Friday, December 28, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday Update (4)

This is a series where I look at my old Waiting on Wednesday posts and talk about if I actually ever did read the book, if I liked it if I did, and if I haven't, would I still or not. That kind of thing. I think it's an interesting idea, and I hope you do, too.

WoWed August 14th, 2009:

Evil? by Timothy Carter

Release date: August 1th, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Stuart Bradley knows there are a lot of reasons people in his small, conservative hometown might not approve of him. He's openly gay, he's mouthy in church, and he conjures demons in his spare time—the usual. So Stuart knows something is odd when his little brother catches him "self-pleasuring" in the shower and, before he knows it, an angry mob is chasing down every teen who ever had an "impure" thought.

Stuart soon discovers that the new preacher in town is more than he seems. He's a fallen angel-fallen because he became too obsessed with a certain harmless adolescent activity. If Stuart and his demon sidekick don't stop him, blindness is going to be the least of anyone's worries.

Update: I had to double check that date because yeah, I WoWed it after it came out, lol. I was doing a themed post and you all know how I am with the themes. This does sound kind of unique, but I'm just not that into angel/demon books anymore.

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 read this, I reviewed it, I bought a copy in addition to my ARC, and I'm not linking to my review because it is embarassing, lol. I had like no critical bones in my body back then. Ah, how things have changed.

Covet by J. R. Ward

Release date: September 29th, 2009

Summary (from goodreads): Redemption isn't a word Jim Heron knows much about—his specialty is revenge, and to him, sin is all relative. But everything changes when he becomes a fallen angel and is charged with saving the souls of seven people from the seven deadly sins.

And failure is not an option.

Vin DiPietro long ago sold his soul to his business, and he's good with that-until fate intervenes in the form of a tough-talking, Harley-riding, self-professed savior. And then he meets a woman who will make him question his destiny, his sanity, and his heart—and he has to work with a fallen angel to win her over and redeem his own soul.

Update: I'm not really interested in this series/concept anymore, and I'm a bit more selective about my reading choices in genre romance these days.

WoWed August 19th, 2009:

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Release date: April 1st, 2010 by Harlequin

Summary (from goodreads): Keep Your Head Down.

Don't Get Noticed.

Or Else.

I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops.

So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? The only neck at risk is my own…until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution.

Update: I never got around to reading this, but I probably wouldn't intentionally seek it out. Just a bit of YA dystopian exhaustion in general. If I found it at a secondhand book sale, I'd probably grab it, though.

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly

Released: May 19th, 2010

Summary (from goodreads): Sixteen-year-old, music- and sound design-obsessed Drea doesn't have friends. She has, as she's often reminded, issues. Drea's mom and a rotating band of psychiatrists have settled on "a touch of Asperger's."

Having just moved to the latest in a string of new towns, Drea meets two other outsiders. And Naomi and Justin seem to actually like Drea. The three of them form a band after an impromptu, Portishead-comparison-worthy jam after school. Justin swiftly challenges not only Drea's preference for Poe over Black Lab but also her perceived inability to connect with another person. Justin, against all odds, may even like like Drea.

It's obvious that Drea can't hide behind her sound equipment anymore. But just when she's found not one but two true friends, can she stand to lose one of them?

Update: I think I have a bookmark or something for this in my book swag shoebox. Apparently the autism rep in this is pretty good, so that's neat. No plans to seek this out, but nothing against it.

WoWed August 25th, 2009:

Strange Fate by L. J. Smith

Release date: To be discussed in the update.

Summary (from goodreads): Sarah Strange is a normal teenager with annoying siblings and a crush on two boys, Mal and Kierlan, who happen to be her best friends. But Sarah also has visions of a place where dragons darken the sky and feast on humans.

When Sarah confides in Mal and Kierlan about her visions, she discovers her friends are not who they seem. They are part of the Night World. And they believe Sarah must help establish peace and harmony between humans and creatures of the Night World to stave off the apocalypse.

And if Sarah’s visions are any indication of the danger, destruction, and devastation that the apocalypse will bring, there is no time to lose…

Update: So I never read this but neither did anyone else? I have what I think is this whole series stuffed in my fireplace (it's not a working fireplace, don't worry) and I'd totally finish it with this one, but apparently this was supposed to be released in 1998 originally? My WoW post says April 6th, 2009, and goodreads in 2014 said a possible 2015 release, and there's even a cover that matches the others from the original series on Amazon. Apparently the original release was supposed to be 1998.

Chapters has it with a release date of 2030. Last update from the author about it seems to be in 2012, and she hasn't updated her blog since 2016. Seems like she had some major health issues during 2015, so hopefully she's doing better these days.

I would totally buy this if ever came out, but who knows if that actually will happen.

Wish by Alexandra Bullen

Release date: April 1st, 2010

Summary (from goodreads): If you could have anything, what would you wish for? The impossible...or a real chance at being happy?

Olivia Larsen's twin sister, Violet, is dead. Olivia knows nothing that can change that . . . until the day she receives a beautiful dress. The dress doesn't just look magical: it has the power to grant wishes. And all Olivia wants is her sister back.

But Violet's return isn't what Olivia expected. As love, secrets, betrayal, and a haunted past collide, Olivia begins to wonder what a wish is worth . . . and if her life will ever look the same.

Update: So, this didn't actually have a cover when I WoWed it, and I actually think the cover does the book a disservice? I don't like it at all. The French cover is way better. Honestly I think the book still sounds good, but I wouldn't grab that cover, personally. It just does nothing for me and looks very generic. The premise sounds good, though.

Dark Secrets 2: No Time to Die; The Deep End of Fear by Elizabeth Chandler

Release date: May 4th, 2010

Summary (from goodreads): In No Time to Die, the drama is deadly. Jenny is going undercover for the summer at the theater camp where her sister, Liza, was murdered just a year earlier. Though Jenny is still grieving the loss of her sister and feels completely out of place on stage, she is determined to discover why Liza was murdered—and more importantly, who killed her. Soon she thinks she hears Liza speaking to her, and suspects someone may be following her. The drama is even more twisted than she thought….

In The Deep End of Fear, Kate thought she was done with daring adventures after her childhood friend Ashley tragically drowned in an icy pond. But when she returns to her childhood home, it all comes flooding back. To stop history from repeating itself, Kate must face the childhood fears that have haunted her for so long

Update: I actually got an original run of Deep End of Fear that my library weeded. I've read some of this series in the past, and I own the first bind-up, but I would really love to get the full series of this. I should stick them on my amazon wishlist. It seems like the kind of thing that would fit around here in one of those series review posts I do, or something like that.

Thirst No. 1: The Last Vampire, Black Blood, and Red Dice by Christopher Pike, which are books 1-3 of the Last Vampire series 

Summary (from goodreads): As to blood -ah, blood, the whole subject fascinates me. I do like that as well, warm and dripping, when I am thirsty....

Alisa has been in control of her urges for the five thousand years she has been a vampire. She feeds but does not kill, and she lives her life on the fringe to maintain her secret. But when her creator returns to hunt her, she must break her own rules in order to survive.

Her quest leads her to Ray. He is the only person who can help her; he also has every reason to fear her. Alisa must get closer to him to ensure her immortality. But as she begins to fall in love with Ray, suddenly there is more at stake than her own life....

Thirst No. 2: Phantom, Evil Thirst, and Creatures of Forever by Christopher Pike, which contains books 4-6 of The Last Vampire

Summary (from goodreads): Tears roll over my face. I touch them with my quivering tongue. They are clear and salty, not dark and bloody. Another sign that I am human.

What Alisa has desired for five thousand years has finally come true: She is once again human. But now she is defenseless, vulnerable, and, for the first time in centuries, emotional.

As she attempts to reconcile her actions as a vampire with her new connection to humanity, she begins to understand the weight of life-and-death decisions. Can Alisa resolve her past and build a new identity, or is she doomed to repeat her fatal mistakes?

Update: I bought both of these. Did I read them? No XD But I did buy them both. I'd love to add to the collection and get 3-5 of the Thirst series that continue the series. And then maybe read them, but maybe not, knowing me, lol.

Okay, that's ten. This is

So I only read one of these, but one is impossible to read, and I did buy a few of the others? Kind of an interesting one, and I learned some stuff about the Night World book.

Have you read any of these? Any you think I should read or that I'm wrong about? Let me know in the comments!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (39)

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.

Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehig

Release date: January 29th, 2019
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Teenage socialite Margo Manning leads a dangerous double life. By day, she dodges the paparazzi while soaking up California sunshine. By night, however, she dodges security cameras and armed guards, pulling off high-stakes cat burglaries with a team of flamboyant young men. In and out of disguise, she’s in all the headlines.

But then Margo’s personal life takes a sudden, dark turn, and a job to end all jobs lands her crew in deadly peril. Overnight, everything she’s ever counted on is put at risk. Backs against the wall, the resourceful thieves must draw on their special skills to survive. But can one rebel heiress and four kickboxing drag queens withstand the slings and arrows of truly outrageous fortune? Or will a mounting sea of troubles end them — for good?

The part where I talk: Like three different books I've used for CWW posts come out on January 29th. Gonna be a fun day on Twitter! This one sounds like some good ol' fashion escapism fiction, and I am a-okay with that.

Hey, what was your favourite spy show as a kid? Mine was, and this is totally random, a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen cartoon where they were spies. Why? I have no idea. I just know I loved it. Tell me yours!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Cracker Book Tag

I know, two tags on Friday in a row, but it's December and December is a busy time, you know? Plus these are just fun and I'm not super into this month's Book Blogger Hop questions, so we're doing this instead

This tag was created by Lucy from Lucy the Reader and Queen of Contemporary, and it definitely needs a stock image for that good aesthetic.

Awwww. Pretty.

Pick a book with a wintry cover

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Look at the white and the blue andthe ice and how scary the ice looks. That's so good.

Pick a book you’re likely to buy as a present


Phoebe and her Unicorn by Dana Simpson

Hear me out! Now, I know Luce just wants me to say Chameleon Moon and if I was going to buy them a present, that's what I would buy. But they already have that book :P So, I'm going to look at this as buying a book for a kid, and I think kids would freaking love these books. So I'm choosing this one!

Pick a festive themed book

Young Scrooge by R. L. Stine

I was half-tempted to choose a book about Easter just to be a smart-ass, lol. I read a few MG Christmas books last year and this one, while completely ridiculous, was my favourite of the lot. Maybe I should do that again in 2019? You all decide!

Pick a book you can curl up with by the fireplace

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

Last time I answered this question, in the other tag, I said any book worked, really, but I think this one would be a really good one for this prompt. You get to read about all the end of the world adventures and all the stressful stuff while you're safe in your home, nice and warm and able to eat whatever you want.

Pick a book you want to read over the festive period


This is my December book for my challenge, so I'm going to read it, but it's the only one I'm committing to, since December can be hard and also really busy.

Pick a book that’s so good it gives you chills

People Like Us by Dana Mele

I still don't think this going to be this way for everyone, but it kind of hit everything I really like in my YA thrillers and I just really liked it.

Pick a book going on your Christmas wishlist

You can see my book wishlist right here, so I'm not gonna answer this like a cheater. Partly because I'm starving and I really need to go get a snack, so I want to wrap this post up! Hopefully you enjoyed it, and let me know what you're thinking.

Peace and sugar cookies,
Laina

Thursday, December 20, 2018

2019 Queer MG

I honestly don't know what to call this one. I just want to sgowcase about some queer MG coming out this year!

Before we go further into this, let's do a quick little recap of the definition I use for queer MG. When we're talking about middle grade (not YA), I usually include books where the main character isn't queer, but someone in their life is, like a best friend or sibling, or an adult like a parent or teacher.

There are a couple reasons for this. Partly because I think all kids should see their lives reflected in book, including children who have queer people in their lives. If a kid has two moms, why shouldn't they get to read books about families like theirs? This is part of how I often think the purpose of MG can be different than the purpose of YA. (Although frankly, we could use more YAs with queer families, but that's a rant for another day.) The other reason is because I don't want kids to think queer people disappear after the age of 18. Queer kids seeing queer adults as role models is super important.

So, with that in mind, let's look at some stuff coming out this year!

The Whispers by Greg Howard

Release date: January 15th, 2019

Summary (from goodreads): Eleven-year-old Riley believes in the whispers, magical fairies that will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Riley has a lot of wishes. He wishes bullies at school would stop picking on him. He wishes Dylan, his 8th grade crush, liked him, and Riley wishes he would stop wetting the bed. But most of all, Riley wishes for his mom to come back home. She disappeared a few months ago, and Riley is determined to crack the case. He even meets with a detective, Frank, to go over his witness statement time and time again.

Frustrated with the lack of progress in the investigation, Riley decides to take matters into his own hands. So he goes on a camping trip with his friend Gary to find the whispers and ask them to bring his mom back home. But Riley doesn't realize the trip will shake the foundation of everything that he believes in forever.

From Night Owl to Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

Release date: February 12th, 2019

Summary (from goodreads): Avery Bloom, who's bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who's fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.

When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends--and possibly, one day, even sisters.

But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can't imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?

The part where I talk: This sounds so freaking cute and I absolutely want like 100 books about queer blended families immediately.

Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life by Beverly Brenna

To be released: February 22nd, 2019

Summary (from goodreads): It's not every day you encounter a hamster experiencing an existential crisis, but Sapphire has spent her short pet-store life convinced that she's waiting for...something. At first she thinks it's to be FREE, but it may be possible that life has a greater purpose in store--a purpose Sapphire will discover thanks to a nine-year-old girl whose family is changing in ways she doesn't quite understand.

Jeannie's dad has moved out, her mom is always tired and snappish, and her older brother just wants to play video games in his room all day. Jeannie doesn't understand what’s going on, but she knows one thing: she really, REALLY wants a hamster. Her mom promised she could buy one with her Christmas money, but it's been WEEKS since the holidays and Jeannie's beginning to worry she'll never get her pet. But maybe if she does, her dad will come to visit. Maybe a hamster will make everything better.

The Moon Within by Aida Salazar

Release date: February 26th, 2019

Summary (from goodreads): Celi Rivera's life swirls with questions. About her changing body. Her first attraction to a boy. And her best friend's exploration of what it means to be genderfluid.

But most of all, her mother's insistence she have a moon ceremony when her first period arrives. It's an ancestral Mexica ritual that Mima and her community have reclaimed, but Celi promises she will NOT be participating. Can she find the power within herself to take a stand for who she wants to be?

A dazzling story told with the sensitivity, humor, and brilliant verse of debut talent Aida Salazar.

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake

Release date: March 26th, 2019

Summary (from goodreads): When Sunny St. James receives a new heart, she decides to set off on a "New Life Plan": 1) do awesome amazing things she could never do before; 2) find a new best friend; and 3) kiss a boy for the first time.

Her "New Life Plan" seems to be racing forward, but when she meets her new best friend Quinn, Sunny questions whether she really wants to kiss a boy at all. When the reemergence of her mother, Sunny begins a journey to becoming the new Sunny St. James.

This sweet, tender novel dares readers to find the might in their own hearts.

The part where I talk: I adored Ivy Aberdeen and I'm so excited about this one, and so glad that Ashley Herring Blake wrote more than one queer MG. There's only a couple of authors I can think of who have done that.

Where the Heart Is by Jo Knowles

Release date: April 2nd, 2019

Summary (from goodreads): It’s the first day of summer and Rachel’s thirteenth birthday. She can’t wait to head to the lake with her best friend, Micah!

But as summer unfolds, every day seems to get more complicated. Her “fun” new job taking care of the neighbors’ farm animals quickly becomes a challenge, whether she’s being pecked by chickens or having to dodge a charging pig at feeding time. At home, her parents are more worried about money than usual, and their arguments over bills intensify.

Fortunately, Rachel can count on Micah to help her cope with all the stress. But Micah seems to want their relationship to go beyond friendship, and though Rachel almost wishes for that, too, she can’t force herself to feel “that way” about him. In fact, she isn’t sure she can feel that way about any boy — or what that means.

Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby

Release date: May 7, 2019

Summary (from goodreads): Fig, a sixth grader, wants more than anything to see the world as her father does. The once-renowned pianist, who hasn’t composed a song in years and has unpredictable good and bad days, is something of a mystery to Fig. Though she’s a science and math nerd, she tries taking an art class just to be closer to him, to experience life the way an artist does. But then Fig’s dad shows up at school, disoriented and desperately searching for Fig. Not only has the class not brought Fig closer to understanding him, it has brought social services to their door.

Diving into books about Van Gogh to understand the madness of artists, calling on her best friend for advice, and turning to a new neighbor for support, Fig continues to try everything she can think of to understand her father, to save him from himself, and to find space in her life to discover who she is even as the walls are falling down around her.

Note: I believe Fig is the queer character in this.

Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker

Release date: May 21st, 2019

Summary (from goodreads): Zenobia July is starting a new life. She used to live in Arizona with her father; now she's in Maine with her aunts. She used to spend most of her time behind a computer screen, improving her impressive coding and hacking skills; now she's coming out of her shell and discovering a community of friends at Monarch Middle School. People used to tell her she was a boy; now she's able to live openly as the girl she always knew she was.

When someone anonymously posts hateful memes on her school's website, Zenobia knows she's the one with the abilities to solve the mystery, all while wrestling with the challenges of a new school, a new family, and coming to grips with presenting her true gender for the first time. Timely and touching, Zenobia July is, at its heart, a story about finding home.

Okay, these next two don't have a ton of info, but I still want to mention them.

The. Best. At. It. by Maulik Pancholy

Release date: Fall 2019

Summary (from goodreads): Balzer + Bray has acquired the debut middle grade novel by Maulik Pancholy. The. Best. At. It. is about a gay Indian-American boy growing up in a small town in Indiana, dealing with the shifting dynamics of friendship and bullying in middle school, who has decided that everything in his life will get better if he can just find that one special thing he's the best at. Publication is slated for fall 2019.

Redwood and Ponytail by K. A. Holt

Release date: Fall 2019

Summary (from goodreads): Chronicle has acquired K.A. Holt's new book, a middle-grade novel in verse tells the story of two girls who are polar opposites yet become fast friends, and then begin moving toward something more. Publication is set for fall 2019.

Not as fancy-lookin', but I didn't want to leave those two out!!

Did I miss any that you all know about? Let me know in the comments, and tell me which of these you're excited about in 2019!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (38)

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.

The Lonely Dead by April Henry

Release date: January 29th, 2019
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): A killer is on the loose, and only one girl has the power to find him. But in this genre-bending YA thriller, she must first manage to avoid becoming a target herself.

For Adele, the dead aren’t really dead. She can see them and even talk to them. But she’s spent years denying her gift. When she encounters her ex best friend Tori in a shallow grave in the woods and realizes that Tori is actually dead -- that gift turns into a curse. Without an alibi, Adele becomes the prime suspect in Tori’s murder. She must work with Tori’s ghost to find the real killer. But what if the killer finds Adele first?

Master mystery-write April Henry adds a chilling paranormal twist to this incredibly suspenseful young adult novel.

The part where I talk: April Henry can be a bit hit or miss for me, but I think suspense is something she's strong at, and I think her voice and writing style would lend itself well to this kind of book. Plus, I'm always a fan of this kind of thriller/paranormal crossover type thing.

How about you tell me some of your favourite mashed-up genre books this week?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, December 17, 2018

Review: The Missing

Here's a surprise review because I ranted about this book a lot. Is this making a dent in my review stack? No comment :P

Missing by Kelley Armstrong

Published: April 28th, 2017 by Crown Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Thriller
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: I returned this to the library and forgot to fill this part in, but goodreads says 384 so let's go with that.
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve’s End is that soon she’ll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There’s nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They’re better off taking a chance elsewhere.

The only thing Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree.

But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they’re all missing?

Thoughts: I'm not going to lie - it kind of surprised me to realize this was published in 2017. It feels rather outdated at times. Not in like a technology way or anything - the setting having such a high rate of poverty and Winter herself being very poor makes it make a lot of sense that she wouldn't have access to a cellphone or laptop or anything, and it's very clear that it's the poverty causing the absence that kind of thing, not that they don't exist. But this is so lacking in any kind of diversity besides class diversity that I'm a little shocked. I'm pretty sure there are brown people in Kentucky.

Also, I rather suspect that a place this poor would have more disabled people just due to not being able to afford medical care, not a complete lack of them. And I don't think there was a single fat character in this. Those are both populations who are more likely to be poor. And the way Jude specifically is characterized is almost... borderline Hollywood Autism, and I was uncomfortable with that a lot of the time. It's kind of messed up combined with some of the other things stated about the character.

I think one of my biggest problems with this is that, according to the author herself, she grew up middle-class and has never really experienced this kind of poverty. Also, like myself, she's Canadian and has never been from rural Kentucky. There's nothing that specifically stands out to me, but overall I was just left with a feeling of unauthenticity. I almost wanted to be reading something by someone who had experienced this instead.

This is going to be a spoiler so skip this paragraph if you want but it's a big trigger warning as well, and I'm not going to not talk about it. This book has exactly one queer character. Winter's best friend Edie is bisexual (I assume, the book doesn't use any label for her). Edie never actually gets any screen time because, and this is the spoiler, she's been dead since before the book started. I saw it coming basically the first time she was mentioned and kept hoping it wouldn't go that direction, but then at the end it slid right into Bury Your Gays territory. And because you only find that out right before the end, it's basically brushed off. Like, thanks for creating this character just to give the MC motivation and make her sad, that's great.

While it didn't bother me as much as it'll bother other people, I will give a big mention that this has a lot of animal cruelty as well, and also a lot of misinformation about feral dogs/pit bulls, so I'm gonna link to this review from someone who knows that subject better.

I have mixed feelings about the romantic relationship in this. I'm glad it didn't go the way I thought it was going at first, absolutely. But I also think it's kind of... adult romance novel-ish, and maybe that doesn't always work so well in YA. Because frankly if you're 17 and you meet a dude who does some of the things this LI does, you shouldn't date him. You should run.

Hey also can we talk about the fact that Winter's sister is okay with their father breaking Winter's nose at one point and abusing her so badly she goes to live in the woods most of the time rather than go home because she wants to make peace? And that he probably would have kept doing that if Winter didn't have a friend who could beat him up more? Because that was messed up.

Winter at times did make me a little annoyed. She goes into very dangerous situations with no plan, no way to defend herself, and no back-up, and just doesn't think ahead very much. The book even makes fun of this a bit at one point. She should have been dead several times over. There were times where I kept thinking, "You should know better! You're supposed to be self-sufficient and wary, not reckless!"

Honestly it frustrates me looking back at this and seeing so much stuff because I do enjoy Armstrong's writing and the prose and voice really worked for me. Winter is a little bit Katniss-esque and I won't lie, some of the things that made me feel that way also made me raise an eyebrow here and there, but there's a lot in this that I liked. I literally read most of this in one sitting and barely put it down to eat even when I was starving and it was getting really late. I've enjoyed a lot of her books in the past, and I wish I had liked this one more. I loved the atmosphere and how creepy it was at times, especially when you're reading alone and every noise creeps you out, but I'm just not comfortable recommending it.

It'll be up to you if you want to read this one. I kind of can't get past the Edie thing myself. Two out of five roses.



That's all I've got!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, December 14, 2018

Winter Book Tag

It's December and I feel festive, so let's do some book tags that no one tagged me in. (Hey, how about in 2019 we start tagging Laina in stuff, because I want to be tagged more, lol. Just, like, tell me on Twitter or something so I know.)

I think this post needs a stock image. For the aesthetic.



Yeah, that's the good stuff.

Alright, this tag was created by Marissa from Marissa Writes and it's a lot of fun. Let's do it!

1. Falling Snow: The colors of winter are muted. Choose a book that has whites, light blues, and grays on the cover.

Pieces of Me by Amber Kizer.

I thought about picking Never Fade because it has that silver and I couldn't think of a lot of books with greys, but Pieces of Me is so pale and soft and muted.

2. Crackling Fires: Colder weather makes for the perfect time to sit by a crackling fire in the fireplace. What book is the best to curl up next to a warm fire with?

Honestly, this is going to sound like a cop-out but I think the best book to curl up with next to a fire is one you'll enjoy. I mean, the fireplace in my apartment isn't the kind that you can light a fire in anyways, lol, so I'm probably not gonna be doing this anytime soon anyways, but anything can be a fireplace read if you read it next to a fire.

3. Winter storms can be brutal. What book do you love that takes the characters through a brutal season?

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Now this is a bit of a strange pick, because this book takes place over the summer, but stay with me. The town in this book doesn't have warm summers. A ton of the book's descriptions are about cold weather, and cold water especially. Plus, you know, a summer of ghost-witch murder. It's a summer book that's perfect to read during cold weather.

4. Spending more time indoors allows for more time to dream and wish. What character is living a life that you dream about?

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

I don't read a lot of adult books so this is a bit of a cheat, but specifically, Charlie in Queens of Geek has a goal of being a professional writer, and I would also like that.

5. Hot Cocoa: There is nothing like a hot cup of cocoa during the winter, as adults we often under estimate it. What book do you think should be the next big thing?

I have two that I think are going to be really good, and should get a lot of attention. I haven't mentioned any middle grade in this post, so I'm going to talk about both.

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Ramee

There are a few upcoming MG novels that have something to do with Black Lives Matter, or police brutality, and I think it can be a little shocking for (white) people to realize this is something needed, but kids notice these things. And the brutal truth is that for many black and brown kids, being young doesn't protect them from being at risk for this kind of thing. And I hope we talk about this book and make it a big one.

And my other choice, which is completely different:

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

This came out in October so maybe I'll have been proven right or wrong by the time this post comes out (I'm not telling when I'm writing this), but I think this one is going to be really epic and cool.

6. Lip Balm and Lotions: Soothing dry skin is part of the winter for many. What book is full of soothing and comforting words?

The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

I debated between this and Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World, because that is the sweetest book, but I went with this because it honestly is one of my favourite books ever. It's such good fat rep, and it felt so perfect to read, plus it has the sweetest queer romance, and some great friendships.

7. Peppermint Mocha: What is your go to winter food or drink for those reading marathons of winter?

I like hot chocolate. Especially when my mom makes it, because I am a child, and she does it better.

But I drink a lot of tea in the winter, especially Earl Grey when I can have caffeine, and rooibos when I can't. With French vanilla coffee creamer.

(Ignore the mess in the background. I was only sending this to Luci, so it's not like Instagram ready or anything. But this is one of my favourite mugs. I got it on super clearance and I love this weird dog reindeer.)
The internet says I should try putting candy canes/peppermints in my hot chocolate, though, so I might try that some day.

Thanks for reading! This was a lot of fun.

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (37)

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.

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Release date: January 29th, 2019
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

The part where I talk: This sounds amazing! And heartbreaking. But amazing. I also adore this cover. It's got nice simplicity, but still speaks a lot about the book, and reflects the main character.

Okay, since this one is so serious, how about a little bit of a lighter question topic? I think this cover's colour would be an amazing nail polish. What book cover would you make into a nail polish or lipstick or other cosmetic?

Also, tomorrow's my birthday. So there's that. Wanna buy me something off my wishlist? That would be cool. Book wishlist here, "stuff" wishlist here.

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, December 10, 2018

Things I've Read Recently (82)

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.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Published: February 22nd, 2011 by HarperCollins
Genre: Historical MG told in verse
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 260 plus acknowledgements and author's note and such.
Part of a series? No, standalone.
Got via: I think I bought it at the thrift store? It's secondhand and I bought it, I know that.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family.

Thoughts: Last year, I read the author's other book, and I really liked it, so when I found this wherever I found it (I really think thrift store), and saw the author's name and also how pretty the cover was (I'm weak), I snapped it up.

I didn't actually realize this was told in verse basically until I started reading it, but it's super neat. And if you're looking for those, I definitely recommend this one. It's set in 1975, and based somewhat on events from the author's own life, and something they mentioned in the author's note was something I was thinking while reading it. They mentioned realizing their neices and nephews knew where their parents came from, but didn't really understand the experience. I think a book like this could totally reflect the emotional experience of a child going through this now, and help children understand where their family came from and maybe a little more about their parents. That's an important thing, and props to this book for handling it so well.

I thought the book being told in verse also was neat, especially because that can be a little more approachable for readers. All in all, very good. This one gets to keep its spot on my shelf.

The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay

Published: I believe this was originally published in the UK in 2015, but this edition was released August 2nd, 2016 from Soucebooks Fire.
Genre: YA Thriller
Binding: ARC
Page Count: Mine has 317 plus acknowments and a space for an about the author, but goodreads says the final copy would have 325 pages.
Part of a series? No, standalone.
Got via: I won it in a goodreads contest. This isn't a review book I've been putting off for two years, lol.
Amazon (and the paperback is only 4 dollars) / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): At Cate's isolated boarding school, Killer is more than a game—it’s an elite secret society. Members must avoid being “Killed” during a series of thrilling pranks, and only the Game Master knows who the “Killer” is. When Cate’s finally invited to join the Assassins’ Guild, she know it’s her ticket to finally feeling like she belongs.

But when the game becomes all too real, the school threatens to shut it down. Cate will do anything to keep playing and save the Guild. But can she find the real assassin before she’s the next target?

Thoughts: I'm really sick and my brain is not working very well. So, it was really nice to read something that I didn't have to think too much about. I mean I tried a little to guess where the plot was going and who the "Killer" was, but not that much, honestly. I was not up for trying to figure out twists or whatever.

This is kind of trashy but like, really fun and reasonably well-written trash. It reminded me of old horror books from the 90s and I always loved the heck out of those, so I was having a grand ole time. I also very much like books set on creepy, isolated islands. It's a trope I really enjoy. So this had a lot of stuff that I had fun with, especially once it got past the initial boarding school stuff with mostly rich teenagers being kind of obnoxious. (Not my favourite trope.)

There's a few things that I really disliked. There's quite a bit of ableism, including a number of cracks about OCD, and several instances of cissexism - Cate's jacket being described as "girl-sized" (THAT'S NOT A SIZE, GIRLS COME IN ALL SIZES), talk about every girl having a period, that kind of thing, and an aromisic line. The book also has some fatmisia, both some lines that are full of diet culture/food guilt, and a character described as a "chubster". Who then disappears for the rest of the book. Seriously, I'm not sure he has a single line in the whole book. There's also some hazing at the beginning of the book that's really graphic and gross, like feces gross, and I found that unnecessary and could totally see it throwing people off the whole book

Oh, and Cate's supposed best friend (they aren't really written that close) is Latina and it's... not written well. There's random Spanish just dropped into all her dialogue.

Those things are really a shame, because otherwise once this picked up, I liked it. I end up landing right in the middle, where I had fun reading this but I had some serious issues at the same time. I would cautiously recommend this one for some, but not all. It is fun, but it's not wonderful. I'm gonna keep it, probably, 'cause it was fun for me, and the cover's pretty.

Content warning for sexual assault in this one, also.

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez

Published: August 22nd, 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: It's on the floor, so I'll add this when I review it. I'm tired. Goodreads says 336, so. Close to that, I'd assume.
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: La bibliothèque.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school--you can't fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malu (Maria Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School's queen bee, violates the school's dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malu loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malu finally begins to feel at home. She'll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

Thoughts: This was really cute. It reminded me a lot of  "My Year of Rock and Roll", which I also really liked, and they would work well together in a themed list with, like, Drum Roll, Please if you wanted to make a list of music-themed MG. And I'm getting off topic now because I like lists too much.

I think that's the other thing, too, is that this isn't anything super duper unique when it comes to plot, or premise, or anything. Kid moves to a new town, kid finds things they like, kid makes friends with "outcasts", big finish. It's mostly pretty standard and that is absolutely fine. Things being repetitive in kids' media is not automatically a bad thing. A lot of kids are more comfortable reading something that feels familiar.

Second, as I've said before, the additions of things like different identities make it unique, too. Which is kind of unfortunate, honestly, since those things should also be standard, but that's where we stand. Malu is biracial/Mexican is not something you see very often in MG, especially in a book that's contemporary and modern and not historical, and that increases my rating greatly, because it's great to see.

In the end, I thought this was cute and fun, but I'm not the intended audience, and that's fine. This is definitely a book that somebody out there needs, who isn't me, and I very much hope they find it and love it, because it's a real good one. It's predictable, but that's me looking at it with adult eyes, and kids aren't going to see it that way. My only real complaint is that the characterization on Malu's friends could probably have been a little better, but overall, it's solid.

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Published: May 22nd, 2018 by Tor Teen
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 456 plus a really great author's note and acknowledgements.
Part of a series? No, I believe this is a standalone.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Six years ago, Moss Jefferies' father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media's vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Thoughts: Honestly this was great and I've been putting off writing up my thoughts about it because I don't know what to say. I did struggle with connecting to the voice a bit, but it's told in third person and you all know I have some issues with that. I'm glad, though, that it's told in third person past tense, because if it was present tense I would have had a real problem. But it's definitely a me thing with that, I think.

I loved how many queer identities there were in this book. Moss and most of his friends are queer, and it's so great to see that, especially how casual it was, and that it included characters beyond just allo-cis-gay characters. There were trans characters, and nonbinary characters, and an ace character!!! Kaisha is ace in this and biromantic. It's very nicely handled. I also thought the parental relationships in this are really good. Not all of the parents are perfect, but a lot of them are very supportive and involved and it's great to see that, especially with families that aren't nuclear families. The book is still completely the teens' story (especially, but not exclusively, Moss') but there are a number of great adults who don't just throw them to the wolves to fend for themselves.

Ugh, this is a terrible review ("review") and there are so many better ones, lol. I'm just gonna say this was good and you should read it. (But like pay attention to the trigger warnings and take care of yourself, first.)

Speaking of, trigger warnings for misgendering (not by Moss or the narrative, by an antagonist character, but still), police brutality, racial profiling, violence, assault, homomisia, fatmisia (Moss has some internalized fatmisia/body issues that he works on in the book, but it can be hard to read), and one thing I'm going to say could be considered a spoiler but I think it's important to warn for. So skip this if you want, but it's more important to warn about it. Moss meets a boy during the first half of the book, and begins dating him, developing strong feelings. The boy is killed by police, and the plot of the rest of the book is directly dealing with the aftermath of his death.

That's it for me for now! What have you all been reading?

Peace and cookies,
Laina