The Wicked Deep– Review


Genres/Descriptors:
 YA; Fantasy/Paranormal

Why I read it: I had this on my list for months, anxiously awaiting release day.

Who I’d recommend it to: Ok, this book was promoted as a meeting of Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, and the Salem Witch Trials. If that sounds appealing to you, I say check it out.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (maybe 3.5 stars?)

 

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books a Million | Amazon | IndieBound


Goodreads Description:

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

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

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

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

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

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


Review:

First, I just have to say how weird my acquisition of this book was. It was one of my most anticipated 2018 releases, but I’d forgotten when it was coming out. I was at a bookstore, saw it, squealed with delight, and bought it. It was only later (like, days later) that I realized I’d bought it within like 48 hours of its release. I almost never buy brand new release books. It’s like it was fate.

Anyway…

I read this in a day, and this has not been the best reading year for me (so. many. slumps.), so that’s saying something. I really enjoyed it, and thought it was a fun book, but there were a few things I didn’t love (which I’ll get to).

What I did like was the general concept. After reading it, I totally get the Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic comparison. It’s not a copy of either of those, but there are familiar elements (the three sisters, the small town thing, etc.) that reminded me of both.

The story just kind of floated along. The only way I can describe how I felt while reading it is “enchanted.” This book definitely had me under its spell, and I completely lost track of time while reading it. It’s a bit dark, spooky, and haunting without crossing over into horror, with a touch of mystery. Honestly, it read a lot like a fairytale.

It alternated between the present and the past in a way that didn’t bother me (I hate random time jumps, but this one wasn’t like that at all) and let the story unfold gradually, giving you little pieces of past and present until the end when the whole picture was revealed.

I kind of suspected a few of the twists really early in the book that turned out to be right, but I was still a little surprised by how everything eventually played out. All in all, I was pretty satisfied with the mystery aspect of the story.  

The setting for this (Sparrow) was one of my favorite parts of this book. Shea Ernshaw did such a good job creating an atmospheric place that seemed to exist just a little outside the rest of the world. 

This is kind of a spoiler, but not really, so I’m just going to say it: insta-love. I generally hate it, and I didn’t love it in this book, but I was able to just kind of roll with it. By the end of the book, I had really mixed feelings about it, but I won’t go into that because that would definitely be spoilery.

One of my biggest complaints is probably the characters. I like really getting to know the characters in a book, and I didn’t really get that with this book. Some were better developed than others, but I wanted to know more about pretty much everyone.

I can’t talk about the thing that I disliked the most about this book without giving away a lot of stuff, but (while I’d guessed it early on) some things towards the end were not my favorite.

Still, I really enjoyed this book, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more books by Ernshaw in the future, because I loved her writing.


Have you read it? What did you think?

Advertisements

Book Review: It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett


Genres/Descriptors:
YA; Fantasy

Why I read it: I won a copy in a goodreads giveaway.

Who I’d recommend it to: If you liked the movie Knights of Badassdom, or if you think you’d like reading about LARP-ing gone wrong, check this out.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (maybe 3.5 stars)

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million | Book Depository | IndieBound


Description (from goodreads):

When Allison’s best friend, TJ, convinces her to come along for an epic game of LARP (live-action role-playing), she reluctantly agrees despite her reservations about the geeky pastime. TJ’s weekends are filled with powerful wizardry, mystical creatures, and intense battles with his LARP group. Each adventure is full of surprises, but the goal is always the same: to defeat the monsters and find the treasure. 

Not long after their quest begins, the friends discover that something has gone wrong. The fantasy world they’ve built has transformed, and the battle they’re in the midst of is no longer make-believe. 
Now they must fight for survival against brigands, kobolds, and other deadly mythical creatures that come to life. Fortunately, the group’s once-fictional magical powers have also become real – including Allison’s newly acquired gifts as a healer. They’ll need everything in their arsenal if they hope to make it home alive.


Review:

I still remember when I came across the giveaway for this book on goodreads. I read the description and knew I wanted to read it, and since the Kindle edition is only $0.99, I figured even if I didn’t win a copy, I would still end up getting it.

The description reminded me a lot of Knights of Badassdom:

This movie was not amazing and awe inspiring or anything, and honestly, when I first came across it on Netflix, I was not impressed by the description. It sounded pretty stupid. And it was, in the best possible ways. Husband and I watched it together and it was a fun time. I recommend checking it out if it’s still on Netflix.

Back to the book, though…

The book didn’t blow me away, but, like Knights of Badassdom, it was a fun read. I was a little annoyed by the main (and only, I think) female character–Allison–being a newbie to all the LARPing stuff (and by the thing that finally persuaded her to go with TJ), because it felt so cliche, but honestly it could have been much worse. Allison, in the beginning, kind of served as a way for those of us who haven’t participated in stuff like this to get a quick breakdown of how it works and what the rules are, as things happened, without it being overwhelming or boring.

I appreciated that a lot because I haven’t LARP-ed before (is that even right? “LARP-ed?” sorry :/ ), but I do have a vague idea of how it works because of people I follow online. Dave Barrett didn’t really make Allison into the damsel in distress that she so easily could have been, or anything else like that, and I ended up really liking her character at times. She was pretty smart, caught on to things quickly, and the boys in her group didn’t treat her very different from each other just because she was a girl.

Things start off pretty normal and innocent, with the group assembling and getting acquainted, hearing their mission from the “king,” and setting off. At first things are just a pretty normal LARPing experience (as far as I can tell), but then all hell breaks loose. The shift from our world to the game world was not my favorite transition. It was so sudden and jarring that it broke my immersion in the story and it took a few pages for me to get back into it. Once I did, it was pretty much smooth sailing for the rest of the book. I ended up finishing this in a day during a read a thon because it’s short and fast paced.

I don’t want to talk much about what happens with the characters, and their LARP characters, because ~spoilers~ and all that, but I thought it was an interesting idea. I think we get pretty equal times getting to know most of the characters, and I liked them all well enough. I think my favorite was probably Chuck, though. I think he was the most interesting and I kind of wish this book had been longer, with more of his backstory.

What I did not know, going into this book, is that it was meant to be the first in a series. I have no idea if there ever will be a sequel or not (I hope so), but I haven’t been able to find any info about it if it’s in the works. Because it’s an opening novel, we don’t really get the whole story. There are a lot of unanswered questions at the end, including **potential spoiler alert** exactly how these kids ended up in this other world. 

This was a fun, quick, action-packed read. But, I never got very attached to any of the characters, and I think that lessened the impact of the potential danger. While I was flipping pages as quickly as I could to find out what happened next, I never felt too concerned with anyone’s fate like I did with, for example, Six of Crows.

I would definitely read the sequel, if it came out before I’d completely forgotten this first book, and I feel like this was a solid 3-4 star read (I’m giving it 3.5 and rounding up to 4). But I won’t cry if I never get to find out what happens next.

Book Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Genres/Descriptors: YA; sci-fi

Why I read it: I read and loved Illuminae (it’s one of my all-time-favorite books), so of course I wanted more from the Illuminae Files.

Who I’d recommend it to: People who loved Illuminae.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million | Book Depository | IndieBound


Description (from goodreads):

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.


Review:

This book. Took me. For-ev-er to get into. I ended up checking out the audio book and reading as I listened, which really helped. I think I’d read about 40 pages in 3 weeks on my own, but then finished 90% of the audio book (I listened at 2x speed, but that was still about 6 hours of listening) in one day. I’m not sure why it was so hard for me, because I absolutely loved Illuminae, but I feel like if I hadn’t gotten the audio book, I would have been trying to read this book all year.

First point, the freaking audio book. Oh my gosh, it is so good! So good! I struggle a lot with audio books, but because I was reading along, I guess that helped my issues (basically, when someone is talking to me, or I’m just listening to something, I “see” the words kinda floating around/scrolling/whatever which is super distracting and hard to follow, but I can usually kind of block it out during conversations if I focus hard enough). The cast is fantastic, and I wish my library had Obsidio so I could listen and read it, too. I was really nervous about listening to any of these books, because they’re so visual, but they made it work. I feel like I wouldn’t have lost out much by just listening, if that was my only option, but having the visual with the cast was freaking awesome and I highly recommend it.

I really, really ended up loving Hanna, Nik, and Ella. At first, I wasn’t sure about Hanna, but she grew on me pretty fast. She was awesome and so freaking strong. I thought Kady went through a lot in Illuminae, and of course she did, but Hanna’s experience was a whole new level of “WTF?!” I also really loved how she was a mix of “could totally kick your ass 100 different ways and you’d like it,” “daddy’s girl/rich girl/princess” and a a healthy dose of artsy. It was an interesting combination, and I don’t feel like I’ve read a thousand incarnations of female characters like her in the past, which was nice. (I also felt like Kady stood out, but I’m trying to limit my comparisons between the two because they’re different, from different books, and I love them both.)

Nik really cracked me up on and off throughout the book, and I liked him a lot. There were a few times I just wanted to hug him, though. I was cheering for him from the beginning because he struck me as the kind of guy who only kinda-sorta pretends to be a bad boy, but is mostly just a soft, caring guy.

His cousin, Ella, was also really fun, and I’m kinda sad there weren’t more parts with her. (Crossing my fingers for more in Obsidio.) She was smart, sneaky, and snarky. And a total badass, it turned out. I can see her and Kady either getting along great and being good friends, or hating each other. And I really want to know what happened to the fish.

I kinda saw the thing with Nik near the end coming earlier in the story, but I wasn’t sure if it would happen. By the time it finally did, I’d almost forgotten about my guess, so it was still almost a surprise, which was fun. Well, not exactly “fun” because the shit was hitting the fan, but it was entertaining, I guess. I also saw the thing with Jackson coming from a mile away, but I’m not going to talk about either of those things in any more depth because ~spoilers~ will definitely happen.

 Going in, I knew this was a companion kind of sequel, with a totally new cast, but it was really nice to get a little update on our friends from Illuminae. I am kind of afraid of how much I realized I’d missed AIDAN, though :/ (AI is honestly probably one of my biggest fears and I have no clue why, but AIDAN scared the crap out of me.) Its presence in this book was both frightening (not as much as in Illuminae, though) and entertaining. I think at one point I snorted chocolate almond milk because of something he said, but I can’t remember the exact line now.

I have to take a moment to completely agree with Ella: poor cow cows 😦 (I shall say no more, because ~spoilers.~)

The things…Whatchamacallits… The slimy space lizard-y, worm-y things that make the drug (“Dust”)… What the actual hell? I am very afraid of Amie & Jay’s brains right now, because those things were terrifying. Even the initial description of them freaked me out. It was interesting having such different enemies to face in this book, though. Humans and space creepy-crawlies. Fun combo, and I definitely read with the lights all on, and freaked the hell out when something slimy feeling slithered across my arm (it was my cat’s tail, most likely damp from dropping it in the water bowl like he does about 10 times a day) while reading one particularly tense scene -_-

And that ending, oh my gods. I cackled. (But honestly, that last line is probably the cheekiest one I’ve ever read, and I loved it.) 

Oookaaay, I need to wrap this up because it could just go on and on as I babble.

Basically, this was almost a 5 star book for me, but because it took me so long to get into it, and so long to become invested in the welfare of the characters, I knocked off a star :/ I’d still call it 4-4.5 stars, though, and I’m super excited about starting Obsidio (which I will have already started, hopefully, by the time this review goes up).

Book Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo


Genres/Descriptors:
contemporary; YA; poetry (a novel in verse)

Why I read it:  A novel about poetry/a poet, written in verse? How could I not pick it up?

Who I’d recommend it to: If you’re into poetry at all or have enjoyed verse novels in the past, and/or if you enjoy YA contemporary stories, I highly recommend this one. Even if you’re not sure if a novel in verse is for you, I’d still recommend checking it out.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books a Million | IndieBound


What it’s about (from Goodreads):

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.


Review:

Are you screeching in excitement yet? Folks, I don’t know how this evaded me for so long (ok, I do know, it’s because I intentionally pulled back from the bookish world because I knew I couldn’t buy books for a long time, and I didn’t want to be sad). I didn’t hear anything about this until….well, actually until I happened across it on Over Drive and looked it up on Good Reads. Seriously, did I just miss all the buzz because I was getting my hermit on, or was there just basically none?

First up, let’s talk about that cover. So pretty, right?! That caught my eye first, followed quickly by the word “poet” in the title. The artist was Gabriel Moreno and I’m kind of obsessed. It’s just so gorgeous and perfect and I feel like it really goes with the book. Check out more of Gabriel’s art here, if you’re interested (I was, and I’m really loving it).

Ok, onward to the book itself!

As most novels in verse are, this was a pretty quick read. It’s a little over 350 pages, but I could have easily read it in one afternoon if I’d been able to sit long enough. (Don’t  you hate it when you’re really loving a book but things like laundry keep interrupting?) I tore through this book and I’m really thinking about buying a copy. I feel like I could re-read this one a few times.

Xiomara…oh gods, where do I start? This girl is a fighter, in more ways than one, and I feel like this book is very timely. I think teenagers today need more books like this in their lives, and I wish I’d had this book when I was 10-12 years younger, because it would have hit me even harder and inspired me even more. I can honestly see this making it onto reading lists at some point (I’m really not sure how that works, but I know it’s going to be on my kid’s reading list in a few years).

The home life Xiomara had really hit close to home for me in some ways. She grew up with a Catholic family, while I grew up in a Protestant home, but her relationship with her mother reminded me of my life a bit. I didn’t actually expect to relate a lot to anyone in this book, because their life experiences are very different than mine in pretty much every way, but it happened anyway and broke my heart. But Xiomara, wow. She handled things so well (I can’t think of a better way she could have handled anything, really), definitely better than I would have, and I felt so proud of her. There was this one scene with her mother that made me go cold all over because it brought back memories, and my heart ached for her. I had to take a break for a while after reading that bit.

 

I had so many feelings while reading this. I seriously laughed and cried, I cringed a little, I whispered “oh no,” I cheered internally (and might have had a little fist pumping at some point). So many feelings. It was a journey, and it was wonderful and so real. I felt inspired by Xiomara, and I feel like this book would have been amazing for teenage me. (It was amazing for adult me, but it would have been more amazing for teenage me.)

I enjoy more flowery writing with novels in verse sometimes (or poetry, or novels, in general, honestly), but the contemporary and sometimes very blunt writing in this novel, mixed with metaphors and imagery was refreshing and very well done. Which I guess shouldn’t be surprising considering Elizabeth Aceveda is an award-winning slam poet herself. This book was kind of a diary, and I feel like it read like that, if that makes sense. Like, this could have been a real diary, just written in verse. It felt very personal and raw a lot of the time, and it definitely (as I’ve said) gave me feelings

This book was just so good and I think I’ll be recommending it a lot.

 

Spooky Book Recs & Discussion: Children’s, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Books

Earlier in the month, I did “Snack Sized Stories” (short stories, novellas, comics & graphic novels), and I’d intended to post one of these book recs lists every Monday in October (replacing my usual “Must Read Mondays” this month), but…I forgot because it was a really busy time :/

I remembered this week, though!

I actually don’t read a lot of middle grade or children’s books these days, except re-reads of books I loved when I was growing up, or reading aloud with my kid. But, I’ve read a few as an adult, and I remember some from when I was a kid, and I do somewhat regularly still read YA, so hopefully this list won’t be only like 3 book long 😛 (I’m including both things generally considered horror, and some things I just think are creepy/spooky/scary.)


Middle Grade & YA

  • Goosbumps by R.L. Stine– Just, all of them, basically. If you never read a Goosebumps book, try picking up one of the classics (Night of the Living DummyGhost BeachStay Out of the BasementSay Cheese and Die!, etc.) to see what you think.
  • The Fear Street Saga by R.L. Stine– These were more for teens, I think, and I only read about 2 of them, but really liked them.
  • Shivers by M.D. Spenser– There weren’t many of these, and I don’t think they were quite as good or well-known as Goosbumps, but I really liked them.
  • Bone Chillers by Betsy Haynes– I think I only read like 2-3 of these, but I think I liked them in grade school.
  • Scary Stories (all 3 volumes) by Alvin Schwartz– Creepy folklore? Yes, please! I think I almost wore out my school’s library copies of these books, and I still love them and sometimes re-read them now that I have my own copies.
  • Christopher Pike’s books– I can’t remember if these were in a series, but I read a few and remember them being super popular for a while.
  • Bunnicula by Deborah & James Howe– I…can’t remember if I ever actually read this, or if my BFF read it so much I just knew the story and think I read it :/
  • Point Horror series– These were books written by different authors (R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, Caroline B. Cooney, etc.), and there was at least one spin off (Nightmare Hall, I think).
  • Haunting With Louisa series by Emily Cates– I might have only read the first one, but I remember liking it, at least.
  • Sweet Valley Twins Super Chillers by Francine Pascal– Yep, that Sweet Valley. My cousin had tons of the different Sweet Valley books, but I think I liked her Super Chillers most.
  • Neil Gaiman– I started to list a couple of books, but pretty much just read any of them and you’re probably going to find something creepy.
  • Doll Bones by Holly Black– I read this a couple of years ago and really liked it.
  • The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle– This was one of my absolute favorite books of 2015 ❤
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs– Not super scary, but still has some kinda creepy bits.
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black– I really loved this one, too, and I feel like it’s really underrated.
  • The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray– Partially because I will use any excuse to talk about, and partially because it has some creepy parts (but it isn’t a horror series at all).
  • The Witches by Roald Dahl– My favorite Dahl book growing up ❤
  • In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz– I don’t think this was as well known as Scary Stories, but still great.
  • Scary Stories for Stormy Nights by Mark & Michelle Kehl– I remember having 1 or 2 of these, and liking them, but I don’t remember much about them now :/
  • Bruce Coville– I think I had the Book of Monsters and… at least one other.

For the pre-school(ish) kiddos (or grownups if you like picture books):

  • Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O’Connell– I read this one to my kid around Halloween and we both loved it. (This one is mostly for pre-school aged kids.)
  • Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler– This one is also very cute.
  • The Night Before Halloween by Natasha Wing & Cynthia Fisher– I think this was my favorite to read to kid a few years ago.
  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat! by Lucille Colandro & Jared Lee– This one was fun the first 12 times, then it got old. (This was probably kid’s favorite.)
  • Check for spooky versions/additions to your favorite series, like Berenstain Bears, Splat the Cat, Fancy Nancy, Little Critter, Disney, etc.

Did you read scarier books when you were a kid?

What was your favorite scary book/series?

Book Review: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

28526192
Genres: YA; sci-fi; dystopian; LGBTQ+

Why I read it: It exploded on social media and after I heard the description, I had to read it. I got lucky and scored an e-ARC from Net Galley!

Who I’d recommend it to: YA sci-fi fans, especially if you’re looking for diverse reads. Must love puns.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5 stars…maybe?)

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon


What it’s about:

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.


Review:

I want to start by saying that I really liked this book. It was one of my most anticipated 2017 releases, and I literally screamed and danced around when I was approved for an ARC.

 

At the end of the review, I’ve included some links to other blogs, including one from Tristina.

 

The good…

Wright’s writing is fantastic. With every scene, every character, every place, I felt like I was there and could see and hear it all. The descriptions were great. Every character really stood out, too. I never had the issue of confusing two of them, like I’ve experienced with some other books with such a huge cast. I’m really hoping that in the next book we’ll have more time with more chimeras, because I’m so freaking interested! I want to know everything about them and the different kinds. A couple were explained in 27 Hours, but there’s so much more to learn about them, and the moon. Oh. My. Gods. The moon, you guys! I don’t want to say much so I don’t spoil something, but holy crap it’s awesome and I want to know more! There are other things I really want to know more about that involve at least two of the characters and the moon and the chimeras, but I don’t want to talk about that because ~spoilers.~ But I’m really hoping it’s addressed more in the next book, because I need answers! (It’s not really a plot-hole kind of lack-of-answers, it’s just a really good thing to not fully explain in book one so it can be explored more later in the series.)

The diversity in this book is the best I’ve ever encountered, and I want a thousand more books with rep like this or better. We have multiple main POC characters, a bisexual deaf character, a couple of gay characters (if I remember right), a pansexual trans character, an asexual character, a lesbian couple and a gender neutral (I think, so please correct me if I’m wrong) character. There were probably more, but I stupidly didn’t take many notes about anything because I read this in like a day and didn’t think about it. So, A+ for diversity, I think. (But definitely check out other reviews from people whose voices count more than mine for things like the POC, deafness, ace, trans, and gender-neutral reps, because I really can’t make any comments or judgments about those. I’ve been seeing some not so positive comments about some of these reps since I read the book.) I can’t speak for most of the rep, but omg the pansexual character. My ❤ I had to take short breaks a couple of times because I related so much to what she was going through. What she experienced captured so well how I felt for a while in high school and shortly after, and it felt so good to finally see some pan rep in a book. I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this, and I wish this book had existed when I was in high school.

The romances were so. freaking. cute. I’m usually thinking something like, “Ok, ok, I get it, they like each other, blah blah blah, can we get back to the story, now?” when I read a book with a romance sub-plot. Not so with 27 Hours. Honestly, I loved the romances. The puns from one character almost killed me, though. (I related to that, too.) From the very beginning, I was rooting for the couples as well as the individual characters. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted book characters to get together and be happy as much as I did while reading this book.

This book is action packed. Like, from the first couple of pages, it barely lets up until the very end. This is about a 400 page book and I almost read it in one sitting. (I read it during a read-a-thon, but that’s still not normal for me.) There are constant threats of danger, fight scenes, escape scenes, just…so much action. I was literally on the edge of my seat for a while, my eyes flying over the words as fast as they could to find out if everyone made it out of whatever situation they were in. It was intense, but awesome.

And the not so good…

All that said, I have been sitting, thinking about this book and how to review it for a couple of weeks because I had mixed feelings.

When I first started this book, I liked it. Very soon, I loved it. But, the whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking something was a little “off,” or at least something made me feel a little weird. The idea was a confused, insubstantial thing in the back of my mind until I came across a couple of reviews that put it into words far more eloquently, I’m sure, than I can. This is a story of, essentially, human settlers vs the native beings (called “chimeras,” or, the derogatory term “gargoyles”) of a moon far, far from Earth, and the war they’ve been fighting for a few decades. I remember thinking it reminded me of something, while I was reading, but I read it so fast I didn’t really process it until later. It reminds me of European “settlers” fighting with and stealing land from indigenous people all over the place here on Earth.

Looking back, it kind of bothers me that all the perspectives in the book are human characters, and there are no chapters from the chimeras’s POV. That might not be the case with the next books, I don’t know. I just wish there’d been at least a few chapters from a chimera’s, or multiple chimeras’s, POV. At no point, that I remember, does it come across that the actions of humans against chimeras are justified or anything like that, though. The issues of the colonization are addressed in the book, pretty directly, I think. It might not be perfect, but it’s not brushed aside or ignored.

Another thing that just confused me was how all the people seem to have gone from varied cultures from all over Earth to being very Westernized and speaking one language (“the human language”), as far as I remember. This is set in the future, but I don’t remember there being any indication of how far in the future it’s set. There are mentions of where people’s families came from on Earth, and what things are left that their ancestors brought with them, and I just think it’s a little weird that they would have all adopted one language and forgotten their old ones and their customs and traditions and stuff. (There were a couple of words that weren’t in English, like one character referring to her “abuela,” so some things from Earth and the other languages still exist, apparently, but not everything.)

I also don’t remember race (with humans) really being addressed much, other than indicating POC  or white characters. So…is racism and all the other nasty prejudices on Earth right now, no longer part of this universe? Because of the human-chimera relations, prejudices obviously still exist. But there’s never any mention of racism, homophobia, etc. with humans. Did we actually manage to eventually, in however many years in the future this is set, get past it? Is it just that way with the settlers on that moon? Maybe I’m over-thinking all of this, idk, but I have questions. (It’s also possible that I missed some explanations in my binge read.)

Lastly, while I thought the world-building was very good, there were times when I was really confused for a while. I think I eventually caught up because things were explained later, but the characters are, in my opinion, more developed and stronger than the world-building. That didn’t bother me too much because I usually prefer character driven stories, and I struggle with extensive world-building sometimes (I can’t keep track of everything, etc.), and I didn’t feel the world was under developed by the end. It’s just been left open enough for going deeper in subsequent books.

 

So…

I really, really liked this book, and I’ve been talking about it a lot. Is it perfect? No, but what book is? I think Tristina Wright did the best possible job she could, and it’s pretty clear that she put in the work for the reps in this book. You can’t please everyone or capture everyone’s identity in one book, because everyone’s experience is very different. I personally felt a connection to a couple of characters in this book at various points, but that doesn’t mean everyone will have the same experience.

I’m torn between 3 & 4 stars, but I’m leaving it at 4 for now, I think. Maybe I’ll say 3.5 stars.

I will most likely read the next book, and probably count down days to release day after we get an official date. (It’s going to be a while, I’m sure, since this one just came out on the 3rd.)

This was probably the hardest review I’ve ever written, and I’m still not sure I managed to say what I mean. I tried, and all I can do now is direct you to other posts from people who can talk about the things I can’t.


Additional reading:

Aimal’s review (colonialism, racial rep, etc. is discussed at length; great review, give it a read)
Laura’s review (has links and stuff to things people had issues with)
Tristina Wright’s statement/apology issued about race and queer IDs
Ann Elise’s review (ace/aro rep discussion)
Avery’s review (ace rep, gender rep)

There are probably many more blog posts out there that talk about these important subjects, from people more qualified than I am, but these were the ones I found shortly after reading the book, while trying to figure out how to put into words what I thought of everything.


Have you read it yet?

Let me know what you thought of it, or if you’re planning to read it 🙂

Book Review: Everything Must Go by Jenny Fran Davis

29401441
Genres: YA; contemporary

Why I read it: The cover. I saw it while browsing goodreads giveaways, entered on a whim, and won an ARC.

Who I’d recommend it to: A lot of different people, honestly. If you like smart, funny, compulsively readable books in interesting formats (like epistolary novels, things like Illuminae, etc.) with feminist themes, I would recommend this.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

 

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository 


What it’s about:

Flora Goldwasser has fallen in love. She won’t admit it to anyone, but something about Elijah Huck has pulled her under. When he tells her about the hippie Quaker school he attended in the Hudson Valley called Quare Academy, where he’ll be teaching next year, Flora gives up her tony upper east side prep school for a life on a farm, hoping to woo him. A fish out of water, Flora stands out like a sore thumb in her vintage suits among the tattered tunics and ripped jeans of the rest of the student body. When Elijah doesn’t show up, Flora must make the most of the situation and will ultimately learn more about herself than she ever thought possible.

Told in a series of letters, emails, journal entries and various ephemera, Flora’s dramatic first year is laid out for all to see, embarrassing moments and all.


Review:

I’m not really sure what I expected, going into this, but it’s not what I got. I think I was expecting a possibly humorous, but otherwise generic, contemporary YA story. What I got was different. It was still funny, but it was way deeper than I’d expected.

Flora is like the very best of Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl) and Cher Horowitz (Clueless). She was a privileged, upper east side, vintage-fashion-loving, private school girl, but she was also aware of and passionate about things like feminism, the environment, etc. I really thought this book and Flora, in particular, were going to make me mad, because she left her home and school to go to the Quare Academy (which actually sounded like a place I would have loved to have gone) all because of some slightly older guy she barely knew. But then amazing things happened.

During Flora’s first year, she makes some mistakes and things are generally not so great for her, at least at first. I loved how real this book felt. I had to keep reminding myself the letters and stuff were fiction, because Jenny Fran Davis did such a good job creating a realistic world and cast of characters. She didn’t shy away from difficult topics, and I think she handled all of them so well in this book.

I don’t want to say much about the plot, partly because it’s really hard to describe, but mostly because I think this is a book you should start without really knowing too much about it. While this book does cover some very serious topics, I enjoyed how it never felt like it took itself too serious.

The characters were great. Flora, of course, but also the people in her life at Quare and back home in Manhattan. She really learned a lot from many of them, and watching her grow as a character throughout the book was really nice. I hate when a book takes a character through really rapid changes (in a chapter or two, for example) because it feels too rushed. Or, on the opposite side of things, a character doesn’t grow and change at all throughout the book. Both are usually unbelievable. But with Flora, her change was gradual and never felt forced, rushed, or otherwise unrealistic.

I particularly liked Juna and Dean, and wouldn’t have minded getting to know both of them even more. Especially Dean, I think. Then there was the kind of mysterious Sinclaire, who had one of my favorite lines in the whole book (in an e-mail to Flora). I had to put the book down until I stopped laughing and could get the visual out of my head. Sam was kind of an ass, but I liked him and his relationship with Flora. Elijah, though. Ugh. I wanted to kick him in the shins repeatedly. Basically, I really liked most of the characters, even the ones we didn’t get to know very well.

The Miss Tulip subplot was fun to read about. I don’t want to say a lot about it because I don’t want to give away any potential spoilers, but the way Flora’s friends from Manhattan factored in was kind of amusing. (Also, that’s totally a blog I would probably read.) There was also the Nymphette Magazine side story that I enjoyed. (Also a magazine I would have loved, probably, back when I was a teenager.) The way the two were tied in together was funny, heartwarming, and just generally a good time.


This has been one of the hardest book reviews I’ve ever written. I have so many feelings about it, and the characters, but it’s hard to talk about it without giving things away :/ There are a lot of things I really want to talk about, but I’m afraid it would be spoiler-y. Sigh. 

To summarize: I definitely recommend it, and I will almost certainly be keeping an eye out for more books from Jenny Fran Davis in the future.