Monday, September 17, 2018

Things I've Read Recently (79)

If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason.

Three Sisters by Norma Fox Mazer

Published: January 1st, 1986 by Scholastic
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count:
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: Library reject.
Amazon / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): All the talents in Karen's family were taken up by her older sisters: Liz is the beautiful one; Tobi is a talented artist. And Karen - she's just the little Freed girl.

The only one who takes her seriously is Scott, Liz's almost-fiance. He helps her find a summer job. He lets her take care of him when he's sick. He understands how she thinks, who she is. And when he kisses her, Karen is sure she's found someone who thinks she's special.

Funny how wrong a little sister can be.

Thoughts: This is a weird book. The voice is strange. Maybe I'm just not that used to reading third person these days, but it was very removed. Surprisingly, despite being written in the peak of the 80s, it's not technology or fashion that dates this book the most, but the attitude. Because I am sorry, but if you are 21, and the guy you are dating, who is your age or older, comes onto your fifteen year old sister and kisses her, you do not get mad at HER. You get angry at him, and possibly murder him and bury his body in the woods where no one can ever find it.

Seriously that boggled my mind. Honestly, it's no wonder that YA started having overly-perfect and idealized male characters. Every dude in this book besides their dad is a creep! And even their dad is kind of bland. Karen's boyfriend won't spend 5 minutes without pushing her for sex she's not ready to have, or interested in having, he can't say anything nice about her but "she's okay", and he immediately starts dating her best friend after they break up. Liz's "almost-fiance" is, again, a 21 year old who thinks it's okay to kiss a 15 year old and then pretty much blames her for it. Tobi's boyfriend is a 35 year old professor (with a 14 year old daughter) dating his 18 year old student, and physically and emotionally abuses her.

The weirdest part of this is it's kind of a dull book. Not a ton happens and the plot is really slow. I dunno, it was just kind of boring. My copy is also really beat up and I actually had to tape it back together to be able to read it, so I'm just gonna pass this one along. Not one I'd reread. This was re-released as an ebook in 2015, and I can't say I'd really recommend it, even though I've enjoyed other books by the author.

Do You Want Fries With That? by Martyn Godfrey

Published: It was released in 1996 from Scholastic Canada.
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 153 plus an About the Author
Part of a series? No.
Got via: It's a library weed.
AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): Brittany and her best friend Laura are all ready for a great spring break. Florida, Disney World, MGM Studies - it's as if someone has taken their order for a dream vacation! And meeting the drop-dead gorgeous star of Do You Want Fries With That?, their favorite TV show, would be the perfect dessert.

Too bad the order is delivered by Brittany's overprotective father. "Talk to him," Laura advices. But he still treats her like a little girl.

Just when Brittany thinks she's had all she can take, things start happening. Before you know it, dessert arrives - complete with whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry on top!

Thoughts: A few years ago I reread a childhood favourite by this author, There's a Cow In My Swimming Pool, which actually shares a couple of traits with this one. The girls in this one have only been friends for a couple months, just like that one, it's set over a school holiday, and the character types are pretty similar. Looking at the author's goodreads profile, I think I managed to find two of the most similar books he's written, among some pretty varying premises like historicals and fantasy, which I find amusing.

Honestly I liked this one more than I expected. It's cute. Very wish fulfillment, but there's nothing wrong with that. And this kind of "child actor celebrity has a harder life than you'd think and wants to be normal sometimes" plot was actually pretty common during this time period. I think the Baby-Sitter's Club had a book with a very similar premise. For some reason, it was a thing for a while.

I still liked the dynamic of the girls only having known each other for two months and still figuring each other out, and the subplot of Britt dealing with her dad treating her like she was a very small child was good, especially because the book pointed out when they were both not acting their best, and when he was actually right about things. Also, Britt is Latina and biracial, and the author doesn't overstep in my opinion. It's mentioned at the beginning, and then the book isn't about that, which I think is probably the best choice for a white dude in the 90s, you know?

All in all, I liked this fine. Plus it's a pretty slim book, so it's not gonna take up a ton of shelf space when I keep it, which I do believe I will. Also, props to the cover artist for really nailing an actual scene in the book.

Fun trivia time: The show in this book is a comedy show set in a fast food restaurant. Where apparently a 13 year old can get a job and work the fry station so, some lax labour laws in this world. There was actually a Canadian teen sitcom called Fries With That? in 2004, although it was based on a Quebecois show, and totally unrelated to this book. I just find that amusing.

Who Let Girls in the Boys' Locker Room? by Elaine Moore

Published: This edition was released in 1994 by Rainbow Bridge, which is an imprint of Troll.
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 144
Part of a series? Yeah, there's a sequel. I'll... go into that.
Got via: I think a yard sale or something. There's no library marks or anything.
Amazon / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): Smidge, Skye, and Keisha are three very different girls with one thing in common: they love to play basketball. So when budget cuts eliminate the girls' basketball team, they accept Jefferson Junior High's offer to join the boys' team!

But playing with the boys is more of a challenge than the girls expect. The boys won't accept girls on their team - or in their locker room! As the big game against Jefferson's arch-rival approaches, the girls must prove themselves to be an important part of the team. And the boys must face a tough question: Can boys and girls ever be teammates - or friends?

Thoughts: Hey, can we talk about this school's sexism? Because this school has a sexism problem, before any of the plot even starts. Budget cuts mean that the school no longer has the funds to have two separate basketball teams. The book doesn't necessarily call it "the boys' team", I will give it credit for that. The summary is off there. It's the only team. But why is automatically majority boys? There's 8 boys on the team and 3 girls. Originally 9 and 2! That's kind of messed up. Why aren't the boys trying to join the girls' team?

Anyways, this is quite dated. Like, what eleven-year-old carries a purse at school? And it's just not amazing by any mean. It's very average. I also think the premise of the second book sounds transmisic and offensive. I would not recommend searching this one out, honestly (although I liked other books by the author as a kid) and I'm gonna be passing it on. I wish I had more to say about this one, but there just isn't a lot to it. Props for the food descriptions, though. The girls have a sleepover at one point and it made me want pizza so badly.

Veronica the Show-Off by Nancy K. Robinson

Published: Goodreads says it was published in 1982, but my copy has the copyright date as 1986. Either way, it's from Apple Paperbacks, which was a Scholastic imprint.
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 128 pages
Part of a series? There are actually four book in this series. I used to own one of them as a kid, but I don't think I ever read it.
Got via: It's a book from a library, but not one I've ever been to. It's from a public school in Regina. Totally random and no idea how I ended up with it.
Amazon / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): Veronica is starting a new school. She wants to make friends. She tells everyone about all the wonderful things she has... even if she doesn't really have them.

Soon everyone at school is tired of Veronica the Show-off. But then a very odd girl named Hilary and a mystery at the library teach Veronica something new: When you're busy being a friend, there's no time to worry about finding one.

Thoughts: What a strange book. I dunno, I think maybe this one is just one you'd need to have more nostalgia for to really enjoy, because for me I just found Veronica a little annoying. Maybe more than a little. And because the book is so short, it doesn't do a whole lot to grow Veronica's character or give us insight on her feelings or anything like that.

Like honestly she gets a little stalker-ish, and if her actions were seen in today's world, they'd seem very creepy indeed.

Also, there's some casual racism towards Native American people, ableism including a slur for little people, and fatmisia from Veronica's mother. So that would definitely keep me from recommending this one. All in all, I just wasn't that impressed by this one and I think I'm just going to pass it on. Short review because there's just not that much to this one. Sorry!!

This was an interesting round! Do you know any of these books? What are your thoughts?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, September 14, 2018

Book Blogger Hop (11)

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books and is now hosted by Billy of Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

This week's question is: What author do you not read and why?

My answer: Hehe, I have a lot. I have a goodreads shelf of that. Mostly it's about the author's behaviour. There are only so many books you can read in a lifetime. I really do try not to read a lot of books that I know I won't like, and I'm giving myself permission to DNF or pass on more books as I get older.

And that's true of books where I just don't click with the writing style, but it's especially true of books I find offensive. If your book, or your behaviour, tells me that you think I'm less than human, or that something's wrong with me for being the way I am, why would I want to spend time reading your book and then writing about it on my blog? I'm not going to support books from authors who hate ace/aro people, and I'm not going to support any author who writes fat hate books.

Plus I'm not going to put support behind books or authors that are, like, violently racist. I don't think I need to say why, huh?

On a very serious note, I'm also not going to read any author that has been outed as an abuser. I won't read their books, and any books I have read will eventually have their reviews edited or star ratings taken away on goodreads. (Eventually. I'm so behind, unfortunately.)

Yeesh, this got sad. What's something lighter I can add to this? Is there like a funny version of this answer? Um, I don't read a lot of books by dudes?

Oh well, that's the best we're getting today!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Summer Wrap-Up + Reading Challenge Check-In (July + August)

I meant for this to go up a little earlier, but then I got sick. So it's going up now, because that's how things go. Oh, well! (That's also why we've been a little light on reviews. Your Laina has not been feeling great.)

This year I am doing Playpire's 2018 Diversity Challenge, and July's theme was again "LGBT Pride Summer", and August's theme was "Mental Health Awareness", and I just kind of rolled those into my QSR books because that's what I read! So I'll just talk about what I read for QSR and mention which books also fit the other monthly themes.

Marco Impossible by Hannah Moskowitz

Published: March 19th, 2013 by Roaring Brook Press
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 247 plus acknowledgements
Part of a series? No.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Best friends Stephen and Marco know a thing or two about impossible missions. It's thanks to them that cell phone thieves at school are apprehended, lost puppies are returned, and gym uniforms are lent out to the forgetful thirteen-year-old masses.

When Marco finds out that Benji - the dream exchange student on whom he has a crush - and his band are playing at the high school prom, he enlists Stephen's help to crash prom and get Marco onstage to profess his love. But as most veteran operatives know, not all heists run smoothly. Stephen is sick of Marco calling the shots 99.97 percent of the time, and he's especially sick of being the sidekick.

On top of it all, Marco and Stephen need to act fast - before Benji goes back to England at the end of the school year. Even though these boys are experts in espionage, it's going to take a mission impossible to pull this maneuver off.

The part where I talk: I liked this a lot, and reviewed it here. Basically any of these could be my July book, but I'm going to go with this one, because why not.

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World

Published: March 6th, 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 307 plus acknowledgments
Part of a series? I don't believe so.
Got via: The library
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen's house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm--and what's worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing.

Mysteriously, Ivy's drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks--and hopes--that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?

The part where I talk: This is one of my new favourites. I'm a huge fan of this, honestly. Also reviewed here.

One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock

Published: February 27th, 2018 by Scholasic
Genre: Historical MG
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 205 plus author's note and acknowledgements and such.
Part of a series? No.
Got via: The library
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Welcome to Daniel Boone Middle School in the 1970s, where teachers and coaches must hide who they are, and girls who like girls are forced to question their own choices. Presented in the voice of a premier storyteller, One True Way sheds exquisite light on what it means to be different, while at the same time being wholly true to oneself.

Through the lives and influences of two girls, readers come to see that love is love is love. Set against the backdrop of history and politics that surrounded gay rights in the 1970s South, this novel is a thoughtful, eye-opening, look at tolerance, acceptance, and change, and will widen the hearts of all readers.

The part where I talk: Not as big of a fan of this one, unfortunately. Reviewed this one here.

P.S. I Miss You by Jen Petro-Roy

Published: March 6th, 2018 by Feiwel and Friends
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 310 plus acknowledgements
Part of a series? No.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Eleven-year-old Evie is heartbroken when her strict Catholic parents send her pregnant sister away to stay with a distant great-aunt. All Evie wants is for her older sister to come back. But when her parents forbid her to even speak to Cilla, she starts sending letters. Evie writes letters about her family, torn apart and hurting. She writes about her life, empty without Cilla. And she writes about the new girl in school, June, who becomes her friend, and then maybe more than a friend.

As she becomes better friends with June, Evie begins to question her sexual orientation. She can only imagine what might happen if her parents found out who she really is. She could really use some advice from Cilla. But Cilla isn't writing back.

The part where I talk: This made me cry so much and I really fell in love with it. Very much worth checking out. Reviewed here, as I realize this post is me linking to the same post multiple times in a row, lol.

No More Heroes by Michelle Kan

Published: February 2017 by Fish and Swallow Publications
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: Goodreads says 278 and I'm not getting up to check
Part of a series? Yes, it's the first of a series.
Got via: Luci bought it for me, lol.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound / Author's Website

Summary (from goodreads): The peaceful nights are kept under the clandestine and watchful eye of young, gifted vigilantes the world over. But a sudden rash of vigilante deaths heralds the arrival of a new and unfamiliar enemy – one whose motive is as unclear as their identity. Someone or something seems determined to disturb the peace, and they're going straight for the watchmen to do it. In a city where those who are gifted make up their own rules, who will step forward when the threat of a swift end is real and there stands so little to gain?

No More Heroes is an urban fantasy action/adventure novel about young, would-be heroes who get more than they bargained for when they delve deeper into a world they never knew they were a part of. Featuring a diverse cast of players, discord, a mystery to be solved, plenty of literary action and high-stakes battles, No More Heroes is a story about self-belief and camaraderie, persistence in the face of trials, and what it means to be the best version of yourself.

The part where I talk: Not a huge fan of this, but I think a lot of other people would be.

Okay, the next four books are going to be reviewed all in the same post, which wasn't actually on purpose, so I'm just going to link to it once right here, instead of posting the same link four time.

The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson

Published: Originally released in 1997, the edition I have is from 2003, and there was a 2010 printing. I'm honestly shocked the copy I have has "2004" written in it because it's practically brand new.
Genre: Historical YA - I'll talk more about this in the review.
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 114
Part of a series? No.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Staggerlee is used to being alone. As the granddaughter of celebrities and the daughter of an interracial couple in an all-black town, she has become adept at isolating herself from curious neighbors.

But then her cousin, Trout, comes to visit. Trout is exactly like Staggerlee wishes she could be: outspoken, sure of herself, beautiful. Finally, Staggerlee has a friend, someone she can share her deepest, most private thoughts with. Someone who will teach her how to be the strong girl she longs to be. But is Trout really the girl Staggerlee thinks she is?

The part where I talk: This is super interesting as a historical part of queer YA lit, but also just on its own as a book.

The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island

Published: May 10th, 2016 by Delacourte Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 255 plus acknowledgements and whatnot
Part of a series? This is the second book in the Family Fletcher series.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): The Fletchers are back on Rock Island, home of all their best summer memories. But from their first day on vacation, it’s clear that this year, things have changed. Their favorite lighthouse is all boarded up‘ and the Fletcher boys can’t figure out why or how to save it. Add a dose of Shakespeare, a very tippy kayak, a video camera, (maybe, possibly, or not) a swimming cat, and some new neighbors, and the recipe for a crazy vacation is complete.

Over the course of the summer, the Fletchers will learn that sometimes, even in a place where time stands still, the wildest, weirdest, and most wonderful surprises await.

The part where I talk: I liked the first of this series, and I liked this one, too.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Published: March 14, 2017 by Swoon Reads
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 262 plus extras like acknowledgements and an interview and stuff.
Part of a series? No, standalone.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.

The part where I talk: This surprised me so much! Loved it. And I am also counting this one as my August book, as it talks a lot about anxiety.

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

Published: March 27th, 2018
Genre: MG Magical Realism
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 211, plus acknowledgements and an about the author that uses "they/them" pronouns for the author and made me realize I've never seen that in... basically any trad book, let alone a MG book, and was super cool to see.
Part of a series? No, standalone.
Got via: The library
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Twelve-year-old Caroline is a Hurricane Child, born on Water Island during a storm. Coming into this world during a hurricane is unlucky, and Caroline has had her share of bad luck already. She's hated by everyone in her small school, she can see things that no one else can see, and -- worst of all -- her mother left home one day and never came back.

With no friends and days filled with heartache, Caroline is determined to find her mother. When a new student, Kalinda, arrives, Caroline's luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, seems to see the things Caroline sees, too. Joined by their common gift, Kalinda agrees to help Caroline look for her mother, starting with a mysterious lady dressed in black. Soon, they discover the healing power of a close friendship between girls.

The part where I talk: I also loved this one. It was beautiful.

So here's the bingo card I went with, for fun.

And I also have some updates for my Beat the Backlist Challenge:

1. Angels Fall by Nora Roberts
2. You by Charles Benoit
3. Ruined by Paula Morris
4. The Haunting of Cassie Palmer by Vivian Alcock
5. The Gifting by Ann Gabhart
6. Below the Root by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
7. The Dark Garden by Margaret Buffie
8. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
9. Abel's Island by William Steig
10. The Summer of the Falcon by Jean Craighead George
11. Sarah and Katie by Dori White
12. Cheater, Cheater by Elizabeth Levy
13. Sisters Red by Jason Pearce
14. The Clearing by Heather Davis
15. Remembering Raquel by Vivian Vande Velde
16. The Callender Papers by Cynthia Voigt
17. The Vandemark Mummy by Cynthia Voigt
18. The Weekend Was Murder by Joan Lowery Nixon
19. The Specter by Joan Lowery Nixon
20. Choker by Elizabeth Woods
21. No More Heroes by Michelle Kan (IT COUNTS. I owned a copy and have for like a year! That makes it count.)

Alright, that's what I read this summer!

How have you all been doing? Hopefully no stomach bugs for you!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (24)

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill Breaking the Spine.

My Whole Truth by Mischa Thrace

Release date: October 2nd, 2018
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Seelie Stanton never wanted to kill someone. She never wanted to be invisible in her own family, never wanted to crush on her best friend Alyssa, and she definitely never wanted to know how effectively a mallet could destroy someone’s head.

But the universe doesn’t care what she wants. Shane Mayfield doesn’t care what Seelie wants either. When the former high school basketball star attacks her, she has no choice but to defend herself. She saved her own life, but she can’t bring herself to talk about what happened that night. Not all of it. Not even when she’s arrested for murder.

The part where I talk: This sounds so interesting, and that summary almost made me gasp out loud. Ugh, why is YA so good????

What are you all looking forward to this week?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, September 7, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday Update (2)

The last Waiting on Wednesday update was really fun to write. If you missed that, you can check it out here. Since it was so interesting to write, I thought I'd do another one. Hopefully you enjoyed reading it as well, dear readers! Again, not going to do these too often, because they take a While to write, lol.

Also, I cannot wait for Past!Laina to discover goodreads. I made life so much harder than it needed to be.

WoWed April 29th, 2009

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Release date: June 2nd, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Nick and his brother, Alan, are always ready to run. Their father is dead, and their mother is crazy—she screams if Nick gets near her. She’s no help in protecting any of them from the deadly magicians who use demons to work their magic. The magicians want a charm that Nick’s mother stole—and they want it badly enough to kill.

Alan is Nick’s partner in demon slaying and the only person he trusts in the world. So things get very scary and very complicated when Nick begins to suspect that everything Alan has told him about their father, their mother, their past, and what they are doing is a complete lie...

Update: I'm not the biggest fan of this author, and this book just isn't my thing anymore. I am also seriously cringing at how hard I was trying to believe I was straight in these posts, lol. Past me, you don't need to do this.

Umbrella Summer by Lisa Groff

Release date: January 25th, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Annie Richards knows there are a million things to look out for -- bicycle accidents, food poisoning, chicken pox, smallpox, typhoid fever, runaway zoo animals, and poison oak.

That's why being careful is so important, even if it does mean giving up some of her favorite things, like bike races with her best friend, Rebecca, and hot dogs on the Fourth of July. Everyone keeps telling Annie not to worry so much, that she's just fine.

But they thought her brother, Jared, was just fine too, and Jared died.

Update: I never got around to reading this, but I totally would read it now. I love the cover too.

WoWed May 6th, 2009:

After by Amy Efaw

Release date: August 11th, 2009

Summary (from my old post, because I don't like the one on goodreads): Who would leave their own baby in the trash to die?

Certainly not someone like Devon--a straight-A student, soccer player with Olympic dreams, more mature than her own mother. But desparation and panic drover her to do what most people can't even imagine. Now Devon's in a juvenile detention center, charged with attempted murder. If she's tried as an adult, she faces life in prison.

Does Devon deserve that punishment? Your answer depends on whether you believe her story--that she didn't even know she was pregnant. Was she buried in a denial so deep that she was unable to register the seemingly obvious signs of pregnancy? Or were her actions the result of a more devious, premeditated plan?

Update: I did in fact read this! I believe I was sent an ARC of this. I reviewed it, too, but I'm not linking that to you because it's probably terribly written and dated now. I remember liking it, though.

Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Release date: October 6th, 2008

Summary (from goodreads): Nothing is beyond Kristi Carmichael’s disdain—her hippie high school, her friend Jacob, her workaholic mom.

Yet for all her attitude and her mind-reading abilities, Kristi has a vulnerable side. She can hear the thoughts of her fellow students, calling her fat and gross. She’s hot for Gusty Peterson, one of the most popular guys in school, but of course, she’s sure he thinks she is disgusting. And she’s still mad at her father, who walked out on them two years ago.

Soon, a school project brings her together with Gusty, her father comes home and drops a bombshell, and a friend comes out of the closet, and suddenly she is left doubting that she can read people at all.

Update: Never got around to this one, and honestly I don't think I would. It doesn't seem like my kind of thing anymore.

WoWed May 20th, 2009:

Sleepless by Thomas Fahy

Release date: July 28th, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): SOMEONE ELSE WILL DIE SOON she tells herself.
SOMEONE ELSE WILL DIE AND I WILL BE RESPONSIBLE.

A few days after the first time you
walk in your sleep, you kill someone.
That's how the end begins.

Emma Montgomery has been having gruesome nightmares. Even worse, when she wakes up, she isn't where she was when she fell asleep. And she's not the only one. One by one the students of Saint Opportuna High start having nightmares, and sleepwalking. And the next morning one of their classmates turns up dead. Something is making them kill in their sleep. Emma and her friends need to band together, to keep themselves awake until they can figure out what's behind the murders-before anyone else dies.

Update: I haven't read this one, but I may have some plans for it. You'll see. Eventually. Hopefully.

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Release date: October 13th, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

Update: I got an ARC of this through... Barnes and Noble First Look? I seriously can't remember, but it was definitely some kind of reviewing program. And then they changed the ending between ARC and publication so I bought a hardcover, too. I liked it a lot, but Present!Me looks at that with much skepticism. Sorry, Past!Me, you weren't critical enough.

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Release date: December 14th, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Love can be a dangerous thing...

Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna’s tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she’s far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.

Update: I actually have read this twice. One time just at the end of 2017! And I reviewed it here, and I'm not so embarassed by that post!

The Vampire Is Not That Into You by Vlad Mezrich

Release date: October 1st, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Are you in love with a vampire? Are you worried that you might not be his (blood) type? Do you wonder whether that cold stare means he isn’t interested . . . or if it’s because he’s been dead for three centuries (nothing personal)? Have you tried to coax him out of his crypt with a flash of your neck or a near-death situation that requires him to save you at the very last possible moment? Have you ever considered what it will be like to introduce him to your mother?

Even though your vampire’s skin is transfixingly translucent, he can still be very hard to read. Sometimes he’s simply holding back his true feelings, resisting the urge to bite you in the chance that one day you will truly love him. And other times . . . well, he’s just not that into you.

How can you tell? Undead dating specialist Vlad Mezrich has all the answers, utilizing quizzes, Top Ten lists, language analysis, real-life (and real-death) testimonials, and fancy charts to show you what you need to do in order to get your vampire and keep him forever. Once you go vamp, you never decamp – so let this eternally rewarding book show you the way to the vampire of your dreams.

Update: This seems like the kind of thing that I'd buy like at a Scholastic book fair as a kid, but probably wouldn't seek out as an adult. Also, check out that flip phone!

Fade Out by Rachel Caine (The Morganville Vampires, Book 7)

Release date: November 3rd, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Without the evil vampire Bishop ruling over the town of Morganville, the resident vampires have made major concessions to the human population. With their newfound freedoms, Claire Danvers and her friends are almost starting to feel comfortable again…

Now Claire can actually concentrate on her studies, and her friend Eve joins the local theatre company. But when one of Eve’s castmates goes missing after starting work on a short documentary, Eve suspects the worst. Claire and Eve soon realize that this film project, whose subject is the vampires themselves, is a whole lot bigger—and way more dangerous—than anyone suspected.

Update: I totally bought and read this. I don't remember when exactly, but this was like the last one of the series I read for reasons. I would re-read these, though, and I would love to own a full set.

WoWed June 17th, 2009:

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Release date: December 22nd, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared--the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood--but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.

The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.

The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it--her soul.

Update: I read and reviewed the whole series here and here. I was not a very big fan.

So that's actually 5/10 books that I did read, plus a possible plan to read another. That's not bad!

Let me know what you all think of this kind of post!! I'd like to keep doing them now and then, when I don't have anything else to post on a Friday. Should I fumble at making some kind of graphic for them? Let me know in the comments.

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (23)

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa of Wishful Endings. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created by Jill Breaking the Spine.

Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

Release date: October 2nd, 2018
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): A dark and gorgeously drawn standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory. Won in a major six-house auction!

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life.

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies' one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

The part where I talk: Okay, honestly, I have to point out how cool this cover is. I really like this colour scheme, and I like seeing covers that aren't just text. That's just not a trend I'm into.

This just sounds so good. I am curious about how this will handle non-cis identities, so we'll see! It'd be really cool to see something like this that's diverse and handles many types of identities.

Okay, til next time!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, September 3, 2018

Things I've Read Recently (78): An Entirely Queer Post

If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason.

The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson

Published: Originally released in 1997, the edition I have is from 2003, and there was a 2010 printing. I'm honestly shocked the copy I have has "2004" written in it because it's practically brand new.
Genre: Historical YA - I'll talk more about this in the review.
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 114
Part of a series? No.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Staggerlee is used to being alone. As the granddaughter of celebrities and the daughter of an interracial couple in an all-black town, she has become adept at isolating herself from curious neighbors.

But then her cousin, Trout, comes to visit. Trout is exactly like Staggerlee wishes she could be: outspoken, sure of herself, beautiful. Finally, Staggerlee has a friend, someone she can share her deepest, most private thoughts with. Someone who will teach her how to be the strong girl she longs to be. But is Trout really the girl Staggerlee thinks she is?

Thoughts: I actually saw this on lists of queer MG, but I fully consider this YA. The main character is fifteen, going into high school, and talking about becoming an adult. I think this is a case of people assuming a shorter book is obviously for a younger audience despite the subject matter or actual, you know, book. In my opinion, this is basically a hi-low book, but it is indeed a YA book. And whoever categorized the copy I have agrees, 'cause it has a YA sticker on it. So there.

And a really good YA at that. The writing is simple enough that I think selective readers would find it on their level, but still is lyrical and honestly beautiful. Hi-low books are great, but they can sometimes, due to the nature (and also kind of strict rules? Like, there are rules and stuff) of them, be a little more basic. Woodson really manages a balance of simplicity and almost poetic prose.

Oh, and I'm calling this historical because I think it's set around 1988-1990, and although it would probably be considered contemporary when it came out... I'm just gonna call it historical, lol.

Not to harp on the hi-low thing, since I don't particularly think that is what it's supposed to be, but part of the appeal of those type of books is subject matters that don't talk down to the reader just because they read at a lower level than their peers. This totally nails that, honestly. There is a lot going on this book, all very complex stuff. There are parts that feel a little under-developed, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

The only thing that really made me sad was a bit at the end. Gay and straight are very much seen as binary options, and the word bisexual or anything else is never used. However, I kind of also don't so much think that two 15-year-old girls in the South in the late 80s/early 90s would have had a lot of opportunity to hear a lot of queer terms, so I can't really complain about that too much. Maybe an author's note in updated revisions would be a good addition though!

Honestly I think kids today would find this really interesting looking at it as a historical book, and seeing the context of it being at least 30 years ago. This would be a really good book to buy for a classroom, too. And it's a short read, so if you need to pad out your goodreads reading goal... just sayin'.

The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island

Published: May 10th, 2016 by Delacourte Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 255 plus acknowledgements and whatnot
Part of a series? This is the second book in the Family Fletcher series.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): The Fletchers are back on Rock Island, home of all their best summer memories. But from their first day on vacation, it’s clear that this year, things have changed. Their favorite lighthouse is all boarded up‘ and the Fletcher boys can’t figure out why or how to save it. Add a dose of Shakespeare, a very tippy kayak, a video camera, (maybe, possibly, or not) a swimming cat, and some new neighbors, and the recipe for a crazy vacation is complete.

Over the course of the summer, the Fletchers will learn that sometimes, even in a place where time stands still, the wildest, weirdest, and most wonderful surprises await.

Thoughts: This is a really good sequel that also would work just fine as a standalone. There's definitely some continuity, and it's cool if you read both, but this is a book where a kid can grab it and not have to seek out the one before it to understand what's going on. I think that's a strength in MG, because kids can't always control what books they have access to, or have the patience to wait for a previous book.

This series really reminds me of Judy Bloom's Fudge series, which I adored growing up. Especially the one where they went on vacation. (One of my favourite Baby-sitter's Club books was also a vacation book... perhaps I have a thing!) I also really think it's cool how the book manages a balance between being realistic about technology (Sam tries to get his phone to work a lot, despite the island's bad signal, a Go-Pro becomes a plot point) while still feeling timeless, and letting the kids just play and go to the beach and chase the ice cream truck. It feels like you could read this in twenty years and the inclusion of technology wouldn't feel dated or gimmicky, you know?

I also appreciate that the book did actually address some racism. This is a series that is aimed at slightly younger kids, even for middle grade, but I think it's very true that many of the readers of it are going to have experiences like the kids have, where someone assumes they're a criminal or a bad kid because of their skin colour, and the book saying no, that's not true, and explicitly calling it racist is a good thing. Now, I think the representation of their friends who were Latinx was a little clunky at times, especially with the handling of them being bilingual, but I can't say for sure because, you know, white, and I can't find reviews mentioning that. In all of this, obviously, take me with a grain of salt, and feel free to completely ignore me.

I also thought there was a really unfunny line at one point that was transmisic and not necessary. At one point one of the kids thinks about their (presumed male) friend having to wear a dress and thinks that's hilarious. Boys can wear dresses. It's not funny. And that was incredibly unnecessary and kind of mean.

So I did have a couple problems with this, but in general I liked it, and I thought it was a lot of fun. There's a ton of humour in it, and I think it's got big appeal. I also do appreciate the cover and back copy. I know it's kind of a bummer not to see the parents on the cover, but that also makes it a safer cover, as well as the back not mentioning their dads. A kid who needs this might be able to read it, who otherwise might not have been able to. That's something important to consider in MG, sadly.

I really do hope for more middle grade with both queer main characters and queer families. Imagine being a little kid and reading this and seeing your family, or seeing the kind of family you want to have when you grow up. That's powerful. Plus, this is just a series that's ridiculously fun.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Published: March 14, 2017 by Swoon Reads
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 262 plus extras like acknowledgements and an interview and stuff.
Part of a series? No, standalone.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.

Thoughts: Well, this was adorable. I almost read this last year for Diverse Book Bingo, but my library didn't have it yet when I went to order it, and didn't get it until a fair while after it came out, I believe, so I grabbed a different book for that bingo space. I am super glad that I finally got around to this one!

First of all, it is really nice to see fan culture and geeky things being explored positively in YA, especially from the perspective of girls. Especially from perspectives that are queer and non-neurotypical and not-white and fat. Those are perspectives that are unique and underexplored and so important, and it's so great to see that reflected in YA.

SPEAKING OF - Why did no one tell me that Taylor is fat in this? Like, dang, "here's a fat anxious girl who's into fandom" is clearly something I'd be into. She's a small fat, but pretty obviously actually fat. I really appreciated that the book was clear about the spectrum of the type of body she has, and described it well, without naming her weight or size. Other people read her as fat, too, with people at one point body-shaming her for that, and the book takes a moment to point out that being fat isn't bad, and that her body is a good body, and it's a really great thing. It's seriously not often that surprise fat characters are such good representation!

I also really appreciated that she's not really into wearing dresses or makeup. She has an undercut! And short hair! It's nice to see fat girls who are allowed to be not hyper-feminine, because not everyone presents that way, and there's not just one way to be fat. And she's autistic, and has anxiety, and I love her so much.

Honestly, this is so good. And one of my favourite things is how it's so fluffy and cute. It handles things that are real and serious, like Charlie dealing with negative bi stereotypes, and Taylor finding a graphic novel that represents her as an autistic girl for the first time, but it does it in ways that are so natural and realistically. And it does stay fluffy and sweet, while still touching on those deeper things. I think it's almost more of an easy, relaxed read because it doesn't ignore that, yeah, these things would be happening to these characters in this situation.

Oh, gosh this is getting long. Seriously though, I only have like two complaints about this. One is there's a use of an aromisic phrase, along with some casual ableist language (by the protags, not called out), and two is the real lack of ace or aro identities, and nonbinary or trans rep, none of which are mentioned at all. It stands out a lot considering how good the book is about so many other things are represented so well.

Last couple things. One, shout out to the non-toxic masculinity rep with Jamie. He's actually a cool dude. Nice to see! And two, this cover is way brighter in real life, and more purple on my computer. Does my computer just display bright pinks badly or is this a thing with like. Digital media. Because this used to be a thing when I took pictures of my hair, which was a similar colour to the cover in real life. It never looked as bright on my camera or computer as it did in real life.

Anyways, overall, I'm really glad I read this, and I really want to read more from the author, because I loved her voice. Recommended for sure!

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

Published: March 27th, 2018
Genre: MG Magical Realism
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 211, plus acknowledgements and an about the author that uses "they/them" pronouns for the author and made me realize I've never seen that in... basically any trad book, let alone a MG book, and was super cool to see.
Part of a series? No, standalone.
Got via: The library
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Twelve-year-old Caroline is a Hurricane Child, born on Water Island during a storm. Coming into this world during a hurricane is unlucky, and Caroline has had her share of bad luck already. She's hated by everyone in her small school, she can see things that no one else can see, and -- worst of all -- her mother left home one day and never came back.

With no friends and days filled with heartache, Caroline is determined to find her mother. When a new student, Kalinda, arrives, Caroline's luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, seems to see the things Caroline sees, too. Joined by their common gift, Kalinda agrees to help Caroline look for her mother, starting with a mysterious lady dressed in black. Soon, they discover the healing power of a close friendship between girls.

Thoughts: The first thing I want to mention is that the goodreads summary is not the same as the one on the book jacket. The book jacket is explicit about Caroline's crush on Kalinda, which obviously is cool! But I do think it's important to point that out, so people can recommend it accordingly. It might not, for instance, be a safe book to send home with a child whose parents wouldn't approve of the main character being queer. Something to keep in mind! Not a judgement, just something to be aware of.

Second thing - trigger warnings in this book for homomisia, child abuse, and attempted suicide.

On to the review! I really liked this. I'm still not entirely sure when this is set (I suspect the late 80s or early 90s just based on the one clue given about Caroline's mother's age), and I'm not really familiar enough with the setting to guess, but it's got a real timeless feel to it. The voice is really beautiful and so incredibly mature. Caroline still sounds like a twelve year old, but the book treats being twelve as important and Caroline's emotions as so important. It feels like a book that middle graders would read and feel validated.

The fantasy elements work really well, and I like the structure of things like that existing in the book but not being the most important part of the plot or character development. That's a really cool thing, and I really enjoyed the way it was handled. I loved how importantly the book treated Caroline's romantic feelings, as well. They aren't treated as shallow or brushed off because of her age, and that's so sweet to see. It really reminded me of classics like Tuck Everlasting, you know? And I think this is one that adults should read as well, even if they're not usually middle grade readers.

Honestly, this is a terrible review. I read this in basically one sitting, took hardly any notes, and just enjoyed it so much. Trust me, just read it. Highly recommended.

Well, isn't this a surprising post! All books with queer representation, and all books I liked! That's a nice feeling.

What have you been reading?

Peace and cookies,
Laina