Monday, February 26, 2018

Things I've Read Recently (67)

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.

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Published: December 14th, 2009 by Simon Pulse
Genre: Paranormal YA leaning towards horror at times
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 454
Part of a series? There is a companion novel called Slice of Cherry, and a short story, all set in the same universe.
Got via: The author sent it to me, and I actually did read it in like 2009, 2010, but I never wrote anything about it, and I wanted to reread it.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): 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.

Thoughts: This is a weird freaking book. I've seen it compared to Welcome to Night Vale, and the setting does remind me a lot of that, along with Silas University (the setting of the webseries Carmilla). It is creepy and weird and surreal, and the setting is one of my favourite parts of this book. The author's ability to write something so weird is an incredible strength. I also thought the romance was cute, and not altogether what you'd usually see, especially for the time period the book was published in. And the relationship between Hanna and her mother is complicated and really interesting.

The part I didn't so much like was the bipolar rep. I'm going to point these things out after saying that as far as I know, this book is not ownvoices in that area. If the book was, obviously that would be different. The book uses an outdated term for bipolar, and I'm not sure that's right for someone who doesn't have bipolar to decide to use. The book also uses a lot of ableist language that is not, in this case, the author's to reclaim, and I think comes off almost sensationalizing or even fetishizing. There's also just a straight up r-slur. I'm gonna link to a few other things talking about this here, here, and here.

There is basically no fat rep besides an offensive monster and there are annoying comments now and then along that slant. Not much for other disability rep, and there's no queer rep at all. It's not even mentioned as a possibility.

Overall, the setting is amazing and the writing of the horror aspects is great, but I had problems, too. This is one that I think would be absolutely amazing if it was released today and had had sensitivity readers. As it is, it's dated in those aspects, and because of that, it suffers some.

TW for ableism, fatmisia, self-harm, suicide, and probably a little bit of racism (from other characters aimed at Hanna).

Angels Fall by Nora Roberts

Published: July 11th, 2006 by Putman
Genre: Adult Romance
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 444 plus extras
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: It was a library reject.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Reece Gilmore has come a long way to see the stunning view below her. As the sole survivor of a brutal crime back East, she has been on the run, desperately fighting the nightmares and panic attacks that haunt her. Reece settles in Angel's Fist, Wyoming-temporarily, at least-and takes a job at a local diner. And now she's hiked this mountain all by herself. It was glorious, she thought, as she peered through her binoculars at the Snake River churning below.

Then Reece saw the man and woman on the opposite bank. Arguing. Fighting. And suddenly, the man was on top of the woman, his hands around her throat . . .

Enjoying a moment of solitude a bit farther down the trail is a gruff loner named Brody. But by the time Reece reaches him and brings him to the scene, the pair has vanished. When authorities comb the area where she saw the attack, they find nothing. No signs of struggle. No freshly turned earth. Not even a tire track.

And no one in Angel's Fist seems to believe her. After all, she's a newcomer in town, with a reputation for being jumpy and jittery-maybe even a little fragile. Maybe it's time to run again, to move on...

Reece Gilmore knows there's a killer in Angel's Fist, even if Brody, despite his seeming impatience and desire to keep her at arm's length, is the only one willing to believe her. When a series of menacing events makes it clear that someone wants her out of the way, Reece must put her trust in Brody-and herself-to find out if there is a killer in Angel's Fist before it's too late.

Review: This is a bit out of the usual around here, but I was in the mood for something different and this was a great reminder that I really love Nora Roberts. This isn't exactly diverse or revolutionary, but it is exactly what it claims to be and it was exactly what I expected it to be.

The romance was funny and cute. I liked the dynamic between the two leads, and it played with some romance tropes, but it never over the top with the ones I'm really not into. Like it never got all, "I am alpha male, here me roar." I also thought it was neat that Reece got a pap smear on page in the book. It isn't graphic or anything, and it's just treated as something kind of annoying, but part of her full physical check-up. It also talks about breast exams, and doing self-examinations.

All in all, a good romance with a cool murder story. Nice to read something different and a reminder I should read more along this line.

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Published: September 8th, 2016 by Duet Books
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 280 plus some extras.
Part of a series? There's a sequel for sure, and possibly more?
Got via: The library, but the author is a friend, so if that bugs you, there you go.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain.

On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

Review: I really liked this. It's got a unique voice and that takes a little to get used to, but once you do, it's well worth it. It reminds me of Sky High, and I think it might honestly have couple Sky High references. The world-building is excellant and I really want to know more about it. My favourite little touch is honestly the household robots, especially Jess' robot Chả. It's like a Roomba with anxiety.

I also think this would be really great for younger readers. While this is very obviously YA and it fits there perfectly, but for preteens or young teens who have an advanced reading level or look to read up or whatever, this would be perfect. It would be very approachable for younger readers, and the subject matter isn't anything... I'm gonna say "not super mature", but in a good way. Nothing that a younger reader might not be ready for. Since there are some great queer characters, I could totally see this really appealing to younger reders who want to read about queer rep beyond what is currently available in MG.

Really fun read, some great rep on multiple facets, and I'd like to read more. I definitely recommnd this one.

You by Charles Benoit

Published: August 24th, 2010 by HarperTeen
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 223, plus an excerpt of another book and stuff.
Part of a series? Standalone.
Got via: I think I bought it from Amazon, actually. I know, how unusual around here to have a book not from the library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go.

You’re just a typical fifteen-year-old sophomore, an average guy named Kyle Chase. This can’t be happening to you. But then, how do you explain all the blood? How do you explain how you got here in the first place?

There had to have been signs, had to have been some clues it was coming. Did you miss them, or ignore them? Maybe if you can figure out where it all went wrong, you can still make it right. Or is it already too late?

Think fast, Kyle. Time’s running out. How did this happen?

Review: Meh. That's just about my overall feelings on this, very meh. The writing is fine, and for me the second person thing neither takes anything away nor adds anything. I can fully see a lot of people hating it, but I didn't care one way or the other. It's fine. It doesn't do a lot for me, but it's fine.

I didn't really like any of the characters, but there's not enough time spent on any of them to really hate them either. The "villain" has like no character development and there's some build-up that he's supposed to be the worst thing ever, but I don't see it at all, honestly. It's all very abrupt and shallow. We never see any real depth at all. It's all very surface level. We don't know anything about him like, what's with his family, what does he like to eat, why does he do the things he does. He's a very one note "villain".

And Kyle is so passive. The book happens to him and he doesn't do anything. With the second person narration, it's like a Choose Your Own Adventure book where you can't choose anything.

Honestly, it was just boring. Nothing really happened, there's nothing satisfying about the ending, and it feels super rushed. I think this format could be good for selective readers, because it is an interesting idea, but the execution of the book could very much be a turn off. Would not recommend, and I'm gonna pass it along out of my collection.

Content notes for slightly graphic blood descriptions, violence, ableist slurs, racism, queermisia, fatmisia by the author, and slutshaming.

And I think that wraps up this post! What have you guys been reading lately?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, February 19, 2018

YA Review: The Wicked Deep

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Published: To be released March 6th, 2018 by Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Paranormal
Binding: ARC
Page Count: 308 plus acknowledgements in the ARC, but the info and goodreads says 320 so probably that.
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: It was sent to me for review consideration.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Review: Well, this was unexpected. I hoped this would be good, but I wasn't expecting to like it this much. While there's a few things I didn't like, a lot of it worked really well for me. First, the atmosphere is amazing. It's set in summer, but the book feels cold and damp. It comes out in March, which is also cold and damp, and you should totally read it in March, but it woul also be great to read in October around Halloween. I've seen a lot of comparison to Hocus Pocus and I don't really like that movie so that's not a direction I'd go in personally, but it definitely has a spooky, creepy feeling.

I actually don't want to say too much about this one because I don't want to spoil it. There's a few things in here that really surprised me and I spent a couple minutes just staring into space shocked.

And also eating cheesecake, because, you know. Cheesecake.

This has some ableism with mental illness not exactly being handled super well, and it's really lacking in pretty much any kind of diversity. What happens to gay or aromantic boys in this town? Do people notice lesbian girls suddenly flirting with boys? I feel like that would be a bit of a tip off. Kind of ignoring some ideas there that could really be interesting. Basically everyone besides like two characters is white, cis allo straight, thin, and abled. I also thought the romance was pretty sudden and a little overdramatic at times. Might work for some people, but not so much for me.

In general, I think that's the theme of the book. I don't think this one is going to be for everyone. If you don't connect to the voice, you probably won't like this as much. Luckily for me, I did and I had a really good time reading it. I liked it, and I would recommend it as a fun read, especially on a rainy day or around Halloween. It's missing some depth but overall is an enjoyable read. I'm going to take a rose off for being not the least bit diverse, so three and a half roses.



This is a super short review, but I really don't want to spoil things, and anything I talked about would really be a spoiler. Oh, I love the cover, though. It's really pretty, and the silver parts are actually holographic. Super pretty.

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, February 12, 2018

Things I've Read Recently (66)

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 Takedown by Corrie Wang

Published: April 11th, 2017 by Freeform
Genre: All the goodreads shelves of this are like Mystery and Contemporary but this is set in the future. It's like Science Fiction meets Thriller.
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 369 plus an author's note and acknowledgements and such.
Part of a series? Standalone
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club and a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible—take something off the internet—all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint.

Thoughts: This was an interesting book. I really liked the concept of this, and I thought the futuristic setting was super interesting and unexpected. I didn't manage to read anything about this that actually told me this was set in the future so that was a surprise for me.

However, I did have some issues with this. First and foremost, this is quite aromisic. I kept a running tab of how often "just friends" was used, and it got up to eleven times. It got super old and I kept sighing and being irritated each time I had to add to my count. That is exhausting and unnecessary. I also don't think it was very ace friendly. It leans more, in my opinion, towards "everyone has sex so it's normal" and there was one really gross line about how one of the characters definitely wanted sex because he was a teenage boy.

The fat rep also kind of sucked for me. There was one apparently fat character (it's really hard to tell since the only time her body is ever described is, like, one line about "tummy pudge") and that rep is the kind of rep written by someone thin who thinks it's good fat representation. She's kind of obsessed with food, and it's supposed to be positive, I guess, but that is not a thin person's job to write. She's the only one who gets winded when the group of them go up the stairs. At one point, another character says something along the lines of, "Big fat lie," and the character clears her throat, and that character changes it to, "Big plus-sized".

How about no. How about so much no.

I'm trying to find a review about Mac's rep, but I have a feeling it was maybe not great. I will say, the decision not to italicize non-English words was great, but if they have automatic translaters that they wear constantly... why is his dialogue randomly sprinkled with Spanish? Like every other word, practically, in a way that seems really offensive. Well, here's a thread about the book in general.

I think some of the discussions of slutshaming is interesting. However, I think for some characters, it isn't actually broken down enough. Again, Mackenzie. And I didn't like the romance. She slutshames him like a lot. Like a lot. And it's treated more like he's the one who needs to apologize for having sex with other people when they aren't even dating.

Also, there's like one queer character in this who's the adult librarian who's not exactly a main character, and there's definite queerbaiting.

Like I said, I liked the concept of this, and I thought it did some interesting things. I liked the voice and some of Kyla's growth through the book. I also liked that because Kyla wasn't actually in the video, the book avoided the false accusation plotline. But there were a lot of things that didn't work for me, and more that I think are out and out problematic and harmful. I would not be comfortable recommending this one.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Published: September 5th, 2017 by Flatiron Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 372 plus acknowledgements
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Thoughts: I loved this. I have like no notes of this, because, well, one, I'm not feeling great today. But, two, I didn't take a ton of notes because I was enjoying this so much. I think we all know that fantasy isn't really my favourite genre, but this really worked for me as a non-fantasy reader. The setting is great and there's just enough description that I could clearly picture everything without getting lost in them.

I loved Mina's role, I loved the relationships, and I loved that it was queer. I also liked the alternating third person POVs a lot more than I usually do. I just really enjoyed this.

Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver

Published: Originally published in 2014, this edition was released in October 11th, 2016
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Binding: Ebook
Page Count: Goodreads says 382 and Amazon says 439. I read it on my kindle and have no idea which one is right.
Part of a series? Yup, there is a sequel and several short stories available.
Got via: Luci bought it for me.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (mostly from goodreads but kinda shortened by me because it's really long for a blog post lol): The city of Parole is burning. Like Venice slips into the sea, Parole crumbles into fire. The entire population inside has been quarantined, cut off from the rest of the world, and left to die - directly over the open flame. Eye in the Sky, a deadly and merciless police force ensures no one escapes. Ever. All that’s keeping Parole alive is faith in the midst of horrors and death, trust in the face of desperation… and their fantastic, terrifying, and beautiful superhuman abilities.

Regan, stealth and reconnaissance expert with a lizard's scales and snake's eyes, is haunted by ten years of anxiety, trauma and terror, and he’s finally reached his limit. He join forces with Evelyn’s family: the virtuosic but volatile Danae, who breathes life into machines, and Rose, whose compassionate nature and power over healing vines and defensive thorns will both be vital to survive this nightmare. Then there’s Zilch, a cool and level-headed person made of other dead people, and Finn, one of Parole’s few remaining taxi drivers, who causes explosions whenever he feels anything but happy.

Separately they’d never survive, much less uncover the secret of Parole’s eternally-burning fire. Together, they have a chance. Parole’s a rough place to live. But they’re not dead yet. If they can survive the imminent cataclysmic disaster, they might just stay that way.

Thoughts: I don't usually read a lot of science fiction, and I don't usually read self-published books. Neither of those are super my thing, as I think you've all figured out by now if you've been reading my reviews a while. This was definitely the exception to that rule. It is super duper diverse, the voice is great, and it's incredibly well-edited. There's multiple kinds of ace rep done very well, and I was really satisfied with everything.

I enjoyed reading this a whole lot, and it's also pretty cheap, which never hurts. If you're into science fiction at all, check it out.

Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn

Published: June 27th, 2017 by Kensington
Genre: YA Thriller
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 256 pages according to goodreads. I put my copy across the room and I am not getting up to check. There were acknowledgements though.
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.

When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…

Thoughts: I'm always surprised by how much I like thrillers. I'd love to read more YA thrillers like this. Any recommendations?

This was a lot of fun in that dark, slightly trashy way. The voice is fun, and the POV was interesting. It's mostly first person, with occasional switches to third, which I usually hate, but works really well in this. I totally guessed the final twist, and occasionally the voice, while fun, could be a littleover the top/ever so slightly cheesy, but overall this was a lot of fun.

Could have used a little more rep besides Kan's rep, like some fat rep or queer rep besides a character who only shows up for one scene, and I think there might have been a bit of ableist language. I'd like to read more like this, though.

Okay, some of these are shorter than usual, but I suppose they are meant to be mini, huh? So, that's everything. What have you guys been reading lately?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, February 9, 2018

"It's a Mail, Mario" December 2018

I've decided I want to start doing a post about books that I get in the mail, for whatever reasons I get them. I am not going to include library books because that would just be annoying for me, and probably for you as well. This might be a monthly thing, but it will depend on how often I get books. Hint hint, people, send me books :P

I put a poll on twitter to see what title would win to be the name of this post, and the first time it tied. The second time, this is what won, so that's what we're going with. I was going to put this up earlier, but I had computer issues so it's late.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

To be released March 6th, 2018 by Simon Pulse

Summary (from goodreads): Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

And that's all folks!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, February 5, 2018

YA Review: Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Published: May 9th, 2017 by Balzer + Bray
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: Hardcover, but the paperback comes out in May.
Page Count: 408 plus acknowledgements.
Part of a series? Standalone.
Got via: Library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

Review: Not gonna lie, I wasn't really planning this book. I mean, I wanted to eventually read it, but I had no immediate plans to read it. But my library does this thing where they do an estimate of the materials you've borrowed/how much money you've saved doing that, and I popped into the library the day before it closed for the Christmas/end of year break, and I wanted to see my total for the year (it was over $7000 so that was cool) and this was there.

Why do so many of my reviews start with me telling a story about getting the book?

Anyways, this was interesting. Let's do the bad stuff first to get it out of the way. I thought this was lacking in some serious areas of diversity. There's a very interesting conversation about how reckless teenager antics that are fun and games for white Ramona and her friends, are much more dangerous for Freddie, who's black, and the book does a cool thing in labelling white characters as white in the narration and not assuming they are by default. There are also a good amount of queer characters for a small Southern town. However, other areas are less explored. There's really nothing for any kind of disability rep, and considering the setting, and what people are dealing with, that seems a real oversight. And very surprisingly for me, there's not much for fat rep. The book also has no trans rep, and cis is pretty much assumed to be the default.

I also wasn't really a fan of the ace rep. I liked the character, who is homoromantic demisexual, but it only comes up twice, once kind of as a joke, and it doesn't actually affect the character's portrayal. It's like the character was just given a label and then forgotten. And that label isn't defined at all. Ramona replies to it with, "A what?" and the scene just carries on. If someone comes across the word demisexual for the first time in this book, they're not going to know what it means. The rest of the book, the character is just treated, and called, a lesbian. She doesn't seem to connect to the asexual community - or that the book is aware there is one - and that word is never used, and while I always want more ace characters, it feels superficial. It almost feels like a label for the sake of a label, or for points, not something the author thought about actually affecting the character.

Also, this passage from page 115:
I'm not this sex-crazed maniac or anything, but I'm a human being. I think about sex. Girls think about sex. Sometimes a lot.
And sometimes they don't! Would have been nice to have that mentioned. Throw in a use of "just friends", and kinda ignoring that aro people exist at all, and it just didn't work for me. I don't identify as demisexual anymore (used to, labels change), or homoromantic, so maybe it'll work for people who are, but I'd be hesitant to recommend it for that without reading reviews from ownvoices reviewers, which I'm pretty sure are gonna be hard to find. I've only found a couple so far.

Last complaints - there's a weird "everyone is a little bit gay" sort of comment and I just hate that idea personally as someone who does not identify as the least bit gay, but very acearo, and also a use of "opposite sex", which kinda adds to that no trans peeps/intersex peeps/enbies situation. There are also some sticky consent moments. A physical reaction is not consent, and it only takes one person to end a relationship. It wasn't like full on creeper mode or anything, but both those lines/moments make me pause and go, "Nope".

Now, I thought the poverty rep was great. It is an incredibly realistic depiction of the kind of poverty that doesn't get talked about often enough in YA in a respectful way. The kind where there's a roof over your head, and food on the table, but you're living bill to bill. The kind where an emergency is devastating. The kind where the idea of a baby being born sick is something you know you can't afford and are constantly terrified of. And I loved that there wasn't a magic fix to systematic poverty. There's a possibility of change, maybe, but it's not an easy out or a magic wand.

Personally I also thought that the theme of exploring sexuality and labels changing was handled very well. Again, not a lesbian or bisexual, but if you're reading this, you are here for my thoughts, and that's what it is. My identity has gone through a few labels, and it's confusing and sometimes scary and there aren't always easy or quick answers. Sometimes it takes a while and it's messy and complicated and hard. I thought that was handled in a respectful, thoughtful way.

Overall, I had mixed feelings. A lot of this book is great, and felt thoughtful and realistic, but other parts underwhelmed. I wish every part had been handled as well as those good parts instead of feeling more like afterthoughts. This one ends up at about three roses out of five. I loved the voice and I thought the premise of a post-Katrina Mississippi was very different, but points off for the things mentioned previously. I'd still recommend it in certain situations, but cautiously.



Other notes:

- Content notes for bimisia, queermisia in general, amisia, discussions of racism, actual racism, big freaky natural disasters, pregnancy, pregnancy complications, someone drinking fairly heavily early in pregnancy which despite what she says is not safe or recommended by doctors, and that's all I got right now.

- Bonus points for the use of "pregnant people" at one point.

Peace and cookies,
Laina