Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

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Review: The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day

April 20, 2017 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★

Review: The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia DayThe Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 6, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Goodreads
two-stars
Together is somewhere they long to be.

Ash Gupta has a life full of possibility. His senior year is going exactly as he’s always wanted-- he's admired by his peers, enjoying his classes and getting the kind of grades that his wealthy, immigrant parents expect. There's only one obstacle in Ash's path: Eden Moore—the senior most likely to become class valedictorian. How could this unpopular, sharp-tongued girl from the wrong side of the tracks stand in his way?

All Eden's ever wanted was a way out. Her perfect GPA should be enough to guarantee her a free ride to college -- and an exit from her trailer-park existence for good. The last thing she needs is a bitter rivalry with Ash, who wants a prized scholarship for his own selfish reasons. Or so she thinks. . . When Eden ends up working with Ash on a class project, she discovers that the two have more in common than either of them could have imagined. They’re both in pursuit of a dream -- one that feels within reach thanks to their new connection. But what does the future hold for two passionate souls from totally different worlds?

Diversity: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 2 (Ash and his family are Indian)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 1 (Eden’s babysitting charge Kurt is autistic; his rep is questionable)
Intersectionality: 1 (Eden’s family is dirt poor)

Ugh, I’ve been trying and failing to write this review for ages because The Possibility of Somewhere is just so unremarkable. I’m not even gonna put in a “read more” cut for once because this won’t take long to review.

Though all my initial review notes were negative, reading this novel at first made me feel nostalgic. For various reasons, it reminded me of the YA novel I queried to agents my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. Eden is such an unmemorable character that I regularly forgot her name while reading the book, but her cruddy dad earned her my sympathies. Points for her having a good relationship with her stepmother too.

Also? Love that Ash’s “locker room talk” about Eden’s boobs was punished by the narrative. Specifically, punished via his four-year-old nephew telling Eden what he said and embarrassing him. It’s such an unorthodox way to see the sexualization of girls punished in fiction and I’m all for it in the future. Speak of people as though they will eventually know what you said!

Then the book got boring. For being just over 300 pages, The Possibility of Somewhere felt so, so much longer and it should have ended earlier. The last chapter should have been dropped altogether for being unnecessary and ending the book far too sweetly considering the events and the racism that emerges in the community once Eden and Ash’s relationship becomes known.

I’m also concerned about the autistic rep provided by Kurt, one of Eden’s babysitting charges. I don’t have autism or even the knowledge to judge whether Kurt’s disorder is accurately represented, but I’m concerned about his narrative use toward the end of the novel. When Eden needs to interview for a scholarship but still has to watch her charges, she takes Kurt into the interview with her. Inevitably, he wanders into the conversation and Eden uses him to illustrate to the scholarship committee that she’d use her scholarship to become a special education teacher and work closely with kids like him.

Wow, under 500 words for the first time in a while! Book was okay. I’m kinda hoping that last chapter got dropped between the ARC stage I read the book at and its finalized publication, but I’m not able to check right now. Wouldn’t recommend it, wouldn’t tell you not to read it.

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Review: Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast

December 23, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 3

Review: Moon Chosen by P.C. CastMoon Chosen by P.C. Cast
Series: Tales of a New World #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on October 18, 2016
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, YA, YA Fantasy
Pages: 608
Format: Hardcover
Source: finished copy from the publisher
Goodreads
zero-stars
Chosen to embrace her true identity. Chosen to follow her destiny. Chosen to change her world.

Mari is an Earth Walker, heir to the unique healing powers of her Clan, but she has been forced to turn from her duties, until she is chosen by a special animal ally, altering her destiny forever. When a deadly attack tears her world apart, Mari reveals the strength of her powers and the forbidden secret of her dual nature as she embarks on a mission to save herself and her people. It is not until Nik, the son of the leader from a rival, dominating Tribe, strays across her path that Mari experiences something she has never felt before…

Now evil is coming, and with it, a force more terrible and destructive than the world has ever seen, leaving Mari to cast the shadows from the earth. By breaking Clan Law and forming an alliance with Nik, she must make herself ready. Ready to save her people. Ready to save herself and Nik. Ready to embrace her true destiny…and battle the forces that threaten to destroy them all.

Diversity: -5 – What the Fuck Is This?

Racial-Ethnic: -5 (this is some goddamn racist shit)
QUILTBAG: 0 (one blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gay character; there’s a lesbian couple, but one of them dies soon after being introduced)
Disability: 0 (one blind girl, heavily fetishized)
Intersectionality: 0

This is gonna be a long review and I’m not even covering everything I want to, so I’ve uploaded my notes on Google Drive for easy viewing. Just click the link! All quote citations and page numbers are in that document and based on the US hardcover edition.

Once upon a time, there was Revealing Eden by Victoria Hoyt, a novel that turned white people into the oppressed class and made the white main character donning blackface a narrative necessity. It was rightly called out for racism then and is still ridiculously racist now. If I weren’t already familiar with the Cast family’s brand of racism thanks to their House of Night series, I’d think Moon Chosen was written specifically to out-racist Revealing Eden and all the cultural appropriation and Magical Native American fuckery from the aforementioned series.  Between blackface and all the racial coding, Moon Chosen may actually be the most racist YA novel of all.

Read more »

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Review: Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt

September 7, 2015 Diversity 2, Reviews 2 ★★

Review: Dream Things True by Marie MarquardtDream Things True by Marie Marquardt
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 1, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: BEA 2015
Goodreads
two-stars
A modern-day Romeo and Juliet story in which a wealthy Southern boy falls in love with an undocumented Mexican girl and together they face perils in their hostile Georgia town.

Evan, a soccer star and the nephew of a conservative Southern Senator, has never wanted for much -- except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two-years-old, excels in school, and has a large, warm Mexican family. Never mind their differences, the two fall in love, and they fall hard. But when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) begins raids on their town, Alma knows that she needs to tell Evan her secret. There's too much at stake. But how to tell her country-club boyfriend that she’s an undocumented immigrant? That her whole family and most of her friends live in the country without permission. What follows is a beautiful, nuanced, well-paced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (most of the cast is POC, being that Alma’s family is so large)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 3 (Alma’s family is fairly poor and suffer from racial discrimination/racism)

A few years ago, I read this little book called Burning that I loved and hated in equal measure. The Romani girl Lala’s POV chapters touched me and got me to root for her; the white boy’s chapters were odious in their offensiveness and made me want to feed him through a wood chipper because he never grew to learn better. Dream Things True, what with its rich white boy and undocumented Mexican immigrant girl sharing the third-person narrative, is much the same way. Alma’s sections are lovely and shed a much-needed light on life as an undocumented immigrant in an era where Donald Trump’s racist, early-Hitler-esque rhetoric puts him at the top of the Republican polls. However, Evan’s hardly-questioned mounds of privilege really weigh down what could have been a great novel. Read more »

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Review: About a Girl by Sarah McCarry

August 13, 2015 Diversity 4, Reviews 2 ★★★½

Review: About a Girl by Sarah McCarryAbout a Girl by Sarah McCarry
Series: Metamorphoses #3
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on July 14, 2014
Genres: Magical Realism, YA
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Source: finished copy from the publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Eighteen-year-old Tally is absolutely sure of everything: her genius, the love of her adoptive family, the loyalty of her best friend, Shane, and her future career as a Nobel prize-winning astronomer. There's no room in her tidy world for heartbreak or uncertainty—or the charismatic, troubled mother who abandoned her soon after she was born. But when a sudden discovery upends her fiercely ordered world, Tally sets out on an unexpected quest to seek out the reclusive musician who may hold the key to her past—and instead finds Maddy, an enigmatic and beautiful girl who will unlock the door to her future. The deeper she falls in love with Maddy, the more Tally begins to realize that the universe is bigger—and more complicated—than she ever imagined. Can Tally face the truth about her family—and find her way home in time to save herself from its consequences?

Diversity Rating: 4 – This Is Our World

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (Senegalese man, Navajo man, Tally and her mother are brown-skinned)
QUILTBAG: 5 (Tally’s BFF Shane is trans; Tally’s dads are gay and both her adoptive mom and bio mom are bi and so is she)Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 4 (look at all those identities up there)

So I didn’t care for McCarry’s debut novel All Our Pretty Songs and didn’t read her second book Dirty Wings, but thanks to the girls-kissing cover, I knew I needed to read About a Girl. It sounded like a fine novel on its own too, but the promise of girls kissing is the best because the G in QUILTBAG is the one that gets all the representation. McCarry finishes out her generation-spanning trilogy with a highly intelligent journey of self-discovery. Read more »

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Review: Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

July 2, 2015 Diversity 3, Reviews 2 ★★★½

Review: Delicate Monsters by Stephanie KuehnDelicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 9, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary, YA Thriller
Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover
Source: eARC via NetGalley
three-half-stars
From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (Sadie is half-Chinese, Emerson’s crush May is unspecified POC)
QUILTBAG: 0 (may be someone, but not a main character; my memory is fuzzy)
Disability: 1 (off-screen character has Tourette’s, two characters are sociopaths)
Intersectionality: 3 (Emerson and Miles’s family is not too well off)

MAJOR WARNING for anyone triggered by cat death/animal death: you’re not going to like this novel because there are a LOT of dead animals. Also sexual abuse.

Stephanie Kuehn’s novels are so smart they might make even the most intelligent men and women of the world feel a little dumb. I have faith in my own intellect and still questioned if I really got this novel. That happened some with her sophomore novel Complicit too and also in her debut Charm & Strange in spades, so I knew what I was in for. Still, wow. Delicate Monsters is a novel both unlike Kuehn’s previous work and unlike any other YA novel out there right now as we dive into the heads of two sociopaths and a sickly young boy who has suffered from torment by both of them. Read more »

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Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

March 2, 2015 Reviews 3 ★★★★★

Review: All the Rage by Courtney SummersAll the Rage by Courtney Summers
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 14, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
five-stars
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

So, um. I’m a Courtney Summers fangirl. If there’s one author who should really be terrified to meet me, it’s probably her because I won’t want to let her leave ever. We’ve all got a little Annie Wilkes in us, right?

Er, maybe it’s just me. I’ve heard I scare authors and I know I’m one heck of a creep when I want to be. I’ve read all her books and shouldn’t be allowed near her at any bookish event I might meet her at, but that’s more because she’s so good at writing girls with complex personalities, tough stuff, and emotional pain and I’d embarrass myself in her presence. Readers have spent years waiting for All the Rage and the wait is 100% worth it. This novel is Courtney Summers looking patriarchy/rape culture dead in the eyes and destroying their nuts with baseball bats. Read more »

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Review: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

July 7, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Review: This Is Not a Test by Courtney SummersThis Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Series: This Is Not a Test #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 19, 2012
Genres: YA, YA Horror
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
five-stars
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

“Maybe the only way our story can end is varying degrees of sad. And that I miss her, and that I need her, and this kind of missing, this kind of need, the kind of emptiness it leaves behind is worse than waking up one day finding the whole world has collapsed in on itself, that I was over long before it was.” (ARC p. 226)

Zombies? Usually, I’m not interested. The zombie fanatic of the family is my brother, who has infected everyone else in our immediate family with his fascination. Still, something about This Is Not a Test intrigued me. The good word friends put behind this author and this book in particular? The way I swear I saw someone describe it as a more depressing The Breakfast Club in the middle of a zombie apocalypse? Whatever it was, I snatched it up and started the novel with a sense of caution. Read more »

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