Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (7/27/21) – It’s My Life

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I figured that I should scour my TBR for books for disability pride month (and to read beyond that, of course), and I found this one that I had shelved back in 2019. The cover immediately caught my eye (AAH THE COLOR SCHEME), but I still have mixed feelings about the book itself – not ragingly bad, or anything, but not amazing either.

Enjoy this week’s review!

IT'S MY LIFE | Kirkus Reviews

It’s My Life – Stacie Ramey

Jenna has lived her whole life believing that she was born with cerebral palsy, and she’s never let it stop her from doing what she wants to do. But after discovering that her parents hid the fact that her CP was caused by an injury at birth, she’s infuriated with them – and the fact that she hasn’t been able to make her own decisions regarding the surgeries she gets. With the help of her lawyer uncle, she decides to push for medical emancipation.

All the while, Jenna’s childhood crush, Julian, has moved back into town. She reconnects with him over text with an anonymous persona, but will she have the courage to reveal her true self to him?

Buzz lightyear meme hmmmm - Caption | Meme Generator
eh what the heck, I’m putting this here bc a) adequately describes said mixed feelings and b) I can’t think of any gifs to put in

TW/CW: internalized ableism, mild violence (punching), hospitalizations, ableist slurs (challenged), descriptions of injury

WARNING: this review may contain some minor spoilers, so tread lightly!

This is…complicated. I picked this book up for disability pride month, and while I can’t speak to the representation itself (as I don’t have cerebral palsy), there were good and bad parts of this book, in terms of how disability was represented and the plot itself.

Let’s start off with the good stuff. Jenna as a character was definitely a great protagonist – she’s not perfect, but she’s incredibly determined and a very independent thinker. She’s a little messy at worst, but I really didn’t mind. She had a great personality, for the most part, and her struggle with getting medical emancipation was incredibly eye-opening.

Again, I can’t speak to how accurate the CP rep was, but for the most part, it seemed well researched. The author mentions in a note at the back of the book that she worked with kids with CP, which seems to have informed part of Jenna’s story. A good portion of it seemed to work – there was clearly a lot of research put into the different kinds of mobility aids that Jenna uses and the kinds of surgeries she went through. It also deftly defied the dreaded “cure narrative” – Jenna’s attitude towards her disability was more one of reaching for freedom than seeking to “overcome” it in anyway. It’s not often that we get this kind of story from abled authors, so I appreciated that.

However, I’m still a little miffed by how they represented Jenna’s disabled identity. At a point in the book, she reaches out to someone who went through a surgery that her parents want her to have (part of why she seeks to be medically emancipated). This person responds to Jenna later in the book via email, and explains that she leads a “differently-abled” club at her school; she explains how she prefers that term, even though most of the disabled community doesn’t. (For those of you who don’t know: it’s generally accepted that the majority of the disabled community prefers not to use the term “differently abled,” as the terminology is seen as sugarcoating or patronizing them and their experiences. Some disabled people may use the term, but when referring to the community, it’s good to just stick with “disabled.”)

Now, if this had come from a disabled author, I might have passed it by; as I said, not everybody in the disabled community dislikes the term “differently abled,” but disabled is usually the more accepted term. But since this is coming from an abled author, I’m really not sure how to feel about it; it’s generally abled people that have used started using the term (which is where the discourse comes from), so putting that on disabled people in a book – especially someone who Jenna looks to for advice – doesn’t sit right with me. Additionally, Jenna never explicitly says that she’s disabled; maybe I’m reading into it too much, but it just seems a little strange, coming from an abled writer writing a disabled character. (And on the subject of the club…did everybody in said club actually agree to call it the “differently abled club?” I find that hard to believe…)

Hmm Emoji GIF - Hmm Emoji ThinkingEmoji - Discover & Share GIFs | Emoji gif,  Thinking emoji, Emoji
this gif comes to mind…

Other than that, there were a lot of hospitalization scenes that felt a little too much like plot devices, and the scene with the rival hockey team (this is where the ableist slurs TW comes in) didn’t need to happen; all it did was give a bit of “I love my girlfriend!” points for Julian (he punches the guy who yells ableist slurs at Jenna), which created some conflict that I felt was completely unnecessary. It’s My Life certainly had a rom-com feel to some of it, so why not just keep it that way? CAN I GET SOME MORE DISABLED BOOKS THAT DON’T CENTER AROUND THE PROTAGONIST GETTING SLURS YELLED AT THEM, PLEASE?

My only other complaints were that some of the high school scenes weren’t super authentic, and I didn’t care a whole lot about the romance, but that’s the most minor of my issues. But overall, mixed feelings on this one – the themes of medical emancipation and Jenna’s character were great, but the disability representation, while I can’t speak to the CP accuracy, had some good intentions and research, but uncomfortable messages surrounding the identity itself. 3 stars.

Top 30 Mixed Feelings GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

It’s My Life is a standalone, but Stacie Ramey is also the author of The Sister Pact, The Homecoming, The Secrets We Bury, and Switching Fates.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (8/18/20)–The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

As most of you probably know, I’ve been following the Black Witch Chronicles (and loving them) since late May, after a friend’s recommendation. I saw that The Shadow Wand came out this June, and immediately put it on hold at the library after finishing book 2. Luckily, it came a LOT sooner than I expected, and I got to read it recently! But after reading it and letting it stew for about a week and a half…I have some major Thoughts. So this is likely going to be more of a rambling than a review. You have been warned.

Brace Yourself GIFs | Tenor

ALSO! This review may contain spoilers for books 1 and 2, The Black Witch and The Iron Flower, so tread lightly if you haven’t read them and intend to!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles ...

The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles, #3)–Laurie Forest

My library copy feat. a cool filter and Hobbes, one of my lovely cats

Elloren Gardner harbors a secret that could change her world forever.

She is the Black Witch of prophecy, destined to save her world of Erthia and bring glory to the Gardnerians. But under the tyrannical rule of High Priest Vogel, the truth about her is best kept hidden. Separated from Yvan, she must learn to hone her power before Vogel and his allies discover her identity. Joining forces with Lukas, the Commandor of the Mage forces and the boy she was unwillingly wandfasted to, she must control her powers and gather her allies before it’s too late.

Mixed Feelings GIFs | Tenor

Remember how I said in my review of The Iron Flower that book 2 didn’t fall into the trap of middle-book-slump? I seem to have forgotten then that the series is slated to be a series of five books, making The Shadow Wand the middle book.

And I hate to say it, but there’s some serious disappointing middle book syndrome going on here.

From the start, I feel like at least 100-150 pages could have been cut out (for clarification, The Shadow Wand clocks in at 554 pages). The first portion of the book jumps between the POVs of several, completely new characters; they show up later, and those chapters gave a little bit of backstory for them, but I don’t think entire chapters were needed to explain their backgrounds. We also get to check in on a few favorites from the previous books, including Tierney and Wynter. I liked seeing where Wynter was (because I still have a major soft spot for her, and she deserves so much better), but I…don’t know if it contributed to the story much at all. At least they’re…okay? Maybe? Sort of?

And…Forest is deeeeefinitely toying with our feelings here. The love triangle between Elloren, Lukas, and Yvan is expanded upon, but in…an interesting way. And by “interesting,” I mean “entertaining the notion that one party may or may not be dead.” We don’t see any of Yvan for the entire book, and the romantic aspects are primarily focused on Lukas. While that created an interesting dynamic between Elloren and Lukas, I feel like there could have been a bit of tension if Yvan had shown up once or twice.

For much of the book, it felt like the classic YA middle book where the Chosen One heroine (oh hey, look, another trope that this series fell into! Whoopee!) has to harness her abilities and build her army. There was quite a lot of the book that felt like a training montage, which, while I enjoy a good one every once in a while, was stretched out too long. The Shadow Wand needed a bit more tension and plot for me.

But for all that, that’s not to say that this book wasn’t entertaining. Even though we don’t see much of the wide and varied cast of the first two novels, I still love being back with Elloren and the gang. As always, Forest is a master at lush writing and worldbuilding, which shone through once more in this installment. And plus, who isn’t up for some good ol’ magic and dragons? I mean, COME ON. DRAGONS!

Httyd3 Toothless GIF - Httyd3 Toothless Dance - Discover & Share ...

Aaaaaaaand of course, it built up to one of those “it looks like everybody’s dead, but chances are they’ll all be alive and well by book 4” endings. AND NOW WE HAVE TO WAIT A YEAR TO SEE HOW IT’S RESOLVED. HOW DARE LAURIE FOREST PLAY WITH OUR FEELINGS IN SUCH A WAY…

Overall, The Shadow Wand was definitely a lower point for the series as of now, but it was still a (mostly) fun read. 3.5 stars!

Mixed Feelings GIF | Gfycat

The Shadow Wand is the third book in Forest’s Black Witch Chronicles, preceded by The Black Witch (book 1) and The Iron Flower (book 2) and succeeded by the forthcoming The Demon Tide (2021) and The Battle for Erthia (pub. date TBD). Additionally, there are two novellas set in the same universe, Wandfasted and Light Mage.

Aaaaaaand, now I have to wait a year to find out what happens…[angry screeching]

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!