Source: ALA Annual 2016

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Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman

April 28, 2017 Diversity 1, Reviews 1 ★★

Review: Gemina by Amie KaufmanGemina by Amie Kaufman, Marie Lu (illustrator)
Published by Knopf BFYR on October 18, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Sci-fi
Pages: 672
Format: ARC
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Goodreads
two-stars
The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that critics are calling “out-of-this-world awesome.”

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (side characters have surnames that indicate they’re POC, but none of them are important characters)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 2 (Nik’s genius hacker cousin Ella has bad legs and needs help breathing after getting sick when she was younger)
Intersectionality: 0

To explain something a bit lengthy and complicated in a nutshell, “literary incubator” Paper Lantern Lit’s process operates like this: writers send in their writing samples, the company later contacts them if they have a project they think the writer is a good fit for, and the writer comes up with a chapter or two based on a 1-2 page summary of that project. If PLL likes what they read, the writer is hired to write a few more chapters and everyone works together on a proposal to submit to publishers. If that proposal sells, the writer gets paid to write the entire book.

What does all that have to do with Gemina or The Illuminae Files as a series? I think it would be much better than it is if it had been conceived through a PPL-like process. The person who has an idea for a book may not necessarily be the best person to write it and I’d say that’s the case with this series. The core worldbuilding and events are phenomenal, but everything else is so, so bad. Read more »

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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: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

March 23, 2017 Diversity 1, Reviews 1 ★★

Review: The Women in the Walls by Amy LukavicsThe Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
Published by Harlequin Teen on September 27, 2016
Genres: Gothic, YA, YA Horror, YA Paranormal
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Goodreads
two-stars
Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

Diversity: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 2 (Lucy self-harms)
Intersectionality: 0

A few days ago, I was at the local used bookstore with my best friend and I found a copy of Daughter Unto Devils. I’d read the book and loved it; she hadn’t. Meanwhile, she’d already gotten to The Women in the Walls and was terrified by it when I hadn’t even gotten to read it yet. Naturally, I peer pressured her into buying it and happened to pull The Women in the Walls out of my TBR jar the very next day. Reader, for how much I enjoyed my previous experience reading a novel from Amy Lukavics, I am disappoint. Read more »

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Review: Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz

February 27, 2017 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★½

Review: Shutter by Laurie Faria StolarzShutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 18, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Goodreads
one-half-stars
Sixteen-year-old Day Connor views life through the lens of her camera, where perspective is everything. But photographs never tell the whole story. After Day crosses paths with Julian, the world she observes and the truths she believes—neatly captured in black and white—begin to blur.

Julian does not look like a murderer, but his story is full of holes, and his alibis don’t quite add up, either. This time, Day is determined to see the entire picture…whatever it reveals.

Did he kill his parents? Or didn’t he?

While Julian remains on the run, Day digs deeper into his case. But the more facts she uncovers, the longer her list of questions becomes. It’s also getting harder to deny the chemistry she feels with Julian.

Is it real? Or is she being manipulated?

Day is close to finding the crack in the case that will prove Julian’s innocence. She just needs time to focus before the shutter snaps shut.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 1 (Julian’s mom suffered from depression and a painkiller addiction; she attempted suicide multiple times)
Intersectionality: 0

Back when I was just a wee fourteen-year-old just getting into reading, Laurie Faria Stolarz’s Blue is for Nightmares series was a small thing and her Touch series was just beginning. While looking for new reads, her books would always be right there waiting, but I never bothered with them. Well, if their quality is anything like Shutter, I’m thankful little me was never interested.

Read more »

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Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

December 2, 2016 Diversity 4, Reviews 0 ★½

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Goodreads
one-half-stars
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Diversity: 4 – This Is Our World

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (Natasha’s family is Jamaican, Daniel’s is South Korean, and their identities are explored well)
QUILTBAG: 0 (very brief appearance of a lesbian women in one interlude chapter)
Disability: 1 (a suicidal woman makes brief appearances in two or three interlude chapters)
Intersectionality: 5 (see all of the above)

Look, I don’t set out to be a black sheep. It’s not fun thanks to all the jerkwads who will eventually show up in the comments to tell me how wrong I am and how I should die (legitimately a comment someone left in Portuguese on my review of a Cassandra Clare book). Nicola Yoon? Her fans are dedicated and I completely understand why because there’s a lot to like in Everything, Everything as well as her newest, The Sun Is Also a Star. I simply have grievances with both books that run too deep and mean too much for me. Read more »

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Review: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

November 17, 2016 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. SchneiderSummer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider
on May 3, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (Sloane and her brother are Native Hawaiian through their mom)
QUILTBAG: 1 (one supporting character is a lesbian)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 2 (Maile, Sloane’s co-worker, is a lesbian and presumably Native Hawaiian based on her name)

If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you probably have very vivid memories of it. I only went once when I was eleven and my dad won a trip there, but I still remember everything from the trip clearly. That includes my raging carsickness while we drove up a dormant volcano and the absolute monsoon that my family got drenched in at the top of said volcano. Summer of Sloane surfed onto my radar because of its Hawaiian setting and I’m glad it stayed around. Infidelity is everywhere and the characters are the best kinds of messy.

Read more »

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Review: Die for You by Amy Fellner Dominy

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

Review: Die for You by Amy Fellner DominyDie for You by Amy Fellner Dominy
Published by Delacorte Press on November 8, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: ALA Annual 2016
Goodreads
four-stars
Not everything is as perfect as it seems in this dark romance by A Matter of Heart author, Amy Dominy.

Theirs was the perfect love story.

After Emma Lorde’s parents’ divorce forces her to move halfway across the state of Arizona to live with her father, Emma must face her senior year in a new school knowing absolutely no one.

Then she meets Dillon Hobbs and something just clicks.

Dillon introduces Emma to friends she can call her own. He provides a refuge from the chaos of her past and the security of a commitment that he promises will last forever. And because circumstances of her messy life forced Emma to put aside her dream of pursuing archaeology, Dillon creates a blueprint for a future together.
He saves her, over and over, by loving her more than she thought anyone ever would.

But just when everything seems picture-perfect, Emma is offered an opportunity that will upend the future they’ve planned. Uncertainty grows, and fear spirals into something darker.

Now Dillon is the one who needs saving.

But how much do you sacrifice for the one you love? What if saving Dillon means losing herself?

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 1 (Dillon has mental issues the author says are purposefully left unspecified)
Intersectionality: 0

Well. After the clusterfuck that was last week, let’s get back to business. Read more »

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