Happy Friday, bibliophiles! Would you look at that…this post isn’t a Goodreads Monday or a Book Review Tuesday…shocking…
Anyway, I thought I’d make a special post today because here in the U.S., Latinx Heritage Month started on September 15! I’m half Latina myself, and celebrating this part of my heritage in the form of literature has been something I’ve loved to do more recently. Representation matters, and there’s nothing like the giddy feeling of seeing part of yourself represented in a book. I did a post like this last year, but I decided to do another one this year to showcase some of the fantastic Latinx books I’ve read lately.
If you want to check out my post from last year, click here!
Let’s begin, shall we?
THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA BOOKS FOR LATINX HERITAGE MONTH – 2021 EDITION
At this point, I’m convinced that Anna-Marie McLemore is the once and future master of magical realism. Their writing never disappoints, always luscious, immersive, and blooming with flowers. Blanca & Roja was no exception!
If your favorite part of the Harry Potter series was the Triwizard Tournament and all the dragons, then you HAVE to pick this one up! Perfect for readers who love competition-centered books. Plus, dragons. Need I say more?
I didn’t like this one quite as much as everybody else seemed to, but it was still a fun read! LGBTQ+ Latinx rep is always super important, and it’s refreshing to see some of the rep in this novel. Plus, one of the few YA books I’ve read with Colombian-American rep!!
This was an unexpected 5-star read for me! A textbook example of what a good genre-bending novel should be; the sci-fi, realistic, and fantasy elements blended together seamlessly for an unforgettable book.
If finishing the B.P.R.D. comics left an empty space in your heart, what are you doing? PICK UP THIS BOOK! All These Monsters satisfied all of my paranormal needs, and it also has a half white, half Latina protagonist! Seeing characters like me represented always fills my heart with joy.
I was in Florida about a week ago for a quick trip, but as I always do, I brought some books along on my Kindle to get me through the plane rides and the heat. I like doing little mini-reviews of these books when I go somewhere else, so I figured I’d do it again here, since I certainly read a couple of very interesting books while I was in Florida. So here we have three mini-reviews of books I read in Florida.
Following a devastating encounter with an unknown alien ship resulting in the disappearance of her parents as a child, Tamara Cartwright now spends her life scouring the galaxy in the hope of finding the dark force that attacked her father’s ship. Now the Captain of a rescue vessel, The Massey Shaw, she makes a choice, resulting in the destruction of a star in order to save a stricken vessel, a prohibited act while using alien technology. Now, an outlaw, she is entrusted with the fate of a very unusual young girl endowed with special abilities. She must also find the survivors of an ill-fated ship at the hands of a malevolent race know only to the humans as the Ghosts. Driven by the hope of finding the truth of her parent’s disappearance and one last chance to make a difference to those in need of rescue, she must go on one final mission into deep space and deal with the monsters from her past.
TW/CW: human experimentation, loss of loved ones, death, graphic violence
Forgotten Star wasn’t without its flaws by a long shot, but it was such a fun and fascinating piece of space opera! With lots of political intrigue, strange aliens, and mysterious powers, there’s something for every sci-fi fan in here.
I need to start off with my main problem, though: the grammar. It was…inconsistent, at best. This novel definitely needed an extra round of editing (or two) in that respect; there were lots of errors in punctuation (mostly placement of commas), and there were a few misspellings and omissions that could have been fixed. (As well as a misspelling of “berth,” as in “a wide berth,” as “birth” …YIKES) On occasion, the faulty grammar was enough to take me out of the story entirely, but for the most part, I could let it slide. Sometimes.
But other than that, Forgotten Star was a great piece of sci-fi! One thing this novel did incredibly well was the handling of multiple POVs – for a lot of multiple POV books, it takes a while for all of the characters/elements to coalesce, but it didn’t take long for all of the elements here to come together, making for a cohesive and intricate story. I also loved all of the alien races, and the intricacies of their relationships with humans. It’s always a breath of fresh air to see aliens that clearly have some creative design put into them.
Some of the dialogue and characters were a little stiff and inauthentic at times, but for the most part, a lot of the characters were interesting to delve into. I liked Ona and Urhan, in particular – they had very interesting arcs and backstories, and I loved seeing them develop.
My only other major problem was that the ending wrapped up a *little* too nicely? From everything that built up over the course of the story, it seemed like there was a setup for a sequel, but the ending tried to wrap everything up too quickly. I’d like to see more from this universe.
All in all, though, a well-thought-out and intricate piece of space opera. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!
‘She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade’
When Lia, an idealistic queen, falls for Xania, her new spymaster–who took the job to avenge her murdered father–they realise all isn’t fair in love and treason.
Lia won’t mourn her uncle: he’s left her a bankrupt kingdom considered easy pickings by its neighbours. She’s sworn to be a better ruler, but if she wants to push through her reforms, she needs to beat the Court at its own games. For years, Xania’s been determined to uncover her father’s murderer. She finally gets a chance when Lia gives her a choice: become her new spymaster, or take a one way trip to the executioner’s axe. It’s an easy decision.
When they fall for each other, their love complicates Lia’s responsibilities and Xania’s plans for vengeance. As they’re drawn together amid royal suitors and new diplomats, they uncover treason that could not only end Lia’s reign, but ruin their weakened country. They must decide not only what to sacrifice for duty, but also for each other.
TW/CW (from Helen Corcoran): off-page suicide, murder, emotional torture
I’m not sure if I would necessarily call Queen of Coin and Whispers a fantasy novel – there wasn’t a whole lot that would distinguish it from a historical setting (no different magic properties/creatures/worldbuilding/etc.). But that’s not to say that it was a bad book – in fact, it was stunning!
There’s plenty of YA fantasy books on the market with protagonists who suddenly ascend to royalty. But Queen of Coin and Whispers addresses what most of those novels don’t – the mental tax of ruling a country at such a young age. Lia goes through endless trials and tribulations and even faces becoming the ruler that her uncle was, all while grappling with love and other relationships. Corcoran wrote her development so well, and it’s so refreshing to see a genuine-feeling story like Lia’s.
Additionally, the romance! Lia and Xania’s relationship was so sweet – sharing books, secret conversations, and all things warm and fuzzy. They go through all the ups and downs of first love, and I love seeing wlw rep like theirs in non-contemporary stories. I love those two. 💗
Other than that, the political intrigue and the depiction of the transition of power was so well-done! Everything was so multi-layered and detailed, making it feel like Lia and Xania’s world was a real and fleshed-out one. Just when you think you know the answers, something new pokes out its head, and you’re left guessing until the very last page.
All in all, a fascinating royal mystery with genuine characters and a sweet sapphic romance. 4 stars!
Parole is still burning. And now the day everyone has been waiting for is finally here: it’s collapsed. A lucky few managed to escape with their lives. But while their city burned, the world outside suffered its own devastating disaster. The Tartarus Zone is a deadly wasteland a thousand miles wide, filled with toxic storms, ghostly horrors, and just as many Eyes in the Sky as ever. Somehow, this new nightmare is connected to Parole. And it’s spreading.
Now Parole’s only hope lies in the hands of three teenagers reunited by their long-lost friend Gabriel – in their dreams. Now they’re on a desperate cross-country race, carrying vital plans that may be Parole’s salvation. First they’ll board the FireRunner, a ship full of familiar faces that now sails through Tartarus’ poison storms. Then, together, they’ll survive Tartarus’ hazards, send a lifeline to lost Parole – and uncover the mystery connecting everyone, inside Parole and out.
The world outside Parole isn’t the one they remember, and it didn’t want them back. But they’ll save it just the same. It’s what heroes do.
(for my mini-review of book 1, Chameleon Moon, click here!)
TW/CW: loss of loved ones, violence, near-death situations
I didn’t like this one *quite* as much as I did Chameleon Moon, but it was still such a fun read!
One of the things I love most about this series is how diverse it is – easily the most diverse series I know! We have an almost entirely different cast of characters in The Lifeline Signal, but among the three main characters, we have a nonbinary (xie/xir pronouns) Native American (Tsalagi) character with Arnold-Chiari malformation, a bisexual Indian-American character, and an aro-ace autistic Vietnamese-American character! Among the side characters, there’s no shortage of queer, POC, and disabled characters, including a Black hijabi woman, a nonbinary character, polyamorous relationships, and more! Books as diverse as this series don’t come along very often, so three cheers for RoAnna Sylver for all this representation!
The worldbuilding outside of Parole was also fascinating – there’s all sorts of weird sci-fi and fantasy aspects, including, but not limited to: superpowers, ghosts, dragons, giant ships, and robotic animals of immense size. As you can imagine, it’s a lot of fun! Between the relationships between all of the characters and the expansion of the worldbuilding, there’s no shortage of interesting elements to chew on. Plus, it was so sweet to see all of the characters from Chameleon Moon come back.
My only major problem was that the plot got a little bit convoluted at times – I found myself thinking “wait, why is all this happening?” several times throughout the novel, but it didn’t take me out of the story itself. Don’t get me wrong – The Lifeline Signal has a great story, but it seemed to get lost in itself at times.
All in all, a sequel that does justice to book one as well as expanding its world, while still providing an original storyline. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!
That’s it for these three mini-reviews! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I’ve been wanting to do a post like this for a little while, so here goes nothing…
We all know the feeling. We’ve picked up a book because of the seemingly endless 4 and 5 star reviews and the high praise from friends and fellow readers and book bloggers, and then it turns out to be a steaming disappointment. For me, popular YA books live up to the hype about 50% of the time for me, and the other 50% is either just…not feeling anything from it, or not liking it at all. And there’s plenty of hyped books that I’ve loved! But sometimes, a lot of these books just haven’t worked for me.
And before I start, I just wanted to say this – if you liked any of these books, this post isn’t meant to shame anybody’s reading preferences at all. If you liked them, good for you! These are just my opinions here, and as per the Latin proverb, to each, their own is beautiful. I just wasn’t a fan of these books.
It’s been about three years since I’ve read this one, but it was a pretty quick DNF for me. Red Queen felt like every bad YA trope melted into a single book – an unoriginal dystopian world with the “plain heroine that doesn’t realize how beautiful she is and is THE CHOSEN ONE” and gets into an insta-love romance…gah, I forget how long it took before I put it down, but this was just painful.
Holly Black is a hit-or-miss author for me, but The Cruel Prince definitely fell among the misses for me. The worldbuilding was great here (and I loved the little ink drawings at the beginnings of the chapters!), but all of the characters were astronomically unlikable. Everybody just seemed intent on bullying and backstabbing everybody else, and there wasn’t any balance with a character with a slightly better moral compass. And don’t get me started on Jude and Cardan being a thing…WHY? If I remember correctly, Cardan spends about 3/4 of the book relentlessly degrading Jude, and then gets down on his knees and tells her that he loves her…HUH?
HOW MUCH MORE TOXIC CAN YOU GET? And somehow, Cardan’s up there with Kaz Brekker and that dude from ACOTAR (I don’t remember his name, I haven’t read the books and don’t intend to) with the brooding YA dudes that everybody fawns over? Makes me lose a little faith in humanity sometimes…
Here’s one that everybody recommended to me…should of listened to that guy in my class in middle school who did a book report on this one and didn’t like it
Okay. Maybe this one’s a little skewed. I read most of Throne of Glass when I was home sick with a stomachache, but even then, I think I wouldn’t have been a fan. The ✨fantasy names✨ were a pain to pronounce, Calaena came off as a very static character with very little development, if any, and everything seemed to worked out a little *too* well for her in the end. The worldbuilding was interesting, though. I guess. Probably not gonna pick this one up, but I don’t think I’ll go for ACOTAR or Crescent City either. Meh.
My main problem was the same one I had with The Cruel Prince – the toxicity of the main relationship. Mirnatius spends about 3/4 of the book being borderline abusive towards Miryem, and then, ✨poof!✨ Happy relationship!
Yeah, no, that’s just weird. Also, wasn’t there a significant age gap between the two of them? Final nail in the coffin, really…
This one lured me in with a gorgeous cover and the promise of mermaids, and…well, we got a mermaid, but the rest of the book didn’t make up for it.
All the Stars and Teeth felt very formulaic for me, right down to the conveniently-placed puppet show to explain the worldbuilding. We’ve got a protagonist with dangerous magic, the mysterious love interest…it just felt like every other YA fantasy in the last few years. Not much to distinguish it from the others, if anything at all.
Out of all of the books here, Cinderella is Dead is probably the one that I had the highest expectations for. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with a book with a sapphic, POC lead taking down the patriarchy in a world sculpted from the myth of Cinderella?
…several things, as it turned out.
I found the worldbuilding to be full of holes, none of the characters were very distinct, the villain was an irredeemable caricature, and all of the attempts commentary on abuse and misogyny and such relied way too much on telling, as opposed to showing. For me Cinderella is Dead was just a case of a great idea, but poor execution. Shame…
This one was another DNF for me about two years ago. I still really appreciate that Kemmerer chose to have a disabled character at the forefront of a YA fantasy (Harper has cerebral palsy – not sure how accurate the rep is, though), but otherwise…meh. On top of the obvious attempt to make this Beauty and the Beast retelling as Dark And Gritty™️ as possible, the love triangle (and both love interests, if memory serves) put me off in the end.
This was my first exposure to Jennifer L. Armentrout, and I don’t think I’ll be reading anything of hers after this. Again, this falls into almost every YA trope that I hate – the Chosen One who is so very clearly Not Like Other Girls, the Sarcastic Bad Boy Love Interest (Zayne still makes me squirm)…I forget where I DNF’d this one, but I just could not take another page. Yikes.
Instant Karma was a sore disappointment…I’ve loved almost everything else of Marissa Meyer’s, but I just didn’t click with this one. I loved the premise of a magical-realism rom-com and all of the Beatles references were great, but Pru really got on my nerves, and the romance never made me feel anything.
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What were your thoughts on these books? What’s a popular YA book that you didn’t like?
That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
For those of you who didn’t know, here in the US, July is Disability Pride Month! I myself didn’t know about it until this year, which is a little embarrassing, but better late than never, I suppose. I hardly see anyone in the bookish community talking about disability rep in books – especially where YA is concerned – so I wanted to make a post of my own with some YA reads with disability rep of all kinds. Unfortunately, not all of them are from disabled authors, but it seems like there’s such a dearth of disability rep in YA as a whole, so for now, I’ll share these ones, and I’ll always be on the hunt for more books by disabled authors in the future. But as with all of my posts like this, AMPLIFY DISABLED VOICES 24/7/365!
And if you’re looking for book bloggers who talk about disability, disability rep, and breaking down ableist tropes, I’d highly recommend checking out Luminosity Library and The Inside Cover. (They’re both amazing!! Show them some support!!)
Kaz Brekker (otherwise known as the “morally gray” teen idol of the YA book fandom) uses a cane for mobility (and it’s a really snazzy cane, too), and his experiences are based off of Leigh Bardugo’s own experience with osteonecrosis.
I just finished this one up a few days ago, and it was INCREDIBLE! I don’t usually jump for rom-com, but this was one of the most tender books I’ve read in a while. Gave me all the warm fuzzies…
The protagonist has rheumatoid arthritis, and the love interest has Gaucher’s disease. And lemme tell you, I GOT SO EXCITED THAT WE HAVE A DISABLED, BISEXUAL LOVE INTEREST. BI DISABLED CHARACTERS?? NO KIDDING, MY BRAIN DID THE “WOOOOOHOO” FROM SONG 2 WHEN I REALIZED IT…
Again, it’s been a while since I’ve read this one, but I LOVE how diverse this one is; we have the dual POVs of an epileptic Latino character with a missing leg and a mute bisexual girl who uses sign language to communicate. It’s an interesting blend of fantasy and sci-fi as well!
Adam, the love interest of this novel, has multiple sclerosis, and both of the protagonists are Muslim; there’s a lot of great conversations about Islamaphobia and other pertinent issues in this one, but it’s also a really sweet romance!
This one’s a romance between a girl with ADHD (the author has ADHD as well!) and an autistic boy, and like Love from A to Z, tackles a lot of discussions surrounding mental health and disability while still being a sweet romance!
GENRES: Science fiction, space opera, LGBTQ+, romance
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
(There is no escape from the Aurora Cycle-posting on this blog…)
Even though Finian’s disability is fictional (bc, y’know, he’s an alien), he uses mobility aids, and we get to see a lot of his inner thoughts surrounding his disability. Disability in realistic fiction is all cool and good, but it’s even better to see casual disability rep in fantasy and sci-fi too!
Queens of Geek features a protagonist with Asperger’s and an anxiety disorder, and there’s lots of queer and POC representation in this one as well! If you love stories set at Comic Cons with lots of pop culture references, then this one’s for you!
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite books with disability rep? Favorite disabled authors? Any recommendations for me?
That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, take care of yourselves, and happy disability pride month!
I meant to post this earlier in the month, but, alas, school. But hey – March isn’t over yet, is it? And here in the U.S., March is Women’s History Month! So for the occasion, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite YA novels with feminist themes not just for March, but for all year round, because we should all be uplifting the voices of women every day of every year.
I mean, how could the premise of an Arthurian retelling where the reincarnation of King Arthur is a POC, pansexual woman not hook you? Plus, lots of dismantling imperialism, sword fights, and an almost entirely queer cast.
Can I rant for a minute? I loved this book to death, but the Netflix adaptation of it looks AWFUL. I watched the trailer, and it looks like it COMPLETELY misconstrued the message of the book. The movie makes feminism look like a joke; in the book, Viv was already conscious of the toxic environment of her high school, but in the movie, they (unintentionally?) painted feminism as something that was “trendy” or “what the kids are into.” (In the beginning of the trailer, Viv magically has this feminist awakening from seeing her mom’s old Riot Grrl pictures…) Also in the trailer, she only starts to notice the rampant sexism in her high school AFTER SOMEBODY TELLS HER…
Okay, I know this has been shelved as both adult and YA, but…hey, Rory’s 15 for most of the book, so I think I can slip it in this post. Plus, what’s not to love about disobedient, patriarchy-smashing princesses in space?
As disappointing as the sequel was, Girls of Paper and Fire still remains a book that stunned me like no other. A powerful tale of rebelling against oppression and corruption – and some lovely forbidden romance!
A super twisty and inventive novel with plenty of morally grey characters and secret societies. Plus, it raises some great points about vigilante justice. And there’s nothing better than getting back at misogynists and rapists, right?
Every time I look back at this book, I think something along the lines of “man, I’m so glad I bought this.” Secret libraries, alien invasion, quality music references, cross-country road trips, and more than a little bit of resistance. Very nearly flawless!
A beautiful romance set against the backdrop of protest and resisting homophobia in 1977 San Francisco. There’s lovely representation for both lesbian and bisexual characters, and it’s such a tender and resonant read!
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these novels, and if so, did you like them? What are your favorite feminist YA reads?
I don’t review short story collections/anthologies very often, but I definitely want to put in my two cents on this one, because I enjoyed it so much! A variety of historical fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy stories with Black protagonists from #OwnVoices Black authors! Such a lovely anthology.
Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.
Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.
Authors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Dhonielle Clayton, Jalissa Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Davis, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justina Ireland, Danny Lore, L.L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.
Wow, what a stellar anthology! I think there was only one single story collected within that was at/below 2 stars, and I loved getting tastes of all genres from authors familiar and unfamiliar to me alike.
I’ll break down my thoughts for each short story, because they all deserve some time in the spotlight here:
When Life Hands You a Lemon Fruitbomb – Amerie: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
My favorite short story out of the bunch, by a long shot. (No surprise, really, since I’m such a sucker for sci-fi…) A beautiful tale of setting aside differences and embracing the other, complete with aliens, wormholes, and tender friendships. [Magneto voice] “Perfection…”
Gilded – Elizabeth Acevedo: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve read plenty of Acevedo’s poetry, but this was my first taste of my prose. And I must say, she is uniquely talented in both! I loved this blend of magical realism and historical fiction, and the themes of resistance against colonialism in the 16th century.
Wherein Abigail Fields Recalls Her First Death, And, Subsequently, Her Best Life – Rebecca Roanhorse: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve had several of Roanhorse’s novels on my TBR for years and haven’t gotten around to reading them, but this story of rebirth and revenge in the old American West has me 100% convinced to get into her work! Stellar writing and dialogue, with no shortage of charm.
The Rules of the Land – Alaya Dawn Johnson: ⭐️⭐️
This one was a low point in the collection for me. While there was clearly a lot of care put into the worldbuilding, there were just so many terms and politics thrown around without any explanation, which left me super confused throughout the whole story.
A Hagiography of Starlight – Somaiya Doud: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
Props for the fact that I’d never heard of the word “hagiography” before reading this story, and it’s so pretty…
I had about the same experience of this story as I did with Mirage; the plot wasn’t terribly compelling, but the prose was so immersive and lush. This story also had what The Rules of the Land lacked: lots of new fantasy terms, but an explanation for all of them, which was a welcome reprieve.
Melie – Justina Ireland: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Dragons! Mermaids! Sorcerers! Potions! A lovable and determined protagonist! Sweet romance! I might just have to check out Justina Ireland’s other novels, because Melie filled me with so much joy. Short story or not, this restored a bit of my faith for YA fantasy.
The Goddess Provides – L.L. McKinney: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
This one was quite immersive; immediately, there’s lots of sensory description, which made me feel like I was in the story. And beyond that, who doesn’t love a good tale of pirates, royalty, revenge, and good triumphing over evil?
Hearts Turned to Ash – Dhonielle Clayton: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
An interesting and magically literal take on heartbreak, of a heart crumbling after a nasty breakup. I loved the magical realism aspect of this one, and the witchcraft woven throughout. Not my favorite of the stories, but still sweet.
Let the Right One In – Patrice Caldwell: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25
Some of the experiences of the protagonist really struck a chord with me, as someone who is/was quieter and lives through books. Plus, I’m down for a sapphic romance with vampires ANY day, trust me. SIGN ME UP.
Tender-Headed – Danny Lore: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I loved the concept of this one, and the writing was good throughout, but the conclusion left me wanting something more. It just felt…unresolved? Maybe a few more pages could have done this one some good.
Kiss the Sun – Ibi Zoboi: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
This was a weird one, but definitely in a good way. Genre-defying, full of flowery prose and a dark, strange kind of twist. The strangest story out of the bunch, and I mean that 100% as a compliment.
The Actress – Danielle Paige: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Not my favorite, but an interesting one for sure. A slow-burn, on-and-off-screen love story between two actors in a romantic teen TV drama about vampires, one of which may possess magic of her own.
The Curse of Love – Ashley Woodfolk: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Simultaneously filled with despair and hope, The Curse of Love presents resonant themes of family and the risks we’re willing to take for love–and a family curse that dooms all of the women in the Dunn family to a fate worse than death should they fall head-over-heels in love. There are a lot of magical realism stories in this collection, and this one absolutely shines!
All the Time in the World – Charlotte Nicole Davis: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I haven’t read anything by Charlotte Nicole Davis before, but I’m all for giving her a round of applause, because SECOND PERSON POV IS REALLY HARD TO DO. Really hard. And she did it with such aplomb, all while weaving in elements of sci-fi and discussions of racism, all in one. Such a wonderful story!
The Witch’s Skin – Karen Strong: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
All at once tender and creepy, this was a story that evoked imagery of graveyards at night and creatures lurking in dark corners. All at once a tale of fantasy and a heartstring-pulling story of heartbreak, and the lengths we go to get our vengeance.
Sequence – J. Marcelle Corrie: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Not quite as compelling as some of the other stories, but I like the discussion of the role that technology plays/may play in our lives. An interesting vision of the life of a group of teens in a time when major decisions are made via highly intelligent electronics, more so even than today.
I averaged out all of my ratings for each of the short stories, and it came out to about a 3.5, but before I did that, I put my rating as 4 stars. Normally, I don’t round up from 3.5 to 4 (I usually only do it when it’s 3.75), but the better stories in this collection make me want to keep my rating at a solid 4! Such a beautiful collection, running the gamut of genre, experience, science and magic. There’s something for everybody here, no matter what genre you tend to gravitate towards. Highly recommended!
Patrice Caldwell is also the editor of the upcoming YA paranormal romance anthology Eternally Yours, and the upcoming novel Where Shadows Reign, scheduled for release in 2022.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I have a little bit of extra time on my hands this evening, so I figured I’d use it to review the second eARC I got accepted for recently. Even though the writing and the dialogue wasn’t the best in this one, I’ll 100% vouch for the fact that Sisters of the Wolf boasts a premise unlike anything I’ve seen in YA historical fiction!
Enjoy this review!
In the time of the Ice Age, every day is a race for survival, and the lives of Shinoni and Keena are no exception. Keena, hailing from a clan of Neanderthals, and Shinoni, the daughter of a Cro-Magnon shaman cross paths after a Neanderthal hunter wreaks havoc on both of their lives. Alone and lost in an unforgiving wilderness, the two girls must set aside their differences and fight for their lives – and the chance to return home once more.
TW/CW: loss of loved ones, violence, death of small children, animal death, racism/xenophobia (Neanderthal discrimination against Cro-Magnons and vice versa), sexism
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Dundurn Press for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
Writing historical fiction takes loads of research. Writing historical fiction set in a time before written records and where the only clues we have to what life was like is the fossil record and cave paintings…that’s another feat entirely. I guess that’s why I haven’t seen many novels set in the Ice Age before this one, if any at all. So I’d be all for giving a huge round of applause to Patricia Miller-Schroeder for taking the risk, because even though Sisters of the Wolf wasn’t without its flaws, it was unlike any piece of historical fiction I’ve ever read.
There was so much care put into the worldbuilding, and every page was evident of it. Everything from the terminology and colloquial slang used by both Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon to the wildlife that the girls encountered was clearly well-researched, making for a very immersive and well-thought-out story. As someone who spent much of my childhood tagging along with my brother’s prehistoric life videos on TV, I had a lot of fun experiencing the world that Miller-Schroeder created.
That being said, the worldbuilding was the best element of Sisters of the Wolf. The writing felt rather bland, almost devoid of any interesting prose that would have made an otherwise decent story far more engaging. It wasn’t bad, I’d say, but it was just…somewhere in the middle. And normally I’m not fond of too much pontificating and excessive purple prose, but…that was kind of what this book needed.
I also found the dialogue to be a little bit stilted and corny. It leaned into almost Disney territory at times, and I found myself cringing a little bit at the way the onomatopoeia that was written most times. This, combined with my issues with the writing, took me out of the story at times, but I managed to stay somewhat engaged throughout most of the novel.
Everything that I’ve seen Sisters of the Wolf show up on has listed it as YA, but I honestly think that it would be just as suitable for middle grade level readers. That’s not a criticism of it in any shape or form, though; both of the protagonists are 13 years old, and it’s light enough for someone in the 8-12 age range to swallow, but dark enough that it stands out from a younger demographic. It would be a great intro for a pre-teen/early teen who’s just starting to get into YA books and needs a sort of transition book, a middle ground between the two genres. I certainly needed those books when I was that age, and I’m happy that books like Sisters of the Wolf exist for kids like I was.
All in all, a bold and original historical fiction novel that was bogged down by bland prose, but made up for some of it with exceptional worldbuilding. 3 stars!
Expected release date: August 24, 2021
Sisters of the Wolf is Patricia Miller-Schroeder’s YA debut, but she is also the author of several nonfiction science books for children.
Phew, I’m so glad to be on a long weekend…we have the day off school today and next Monday, so I think I’ll have some much needed time to wind down…
As some of you may know, here in the U.S., the month of February is Black History Month! So for the occasion, I decided that it would be a good idea to make a post full of my favorite YA reads from #OwnVoices Black authors. Now more than ever it is critical to share stories from marginalized voices, and in the current climate that much of the world is in, uplifting POC voices should be at the forefront of creative endeavors.
I’ve made a list of YA reads of all genres for this post, all of them 4-5 star reads for me. So let’s begin, shall we?
THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH
The Sound of Stars was one of my favorite reads of 2020! A diverse cast, a tender romance, and no shortage of music and book references. Other than the ending, it’s pretty much everything I could want in a book.
The Revolution of Birdie Randolph is one of those special novels that simultaneously touches on a myriad of important issues, but still retains a lighter, slice-of-life mood. Romantic, sweet, and so inclusive!
It’s been a few years since I’ve read this one and my memory of it’s a bit hazy (oops), but from what I remember, Children of Blood and Bone was such a well-written and well-crafted fantasy! (Plus, that gorgeous cover…)
I have a distinct memory of looking through reviews for Raybearer before I picked it up; it was a struggle to find any sort of reviews with ratings below 4 stars (I usually try to read reviews in the 3-2 star range before reading most books), and everybody and their mother seemed to be gushing about it. But I’m glad to say that Raybearer absolutely lived up to that hype, and I now count myself among the legions of 4-star ratings!
I just finished this one last week (bought it with a gift card I got for Christmas!), and I must say, absolutely worth buying! Complex protagonists, and a writing style that all at once felt nostalgic and wonderfully fresh and unique. (I’ll try to review this one next week!)
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these novels, and what did you think of them? What are your favorite YA novels from #OwnVoices Black authors? Any recommendations?
That’s it for this list of recommendations! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
First off, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that it’s Martin Luther King Jr. day. Thank you, sir, for everything you have done in an effort to better this nation. ❤️
Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.
I put this one on my TBR after being blown away by How to Hang a Witchlast year, and it sounds just as gripping! I still haven’t read Haunting the Deep, but I’m eager to get into more of Mather’s work.
Let’s begin, shall we?
GOODREADS MONDAY (1/18/21)–KILLING NOVEMBER by Adriana Mather
It’s a school completely off the grid, hidden by dense forest and surrounded by traps. There’s no electricity, no internet, and an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. And all of the students are children of the world’s most elite strategists—training to become assassins, counselors, spies, and master impersonators. Into this world walks November Adley, who quickly discovers that friends are few in a school where personal revelations are discouraged and competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits into the school’s bizarre strategy games before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim.
So why do I want to read this?
One thing I’d definitely like to note…I haven’t even read Deadly Class, but this book sounds similar…(has anybody here read or watched it? Let me know…)
Mather’s talent in How to Hang a Witchwas 100% her characters and mastery of the art of tension; with the medium of a school where the students are literally bred to kill, I’m so excited to see how she executes this again! I’m usually not one for mysteries or thrillers, but this is a twist on it that I’ve rarely seen in the world of YA. The “every student for themself” aspect also gives it another layer of tension, which I’m eagerly looking forward to.
This one’s available at my library, so I might have to snag a copy soon…
In conclusion, Madeline finds herself, in a very rare instance, actively looking for a certain YA thriller.
That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Yeah, everybody has a different definition of happiness, but can we really deny the universal giddy joy of finding out that your preorder has reached the shipping department? SKYHUNTER WILL BE IN MY HANDS VERY, VERY SOON…[incoherent screaming]
Anyway, I put this on my TBR at the beginning of this year, but remembered it from Amie Kaufman’s recommendation of it in an episode of Amie Kaufman on Writing. Since it was available on the Kindle library, I decided to check it out, and I am SO glad I did! I didn’t think that anything would ever fill up the B.P.R.D.–shaped hole in my heart, but All These Monsters very nearly did it.
For nearly a decade, the Earth that Clara knows has been decimated by the Scrabs, burrowing monsters that have popped up in cities all over the world and prey on any humans that stumble into their paths.
Clara feels confined in her home, considering dropping out of high school and trapped by her abusive father and absent mother. But when an opportunity to join an international scrab-fighting task force arises, she sees it as exactly the kind of escape she needs. Leaving her home behind, she joins the fight, but soon realizes that fighting monsters is more deadly–and lifechanging–than she ever imagined.
After B.P.R.D. came to a close last year, I thought that there wouldn’t be anything that could ever measure up to it. I didn’t even go into All These Monsters thinking that the two were all that similar, but somehow, this novel partially filled up the B.P.R.D.-shaped hole in my heart–and seeing how close those comics are to my heart, that’s seriously high praise coming from me.
First off, All These Monsters has some great representation–our protagonist Clara is half white, half Latinx [INTENSE HAPPY NOISES], and we have Black, Asian American, and Indian-American side characters. I loved Clara, and the team dynamic Tintera creates with her, Patrick, Edan, and all the rest is lovely! Those of you who have been following my reviews for a bit know that I’ll take found family any time of day, and All These Monsters portrayed it wonderfully.
And monsters. MONSTERS! I loved the scrabs–they gave me major Hell on Earthvibes, and I had so much fun going along for the ride with Clara and the rest of the gang. Not only does Tintera give us baseline physical descriptions of the scrabs, she goes in-depth to explore the international/political implications of them laying waste to the world. It’s certainly a lived-in kind of setting, so…come for the monsters, stay for the worldbuilding.
Beyond that, All These Monsters isn’t just about misfits fighting monsters–it’s a very raw exploration of abuse and toxic relationships. I’ll be clear–it’s not an easy read, but Tintera handles all of these tough topics with grace and aplomb, making you sympathize with some of the characters and hate some of the others with an appropriately fiery passion.
All in all, a dystopian sci-fi that delivers in both diversity and good old fashioned monster fighting. 4 stars!
All These Monsters is the first in the Monsters duology, concluding with the forthcoming All These Warriors, which is scheduled to come out in July 2021. (I got an eARC of it and read it over the weekend, so expect that review soon!). Tintera is also the author of the Ruined trilogy (Ruined, Avenged, and Allied) and the Reboot series (Reboot and Rebel).
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!