a public scandal that threatens the reputation of both.

Bea has a secret.

Actually, she has more than one. There’s her dream for the future that she can’t tell anyone—not her father and not even her best friend, Plum.

And now there’s Dane Rossi. Dane is hot, he shares Bea’s love of piano, and he believes in her.

He’s also Bea’s teacher.

When their passion for music crosses into passion for each other, Bea finds herself falling completely for Dane. She’s never felt so wanted, so understood, so known to her core. But the risk of discovery carries unexpected surprises that could shake Bea entirely. Bea must piece together what is and isn’t true about Dane, herself, and the most intense relationship she’s ever experienced in this absorbing novel from Nancy Ohlin, the author of Beauty.

Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (Bea is Korean and Ukrainian; her best friend Plum and Plum’s mom are brown-skinned)
QUILTBAG: 1 (passing mention that Plum’s aunt is with another woman)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 2 (see above)

Teacher-student relationships in books aren’t my jam, but my buddy Bekka wanted me to read it because she was scared of how the subject would be handled and the book did sound interesting. The same day I started the novel, I finished it because oh my God. Book hangover material? Oh yeah. I give Consent my seal of approval. It’s complex, doesn’t offer any easy answers to anything, and keeps its intensity from start to finish. Read more »

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