Publisher: Soho Teen

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Review: The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow

March 30, 2017 Diversity 0, Reviews 1 ★½

Review: The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol OstowThe Devil and Winnie Flynn by David Ostow (illustrator), Micol Ostow
Published by Soho Teen on October 15, 2015
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Horror, YA Paranormal
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Goodreads
one-half-stars
Told as an ongoing letter to a friend, Winnie’s story is a heartrending mystery and a pop culture critique in the vein of Libba Bray’s Going Bovine and Beauty Queens—with illustrations throughout that recall the quirky, dark, and distinct aesthetics of Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Winnie Flynn doesn’t believe in ghosts. (Though she wouldn’t mind a visit from her mom, explaining why she took her own life.) When her mysterious aunt Maggie, a high-profile TV producer, recruits Winnie to spend a summer working as a production assistant on her current reality hit, Fantastic, Fearsome, she suddenly finds herself in the one place her mother would never go: New Jersey.

New Jersey’s famous Devil makes perfect fodder for Maggie’s show. But as the filming progresses, Winnie sees and hears things that make her think that the Devil might not be totally fake after all. Things that involve her and her family. Things about her mother’s death that might explain why she’s never met Aunt Maggie until now.

Winnie soon discovers her family’s history is deeply entwined with the Devil’s. If she’s going to make it out of the Pine Barrens alive, she might have to start believing in what her aunt is telling her. And, find out what she isn’t.

Diversity: 0 – What Diversity?

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

The Devil and Winnie Flynn is one of those books I didn’t know about until a good while after it came out. I like to think I stay on top of current and upcoming releases, so this doesn’t happen often! In addition to finding an ARC in my local used bookstore, I discovered my library had gotten a copy of it. SWEET! Using my loophole that I can check out a book from the library and it can skip my TBR jar whether I already own the book or not, I dove right into this spooky little tale. Except it wasn’t that spooky, just bad.

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Review: My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

November 4, 2016 Diversity 5, Reviews 1 ★★★★½

my-sister-rosaMy Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
Published by Soho Teen on November 15, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary, YA Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
four-half-stars
What if the most terrifying person you know is your ten-year-old sister?

Seventeen-year-old Aussie Che Taylor loves his younger sister, Rosa. But he’s also certain that she’s a diagnosable psychopath—clinically, threateningly, dangerously. Recently Rosa has been making trouble, hurting things. Che is the only one who knows; he’s the only one his sister trusts. Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and very good at hiding what she is and the violence she’s capable of.

Their parents, whose business takes the family from place to place, brush off the warning signs as Rosa’s “acting out.” Now that they have moved again—from Bangkok to New York City—their new hometown provides far too many opportunities for Rosa to play her increasingly complex and disturbing games. Alone, Che must balance his desire to protect Rosa from the world with the desperate need to protect the world from her.

Diversity Rating: 5 – Diverse as Fuck

It’s been so long since I read the novel that I can’t recall everything well enough for a proper explanation, but it includes Korean-American sisters, one of whom is a lesbian; a character named Elon whose pronouns are just Elon, putting the character somewhere in the ballpark of agender; a black love interest with lesbian mothers; Che’s ethnic Jewish identity through his paternal family; and serious consideration of whether Rosa’s condition is a mental illness or disability in itself due to her exhibiting symptoms once she hit toddlerhood. It’s earned the 5 rating.

Children creep me out on a good day, so it goes without saying that a tiny, sociopathic child like Rosa would terrify me. Honestly, Larbalestier’s latest wasn’t even on my radar at first! My buddy Lili recommended the book to me and I just happened to have access to it, so I dove right in. Wow. In a nutshell, My Sister Rosa is fucked up and impossible to put down. Read more »

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Review: Little White Lies by Brianna Baker and F. Bowman Hastie III

February 11, 2016 Diversity 1, Reviews 1

Review: Little White Lies by Brianna Baker and F. Bowman Hastie IIILittle White Lies by Brianna Baker, F. Bowman Hastie III
Published by Soho Teen on February 9, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary, YA Thriller
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
zero-stars
Seventeen-year-old honors student Coretta White's Tumblr, Little White Lies--a witty commentary on race and current events, as well as an exposé of her brilliant-yet-clueless parents--has just gone viral. She's got hundreds of thousands of followers; she's even been offered a TV deal. But Coretta has a confession: she hasn't been writing her own posts. Overwhelmed with the stress of keeping up with her schoolwork and applying for colleges, she has secretly hired a forty-one-year-old ghostwriter named Karl Ristoff to help her with the Tumblr. His contributions have helped make it a sensation, but unable to bear the guilt, Coretta eventually confesses the scandalous truth to a select few to free herself of the burden.

The fallout is almost instantaneous. Before she knows it, her reputation has been destroyed. The media deal disappears. Even her boyfriend breaks up with her. Then Karl is thrust into the limelight, only to suffer a precipitous fall himself. Ultimately, the two join forces to find out who is responsible for ruining both of their lives . . . someone who might even have had the power to fuel their success in the first place. And to exact justice and a clever revenge, they must truly come clean to each other.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Coretta, her boyfriend Mike, and their families are black; her best friend Rachel is Jewish)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

Contrary to popular belief, I’m not a deliberate asshole when I’m reviewing bad books like this one. When I come across a book that’s horrible and/or generally unready for publication, I want to be as clear as possible about what went wrong so no one can mistake my words. I’m here for the consumers first and foremost. Here’s me being as clear as possible: Little White Lies in the state that I read it in is completely unready for publication and you have been conned if you paid anything for it, especially the full price of $18.99 US. Read more »

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Review: From Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan

July 20, 2015 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: From Where I Watch You by Shannon GroganFrom Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan
Published by Soho Teen on August 4, 2015
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
four-stars
Sixteen-year-old Kara McKinley is about to realize her dream of becoming a professional baker. Beautifully designed and piped, her cookies are masterpieces, but also her ticket out of rainy Seattle—if she wins the upcoming national baking competition and its scholarship prize to culinary school in California. Kara can no longer stand the home where her family lived, laughed, and ultimately imploded after her mean-spirited big sister Kellen died in a drowning accident. Kara’s dad has since fled, and her mom has turned from a high-powered attorney into a nutty holy-rolling Christian fundamentalist peddling “Soul Soup” in the family café. All Kara has left are memories of better times.

But the past holds many secrets, and they come to light as Kara faces a secret terror. Someone is leaving her handwritten notes. Someone who knows exactly where she is and what’s she’s doing. As they lead her to piece together the events that preceded Kellen’s terrible, life-changing betrayal years before, she starts to catch glimpses of her dead sister: an unwelcome ghost in filthy Ugg boots. If Kara doesn’t figure out who her stalker is, and soon, she could lose everything. Her chance of escape. The boy she’s beginning to love and trust. Even her life.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

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

30th verse, same as the first: tell me there’s a stalker in a book and I’m in no matter how questionable the rest of it sounds. But there was nothing questionable-sounding about From Where I Watch You anyway because it just sounded like my kind of book. A teenage girl with a passion for baking she plans to turn into a career? ABSOLUTELY. Stalkers too? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. Grogan’s debut novel won’t satisfy your sweet tooth, though. It’s a deceptively dark little book that might bring readers to tears. Read more »

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