Source: YA Books Central

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Review: One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman

January 9, 2017 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: One Silver Summer by Rachel HickmanOne Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman
Published by Scholastic Press on April 26, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 263
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
three-stars
The thinking girl's summer romance: a gorgeously written story of love and loss with a thrilling royal twist!

After a car accident claims her mother's life, Sass is sent to Cornwall to live with the uncle she's never met. All she wants is to be alone, to come to terms with the new Sass -- the girl who can't forget the screech of tires, the crunch of metal.

With its rocky beaches and secluded fields, Cornwall is the perfect place to hide. It gets even better when Sass glimpses a silver horse and starts sneaking off to spend time with the one creature who makes her grief feel manageable.

During one of her visits, Sass runs into Alex, the horse's owner. At first, he shows nothing but disdain for the trespassing American. But despite his brusque manner, he feels an affinity for the curious girl with the sad eyes, and offers to teach her to ride.

Sass never expected to feel anything again, yet soon she finds herself falling for Alex. But Alex has a secret -- a bombshell that could shatter Sass's fragile trust. . . and force him to abandon the only girl who made him believe in true love.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

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

Warning: animal death in this book. Specifically, a horse dies.

Let’s be real, we’re all here for a romance between a royal and a commoner at some point in our lives. Maybe it’s when we’re kids and we refuse to turn off Cinderella or we’re adults and the once-a-generation royal wedding is happening in the UK, but it’s an attractive trope for more than a few reasons. Even more attractive for book nerds: a royal romance that dives into the nitty-gritty. Does One Silver Summer manage to do that? Well, it tries. Read more »

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Review: Macarons at Midnight by Suzanne Nelson

January 5, 2017 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Macarons at Midnight by Suzanne NelsonMacarons at Midnight by Suzanne Nelson
Series: Wish
Published by Scholastic Paperbacks on June 28, 2016
Genres: MG Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
three-stars
When Lise Santos stumbles into a bakery's midnight taste test, she meets a supercute boy. He's as sweet as the macarons they share, and Lise is totally smitten. She's pretty sure he is, too -- but they never get a chance to exchange names. Now Lise has to find him again....

When Lise finally discovers who her mystery guy is, he's not at all what she expected -- and suddenly they don't get along anymore! Things become even more complicated when her friend Viv starts to express interest in him. Now Lise's head and heart are all in a jumble. Can she gather the courage to admit her true feelings ... or is this a recipe for total disaster?

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (the love interest Rajeev is Indian, the principal’s wife is Thai, and Elise’s dad is Brazilian)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

This is one of those reviews I’ve been putting off for months because Macarons at Midnight is pretty easily summarized. Very cute, a bit outlandish in parts, but worth reading if you’re in a bad mood and want something fluffy. BUT I MUST WRITE A PROPER REVIEW FOR IT. I almost wish I weren’t swamped in review books now so I just could review what I wanted when I wanted the way I did when I started six years ago. So. Reviewy thing now.

(I know, I’m a master at transitions and subtlety.) Read more »

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Review: The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia

December 8, 2016 Diversity 3, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana ZiaThe Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia
Published by Peachtree Publishers on March 1, 2016
Genres: MG Contemporary
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
three-stars
Aliya already struggles with trying to fit in, feeling confident enough to talk to the cute boy or stand up to mean kids — the fact that shes Muslim is just another thing to deal with. When Marwa, a Moroccan girl who shares her faith if not her culture, comes to Aliya's school, Aliya wonders even more about who she is, what she believes, and where she fits in. Should she fast for Ramadan? Should she wear the hijab? She's old enough for both, but does she really want to call attention to herself?

Diversity: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (Aliya and her family are Indian Muslims; her best friend Winnie is Korean; Marwa’s family is Moroccan)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 4 (the book’s focus on Muslim girlhood creates plenty of intersections between gender and racial-ethnic identity)

One review of The Garden of My Imaan calls the book a modern homage to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, that classic book parents gave to their kids when puberty threatened to rear its ugly head and begin the monthly misery of menstruation. I never got to read that one because I was an ace at odd things like not getting to read things that were “normal” for kids my age to read. That continued all the way into high school. ANYWAY. The Garden of My Imaan is far from perfect, but it has a lot of value for its audience even if it’s a bit didactic. Read more »

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Review: Interference by Kay Honeyman

September 22, 2016 Diversity 1, Reviews 1 ★★★★½

Review: Interference by Kay HoneymanInterference by Kay Honeyman
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on September 27, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
four-half-stars
As a Congressman's daughter in Washington, D.C., Kate Hamilton is good at getting what she wants -- what some people might call "interfering." But when her family moves to West Texas so her dad can run in a special election, Kate encounters some difficulties that test all her political skills. None of her matchmaking efforts go according to plan. Her father's campaign gets off to a rough start. A pro tip for moving to Texas: Don't slam the star quarterback's hand in a door. And whenever Kate messes up, the irritatingly right (and handsome) Hunter Price is there to witness it. But Kate has determination and a good heart, and with all her political savvy -- and a little clever interference -- she'll figure out what it takes to make Red Dirt home.

Terrifically funny and sweetly romantic, with whip-crack dialogue and a wise perspective on growing up, INTERFERENCE is the perfect next read for fans of Jenny Han, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Eulberg, or Sarah Dessen.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Ana and Ms. Serrano are Latina)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

Politics and football: two things I love and despise in equal measure. I’ve grown up on football, but the culture of football is bad for the players (see: the concussion stuff) and I’m tired of seeing players get away with sexual assault and/or domestic violence; politics are honestly fascinating and important to pay attention to as a good citizen, but it also brings out the absolute worst in people. Interference manages to mix the two and create a cute but sharp read with more than a little influence from Jane Austen’s Emma. Read more »

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Review: Girls Mans Up by M-E Girard

September 15, 2016 Diversity 3, Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Review: Girls Mans Up by M-E GirardGirl Mans Up by M-E Girard
Published by HarperCollins on September 6, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
five-stars
All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty.

But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth—that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.

Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality

Racial-Ethnic: 4 (Pen and her family are Portuguese; Olivia is half-Asian; other minor POC characters)
QUILTBAG: 2 (Pen is lesbian, Blake is bi)
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 5 (perhaps not in the usual sense, but the nature of Pen’s story and its handling is excellent)

Thanks to all sorts of psychological stuff I learned about in high school, bright colors on a book cover make me think a book will be happy and fun and sweet. Something something schemas, our brains are like Google AutoComplete, something something. Girl Mans Up has a bright red cover, but it’s really representative of how you’ll be seeing red while reading. Pen’s story is necessary and beautiful and relatable no matter your gender or sexual identity, but you’re going to be mad at just about everyone in Pen’s life.

Read more »

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Review: Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

August 29, 2016 Reviews 1 ★★★★

Review: Sex Object by Jessica ValentiSex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
Published by Dey Street Books on June 7, 2016
Genres: Adult, Adult Memoir
Pages: 224
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
four-stars
Author and Guardian US columnist Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Now, in a darkly funny and bracing memoir, Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes from the every day to the existential.

Sex Object explores the painful, funny, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City, revealing a much shakier inner life than the confident persona she has cultivated as one of the most recognizable feminists of her generation.

In the tradition of writers like Joan Didion and Mary Karr, this literary memoir is sure to shock those already familiar with Valenti’s work and enthrall those who are just finding it.

Jessica Valenti can be problematic as a feminist, but her book The Purity Myth introduced me to other works of feminist criticism and was generally my gateway to feminism’s more academic form. There will always be a place in my heart for her and her works. Throughout her essays in Sex Object, Valenti embraces just how problematic she is in the form of exposing how she behaved in her teens and early twenties, how that conflicts with who she is now, and the way what she went through changed her. Read more »

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Review: Winning by Lara Deloza

July 28, 2016 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: Winning by Lara DelozaWinning by Lara Deloza
Published by HarperTeen on June 28, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
four-half-stars
House of Cards meets Election in this wickedly entertaining story about an uber-ambitious high school junior.

Whoever said being nice would get you to the top?

Certainly not Alexandra Miles. She isn’t nice, but she’s more than skilled at playing the part. She floats through the halls of Spencer High, effortlessly orchestrating the actions of everyone around her, making people bend to her whim without even noticing they’re doing it. She is the queen of Spencer High—and it’s time to make it official.

Alexandra has a goal, you see—Homecoming Queen. Her ambitions are far grander than her small town will allow, but homecoming is just the first step to achieving total domination. So when peppy, popular Erin Hewett moves to town and seems to have a real shot at the crown, Alexandra has to take action.

With the help of her trusted friend Sam, she devises her most devious plot yet. She’ll introduce an unexpected third competitor in the mix, one whose meteoric rise—and devastating fall—will destroy Erin’s chances once and for all. Alexandra can run a scheme like this in her sleep. What could possibly go wrong?

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 4 (Sam is lesbian; Erin is either lesbian or bi, but it’s never specified)
Disability: 2 (Lexi’s mom is drug-addicted)
Intersectionality: 1

About five years ago, Charlie Sheen had a meltdown and coined phrase after phrase. One of them was “winning” and it seems apt that this novel has the title it does. Why? Because Winning the novel is just as ridiculous and terrifying as Sheen’s downward spiral and will have you reacting in many of the same ways. (Still more entertaining than most Charlie Sheen-starring shows or films, though.)

Read more »

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