Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (9)

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

My pick this week is:

Your Destination is on the Left by Lauren Spieller

Release date: June 26th, 2018
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Dessa Rhodes is a modern day nomad. Her family travels in an RV, their lives defined by state lines, exit signs, and the small communal caravan they call home. Among them is Cyrus, her best friend and long-time crush, whom she knows she can never be with. When your families are perpetually linked, it’s too dangerous to take a risk on romance.

Instead, Dessa looks to the future. She wants to be a real artist and going to art school is her ticket to success and a new life. There’s just one problem: she hasn’t been accepted…anywhere. Suddenly her future is wide open, and it looks like she’s going to be stuck traveling forever.

Then an unexpected opportunity presents itself: an internship working with a local artist in Santa Fe. Dessa struggles to prove to her boss—and herself—that she belongs there, but just as she finally hits her stride, her family suffers an unexpected blow. Faced with losing everything that she has worked for, Dessa has a difficult decision to make. Will she say goodbye to her nomadic lifestyle and the boy she loves? Or will she choose to never stop moving?

Why I'm excited: I think this sounds really sweet, and I also really like the cover. A little bit of a shallow reason there, I realize, but it's cool looking. And I have a fondness for artist MCs.

What are you all excited for this week?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, May 28, 2018

YA Review: The Summer of Broken Things

The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Published: April 10th, 2018
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: ARC
Page Count: The inside cover says 400, goodreads says 393, and mine has 387, with acknowledgments up to 393, so you know. Around 400.
Part of a series? Standalone.
Got via: They sent it to me for review consigderation, but I swear it's not as late as it seems.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Fourteen-year-old Avery Armisted is athletic, rich, and pretty. Sixteen-year-old Kayla Butts is known as “butt-girl” at school. The two girls were friends as little kids, but that’s ancient history now. So it’s a huge surprise when Avery’s father offers to bring Kayla along on a summer trip to Spain. Avery is horrified that her father thinks he can choose her friends—and make her miss soccer camp. Kayla struggles just to imagine leaving the confines of her small town.

But in Spain, the two uncover a secret their families had hidden from both of them their entire lives. Maybe the girls can put aside their differences and work through it together. Or maybe the lies and betrayal will only push them—and their families—farther apart.

Review: I think Margaret Peterson Haddix's writing talent carries this book through some things I found problematic. There are places where I have things to complain about, but overall her writing carries it for me into an enjoyable reading experience. Not that I'll let that stop me from complaining! Or being thorough, we could call it, I suppose. That does sound much better.

Plot Talk: This isn't one of those books with a really exciting plot for me to talk about, and I'm going to sound terrible saying it, but let's give it a shot. Two girls, Kayla and Avery, go on vacation with Avery's dad for the summer. This arrangement isn't really either of their ideas, but Kayla is excited because otherwise this is something that could likely have never happened for her. They hang out, some hijinks happen, and then a big secret is revealed and the rest of the book is pretty much dealing with the fallout of that reveal. I'm probably going to reveal that secret during the PG-13 and Complaints sections, as it becomes very relevant in those, so if that bugs you, skip those.

I do wish a little bit that there had been a bit more stuff going on towards the second half. Avery's POV especially can get a bit annoying, because she's pretty much just moping around for a bunch of the book. It didn't bother me much while I was reading, but I could see it bothering people or some people seeing it as boring.

I dunno, I kind have mixed feelings on the plot because I appreciate quiet books, but I also see where things could have been different.

Characters: Characters are pretty strong in this book, although at times the depth can be lacking somewhat.

Avery can get a little annoying. She's very spoiled and privileged, and is pretty unaware of her privilege. Honestly it's pretty satisfying watching her grow out of that bubble and have people call her out for being a jerk. She's fourteen. She needs that now and then to grow up.

I think Kayla's character is pretty great. She's not thin, and she's poor, and the rep on both of those is okay. She uses the label fat, but she is definitely a small fat. She can buy clothes at Target when she doesn't have access to her suitcase/clothes and doesn't mention going to the plus size section/bad selection there, Avery calls her "chubby", and she doesn't need a seatbelt extender on the airplane, or even think about it. This could, perhaps, be the effect of a thin author writing a fat character, and not being aware of that type of thing, but it comes across as her not being very large for a fat person.

Overall it's pretty positive. Kayla has body issues, but it's not over-exaggerated, and she gets more confident as the book goes on. Avery especially says some things that are fatmisic, but Kayla does call them out eventually, and whenever you're in her POV, you see that she doesn't agree or think it's okay. I didn't know there was fat rep of any kind in this, so I was surprised, but I didn't hate it. I do think it reads a lot as a well-meaning thin author writing fat rep. She does a decent job, but there are just things that didn't read as authentic as they could have for me.

This is going to go slightly into spoiler territory, but it's important to mention. Avery's dad is also fat, and it's nice to see more than one fat character, but since he has a major health emergency at one point in the book, I think it really would have been nice to see more fat adults who are healthy as "has heart problems" is something that's stereotypical for fat characters and it wasn't my favourite part.

Both Mr. Armisted and Kayla are also shown as being quite out of shape/easily winded and overall there's some attitudes about how fat people exercise and eat that I wasn't too fond of. It's kind of something I expect from thin people. I do very much like how Avery was called out for food policing and making other people feel guilty about eating and overall I wouldn't say avoid it, but just be a bit cautious going in.

And going off that, part of the reason that falls down, is because characters outside of Avery, Kayla, and their parents, aren't very well fleshed out. They're not bad or anything, but you don't really know a lot about them. At times it makes the book feel pretty isolated, if that makes sense.

PG-13 stuff: It tackles some heavy stuff, including Kayla's father getting in a serious car accident when she was very young and the condition that left him in, a parent having a heart attack, surrogacy, poverty, divorce, and it talks about the history of Spain including wars, terrorist attacks, and the Holocaust, with the girls visiting a Holocaust museum. There's also some talk about rape culture, in a way that I thought was great and very responsible.

Overall, while it tackles some heavy subjects, I think it's done in a way that's responsible and generally well-handled, but I don't want to act like this is a super fluffy book and then surprise someone reading it on my recommendation.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: Like I said, characterization on side characters can be lacking. I also question if some of how the surrogacy stuff could be seen as offensive to people who are adopted. There's a weird focus on Avery being 100% genetically her parents', and not really a lot of acknowledgment that sharing DNA doesn't make you automatically family. Like, Avery's mother would still have been her "real" mother if she'd been born with an egg donor, and that would not have made an egg donor her "real" mother.

I actually liked that they used the term "gestational carrier" and think that's a term we should use way more often (it's non-gendered too!), and I appreciate the research that went into those parts, but at some points I do think it fell down.

The book also lacked queer characters severely, and for a book set in Spain, there's a lot of white people as the main characters, and not really a lot of prominent characters who aren't white.

Last, I found Kayla's father's condition a bit confusing. The book never names it, and I'm not familiar enough with that kind of thing to understand what was being implied. I think having a bit more of a definitive name and explanation would have helped me understand more.

Cover comments: The cover is gorgeous. I've seen art of this type online before and there's something really pleasing about how neat everything is. It also looks really summer-y and appealing, and I appreciate that the cover isn't pure white. Even in person, it's a bit off-white. That hides stains a bit more, and it looks better on my blog, because it stands out against the white background.

It's the little things, you know? Simple but effective cover.

Conclusion: While this is not my favourite book from the author (and I've read a bunch), I think it's solid. I read most of it outside and that was great. It was really warm and sunny and the book was all summer-themed and it felt really nice. I was honestly shocked by the plot twist.

I think this book does something really interesting in having alternating POVs between a character who is 14 and a character who is 16. While it's not middle grade, I think that would increase the appeal for readers who are looking to read up from middle grade, while also appealing to older readers. I think it makes the audience wider, and the contrast between the two MCs is very interesting.

Again, not my favourite, and I think it had some problems, but I continue to want to read every book Margaret Peterson Haddix ever writes. Her writing just works for me. Your mileage will vary on that, but I think this is a good one regardless. Not perfect, but very enjoyable, and I liked the message that families come in many forms, and come to be in many forms. Solid three out of five roses, and I think kids will like this one, honestly.



Other notes:

- Avery. When you mix oil and vinegar, you get salad dressing. That isn't a good metaphor for things that don't mix well!

- Although in the theme of the book I SUPPOSE it does work out because they do end up friends and all.

- But still! That's salad dressing!

- I feel like I'm forgetting something, but I can't remember what it was.

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, May 25, 2018

Book Memory Challenge Tag

I found this tag on Brin's Book Blog and decided I wanted to do it, so I'm going to. This tag was created by Sarah Says Read, which is private now but I'm still going to link to because it feels wrong not to.

The challenge answer the question in this image without the Internet or looking at your shelves and then you're supposed to tag people which I'm not going to do because I'm too old for that much work. So, let's try this!


This is the picture with the questions, but I'll also be writing them out for readability's sake.

1. Name a book written by an author called Michael.

Paddington by Michael Bond


I didn't think of any specific one, so we'll just go with the first book because that's logical or something, right? I don't know why that's the first thing to come to mind, but that's what popped into my head.

2. Name a book with a dragon on the cover.




I'm not even sure if I've ever read this, honestly. I think I bought it from a Scholastic book order in like seventh grade or something. No, I must have read it, because I read basically everything I bought, but I can't remember a thing about it. But it definitely has a dragon on the cover!

3. Name a book about a character called George.



(George) by E. L. Konisberg

I thought about Alex Gino's book George, but using it for this question seemed a bit iffy with, you knojw, deadnaming and all that, so I'm going with the nostalgic book instead. There's a lot of books that this author wrote that stick in my head and I remember reading, but this is not one of them. I know I have, but I'm totally blanking. Sounds really weird though, lol.

4. Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith.




I read this book so many times as a kid, and it was the first thing my mind came up with. This is a weird list so far.

5. Name a book set in Australia.

Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung


I actually thought of a more modern one! Lucy and Linh, which I read last year, is set in Sydney.

6. Name a book with the name of a month in the title

Oooooh. This is a hard one. I'm gonna think about this and eat my jello.

Saving June by Hannah Harrington!


That was a tricky one. I was literally sitting there listing all the months in my head and trying to come up with matching book titles.

7. Name a book with a knife on the cover.



I used to read a ton of food mystery books, and it's something I don't do as often, but I still super have a fondness for them. Look how cute that cover is, honestly. It's murder but it's happy murder.

8. Name a book with "one" in the title.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg


Okay I had to freaking cheat because I blanked and could not think of a single book. Really enjoyed this one.

9. Name a book with an eponymous title.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman


One of my favourite books and movies.

10. Name a book turned into a movie.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke


I couldn't say Coraline again, so... I was actually just talking about this in a book blogger hop, but that one was about bad adaptations. Oh here's one. Inkheart. No one ever talks about the movie, either as a good adaptation or a bad one. It's kind of interesting.

Okay, that's all the questions! Well, this was an interesting post. Very random. It's interesting what your brain comes up with when faced with such somewhat random questions.

If any of you want to do this, consider yourself tagged by me. If you just want to answer like one, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (8)

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 Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan

Release date: June 19th, 2018 by Amberjack Publishing
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Mattie is hiding her obsession with Harry Houdini and Dorothy Dietrich from everyone, including her best friend Stella. When Stella takes off to boarding school for the summer, all of Mattie’s anxieties bubble to the surface, leaving her feeling adrift. To distract herself, she seeks out Miyu, the reclusive daughter of a world-renowned escape artist whose life and career were snuffed out by a tragic plane crash.

With Miyu’s help, Mattie secretly transforms herself into a burgeoning escapologist and performance artist. Away from the curious eyes of her peers, she thrives in her new world of lock picking, straitjackets, and aquarium escapes. But when Will, a popular varsity athlete from her high school, discovers her act at an underground venue, she fears that her double life is about to be exposed. But instead of outing her, Will tells Mattie something he’s never told anyone before and the two of them find out that not all secrets can remain secret forever.

Why I'm excited: Mattie's interests seem really unique, and I'm really interested in reading about her. Plus, goodreads says it's queer, so that's always exciting.

What book are you excited about this week, dear readers?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, May 21, 2018

MG Review: Drum Roll, Please

Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Published: To be released June 26th, 2018 by HarperCollins
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: eARC
Page Count: Goodreads says 320 pages, and I'm going with that because I don't know otherwise.
Part of a series? Nope.
Got via: I got it for review through Edelweiss.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Find the confidence to rock out to your own beat.

Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But to her surprise, quiet Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a mouse.

Now, she and Olivia are about to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway, jamming under the stars in the Michigan woods.

But this summer brings big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself falling for a girl at camp named Adeline. To top it off, Melly's not sure she has what it takes to be a real rock 'n' roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart?

Review: This was really cute. This is basically if My Year of Epic Rock and Star-Crossed had a little book baby. There are a handful of things I took issue with, but for the most part, I had fun reading this, and I liked it. We'll get to the things I didn't like a bit later, though. I've read a lot of MG over the years, both recent and older, and this is what I'd call a very classic-feeling middle grade novel. All of the beats it hits, from Melly dealing with her parents' divorce to learning to be more confident, to a first romance, to having friendship problems and learning how to handle that, are very classic MG things.

And also it's queer. There are not nearly as many of those as there needs to be, obviously, and I also think that this does something really awesome by having basically no angst about it. Melly has a couple moments of feelng like, "Well, this is new", and being a little worried about how her best friend will react to the news that Melly likes a girl, but other than that, it's really not a big deal for her. It's refreshingly light.

Plot Talk: Like I said, this is basically a super classic summer camp book. Girl goes to summer camp, makes new friends, gets a little confidence boost, has a little romance, goes home. It's a typical book, in a way, but that's a good thing, not a bad thing. The plot honestly is just what it needs to be for this kind of book. It takes place over two weeks, and it really nails the way a summer vacation can feel both over far too fast and also like it'll last forever. One of my favourite parts was a rainy day at camp and the way the book perfectly depicted the restlessness of a rainy day where you're not entirely sure where you want to be or what you want to do. It's a very nice touch.

Characters: I really liked Melly. She's really sweet. She did actually remind me of Mattie from Star-Crossed now and then because they're both quite shy, and developing a little more confidence through the book. Again, that's a pretty classic middle grade thing. I could probably name several much older books with similar themes for their main characters, and I have no problem with that. It's a staple, not a cliche.

Melly's best friend and tentmates really remind me of classic middle grade books, especially middle grade camp books. They aren't, like, the most complex characters ever. They do tend to kind of have one "thing" and that's who they are/most of their personality. I'm not overly fussed about that, honestly.

PG-13 stuff: Melly's parents are going through a divorce, and Adeline's father has MS, and I think both are handled well, I think. The MS part is not something I can speak to, but the break-up part is definitely is. I liked how her parents made some pretty big mistakes, and they eventually admitted that and apologized to Melly. There's nothing here that I think a kid would be overly upset by, though. Melly doesn't face really any queermisia or anything either.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: I have a couple things. The book calls out sexism now and then, but it never goes beyond "both boys and girls". One example in particular is a mention of both female and male musicians - apparently there's no room for nonbinary or agender musicians like La Roux's Elly Jackson, Grey Gritt, Angel Haze, Rae Spoon, CN Lester, Jana Hunter, or Gerard Way.

Otherwise, while the book does have a number of POC characters and that's obviously really cool, it does lack in other forms of representation. This big music camp apparently only has four queer attendees. Two queer boys who are dating and only mentioned once, and Melly and her love interest. It's kind of a bummer that besides those two - and they don't get names! - there are no queer role models of older teens, or queer adults. There's also no disability rep besides Adeline's father, and no fat rep besides one adult character.

My last thing is - the book doesn't use the word bisexual, but it uses the word gay. I don't mean to overly compare this Star-Crossed, but I'm 90% sure these are currently the only MG books with bisexual main characters, so it's kinda gonna happen. And they both do this. Publishing, please allow queer MG to actually use the word bisexual. The characters don't have to settle on a label, but please let them at least know words other than "gay".

Editing Laina: Star-Crossed has been edited so the paperback will include the word bisexual! Heck yeah, that's exciting.

Cover comments: I think it's really cute. I like that you can see the tent, because it really feels like a camp book through that. It's a really sweet cover, and I like the colour scheme.

Conclusion: Overall, I really enjoyed reading this, and my only problems were the cissexist language and the lack of representation in certain areas. This is where I find the book falls into the trappings of "typical MG", and misses out on being truly amazing. However, it's still a good book and, again, I'm going to point out this is the second mainstream MG book with a bisexual main character. (I'm obviously not counting indies and self-published books here, as for this age group, those are much harder for the target audience to come across.) That's important.

I read this way too early before it comes out, lol, so my scheduling is like four months in advance, and there's only like one review out that like at all, so I can't really find ownvoices reviews yet. And I don't want to creepily stalk people. But personally I had a lot of fun reading this and thought it was really sweet, and I think other people will like it a lot, too. I'm gonna go with four out of five roses.



I don't have any other notes, I think!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, May 18, 2018

Book Blogger Hop (5)

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

This week's question is: What were your worst movies based off of books?

I have many. Okay, first of all, there are some really terrible TV shows based on books, let's be real. Like the Scaredy Squirrel books are really cute, and I find that show incredibly annoying. And the Wayside TV show is... not horrible to watch if you're watching with a kid or something, but it's not anything like the books. Riverdale. So much Riverdale. The Magic School Bus reboot. Oh my gosh, do you guys remember Bitten, based on the Kelley Armstrong books? Was that any good?

Okay, movies. Well, we all know the Percy Jackson movies are terrible... but I kinda get a guilty pleasure out of watching them. They're just so bad. It's kind of hilarious. Oh man, any of the live action Dr. Seuss movies are just horrific. The Cat in the Hat, live action Grinch. I actually refuse to see The Giver because I know it's going to be awful and I just don't want to go there. Oh, here's one - I'm like one of the only people who isn't a big fan of the Howl's Moving Castle adaptation. It's not terrible or anything, but I like the book better and the movie didn't feel similar tonally to me.

The Golden Compass movie is probably one of the worst adaptations I've ever seen, and probably number one on my personal list. It ignores basically all of the actual message of the book, it becomes very Narnia or Harry Potter copy-catty, and it ruins the ending. It bugs me so much because I thought some of the actors were really great and well-cast, and it could have been a great movie if they hadn't wussed out.

Anyways, I'm going to stop now before I ramble longer.

What are your worse book adaptations?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (7)

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.

This week I'm excited about:

Blood Will Out by Jo Treggiari

Release date: June 5th, 2018
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Ari Sullivan is alive—for now.

She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairytale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed.

Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous—and Ari may not be the only intended victim.

Why I'm excited: I'm really into mysteries and thrillers right now, and this sounds really interesting.

What are you all interested in this week?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Queer Summer Reading 2018 Introduction

Welcome to the Second Annual Laina and Luci's Queer Summer Reading Club! Or Queer Summer Reading for short, and QSR for even shorter.



Jeez, can you tell I made the graphics this year? They match my header like perfectly. Honestly, I did not do that on purpose. It just kinda happened.

Alright, so, what is Queer Summer Reading? QSR is a summer event based on the summer reading programs of my youth that my library ran.

When I was a kid, we could only really go to the library in the summer because it was about a mile and a half away, and that's a long walk when you're a kid and it's winter in Canada. I also couldn't walk there alone because it was across several incredibly busy roads. I totally Google mapped that, and google says it's a 30 minute walk one way. (My mom was afraid of public transportation. Don't ask.) That means we needed at least an hour's time to get there, plus, you know, time to pick books out and stuff, and my mom worked a lot, so summer was also one of the only times when that free time existed. Ask me about the time I got heat stroke doing that walk if you ever want me to rant about accessible libraries. Because, yeah, that's a thing that happened.

Anyways, most of them are much more positive memories, and one thing in particular I loved doing was summer reading club. I couldn't do a lot of the activities that libraries did (see above), but that was something I could do, and I loved getting the little booklet and stickers, and filling it out with the books I'd read. I always felt so proud. And I want to recreate that feeling in a way, and Luci goes along with me because they love me ;)

In that spirit, Queer Summer Reading is not a traditional book club where we assign specific books and then discuss them, but a more general thing so everyone can participate.

We do, however, want to challenge you! Our challenge to you is to read four queer books this summer. Two in July, two in August. This year, we want to give special focus to intersectionality, which as you know is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe ways in which oppression is interconnected and can't be examined separately from each other. So you can choose whether the MC or the author has intersectional identities. We encourage reading ownvoices books, or books by marginalized authors over books about marginalized characters by privileged authors.

Some of our suggestions are:

- A book by a queer author of colour, or book featuring a queer nonwhite character
- A queer book with mental illness representation
- A queer MC who is also a religious minority
- A queer MC with a physical disability
- A queer, non-neurotypical MC
- A book with a fat, queer MC

You get the picture, right? Feel free to come up with your own!

We're also trying something new this year, and that something is:



BINGO!

You can download the cards here. This is not the main point of the challenge, but it's a little extra mini-challenge that we thought could be a fun extra activity.

QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT HAVE:

Q. Do I have to be queer to join?

A. Nope! The queer books are the focus, and we want everyone to read them! For guest posts, we do prefer people with experience in those areas, though, to elevate those important voices.

Q. What book do I have to read?

A. Anything you want! As long as it's queer, it counts.

Q. Do I have to read a book? / I don't know if I have the time/spoons to read anything.

A. That's okay too! We want to challenge you, but you can be part of Queer Summer Reading if you just want to read interviews, or join in on Twitter chats, or whatever you want. The challenges are bonus, and just for fun.

Q. When does it start/end?

A. Queer Summer Reading is going to run from July 1st to August 31st. More dates about twitter chats and such will be posted shortly as we finalize things.

Q. I love that banner! It's so gorgeous. Can I have one?

A. Once all our designs are finalized, we will be posting them so you can use them wherever you want! We encourage you to add the button to your blog, or use one of the banners for your blog if you talk about your goals.

Q. Help! What do I read?

A. Anything you want! We will definitely be posting what we plan on reading, though, and we want to have some rec lists. (If you want to write a rec list, tune in soon!)

Q. What else can I do besides just read books?

A. You can do whatever you want! Want to host a giveaway for a queer book on your blog? You can use one of our graphics and we'll boost it! Want to write a blog post about queer books? We'll boost that! Just wanna say we're neat? We'll boost that! And also thanks, we think you're neat too! We'll be doing a lot on Twitter, but we'll also have link-up posts and all kinds of fun stuff.

We're also planning guest posts, rec lists, and author interviews, so if you're interested in any of those, stay tuned. We're going to have more information on those soon as well.

Q. Why are you reusing so many of these questions from last year?

A. Because I am lazy, and many of them are still relevant!

Q. Where I can find out more?

A. First of all, here! All my posts will be under the "queer summer reading" label, so you can click that at the bottom of the post. you'll find more (once they're posted).

You can also follow me on twitter @lainasparetime, follow Luci at @soveryqueer, and follow Queer Summer Reading @queer_reads. We'll be using the hashtags #queersummerreading for general stuff and #queersummerchat for our chats! You can also email us at queersummerreading@gmail.com if you don't have Twitter. Lastly, you can check out our masterlist of posts from last year to get an idea of some of things we did.

Q. I have something else to ask!

A. Leave it in the comments, or send it to one of our twitter handles or the email address above! We'd love to hear from you.

Peace and popsicles,
Laina

Monday, May 14, 2018

Things I've Read Recently (71)

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.

I couldn't decide what to read, and ran a Twitter poll, and "four random old books" won, for some reason. I know I haven't done one of these in a while, but honestly I thought they were a bit of my own weird pet project. Do I have secret fans of these posts? Come comment something. I'm super curious about this now.

Anyways, here we go!

The Haunting of Cassie Palmer by Vivien Alcock

Published: First published in Great Britain in 1980 by Meutheun Children's Books Limited, this impression was published in September 1987 by Lions, an imprint of the Collins Publish Group. (This book had a very thorough copyright page.)
Genre: Fantasy MG
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 155 pages, plus three ads for other books.
Part of a series? No, I don't believe so.
Got via: It used to be a library book, and I bought it when it was weeded.
Amazon / Abebooks

Summary (from goodreads): Cassie Palmer is the seventh child of a seventh child. This, according to her mother, a none-two-successful medium herself, means that Cassie will inherit amazing psychic powers. But Cassie is reluctant to acknowledge her inheritance and is secretly afraid of the "gift" she might have.

But strange things do happen when Cassie accepts a dare to raise a spirit. Who or what is the terrifying Deverill? Has Cassie accidentally disturbed a ghost, and what will be the consequences?

Thoughts: I read this as a kid, and I remember liking it, but I didn't know if I would as an adult. Turns out, it held up pretty well. There's a decent voice, with a decent plot, and it's very atmospheric. I liked that their mom was fat and it wasn't treated some a terrible thing. Some of the language used about her wasn't amazing, but it wasn't horrible.

It didn't take a lot of time to read, and overall was just fine. I'm not sure if this is one where I'd say they should put out a reprint, but I had a fun time reading it. Two of the books advertises in the back of this are When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson, and The Sara Summer by Mary Downing Hahn and I think those are perfect to describe what kind of book this is. If you saw it in a secondhand store or something, I wouldn't hesitate to pick it up. Or if you read this as a kid and you're curious about it, I wouldn't say you'd be disappointed rereading as an adult.

Also, points on the book for a jab at Flat Earthers. That's just funny. This is a slim little book, and my copy is in great shape, so I think I'm gonna keep it for now.

The Gifting by Ann Gabhart

Published: 1987 by Crosswinds
Genre: If it were published today, I think it would be called a MG paranormal, as the MC is only 13, but it's kind of hard to say with some of these old books. The line between YA and MG was often very blurred back then.
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 155 plus some adverts for other books, and, weirdly, for a bookshelf. Only 9.95 plus 75 cents postage and handling!
Part of a series? Kinda, but not really. I'll come back to this.
Got via: A yard sale, I think. There's a Garfield book plate with a kid's name in it, and it has a number on the very first page.
Amazon / Abebooks

Summary (from goodreads): Ginny had always felt different from the other members of her family. She wasn't as pretty as her sisters, and her brother was too young, and besides, he was a boy. She'd never had a really close friend.

When they moved to a new neighborhood, her life changed. She met Mark and Miss Nellie. Mark was quite simply the nicest guy she'd ever known. Miss Nellie was more of a puzzle. Ginny couldn't figure her out. Was Miss Nellie just an eccentric old lady, or were the rumors about her true?

Thoughts: Okay, first of all, this author now writes as Ann H. Gabhart and has a book called "The Gifted", which is like, inspirational romance or something. Weird, lol. (Also, while this book is tagged on goodreads as "Christian Fiction", the extant of the faith stuff in this is really someone saying they considered something a gift from God, and a couple mentions of church.)

Time for a quick history lesson now! Once upon a time, Simon and Schuster had distribution rights for the all-British-except-for-Janet-Dailey Harlequin, and when Harlequin jumped ship, they came up with an imprint called Silhouette to fill that space and use the resources they had. It went really well, and Harlequin was like "wow, we better get on those American romance writers, they are making the good money" and got busy on that, and Harlequin and Silhouette became probably the two biggest names in romance. Eventually in the 80s, Harlequin purchased Silhouette from Simon and Schuster and they got less competitive, but maintained separate identities until the around 2010 when all Silhouette imprints were rebranded as Silhouette imprints. Read more about that here and here.

This has not been quick.

Okay, well, long history lesson continued, from 1981 to 1987, Silhouette had an imprint called "First Love" which was YA romance, and there were 236 of those. Long story short, they were cheap and generally are not considered to have been amazing, although I personally have some fond memories of some I owned as a kid. Find out a little bit more about them here and here. Eventually, I assume they stopped doing so well, and they renamed the line to be called "Crosswinds" (see, I had a point), which had a line called "Crosswinds Keepsakes" which was very romance-oriented, and straight-up Crosswinds, which was not. It's kind of a weird, line, honestly, with some really random but interesting looking books, and it only lasted for a year and 32 books.

So this technically has a series name on Goodreads, but really it's just the imprint, and this has told you nothing about my thoughts on the book.

While I was doing all that research, something I noticed about the First Love series was that the later it got in the series, the more the plots strayed away from contemporary YA romance. They leaned way more towards paranormal, with lots of hauntings and almost even Gothic seeming settings. I'm speculating a little bit, but I assume that was because of reader demand. (Interestingly, it seemed like there was more demand for diversity. It was nothing huge, but books towards the end of the series seemed to have more diverse protagonists than the whole rest of the run.) That makes it make a lot of sense that the line would eventually split like it did when it was rebranded.

I also noticed that Ann Gabhart's name popped up fairly often in the First Loves series, and having read this actually made me curious about those. Honestly I kind of feel like the cover of this is deceiving. It looks more like a Point Horror knock-off when you could probably give it an updated cover and it'd fit fine in modern middle grade. (Taking out one anti-Native line before giving it to a modern audience, as it's inappropriate and obviously racist.)

The time period of when this is set isn't that clear, especially as they live in a rural area, but it could have easily been earlier than when it was written, and I think actually works well for it. It doesn't seem as awkwardly dated as much as just "historical". The voice also works well for that, and it's still an engaging read. I also liked that the romance wasn't that much. I mean, she is only thirteen, so it's very sweet and more realistic for kids their age.

I actually wish the author had written more YA/MG after the 80s and 90s, as her voice seems great and I'm not into the Christian romance genre. If I ever saw any of her vintage books at a sale or something, I'd totally grab them, though. I'm gonna keep this one. It was good.

Below the Root by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Published: Originally released in 1975, my edition is from 1992 by Laurel Leaf Fantasy.
Genre: While this says fantasy, I would more categorize this as YA Science Fiction, and today we'd probably call it almost dystopian.
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 231 plus an ad for Lloyd Alexander books.
Part of a series? This is the first of a trilogy called the Green Sky Trilogy.
Got via: It used to be a library book, and I bought it in a sale.
Amazon

Summary (from goodreads): When thirteen-year-old Raamo is chosen from all the other Kindar to join the ranks of the Ol-zhaan, the spiritual and governmental rulers of the land of Green-sky, he can hardly believe it. Does he really have the far-reading wisdom of that priestly class?

Apprehensive and intimidated by the secrecy surrounding the Ol-zhaan, Raamo nonetheless takes part in the initiation ceremonies. Not long after his indoctration has begun, Raamo learns - through his special telepathic "pensing" abilities - that everything is not as it appears in Green-sky. The Ol-zhaan have been taking advantage of their high status to keep the Kindar in the dark about much of the history of their people.

Raamo is now in the precarious position of knowing things he isn't supposed to know. What danger awaits him and the unknowing Kindar?

Thoughts: This was freaking weird. But that's probably most likely a me thing more than anything. This kind of science fiction is just not really my thing and this one didn't do much to sway me that way. However, I did research into this as well, and it was quite popular. There was even a video game made based on these which was apparently pretty good and somewhat unique in its features at the time.

And it has also been re-released on Kindle in 2012, which is probably really great for anyone who loved the books as a kid and wants to re-read them or just have them in their collection. They have cool covers, and they're only about 6 dollars which is probably what you'd spend buying a used copy unless you happened to find one specifically.

This is just really a me thing. This has a bit of a Giver or Chrysalids vibe, and I totally get people liking these, remembering them fondly, and even liking them now, but I just wasn't into it. I've enjoyed a lot of books from Snyder, and I would totally read more as an adult, but this one's not just for me. I'm not even going to rate it, because it's so much a "not for me" book that it wouldn't be fair.

Don't let my opinion stop you if you think this sounds interesting. I'm gonna pass this one along and hope it finds a home with someone who likes this genre a bit more.

The Dark Garden by Margaret Buffie

Published: Originally released in 1995 by Kids Can Press, I believe my edition was a year later.
Genre: Paranormal YA
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 248
Part of a series? Standalone.
Got via: It used to be a library book.
Amazon

Summary (from the author's website because I didn't like the goodreads one as much): Sixteen-year-old Thea is suffering from traumatic amnesia. She is struggling to find out who she is - and who she is not. As she returns home and begins to rediscover who she is, the empty places of her mind fill up with shadowy memories - but whose memories are they? When she begins to see ghostly figures from the past flitting through the run-down garden behind her parents' house, she wonders if she is living someone else's terrible dream.

Thea finds herself caught between two worlds. In one, her unhappy family seems to be falling apart. In the other, shadowy spirits haunt her with their tragic passion. In both, there is anger and loneliness, but is it possible that a murder took place in the spirits' world?

The bridge between the two worlds is a large garden, where time and place, love and hate become blurred - and where everything is possible.

Thoughts: I really liked this! I actually wish I had read this as a kid. I've had it for years but for some reason I never clicked with reading it, but I wish I had. I would have really liked it, I know. It's such a kid!me book. The writing has held up very well, and it's surprisingly undated, really. There's a few things that date it a bit, but overall, I don't think it's anything that's like "wow, that's awkward".

The story of this is really creepy and interesting, and I love me a good ghost story. It's very satisfying in the way it's unrolled. I kind of figured it out pretty early, but that didn't make me enjoy it any less. I also think it was really well done how absolutely suffocating Thea's family life felt, and how realistic that seemed. That it was set in Canada was also something neat for me. All in all, I really liked this. Honestly, I'm keeping it and I'd reread it, and I'd be really interested in reading more of the author's work.

Also, kudos to the author for having a writing career for longer than I've been alive, and I think it's great that her older books are now available as ebooks. I really think more authors should do that if it's possible. The kindle copy is under four dollars, and I think that's a great price. If you want to read a creepy, interesting ghost story, grab it.

Well, that's three out of four of these were pretty good!! That's a bit of a higher rate than usual, honestly, for these posts. I'm impressed!!

Would you pick any of these up, especially the ones available as ebooks?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, May 11, 2018

Book Blogger Hop (4)

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

This week's question is: Could you ever pick a favorite book or is it like choosing your favorite child?

Never. I think it'd be easier to pick a favourite child, lol, because I don't have any of those and don't really want any. I have many, many books and want many, many more. Every book I consider a favourite is a favourite for different reasons. A lot of different books mean different things to me, and it just depends on the book as to why, really.

I'm fickle, I guess!!

Short answer this week, sorry. Just not very far to go with this one when my answer is "no", ha. Thanks for reading anyways!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (6)

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.

Breakout by Kate Messner

Release date: May 29th, 2018
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek--two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town's maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.

Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics--a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project--Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who's really welcome in the places we call home.

Why I'm excited: What an interesting, unique premise! I also think the format of a mixed medium sort of book is great. I enjoy those, and they have a ton of reader appeal.

What book are you looking forward to this week?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, May 7, 2018

YA Review: Fat Girl on a Plane

Warning: I did not like this book, and worse than that, I thought this was a very harmful book, and this will not be a positive review. If that bothers you, move on now. I am also putting a major trigger warning if you have any kind of sensitivity about fatmisia or dieting, because this review has to talk about those a lot as that's all the book is about. Fair warning, I will also not hesitate to delete comments I find offensive.

Also this review will not be my usual formatting as I have too much to talk about. I will also be quoting the eARC quite a bit, so you know, all material subject to change etc.

Let's do this.

Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly Devos

Published: June 5th, 2018 by Harlequin Teen
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: eARC
Page Count: Goodreads says 304
Part of a series? I dearly hope not.
Got via: Edelweiss.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): FAT.

High school senior Cookie Vonn’s post-graduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert.

Thanks to her job at a fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to pitch her portfolio and appeal for a scholarship, but her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat too fly. Forced to turn to her BFF for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane. She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Bowing to society’s pressure, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with her crush, and put her life on track.

SKINNY.

Cookie expected sunshine and rainbows, but nothing about her new life is turning out like she planned. When the fashion designer of the moment offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York—she finds herself in a world full of people more interested in putting women down than dressing them up. Her designs make waves, but her real dream of creating great clothes for people of all sizes seems to grow more distant by the day.

Will she realize that she’s always had the power to make her own dreams come true?

Review: Just to get this out of the way, the author is fat and this is ownvoices. It just seems the author and I have very different views on fatness and dieting.

I think my first clue I was going to be irked at this book was actually a line in the author's note before the book even started, when it says, "I don't know if I will decide to lose weight in the future, but if I do, my efforts will be wellness focused". I object to the idea that intentional weight loss (i.e., dieting) is healthy. Did you know that intentional weight loss increases the risk of mortality in fat people with type 2 diabetes? Did you know that intentional weight loss is considered so unhealthy for children and adolescents that the American Acedemy of Pediactrics explicitly tells parents and doctors not to do talk negatively about weight? I wholely and sincerely disagree with this framing of intentional weight loss as a measure of "health" or as something that will make you healthier.

My second was the second line of the book is actually wrong. The first and second lines of the book are, "No. You can't just buy two seats in advance." This is talking about airline seats specifically (and goes on to blame "global terrorism"). This is wrong, and has been for probably the last decade. In fact, many airlines specifically require it. Now, bear in mind, that the person whose blog I'm linking to in two of those links is at least sixty pounds heavier than Cookie. (I don't know their exact weight, but it's over 400 pounds - it's kind of in the blog name - and Cookie is specifically stated as being 330 to 337 pounds.) I have a majorly hard time believing that someone who is as self-conscious about their weight as Cookie is didn't bother to google "Flying while fat". (Which is also the title of a short six minute documentary you should watch.) So I have serious disbelief in general that she had no clue that this was something that happened, when half her character is talking about fatmisia, and then to say something I know isn't true in the second line of the book? That's not a good start.

Where do I even go from here? I guess let's talk about the storytelling a bit. This is told in two storylines - past and present. The past is denoted by "FAT - (number) days until NutriNation" at first, and later "FAT - Day (number) on NutriNation" and the present is denoted by "SKINNY - Day (number) of NutriNation", with the past slowly catching up to the present, but still leaving about a year's gap between them. First of all, the fact that both the past and the present are told in first person present tense is a little weird. I dunno, that's just a weird stylistic choice that I wasn't into. Second, wow, that's kind of obnoxious! The very first thing you read in each chapter is about her weight.

I'm going to try and knock out my other complaints before getting into the meat of the weight stuff, so let's skip to - the romances in this are obnoxious and I didn't like either of them. First of all, let's talk about the fashion designer Gareth she gets in a relationship in. He hates fat people. She doesn't care about that because she's thin now and he's hot. He would not have looked at her twice when she was fat (literally, they were supposed to meet when she was fat and it didn't happen basically because she was fat and the book's buttmonkey) but you know, he's hot, so who cares if he's an awful person?

Now ignoring all that, he's in at least his mid-thirties, and she's nineteen. He literally says, "I suck at romance and you're an inexperienced nineteen-year-old." So why are you sleeping with her, dude? She's literally idolized him for years. He is on a first name basis with the Dean of her dream school that she couldn't afford to go to, and everyone suggests that he pay her tuition and acts like it's a given he will because they're sleeping together. His company hired her, so he's her boss, and could also ruin her future career. That's totally not an imbalance of power that makes the consent situation sticky at all, is it? He calls himself "Uncle Gary" jokingly when she's upset at one point and I was so grossed out.

On the other hand, you have Tommy. Her best friend who she's had a crush on forever. He is perfectly fine with people bullying her about her weight and thinks that she should just get over it and not take it so seriously. At one point he says stuff about how people have tried diets and they don't work and "some people are happy the way they are", and then almost immediately goes, "My mom's doing NutriNation. You could try that." Like, wow! Sure, you're great, but try this diet that will surely work!

When they talk about his feelings, it's really gross. He goes on about howhe "did everything", and mentions taking her to school dances, spent hours with her grandmothers, was "there" for her, and "waited and waited". And honestly what the frig. Does he think that she should have liked him because he was her friend? Not to mention, he blames her for not knowing she liked him, but he never uses his big boy words to say he likes her. It's so entitled, and gross, and it reflects a lot of the misogyny in the book.

There is a heavy reliance on "mean girls" for conflict, which makes the conflict feels incredibly shallow. "A thin girl was mean to me because I'm fat" is a very shallow take on fat oppression. At one point Cookie seeks out a geek guy to make her blog because she's not capable of Googling how to make a wordpress (seriously), and he says a girl who he asked out and rejected him will be "on a barstool next to me begging for my phone number" in five years, and Cookie basically agrees with him. It's really not cool.

There are no queer people in this. A book focused on the fashion industry has no queer people. Not a one. I also noticed a grand total of one POC in a book set almost entirely in New York, Argentina, and Arizona. 'Cause you know, those places are super white. It is also quite amisic, with gross comments about "just friends" and weird things about "being a virgin forever" being treated like being a leper. There's also a lot of ableism. I'll get into the healthism later, but there's ableism even aside from that. Disabled people just don't exist in this book.

And I suppose it's time to talk about the weight loss arc. The author's note says this isn't a "Cinderella weight loss story", but yeah it kinda is. It's the Fantasy of Being Thin. Every single good thing that happens to her happens because she's thin. She got the NutriWater sponsorship of her blog solely because she ran into an important person from the company at the airport (literally, she dropped her water all over the floor) and he's impressed by her "inspirational" weight loss. Gareth wouldn't have dated her when she was fat, which frankly I think is a small mercy, but certainly helped her get further ahead.

Meanwhile, everything bad that happens to her happens because she is fat, or because she was fat. She pretty much loses her friendship with Tommy because she wouldn't put up with being bullied for her weight and he somehow thought that was all her fault, and even at the end they basically agree to disagree so they can stay friends. People are constantly making weight related comments around her - seriously, no one is just talking about their taxes in public? Every single bad thing that could happen to a fat person ever happens to Cookie while she's fat, because of course it does. She has to buy a second seat on an airplane, a mean girl bullies her about her weight and then turns out to work at her job, no one ever likes her romantically because she's fat, she gets sent to fat camp, and on and on.

There is not a bad thing that happens to her that isn't because she's fat, and there is basically not a good thing that happens to her that isn't because she's thin. It is exhausting to read.

Here's a list of things that the book says fat people can't do: have people be romantically interested in them, be asked to school dances by said romantically interested people, get married, hike up a hill, walk a mile, run five miles, exercise for reasons that aren't based in revenge, wear miniskirts,  wear clothing that isn't "flattering", wear clothing that doesn't "pull off something of a magic act" and "make them look thin", and this one really makes me angry.

This book implies that fat people can't be victims of sexual assault or harassment. To quote a scene where a very creepy dude is oggling her:
"Situations like this have been one of the hardest things about losing weight. My body changed, and suddenly I became a player in this game where people are trying to get sex or approval or whatever from each other."
I'm going to point out this creepy dude is her stepfather. Might be a shocker, Cookie, but fat people aren't immune from abuse. I'd also point out that fat people have plenty of consensual sex, but wow, the implication there that fat people can't be harassed is really freaking gross.

The diet program that magically works when nothing else, including the nine thousand USD for the length Christmas break fat camp that she's sent to twice, works, is basically Weight Watchers by another name. I'm going to quote Ragen Chastain here, because she says it wonderfully:
One study showed that participants lost around about 10 pounds in six months and kept off half of that for two years. Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer of Weight Watchers International at the time, said: “It’s nice to see this validation of what we’ve been doing.”
So we're in agreement that Weight Watchers doesn't work, yes? This is also part of the reason why they are bleeding money, leading to things like serial yo-yo-dieter Oprah needing to buy them, co-opting the language of size acceptance and releasing special lightbulbs because having sex as a fat person is just something you shouldn't do with the lights on, and offering their program to teens for free, because why not get the children on the diet culture wagon as early as possible?

Mind you, Cookie thinks there's less support for losing weight than there is for quitting smoking. I guess Cookie didn't know there's a $65 billion diet industry? She also mentions medicaton for quitting smoking, but acts like that doesn't exist for losing weight. I guess the anal leakage wasn't glamorous enough to write about (and to be fair, it doesn't work), but there's a $615 million dollar industry of those, too.

The fact of the matter is long term intentional weight loss doesn't work. If it did, why would there be such a big industry trying to sell it to you? You could just do it, and be done, if it was easy. Diets don't work. It doesn't matter if you call it a "lifestyle change" or "healthy eating" or anything. There is little to no evidence that anyone knows how to make fat people thin permanently. Fifty years of weight loss research says this. The book, however, argues that "people who drop weight faster" (than two pounds a week) "don't usually keep it off", and sometimes people with thyroid conditions might plateau several sizes below what they started at, but they won't gain weight when they stop dieting or anything (see: Piper).

So this book acting like it's as easy to lose weight as going on Weight Watchers for a year really makes me angry. I also think it really enforces a ton of stereotypes about fat people, like that they eat more than thin people (because god forbid someone with a larger body NEED to eat more?), that they're only fat because they overeat, that every fat person emotionally eats (which is not handled with any kind of depth - it's just handled through determination and not!Weight Watchers), that no fat person is physically fit, that fat people binge, that fat people must be made to look thinner by their clothing or it's not "flattering" (f*ck flattering). There's also so much healthism. It's only okay to be fat if you're healthy. A sugary drink is a "diabetic nightmare of a drink", and don't eat too much of this food because you'll have a heart attack at forty.

Okay. I'm going to try and get off this track before I stress out. But I will say - Cookie's obsession with food and calories once she starts is incredibly triggering. And if you read a character who had always been thin with this, you would be saying, "wow, that's disordered eating". At one point she counts the croutons in the salad because she's only allowed to eat five. She talks about eating food that isn't low fat/low calorie as "falling off the wagon". She runs five miles every morning but doesn't eat breakfast. She talks about food like peanut butter cups only in terms of how long it'll take to run them off on the treadmill. (Hey, newsflash, people aren't Bunsen burners, you can't just say how long someone's body uses energy for.) She hasn't eaten Doritos in two years and is proud of this because it means she's being "good" (food morality at play). She talks about not "wasting" calories on alcohol multiple times.

She uses the phrase, and I quote, "There's a hunger stronger than the desire for food. The desire for revenge." This is ridiculously close to the pro-anorexia quote, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Because her "revenge" is losing weight.

She won't eat 15 almonds instead of 12 because that's three "points" instead of two. When she's dieting, she's "hungry every second of every single day". She eats the same lunch, either cubed cheese, almonds, and fruit, or Lean Cuisine spring rolls with fruit, and for dinner she eats Lean Cuisine dinners and steamed vegetables. (Sidenote, I wouldn't have been surprised to find this book was sponsored by Lean Cuisine.) At one point, one of her weight loss companions gives her the advice of "stick with the spring rolls" even if she has to "choke them down".

Because that sounds so much healthier than eating a wide variety of food you enjoy and that makes you feel good, but doing so in a fat body. These are disordered eating patterns, and the idea of them being normalized like this is horrific. Seriously, the summary does not discuss how graphic the dieting talk is, and it's really triggering.

Let's talk her blog and fashion.

I detest the idea of a plus size fashion blog being run by a thin person. I would personally unfollow a plus size fashion blog run by a person who was dieting, because I do not support diet culture, but a plus size fashion blog run by someone who's a size six? You are speaking over fat people instead of boosting their voices. Cookie is practically a Thin Savior of fat people, nobly battling for their right to "flattering" clothing. It feels incredibly hypocritical. And if that plus size fashion blog was sponsdered by a diet water company? WOW would I bail. That is predatory.

That also represents something that annoyed me about the book. It acted like Cookie was the only fat person to ever want to make fat size clothing. I'm not big fans of either of them, but you're not gonna mention Tess Holliday or Ashley Graham? You don't mention Beth Ditto ? You're going to talk about Project Runway constantly, but you don't talk about Ashley Nell Tipton who won season season 14 with a collection of plus size clothes that weren't remotely "flattering", but were gorgeous and amazing? Or if you don't want to talk about actual fat people, how about Christian Sirano who won Season Four in 2008, and makes amazing plus sized clothing? (That last link is a youtube video.)

It seems incredibly disrespectful to write a book about plus size fashion and ignore all the people who are doing amazing things that field. Cookie is not the saviour of fat clothes. She is a nineteen year old girl who doesn't seem to have any respect for the amazing people who paved the way for her successes.

Summary: Let's wrap this thing up, because I've probably lost you all by now with my ranting.

Now, I think there will be arguments that says "well the book shows that weight loss doesn't solve everything" and "she decides to stop dieting at the end" and sure, that happens for like one page. But there are three hundred other pages that do the exact opposite. This is not the fat representation that I want. This is not "body positive". There are tiny, tiny attempts at "well maybe being fat is okay", but it is so lost in the flood of diet culture and fat hatred that it's incredibly underwhelming.

I think if you gave this book to someone who believed there was something wrong with their body, it would only reinforce that. It certainly didn't make me feel good about my body. It, in fact, made me not want to exercise/do the yoga I do regularly because I would proving the book right. And I like yoga! I think it could trigger an eating disorder episode in people. I think in general it just sends a terrible message, but for anyone with any kind of sensitivity to dieting or not the best relationship with food, this could be incredibly harmful.

I do not recommend this book, and next time I'm going to trust my instincts, because when I first read the summary of this, I knew it was going to be like this, and I wasn't going to read it. But people I thought I could trust said it was good, so I decided to give it a shot. I regret that. Half a star solely because the writing didn't always make me want to claw my eyes out, and Piper was okay as a character.



Other notes:

- I'm not including this in the review proper, but my eARC was really badly formatted. Every word that had "fl" in it had a weird bug where there'd be a space between those letters. So, like, "f luid", "f light", "conf late". There are a lot of words with "fl" in them. Also, sometimes the page would just turn into spoken word poetry, as it was broken up so badly. Not something I should include in the review, but I can tell you annoyed me extra because I didn't like the book.

- So many of my notes on my Kindle are just groaning or cursing. I cursed at this book a lot.

- At one point, Tommy says that fat camp isn't so bad and is kinda fun. Tommy's not fat. At best, at fifteen, he has a bit of puberty weight gain. Oh, yeah fat camp happens when they're fifteen. He loses thirty pounds and he's thin and never has to worry about weight again.

- Cookie says her weights constantly. Her starting weight, her "goal" weight, which she reaches, the amounts she loses, the weights in between. She doesn't say her height ever, though.

- Seriously is "the rest of your new life" not a Weight Watchers thing? "NutriSystem" is so clearly Weight Watchers.

- Why is she surprised she doesn't get financial aid? Her dad's a doctor and her mom's a millionaire supermodel that her grandmother won't get child support from because of pride.

- Kind of random but there's a misinterpreation of a Bible quote? That "turn the other cheek" thing doesn't really mean what you think it means/what it's said to mean.

- I'm gonna link to someone else's review because I think it's great and they made a much better choice at quitting the book at 25% than I did in finishing it. Good job, Ang, you're awesome. Also, I agree. The Summer of Jordi Perez is better at being this book than this book is.

- Someone gives her blog advice to "tag people with lots of followers" on Instagram/Twitter to make her blog popular. That seems like bad etiquette.

- THE MEAN GIRL RUINED COOKIE'S GRADUATION GOWN AND SHE ALMOST DIDN'T GET TO WALK TO GRADUATE AND SOMEHOW THIS IS COOKIE'S FAULT TO TOMMY AND ALSO HER GRANDMOTHER. Wtf???

- I think that's everything but this was a very hard book for me to get through and I'm sure I'm missing things.

Peace and... I'm gonna go with peanut butter cups or something, I've had enough of cookies for this post.

Laina