Showing posts with label recommendation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recommendation. Show all posts

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Recommendation: Inkheart (Inkworld #1) - Cornelia Funke: Reading Book Characters to Life and Getting Sucked into Books

In INKHEART, Meggie's dad has the ability to read book characters into life.

What intrigued me: My dad got me a copy of this when I was 10 or 11 and it's been one of my favorite book series ever since.

Beautifully written and 100% original

Even though INKHEART was released more than 10 years ago it remains one of the most unique, original, and fascinating high fantasy releases I've ever read or heard about. The fantastic concept immediately sucks you into the story and paired with Funke's incredibly nuanced, beautiful writing it is an absolute delight. It definitely isn't an easy read though at about 500+ pages. INKHEART absolutely reads and feels like the start of an epic series. 

On the whole, INKHEART isn't my favorite Inkworld novel because it works more as an introduction. The beauty about the Inkworld books is that while each book feels concise and would as well work as a stand-alone, you'll be compelled to pick the next one up the second you finished. At the core this is a 1,500 page story. But then again, this series is so fantastic that even the weakest novel is a very clear five star read.

Not your usual YA read

The characters are masterfully planned with extensive backstories and such attention to detail that they will feel real to you and you'll catch yourself wondering if you could read them to life like Mo if you tried.

However, while this story remains excellent, after ten years of reading YA there are some things you have to know if you plan on picking this up. First - this isn't YA as we know it now. It's a mixture of MG and YA that works as a crossover title. INKHEART deals with dark themes while centering around a 12 year old protagonist. It's definitely not a read I'd recommend for MG age children/readers.

Second, this is a very slowly paced story. These books are meant - needed- to be read together. I personally started out with the second book INKSPELL, which is set in the Inkworld and remains my absolute favorite. INKHEART is a must-read. 

Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

INKHEART is an absolute must-read for every book lover and high fantasy reader.



Additional Info

Published: June 1st 2005
Pages: 548
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: YA / Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780439709101

Synopsis:
"Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.

Characters from books literally leap off the page in this engrossing fantasy. Meggie has had her father to herself since her mother went away when she was young. Mo taught her to read when she was five, and the two share a mutual love of books. He can "read" characters out of books. When she was three, he read aloud from a book called Inkheart and released characters into the real world. At the same time, Meggie's mother disappeared into the story. This "story within a story" will delight not just fantasy fans, but all readers who like an exciting plot with larger-than-life characters.
 "(Source: Goodreads)



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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

If You Loved That, You'll Love This - Korean Edition with Axie Oh + GIVEAWAY: Win 5 Copies of Rebel Seoul!

Another round of recommendations! This time I had the pleasure of hosting Axie Oh, author of the upcoming YA Sci-Fi REBEL SEOUL, pitched as Pacific Rim meets Korean drama. 

Hi everyone! Excited to share some of my favorite Korean American and Korean authors with you in this awesome Bookavid feature. I really enjoyed “f/f recommendations with Julia Ember”, so very thrilled to be invited! Here we go:




If you love Daniel José Older's SHADOWSHAPER
Then you'll love Ellen Oh's PROPHECY

Both of these books are fast-paced adventures with courageous heroines chasing after their destinies. They're rooted strongly in their settings—modern Brooklyn in SHADOWSHAPER and ancient Korea in PROPHECY. And each integrates culture into their world building in both a macro- and micro- level. For example, with PROPHECY, on a macro-level, it’s set in a fantasy Korea and has Korean names and places. But on a micro-level the details are distinct and specific. The rhythm of the language, the interactions between the characters, who the characters are—their desires and fears—all contribute to building a world that feels like ancient Korea (but with magic)!

If you love  Jenny Han's TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE
Then you'll love Maurene Goo's I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE

This pairing might be a little obvious, but I can't help myself! Other than having very long (adorable) titles, both of these books are feel good contemporaries with realistic high school experiences and just the right amount of K-drama flair to give it that extra *gochujang (this was a really bad joke, sorry). Both books were featured on the popular Korean drama blog DRAMABEANS, here and here, because of their fun homage to K-dramas. Definitely two books close to my heart.

If you love Neil Gaiman’s TRIGGER WARNING
Then you'll love Yoon Ha Lee’s CONSERVATION OF SHADOWS

CONSERVATION OF SHADOWS may very well be my favorite short story collection. Like Gaiman, Lee's writing is literary, weird, gorgeous and imaginative. My favorite short story in this collection, “Effigy Nights,” was a 2014 nominee for the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. The story itself is…indescribable, but in short, it’s about a city of artisans under attack by enemy starships. The only way for them to repel the attack is by summoning soldiers from books of legend by cutting them out from paper with scissors. Amazing, right? Other elements in his short stories include: mecha, necromancy, Korean history, mathematics and black holes.


If you love Lauren Oliver’s DELIRIUM
Then you'll love Gabrielle Zevin’s ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE

Both of these books are literary dystopias with great characters and writing. Like DELIRIUM, the world in ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE is similar to our own but for one disparate element i.e. love is outlawed in the world of DELIRIUM and chocolate is outlawed in the world of ATTID. Both books are written like contemporaries, but that added element gives them a fantasy-edge to keep things interesting. I've been a fan of Zevin's work since high school, but ATTID is a personal favorite. It’s set in a run-down New York where chocolate (the drug of choice) is outlawed. The heroine of the novel, Anya Balanchine, is the heiress to New York’s most notorious crime family. At the same time, she’s juggling Catholic school and nursing a flirtation with the new assistant DA’s son.


If you love Erin Morgenstern’s THE NIGHT CIRCUS 
Then you'll love Ha Il-Kwon’s ANNARASUMANARA

ANNARASUMANARA is a webtoon set in Korea about Yun Ai, an 11th grade student whose hardships have left her embittered. Still, as a young girl, she used to want to be a magician. When she stumbles upon an abandoned circus, a mysterious magician appears before her and asks, “Do you believe in magic?” The story goes from there and it’s enchanting.

Both THE NIGHT CIRCUS and ANNARASUMANARA follow a loose plot with gorgeous imagery (visual and textual images in the case of ANNARASUMANARA). They both center in and around a circus and are told in vignette-like chapters. The main difference is that THE NIGHT CIRCUS is fantasy, while ANNARASUMANARA is magical realism.




Axie Oh is a first generation Korean American, born in NYC and raised in New Jersey. She studied Korean history and creative writing as an undergrad at the University of California – San Diego and is currently pursuing an MFA at Lesley University in Writing for Young People. Her passions include K-pop, anime, stationery supplies, and milk tea. She currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with her puppy, Toro.
Website Twitter | Blog | Instagram | Tumblr



REBEL SEOUL, out on September 15th 2017 with Tu Books

"After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.

When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.

With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.

Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas in this mind-blowing, New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut."

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N


a Rafflecopter giveaway What's your favorite read by a Korean author OR with Korean characters?




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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Recommendation: The Queen of Dauphine Street - Thea de Salle: Pet Tigers and Pansexuality

In THE QUEEN OF DAUPHINE STREET, filthy rich socialite Maddy invites stripper-turned-construction-worker Darren to stay on her cruise ship for protection after his abusive ex makes an attempt to kill him.

What intrigued me: I am obsessed with the book this is a companion novel to, THE KING OF BOURBON STREET.

Eccentricism and PTSD

Maddy is the most eccentric character I have ever read about. She has a pet tiger, a gigantic cruise ship, is openly pansexual, and has a room full of penis art. Having met her as Sol's ex-wife in THE KING OF BOURBON STREET, I was expecting a lot of kink and a lot of weirdness from her, and boy, I got it.

Surprisingly, THE QUEEN OF DAUPHINE STREET is a lot tamer than the first book in this series. Despite Maddy being vocal about her sex life and being a dom (though for Darren, she becomes the sub!), this book doesn't capitalize on the sex and the kink. There are very few sex scenes and this is very slow burn, a lot of time passes for Maddy and Darren to get acquainted and be comfortable with physical contact. 

Here's the thing: I actually am really happy that De Salle took this approach. Both Maddy and Darren have PTSD. It makes sense for THE QUEEN OF DAUPHINE STREET to have these two take their time, especially because this book goes to such dark places, exploring both protagonists' PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, and their stories in detail. De Salle again manages to have me glued to the pages, totally obsessed with watching her characters' relationship evolve and learning more about their past. And because this needs saying: none of the mental illnesses are cured when Darren and Maddy fall in love. This is not a love-cures-all narrative. 

Maddy and Darren develop their relationship at a slow pace that feels right and that will actually force you to binge this one. You'll have to keep on reading if you want to get to the smutty parts, and trust me, once they come, they are as kinky as you'd expect them to be.

Dad Jokes and All the Feels

Darren is honestly such a surprise. I'm completely #TeamSol and forever will be, but Darren found his way into my heart silently, he snuck up on me with his terrible dad jokes (there are so many...) and his Texan charm. He's a major dork and I dearly grew fond of him. Even if you were a little skeptical in the beginning (like I was!) because he's this straighter-than-straight hunk of a guy (no shade, just isn't for me!). I was surprised that De Salle made me like a guy like that, by putting her own spin on the trope. I love Darren precisely because he doesn't take himself seriously and isn't a Grade A superman without flaws. I actually found myself liking him more and more the more time he spends with Maddy, which just speaks for De Salle's flawless ability to develop relationships that read organically and realistically.

All NOLA Nights books are so fantastically well-written and you'll grow so attached to the characters, all side characters really, and you'll need to read all other companion novels if you want more content featuring your favorites! Almost all characters from the previous companion novel make an appearance here and I suspect it'll be the same in the next one. I clung to the pages every time Sol and Rain appeared, the protagonists from THE KING OF BOURBON STREET, and I am sure any further appearances Maddy and Darren make in this series will have me gently sobbing, hoping there will be some more books starring them. Ah. I just love this series. If you want intersectional, a little kinky romance that has marginalized people in both main and side roles, this is a must-read.




Rating:

★★★★★

  




Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE QUEEN OF DAUPHINE STREET mixes light BDSM with a really really nuanced portayal of a gentle romance betweeen two characters with PTSD. You don't have to read any of the other books to try out this one.

More romances about characters with mental illnesses, please. More slow burn. More Thea de Salle, please.

Trigger warnings: suicide, guns, shooting, PTSD, stalking, harassment, BDSM, panic attacks, anxiety, attempted murder



Additional Info

Published: May 15th 2017
Pages: 236
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Adult / Romance
ISBN: 9781501156090

Synopsis:
"When one of the world’s wildest socialites is paired with a handsome Texan, neither has any idea that their lives are about to change forever in this sexy, sultry romance in the NOLA Night series from New York Times bestselling author Thea de Salle.

Madeline Roussoux has it all: money, a dozen houses, a private jet, a cruise ship, even a tiger. Everyone knows her name. Her every move is watched, absorbed, adored, and abhorred by the public. She’s a dazzling spectacle on the society scene—a beautiful, flamboyant poster child for American privilege and Hollywood celebrity.

And she’s broken.

All the wealth in the world can’t make up for Maddy’s losses. Her father’s suicide and her mother’s ensuing breakdown left her orphaned as a teenager. She survived, but barely. From stints in rehab to a string of failed marriages, her dazzling smile hides deep scars. Finally, losing Sol DuMont, the one person she ever truly loved, has her wondering what is the point of being surrounded by people when you’re perpetually alone?

Enter Darren Sanders. He’s a beautiful Texas boy with a big heart and a bigger smile; the type of man women go crazy for. Literally. When Darren’s ex stalks him and then makes an attempt on his life, circumstances find him off to New Orleans with none other than Maddy Roussoux. He thought he knew everything there was to know about her, but there’s more to the woman whose image graces the covers of magazines worldwide, and Darren finds himself drawn into a world of excess he never imagined possible. "
(Source: Goodreads)

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Monday, June 12, 2017

10 Beach Reads For People Who Don't Like Beach Reads feat. Sophie Kinsella, Julie Hammerle & more






I'm one of those dreadful people who are easily bored by straight up romance books unless they are absolutely extraordinarily excellent. 

Here are some of the books that I would bring to the beach.




THE REPLACEMENT CRUSH - Lisa Brown Roberts
A really cute story about a girl looking for a rebound crush. Especially recommended for trekkies.

TALON - Julie Kagawa
Okay, listen, hear me out - this may be about shapeshifting dragons turning into humans but it's totally a summery beach romance. Sounds weird, is weird.

KEEPING THE MOON - Sarah Dessen
In terms of beach reads you can never go wrong with a Dessen book. This is a super light contemporary with a great protagonist!



PLUS ONE - Elizabeth Fama
As a dystopian novel this really isn't a regular pick for a beach read, but listen: This book is so light and easy and pretty much about people stealing babies. It's a weird fairytale-feeling kinda thing.

WEDDING NIGHT - Sophie Kinsella
This is partially set at the beach and kinsella, what more can you want!

FATED - S.G. Browne
The personified fate falls in love and it's absolutely hilarious!



THE PRINCESS DIARIES - Meg Cabot
I love this book so much if there is one light, funny book that I have and can read over and over again, it's this.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE - Jennifer E. Smith
Such a pleasant surprise!

THE SOUND OF US - Julie Hammerle
A sweet contemporary that's equal parts hilarious and unique. Also classic music!





WE AWAKEN - Calista Lynne
I think dreamy, magical books are always excellent pics for beach reads! This one features two lesbian asexuals and dreaming!

What are your favorite beach reads?

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Recommendation: Girl on the Verge - Pintip Dunn: Being Thai and New Girls

In GIRL ON THE VERGE, Kan's mother offers to take care of Shelly, who eagerly becomes Kan's new best friend, but also arrives with a mountain of secrets.

What intrigued me: Wanted to read more from Pintip Dunn.

Young Voice and Creepy Vibes

GIRL ON THE VERGE needed a while to get me interested. I didn't quite know what to expect, I thought this would be some kind of angsty contemporary. But once Shelly arrives and weasels the way into the reader's (and Kan's) heart, you'll immediately know something is wrong. There's a strange air of uncomfortable mystery around her that you can feel oozing from the pages the entire time. Dunn definitely knows how to orchestrate a mystery and make you feel uneasy. 

Aside from Shelly and her secrets, a large portion of the novel is spent gushing over love interest Ethan. He's your typical high school cool kid with the twist that he unapologetically enjoys traditionally feminine things. I really enjoyed seeing a character like that, though the romance aspect didn't do much for me, which is highly, highly subjective. Generally, GIRL ON THE VERGE  is one of those reads that exist at the lower end of YA, a little over upper MG in my opinion, which is definitely not a bad thing, just something you have to take into consideration when reading this. I certainly didn't expect a fairly younger than YA-sounding voice in a thriller story, so GIRL ON THE VERGE definitely caught me off guard. Had I known from the beginning, I probably would've liked this a lot more, but this is subjective.

#Ownvoices Excellence

I was immediately impressed with the way Dunn managed to put that unique diaspora feeling of not feeling like you belong in either worlds into words; this definitely warrants a recommendation alone. I've seldom seen authors go there and explore this feeling in as much detail, honesty, and eloquence as Dunn does. Especially if you're Thai diaspora, or Thai-American, this hopefully might mean even more to you, you need to get your hands on this book. 

GIRL ON THE VERGE definitely does a lot for diaspora readers in terms of validating and normalizing their experience, which I am immensely grateful for. The amount of strength, sheer talent, and determination it must have taken to put these feelings into words renders me speechless. GIRL ON THE VERGE perfectly illustrates to me what #ownvoices really is and what it means. For that alone, this deserves a glowing recommendation. Even if the other aspects don't really sound like something you'd be interested in, GIRL ON THE VERGE deserves all the support for its radiant and heartfelt portrayal of what it means to be diaspora.


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're diaspora, or even Thai diaspora, this is an absolute must-read. Doesn't matter what your reading preferences are, I've seldom seen an author provide such poignant and moving representation for diaspora readers in terms of feeling like you don't belong. Definitely recommend this to your diaspora friends.



Additional Info

Published: June 27th 2017
Pages: 256
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: YA / Thriller
ISBN: 9781496703606

Synopsis:
"In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.

When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…"
(Source: Goodreads)

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Recommendation: Wild - Hannah Moskowitz: Deafness and Bisexuality

In WILD, Zack wants to meet up with his online girlfriend, but has no idea that she's Deaf.
What intrigued me: Bisexual Jewish #ownvoices! Hardly any white people in the main cast! Deaf romance!

Hilarious and Authentic Romance

WILD has one of the most authentic teen voices I've ever encountered in YA. I'm super picky with contemporary romance, most of the time it's like pulling teeth for me, but not with WILD.

The combination of a great voice, teens who truly feel like teens, great humor, and diverse, non-white protagonists (Guatemalan/Jewish Deaf bisexual love interest and Filipino bisexual protagonist), make this one an absolute success for me. I couldn't get enough of WILD and read it super quickly. Despite being short, I feel like Moskowitz made the most out of this story and wrote a fast-paced, compelling, and adorable romance that will make you laugh out loud.
I can't emphasize enough how funny this is, I seriously had to pause sometimes, because I couldn't breathe. I can confidently say that I have never ever seen any author write believable chat convos between teens until I read WILD. Honestly, you guys, it's so good. Moskowitz writes teens a little dorky, a little dirty-minded, and 100% authentically. I'm so in awe. It hasn't been that long since I was a teen, but this is the first time I'm not painfully aware that this is an adult writing teens while reading chat convos and texts. Bless.

Deaf Culture and Organic Romance

While WILD is a romance at heart, it really shines more with the protagonist and side characters instead of being a straight-up romance. I didn't really feel like it's about Zack and Jordan getting to know each other or falling in love, because this is an established relationship and they've sort-of been dating since long before the events of the novel start. Zack and Jordan truly feel like people who genuinely enjoy each other as friends first and foremost, which is very rare to find in YA, and I'm all about this. This is as far from instant love and tropey romance as it gets. 

My favorite element and the one that you have to definitely prepare for when you're picking this up, is Deafness. It plays a really big role in WILD. I am not D/deaf, so I cannot speak for the accuracy of the representation, but it does feel like to me that Moskowitz put a lot of research into this: There are bit and bobs you'll learn about Deaf culture while reading and all signed conversations are written in <<>>. Zack and Jordan communicate either through sign language or texts. 

Signing plays a big role, too, because Zack starts learning ASL for her (and is terrible at it, which is just hilarious to read). A lot of the characters are either Deaf and/or signing, which is super refreshing and interesting. Again, can't speak for the accuracy of the rep, but I did learn a lot about Deaf culture that I didn't know before. WILD is unlike anything I've ever read, and an absolutely refreshing and fun delightful Deaf romance.




Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WILD is probably my favorite romance of 2017. Even if you don't like contemporary romances, give this one a shot, I beg you! Who can say no to a hilarious and adorable romance between a Deaf Guatemalan/Jewish bisexual girl and Filipino bisexual boy?

[If you're D/deaf and have reviewed this, I'd be happy to link your review! Let me know.]


Additional Info

Published: April 26th 2017
Pages: 228
Publisher: Amazon
Genre: YA / Romance
ISBN: B06ZZMBMVS

Synopsis:
"Zack Ramos is training for two things: being a parent to his twelve-year-old sister once his mother's early-onset Alzheimer's (the same kind he and his sister each have a 50% chance of developing--but let's not think about that) progresses too far, and running a one hundred mile race through the mountains of Tennessee. His support system is longtime girlfriend Jordan Jonas, who's sweet, sarcastic, and entirely virtual. They've been talking for years but still have never met in person. Because Jordan, it turns out, was still waiting for the right time to tell him that she's Deaf. 

The revelation brings them closer together, and Zack throws himself into learning sign language and trying to navigate their way through their different cultures. But with the stress of a tumultuous relationship, a new language, a sick mother, and his uncertain future, there's going to be a breaking point...and it might be out there in the Tennessee wild."(Source: Goodreads)

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Recommendation: 27 Hours (The Nightside Saga #1) - Tristina Wright: Queer Teens in Space

In 27 HOURS, five queer teens are trying to save the colonized moon Sahara from getting run over by gargoyles.

What intrigued me: You had me at queer.

Fast-Paced, Creative, Breathtaking.

27 HOURS is the queer space extravaganza that you've been waiting for. Wright starts the story with a bang and you won't have time to take a breath until the 27 hours time for the kids to stop the war between humans and gargoyles are over. If you like fast-paced action-filled stories with a side of very queer romance, you will adore this.

And if that isn't already enough to hook you: I was immediately impressed with the skillful prose; 27 HOURS is one of those books that makes you want to pick up a pen right now and start writing. Dripping with creativity, originality, and a truly fantastically-built intricate fictional world, I am in absolute awe of Wright's talent. An absolute recommendation for fans of Laini Taylor and Susan Ee.

This one's for the LGBT kids.

It's impossible to talk about 27 HOURS without mentioning the excellent representation it provides. It did move me to tears to see so many marginalized identities (some that I do share) finally represented in a SFF book. There are no words to describe how much it means to me to find nuanced representation for people whose identities in YA fiction are usually just exploited for the shock value. 
27 HOURS truly aims to represent with on-the-page statements and a cast that couldn't be queerer (no straight protagonists! When's the last time you saw THAT?). 27 HOURS is one of the very few books that I would unconditionally recommend to queer kids of color and disabled queer kids of color. Heck, if you're disabled, queer, or a POC, or all of these things, you will weep gentle tears of joy when reading about characters who look like you going on a space adventure.

This list will speak more than a thousand words:

On-the-page diverse protagonist representation:
  • Nyx: latinx (Cuban), Deaf, pansexual
  • Braeden: asexual
  • Dahlia: trans girl, darkskin/black latinx, bisexual
  • Rumor: multiracial (Nigerian and Portugese dad, Indian mom), bisexual
  • Jude: gay
There are a ton of queer side characters - Jude's mom is married to a woman, Jude's brother Trick is gay, Jude's brothers partner uses they/them pronouns. 27 HOURS is probably the queerest fantasy read of the year and I am eternally grateful for that.



Rating:

★★★★★



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Even if you are not interested in this personally, I BEG YOU to gift this to your lgbt friends of color. This book is for the Deaf LGBT teens of color out there. I think it may be the only one of its kind. Queer teens in space, y'all. I cried. Your disabled QPOC friends will cry. Representation matters.

Trigger warnings: violence, war, blood



Additional Info

Published: October 3rd 2017
Pages: 400
Publisher: Entangled TEEN
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Space & Other Planets
ISBN: 9781633758216

Synopsis:
"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."
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite book featuring queer teens of color?

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Recommendation: Geekerella - Ashley Poston: Star Trek and Conventions

In GEEKERELLA, Elle enters a cosplay contest to win tickets to meet the star of the reboot of her favorite TV series.

What intrigued me: I was craving some more classic takes on fan fiction tropes and stories!

Super cute!

GEEKERELLA is an intensely fun story about a fangirl falling for the new actor who was cast in the reboot of her favorite series, and whom she despises. If you love a good enemies-to-lovers story with You've Got Mail elements and lots of nerdy references, you will absolutely adore this. 

GEEKERELLA is sprinkled with references from Star Wars to Princess Bride, and is definitely one of those happy-go-lucky reads that will make you feel all fuzzy inside. GEEKERELLA follows the tradition of a couple similar books that pay hommage to fandom culture, but remains wholly original through the fairy tale spin. As you may have guessed from the title, this is a Cinderella retelling, complete with mean stepsisters and all. If you love Jenny Han and Rainbow Rowell, and want a cute contemporary, you will absolutely adore this. 

Fabulous Writing and Characters

Poston is a very talented writer that immediately managed to catch my interest through the fabulous dual narration. As we all know dual narration is pretty much always hit or miss and requires an immense talent to pull off. Poston definitely possesses that. Love interest Darien is absolutely my favorite character in this and I loved him so much that I wished the whole story was told from his perspective. You'll definitely play favorites when reading GEEKERELLA. Elle, who lives with her vlogging bratty stepsisters and stepmother, is completely different than Darien, teen heartthrob and secretly just as much of a Starfield geek. It makes for such a great almost-starcrossed lovers story to read about these two secretly falling for each other. 

It should also be noted that Darien is a man of color, he's Indian if I'm not mistaken. Poston generally managed to gain a bazillion sympathy points with the way she handled adding characters of color into this story. GEEKERELLA is for the fans out there who love obsessing about TV shows. It's spiked with little references to the age of technology with a blogger protagonist and an online romance. You'll love this.



Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

GEEKERELLA is a super cute love letter to fangirls and fanboys out there. Especially if you love Star Trek, you'll adore this.



Additional Info

Published: April 4th 2017
Pages: 320
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781594749476

Synopsis:
"Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?"
(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite geeky read?

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Recommendation: Girl Out of Water - Laura Silverman: Surfing and One-Armed Skaters

In GIRL OUT OF WATER, surfer girl Anise has to move from Santa Cruz to Nebraska when her aunt has an accident.
What intrigued me: Always there for cute contemporaries!

Bittersweet and Unique

GIRL OUT OF WATER hit me out of nowhere. With lyrical prose and a voice that packs a punch, it reads like it's written from the heart. Silverman's narration is captivating, sassy, essentially teen, and just an absolute delight. 

I'm especially happy to see a protagonist in YA contemporary that I'm very sure I've never seen before. When was the last time you read about a surfer girl-turned skater? So interesting to read about and the nuanced way Silverman writers about the bittersweet experience of leaving home hit very close to home for me personally.

GIRL OUT OF WATER is a story about family, friendships, and growing up. It's quiet, it's funny, it's bittersweet - it's just the perfect read for spring and summer and I'm very happy that I chose to give this one a shot. However, don't expect fast-paced action when picking this one up, GIRL OUT OF WATER is quiet first and foremost and capitalizes on its fantastic characters. If you fall in love with them, this will be even more fun for you and I can wholeheartedly recommend this if you like character-driven contemporaries.


Diversity Done Right

I was especially happy about the casual diversity. Anise's best friend Tess is Samoan, there are sapphic background characters, and the love interest is a black one-armed skater. It's very rare that you'll find a book that doesn't capitalize and advertise with its diversity, but uses it as a given. Our world is diverse. People are diverse. 

I absolutely enjoyed about these characters who just happen to be marginalized and whose marginalizations don't involve huge plot complications or are used as plot devices - I have to remark that because unfortunately a lot of books do this. Not this one though. GIRL OUT OF WATER reflects our diverse world beautifully in a quiet manner that just made me squeal with joy. I wish this was the norm. More like this please.


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

GIRL OUT OF WATER is quiet and fun contemporary with a sassy narrator that I'm sure teens will love. If you like Ashley Herring Blake and Jenny Han, you'll adore this. With a black amputee love interest, a Samoan BFF and sapphic side characters, the background diversity made me really happy. That's so nice to read.



Additional Info

Published: May 2nd 2017
Pages: 320
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781492646860

Synopsis:
"Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves "
(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite contemporary?

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Recommendation: The Bone Witch - Rin Chupeco: Necromancy and Witches

In THE BONE WITCH, Tea gets taken in by a seasoned necromancer after she accidentally resurrects her dead older brother Fox.

What intrigued me: Necromancy! How to sell a book to me in one word.

For both fantasy lovers and skeptics

THE BONE WITCH follows the story of a rookie witch traveling the kingdoms with her mentor and her undead brother, whom you'll grow to love for his deadpan commentaries. 

There's a second POV from a bard who seeks out a bone witch and plans to sing about her life, and those two POVs are drastically different in style. While the former reads almost happy-go-lucky and lets us explore the world in a haunting, yet light manner; the latter feels really heavy. From the rich language to the tone it's spiked with more back story and feels more traditionally fantasy than the other. Especially as a very skeptic high fantasy reader, I thoroughly enjoyed the variation. 

I believe that THE BONE WITCH resides somewhere at the intersection between a light paranormal and an epic high fantasy saga, which is the most evident through those two POVs. 
Chupeco can definitely do both, her writing is so versatile that I'm convinced it will be a delight for both seasoned fantasy readers and beginners. Essentially, the experience you'll have when reading this will range from flipping through the pages happily to just being stunned by sheer magical originality of it all. 


Beauty vs. Horror

What I love most about THE BONE WITCH is how effortlessly it combines beauty with horror. The daeva, terrifying demon beasts that can never be quite destroyed meet adorable happy villagers who wear hearts made of glass around their necks that display their feelings. Every so often Chupeco will present you with the most beautifully painted scenery, spiked with horrifying monsters. Paired with the Asian influences, that's such a winning combination that I am in awe. 

The world of THE BONE WITCH reminds me of an art deco painting, sprinkled with fairy-tale creatures that present themselves twisted and darkly. It reads like Tim Burton meets UPROOTED, which stuns just as much with originality and certainly rises up to my favorite high fantasy reads of all time.


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE BONE WITCH presents us with a spell-binding, incredibly intricate world that you'll ache to explore. It absolutely caught me off guard, I didn't expect to fall in love with both the masterful writing and the uniqueness of it all. 

A must-read for all high fantasy lovers and definitely a suggestion to readers who like witches and just want to venture into high fantasy.



Additional Info

Published: March 7th 2017
Pages: 400
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781492635826

Synopsis:
"When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha — one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read books about necromancy?

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

[Review] The Seafarers Kiss - Julia Ember: Bisexuality and Mermaids

In THE SEAFARER'S KISS, mermaid Ersel falls in love with shieldmaiden Ragna and causes lots of trouble back home at the ice castle.

What intrigued me: I absolutely loved her debut UNICORN TRACKS.

Action-filled intricate world

I knew I'd love THE SEAFARER'S KISS after about five pages. Just like with her fantastic debut UNICORN TRACKS, Ember writes fast-paced and action-oriented - just what I like.

It's absolutely amazing how Ember painted this intricate world with its own customs and little sayings - THE SEAFARER'S KISS doesn't read like paranormal romance or mythology - it truly reads like a contemporary set in a mermaid kingdom. And you guys, this is the best.

I absolutely fell in love with the characters. Especially Ersel's best friend and now king's guard Havamal - the swoon is real. Even though this isn't really a book with a love triangle, I found myself rooting a bit for him and Ersel. You'll ship everyone while reading this book, that's the beauty of everyone being bisexual! The characters are all just so lovely, you'll find yourself wishing that they'd all just get along. It might also be relevant to your interests to know that Loki is genderfluid with they/them pronouns in this and that there is an amputee. The marginalized identities representation is fabulously refreshing and fun to read about. 

The Little Mermaid gone dark


THE SEAFARER'S KISS is a roller coaster of emotions. The first half of the book presents you with super cute contemporary romance fluff and all the feels, and towards the end it gets so dark that you'll find yourself wanting to turn the lights on. The two halves that THE SEAFARER'S KISS is divided into are without a doubt my favorite thing about this book - it manages to flawlessly combine a cute bisexual romance with an exciting fantasy adventure.

Filled with plot twists, THE SEAFARER'S KISS explores the moral shades of gray between good and evil while being an absolute page-turner. Ember managed to get me with every single twist. I saw none of them coming and am thoroughly impressed with the way she magnificently managed to make this The Little Mermaid retelling absolutely 100% her own.

THE SEAFARER'S KISS stuns with intricately developed character relationships, a fantastic world, and an action-filled plot that'll probably tempt you to binge-read this in one sitting.


5/22/17 Note:
Rating suspended until the book is revised.

There are discussions about the representation in this going on right now, specifically related to the trans rep. I know it's in the process of being changed, and up until then I'll leave the rating blank. Should the revision still show issues, I'll change the review, but right now I don't feel like I'm an authority on the rep, so I won't comment on it.

Read this review for more info on the issues.


Rating:

pending

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE SEAFARER'S KISS is the bisexual Norse Little Mermaid retelling you've been waiting for. Trust me, you want this. I think I have a very strong contender for new favorite LGBT+ writer. Julia Ember's one to watch.

See note above.


Additional Info

Published: May 4th 2017
Pages: 230
Publisher: Duet Books
Genre: YA / Mythology / Norse Mythology
ISBN: 9781945053207

Synopsis:
"Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies."
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite mermaid book?

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Recommendation: The Women in the Walls - Amy Lukavics: Victorian Mansions and Disappearances

In THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS, Lucy and her cousin Margaret are hearing voices inside the walls of their Victorian home after Lucy's aunt disappears.

What intrigued me: Horror, horror, horror, give me all the creepy YA horror.

Bursting with talent

I've seldom read such effortlessly beautiful writing. There is not a single word too much in this book, Lukavics writes so infuriatingly beautiful that you can't help but be a little jealous of her talent. THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS tells a fascinating yet very simple story without much of a complicated plot that is so, so, so enhanced and livened through the fantastic writing. Lukavics has a very atmospheric writing style that is so essentially eerie. It's incredible how much Lucy's voice sucks you into this story, makes you feel like you're wandering through this creepy Victorian mansion with her.

I started out slightly skeptical because of the setting - it surely isn't anything I haven't seen before, but THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS perfectly illustrates that you can write with the most overdone premise ever and turn it into a masterpiece, if only you put your own spin on it. And that's what Lukavics absolutely does. 

Peak Creepiness

When it comes to horror, I'm a reviewer that you wouldn't want to read your book. I'm hardly scared of anything. You need to be exceptional to scare me and that's absolutely what THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is. It feels a little like psychological horror, how Lukavics pretty much gives you zero information on whether these voices are real or not and what they exactly are throughout the majority of the story. Until the bombastic finale that's riddled with absolutely unpredictable plot twists, you'll find yourself questioning whether Lucy and Margaret are imagining things or not constantly. It's so well-done that I genuinely grew a little paranoid while reading and I surely loved the way Lukavics wraps it all up. 

A word of caution towards the end: if you're not a fan of open endings, THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS will be very difficult to part with. Personally, I just can't help but keep thinking about Lukavics' characters because the story doesn't quite have an ending. But that's part of the brilliance and what good horror should do in my opinion. It should leave you thinking about the gruesome creepiness for days. Lukavics certainly and effortlessly managed to knock my favorite creepy horror writers from the throne. THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is absolutely a book you should read if you like everything eerie and Victorian. 


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is exceptional. A masterpiece, really. Written with literary ease and multi-faceted atmospheric writing, this is more than just a recommendation - this is a must-read.

Note: Massive trigger warning for suicide, body horror/gore, emotional abuse, and cutting/self harm if you plan on reading this book.


Additional Info

Published: September 27th 2016
Pages: 278
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA / Horror
ISBN: 9780373211944

Synopsis:
"Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.  

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.
 "(Source: Goodreads)



Have any horror books scared you lately?

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Recommendation: Under Rose-Tainted Skies - Louise Gornall: Agoraphobia and Being House-Bound

In UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, Norah is house-bound because of her agoraphobia and steps out of her comfort zone when she develops a crush on Luke, the cute boy next door.

What intrigued me: I've been looking for more mental illness #ownvoices stories because I've been disappointed with books by authors who don't write from their own experiences lately.



Compelling story and lovely protagonist


UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES is a very quiet story of a girl with OCD, agoraphobia, anxiety, and depression. It's definitely unlike anything I've ever read before, because it absolutely does focus on Norah's struggle with her illnesses while telling a compelling story that you'll surely grow very fond of. From her daily struggles and little things she needs to check periodically to her crippling fear of other things and her reaction when confronted with them, UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES shows the full spectrum of Norah's illnesses and tells the story in an honest and compelling way.

It absolutely shows that Gornall knows what she's talking about. I've never read anything like this. Protagonist Norah is so lovely and adorable that can only get invested in her story even if you don't share her mental illnesses. Gornall doesn't shy away from anything and describes Norah's life in such a brutally honest matter that it's awe-inspiring.

Mental illness without romanticization

The thing I love most about UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES is how unapologetic and honest it is. It's not a love story, not a fun contemporary, not a coming-of-age story, it's just a novel about a girl with mental illnesses and her daily life, with a side of a little romance. If you're looking for a typical YA romance story, this is the wrong pick. UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES feels a little literary and different, just completely unique and very much delightfully so. 
The side romance actually is what I was scared about the most because I feared this might venture into romanticization as so so so many other novels about mental illnesses do. The protagonist falls in love and suddenly they're cured. 

That's absolutely not what UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES does. It does quite the opposite of romanticization actually by having the love interest Luke seek to understand Norah's illnesses and not trying to change a single thing about her. They're such an adorable couple and it's so refreshing to read a love story involving a sick character who doesn't change a single thing about themselves to be with their partner. 



Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

This is the kind of story I'm hoping many people with illnesses will pick up. It's so heart-warming to see a story like that and I can just whole-heartedly recommend UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES to everyone who's either living with similar mental illnesses and/or seeks to read and understand what life for people with these illnesses might look like. UNDER ROSE-TAINTED skies is bold, daring, and beautiful. Give it a shot.


Note: Trigger warning for self-harm


Additional Info

Published: Jan 3rd 2017
Pages: 320
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9780544736511

Synopsis:
"Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did.

Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up.
 "(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite read featuring a mentally-ill character?

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