Monday, July 17, 2017

Things I've Read Recently (52)

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 Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson

Published: April 17th, 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: YA... either Urban Fantasy or Magical Realism, I'd say
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 241
Part of a series? Standalone.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Scotch struggles to fit in—at home she’s the perfect daughter, at school she’s provocatively sassy, and thanks to her mixed heritage, she doesn’t feel she belongs with the Caribbeans, whites, or blacks. And even more troubling, lately her skin is becoming covered in a sticky black substance that can’t be removed. While trying to cope with this creepiness, she goes out with her brother—and he disappears. A mysterious bubble of light just swallows him up, and Scotch has no idea how to find him.

Soon, the Chaos that has claimed her brother affects the city at large, until it seems like everyone is turning into crazy creatures. Scotch needs to get to the bottom of this supernatural situation ASAP before the Chaos consumes everything she’s ever known—and she knows that the black shadowy entity that’s begun trailing her every move is probably not going to help.

Thoughts: I really liked this. I think if you liked Shadowshaper you would probably like this one a lot, too. They're obviously not identical books, but similar in taste that if you liked that you should read this. Because I really liked it and I want you all to read it now.

It casually decontructs a lot of YA concepts I really dislike, from slutshaming, ableism, the idea that boyfriends can be "stolen", has amazing rep of marginalized identities, makes fun of Drake, is set in Canada, and has the weirdest, creepiest premise, a bunch of inspiration from different mythologies and folklore, and I thought it was awesome. Seriously, there's multiple queer characters, an amazing disabled queer character who I love so much, great characters, and so, so much more.

I would love to read more YA from the author. Highly recommend this one.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Published: May 12th, 2015 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Fantasy
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 388 plus a glossary and some other stuff I don't care about.
Part of a series? Yes, this is the first book of at least a trilogy.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Thoughts: This is a book where a girl falls in love with her rapist and that says about all you need to know about my feelings about it. Honestly do I need to say more? This book has a love triangle and one of the options in that love triangle is the violent murderer who raped the protagonist. Twice.

I also found it incredibly dull when it I wasn't incredibly angry. There's like no plot besides the rapetastic romance. There's eight million descriptions of peoples' eyes, and endless descriptions of food and clothing. There's setting the scene and then there's over the top description, and this was over the top.

I didn't like any of the characters in this book, the plot is boring, and it's a love triangle where one of the options is the MC's rapist. I did not like this thing at all, and I won't be reading future books.

Oh, I also don't like the cover. It reminds me of old V. C. Andrews books with the peek-through covers and then the picture underneath. I feel like they made a beautiful cover and then hid it under an awful hot pink. These two (with the left being the picture on the first page of the hardcover) are better:

Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis

Published: First published in 2009, my edition was released January 25th, 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA History/YA Contemporary
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 343 plus the acknowledgements and about the author.
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: The library, what else is new.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Meet Mare, a World War II veteran and a grandmother like no other. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less than perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American Battalion of the Women's Army Corps. Now she is driving her granddaughters—two willful teenagers in their own rite—on a cross-country road trip. The girls are initially skeptical of Mare's flippy wigs and stilletos, but they soon find themselves entranced by the story she has to tell, and readers will be too.

Told in alternating chapters, half of which follow Mare through her experiences as a WAC and half of which follow Mare and her granddaughters on the road in the present day, this novel introduces readers to a larger-than-life character and a fascinating chapter in African American history.

Thoughts: This is one of the most interesting books I've read so far this year. The duo POVs between Octavia and young Mare work so well, and it's such an interesting part of history that I didn't know much about because I know nothing about history and it's a somewhat unexplored/talked about part of history.

There is a queer character, guys, in 1945. Who goes on to have a happy, fulfilling, wonderful life AND DOESN'T DIE OR BECOME TRAGIC BACKSTORY. (Also I headcanon them as acearo. Because why not.) I was honestly shocked by that, and the way it's handled is really cool.

The family dynamics are awesome, the contemporary chapters being a road trip are awesome, the postcards included are awesome, everything is just awesome and I enjoyed this book so much. Highly recommended.

It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

Published: July 1st, 2016 by Houghton Mifflin
Genre: Historical MG
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 370 plus an author's note and acknowledgements
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy.

It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even mood rings and puka shell necklaces can't distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home.

Thoughts: This is adorable, but has a lot of depth, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is so goshdarn good. This is an incredibly interesting period of history that I didn't know very much about (I don't know much about history in general, so, you know, keep that in mind), and I feel like it's very different from some of our modern ideas. Absolutely nothing wrong with the truth behind those modern ideas, obviously, but this is a very different side of things than what I feel like we see a lot.

Does that make sense? I hope so. In the author's note, she talks about the book being semi-autobiographical and even before reading that, I think it's obvious. It feels beautifully personal. The only part I think can be a bit of a con is that sometimes the voice comes across a little too adult. Otherwise, I think the use of footnotes is so clever, the friendships in this book are awesome, and it manages to handle a very serious subject matter in a very honest way while still being hopeful and positive. Really cool book.

Hamster on the cover is a little bit of an odd choice, though, I have to say, considering its role in the book.

And I think that's it for a bit! Is this summer? Are you guys doing summer reading? What have you been reading?

Peace and cookies,

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