Source: finished copy from Amazon Vine

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Review: The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

January 5, 2018 Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-JonesThe Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Published by Little Brown BFYR on August 8, 2017
Genres: YA, YA Horror, YA Paranormal
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: finished copy from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
four-half-stars
When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

But Who Does it Represent?

  • Dee is a Latina girl from an abusive, alcoholic home
  • Riley is trans

Ah, a novel in which someone might say “it cost me an arm and a leg” and mean it literally! The novel’s blend of magical realism and the paranormal entertains with its team of portal destroyers and brave, desperate heroine Dee as much as it horrifies with its homunculi and the more mundane, reality-grounded horror of exactly why Dee sold her heart away for boarding school tuition money.

The outlandish and the unfortunately everyday blend seamlessly, though the novel’s pacing is a bit lax and it’s somewhat repetitive toward the middle. Luckily, James and Dee’s developing romance helps pick up some of the slack. One major event that isn’t satisfactorily handled may ruin the book for some readers, but I found myself engaged enough that I overlooked it for a while.

And that ending? I CRIED A LOT, READER. Though I find it unlikely I’ll reread this book due to those waterworks, it’s going on that bookshelf I reserve for all books with value to me as a writer–because it gave me some serious writerly inspiration.

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Review: Storm by Amanda Sun

July 31, 2015 Diversity 3, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Storm by Amanda SunStorm by Amanda Sun
Series: The Paper Gods #3
Published by Harlequin Teen on June 30, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Paranormal
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: finished copy from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
three-stars
After almost a year in Japan, Katie Greene has finally unearthed the terrible secret behind her boyfriend Tomohiro's deadly ability to bring drawings to life—not only is he descended from Kami, the ancient Japanese gods, but he is the heir to a tragedy that occurred long ago, a tragedy that is about to repeat.

Even as the blood of a vengeful god rages inside Tomo, Katie is determined to put his dark powers to sleep. In order to do so, she and Tomo must journey to find the three Imperial Treasures of Japan. Gifts from the goddess Amaterasu herself, these treasures could unlock all of the secrets about Tomo's volatile ancestry and quell the ink's lust for destruction. But in order to complete their quest, Tomo and Katie must confront out-of-control Kami and former friend Jun, who has begun his own quest of revenge against those he believes have wronged him. To save the world, and themselves, Katie and Tomo will be up against one of the darkest Kami creations they've ever encountered—and they may not make it out alive.

Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (most characters are Japanese)
QUILTBAG: 2 (Ishikawa is gay, but his role troubles me)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 2 (Gay Japanese boy, Tomo from one-parent family, and others)

Though my ratings for this series have been a bit middling in the past (3.5 for the first book, 2 for the second), my feelings for this series are a lot more enthusiastic. How on earth were Katie and Tomohiro supposed to make it together when them being around one another actually causes him harm? Would the triad Jun proposed actually happen? (Probably not, BUT I HAD A DREAM AND I HAD HOPE.) Sometimes, there are things you care a great deal about even if you don’t care much for them. That make sense? Whatever. Storm makes for a solid finale, but it wraps itself up perhaps too neatly in the end. Read more »

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Review: Silvern by Christina Farley

October 30, 2014 Reviews 0 ★½

Review: Silvern by Christina FarleySilvern by Christina Farley
Series: Gilded #2
Published by Skyscape on September 23, 2014
Genres: YA, YA Paranormal
Format: Paperback
Source: finished copy from Amazon Vine
one-half-stars
Jae Hwa Lee has destroyed Haemosu, the dangerous demi-god that held her ancestors captive, and now she’s ready to forget about immortals and move on with her life. Then the god of darkness, Kud, sends an assassin to kill her. Jae escapes with the knowledge that Kud is seeking the lost White Tiger Orb, and joins the Guardians of Shinshi to seek out the orb before Kud can find it.

But Kud is stronger and more devious than Haemosu ever was. Jae is soon painfully reminded that by making an enemy of Kud, she has placed her closest friends in danger, and must decide how much she can bear to sacrifice to defeat one of the most powerful immortals in all of Korea.

While Farley’s debut failed to impress me, I came back for Silvern with hope of so much more, like something being done about how Jae Hwa feels less Korean than her white-as-bread boyfriend Marc. That’s a serious thing they would need to discuss and I’d love to see that kind of discussion between them. Alas, I didn’t get anything on that front nor did I get anything that made me happy I’d read this book at all. Farley kept me reluctantly reading from beginning to end by using my favorite trope, but Silvern is both a weak second novel in the Gilded series and kinda racist.

Read more »

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Review: The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz

June 13, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: The Dark World by Cara Lynn ShultzThe Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz
Series: Dark World #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 27, 2014
Genres: YA Paranormal
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: finished copy from Amazon Vine
three-stars
Paige Kelly is used to weird--in fact, she probably corners the market on weird, considering that her best friend, Dottie, has been dead since the 1950s. But when a fire demon attacks Paige in detention, she has to admit that things have gotten out of her league. Luckily, the cute new boy in school, Logan Bradley, is a practiced demon slayer-and he isn't fazed by Paige's propensity to chat with the dead. Suddenly, Paige is smack in the middle of a centuries-old battle between warlocks and demons, learning to fight with a magic sword so that she can defend herself. And if she makes one wrong move, she'll be pulled into the Dark World, an alternate version of our world that's overrun by demons-and she might never make it home.

Well, this turned out a little better than expected. Shultz’s other novels have not been very well-regarded among most of my trusted friends (I say most because one friend was really into them), but the plot of The Dark World promised me demons and that is exactly what I’m in the mood for right now. While the romance is sweet and the worldbuilding is good other than some confusion I had, The Dark World is ultimately a mixed bag of a novel due mostly in part to Paige herself. Read more »

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The Program by Suzanne Young

October 25, 2013 Reviews 2

The Program by Suzanne YoungThe Program by Suzanne Young Published by Simon Pulse on April 30, 2013
Genres: YA Dystopian
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: finished copy from Amazon Vine
zero-stars
In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

I want to kick this book in its nonexistent nuts, drown it with glee, tear it apart, and let my cats use it as cat litter. These are the degrees of hatred in our relationship. This offensive, anti-science novel with a narrow focus, shoddy premise, no records of previous medical discoveries regarding NUMEROUS things, and generally no idea how to deal with mental illness in a sensitive manner should never have been published. It made me so angry that I lost the ability to speak of the novel, RE-gained it, and must write this very angry review before the weight of this anger makes me implode. There were no words and there suddenly are now. Read more »

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