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

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