Monday, April 23, 2018

YA Review: The Summer of Jordi Perez

The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding

Published: April 3rd, 2018 by Sky Pony Press
Genre: Contemporary YA
Binding: eARC
Page Count: Goodreads says 224.
Part of a series? I don't believe so.
Got via: Edelweiss.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people's lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn't expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it's a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.

Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She's competing against the girl she's kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She's somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.'s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn't feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby's finally in her own story?

But when Jordi's photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?

Review: If you follow me on twitter, you already know how much I loved this. Long story short, the fat representation is great and positive without ignoring the reality of fat oppression, the platonic friendships are wonderful, the humour is great, and the romance is adorable. So basically, I'm done this review now right? No, I'm kidding, I'm going to write a full review. But that is a pretty good summary of my overall thoughts, so how about we jump right into specifics?

Plot Talk: Contemporary books always sound so bad when I describe their plots. Just me, other people are good at it. This is much more of a character driven book, and a lot of the conflict is both about Jordi and Abby's relationship, and Abby's own personal growth. It's a quiet type of plot, not a boring one. I went out in the middle of reading this, and I was sitting in the restaurant waiting for my food (amusingly, a burger), and I was like, "I could have brought my kindle and been reading."

Also, since I don't really have another place to put this, points for the setting here as well. A lot of the time in a book with a fat MC, I ask why there aren't other fat people besides the MC. In this case... the MC lives in LA. I can totally understand why she doesn't see as many other fat people in her day to day life. I mean, I'm pretty sure fat people do exist in LA, but, you know. LA. It kinda makes sense that thin people would be even more overwhelming than usual.

Characters: The characters really shine in this. Great characters really are an incredible strength of the author. I absolutely adored Abby's voice. She's got so much personality, and I adored it. I loved the fact that she has several pierces of clothing with fruit patterns. She's a giant nerd sometimes, and so freaking adorable. I also thought that as a fat character, she's wonderful. I like how she's very firm about "fat" not being an insult, and that indeed being what she is. She's confident in her body, and isn't ashamed of being fat, but she isn't immune to the oppression of fat people.

Some things that Abby says ring so, so true. Like thin people always guessing your size way smaller than it is like that's more polite or just out of cluelessness about larger sizes, and how it still bugs Abby but she wishes it didn't because she doesn't think anything is wrong with the size of her body. Her arc is about caring what people see when they see her, and starting to care less about those people, because, truly, they don't matter, and her body isn't "too big" for anything. It's honestly wonderful.

And every other character shines, too. Jordi is like the lesbian version of the YA Bad BoyTM, always wearing black and all artsy and has a secret dark past that isn't actually as dark as it seems. Her and Abby are literally the pink one and the goth one. Abby even has pink hair. Jordi is also Mexican-American, and there's some time spent talking about her family and her dad especially really wanting their family to connect with their family's roots through food, and it's really nice, I think. (Take me with a grain of salt here obviously, because white.)

I also really appreciated the wonderful friendships in this. Abby's best friend has a new boyfriend, and they're kind of relearning their friendship as dating becomes a thing for both of them, but it doesn't do the "my friend got a boyfriend and completely abandoned me" plot. Their friendship is still incredibly important to each of them, but their lives are changing a bit, and they're learning how to deal with that change. Overall, Abby's friends are wonderfully supportive of her, no matter what it is they're being supportive of. It's adorable and I loved it.

Along with that, I cannot write this review without mentioning Jax. That dude cracks me up. He's also an amazing example of non-toxic masculinity. He's a complete and total dudebro who, the first time we meet him, is kind of hitting on Abby a little bit. She turns him down and he stops doing that and holds absolutely no hard feelings, is just as interested in being her friend, and is basically ready to be her wingman to get her a girlfriend. My absolute favourite line is when Abby asks him why he's so afraid of "girl feelings", and he replies that he's a feminist, and he's equally afraid of all feelings.

Platonic boy/girl friendships for the absolute win.

PG-13 stuff: There's some cursing, a little bit of implied sexual content, but nothing that I think would be overwhelming for a younger YA reader, or anything. Pretty typical stuff for YA. The fatmisia discussed could be a little intense, but it's really balanced by almost no one in Abby's life actually being that way to her.

The one expection to this is her mother. This might go into a bit of a spoiler territory, so you can skip this part, but it's important to talk about. Abby's mother runs a health food company, and both her and the company are kind of peak diet culture. Her mother thinks that Abby's life would be easier if she wasn't fat (or gay) and, sure, that's probably true, but those are both probably about equally as changeable. She also is convinced Abby's going to be proven unhealthy when she goes to the doctor, and that her diet plan will magically make Abby lose weight (despite the fact that Abby already eats only her food at home and often for lunch at work). (Spoiler, it wouldn't, so go Abby for refusing to be a before.) Even though her mom (kinda) turns around, that could be upsetting for readers. I applaud the author for the depiction, though, personally. It's very true to life.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: I do have a couple small things. Some stuff is pretty healthist. Abby's mom, obviously, although she's not to meant to be seen as right, but the book does lean towards a "it's okay to be fat as long as you're happy and healthy". It's okay to also be fat and unhealthy and unhappy. Health is not a moral obligation. It'd be nice if that had been brought up, especially as the book lacks any kind of disability rep.

It also would have been nice to have other fat characters, even though I ultimately understand why there might not be, especially ones who are larger than Abby. (Abby is specifically not the largest size that the store carries, and in her words, those sizes tend to run small, and, in my experience, tend to not carry larger than a US24. So while her size is never named, you can kind of figure it out from context clues. There's also not talk of her not fitting into chairs, or booths, or seatbelts not fitting, or other things that fat people larger than that have to deal with.)

I also found some things a tiny bit aromisic. Ace people aren't really mentioned as a possibility (or pan people, or trans peeps really), and there's a moment where the idea of not having romantic love in your life is kind of dismissed as "not a thing". It's a bit meh in an otherwise very good book.

Also, can we not name drop Tess Holliday in YA books as a good person/role model? Just... please no.

Cover comments: I freaking love the cover. It actually has things that are in the book, like Abby's pink hair and burgers! I do kind of wish Abby was a bit more visibily fat (double chin, anyone?) as book covers seriously don't use enough actually fat models, but it also kind of fits that she doesn't like pictures of herself. It's cute as all heck, though.

Conclusion: Why do my complain-y sections always look so long when I actually liked a book? Seriously, I honestly loved this. It's got such a sweet romance, great friendships, diverse characters, and some of the most realistic fat representation. I read part of a book recently that seemed to be trying to do everything this book did, and failed miserably, and this book was like a breath of fresh air after reading just a third of that book. The word fat is never treated as a dirty word. BEING fat is never, ever treated as a bad thing. We need a ton more of that in YA, especially intersectional characters who are fat and queer, or POC, or disabled, etc. I had such a good time reading this. It's a perfect summer book, and I would definitely recommend it. Half a rose off for some of the things I mentioned, but this one is still getting four out of five roses from me.



Other notes:

- Random, but for some reason my brain mixed this up with The Education of Margot Sanchez. I guess they both have an MC who cares about fashion (for one reason or another) and take place over the summer? Brains are weird, though.

- I am aware there is some stuff going down with Sky Pony Press, but I'm not educated enough on the specifics to speak about it, and I still want to support this book.

- Are internships at stores a thing in the US? I had never heard of that before. We have work experience programs, but those are done through the high school and the kids get class credit for them or whatever.

- This is not specifically related to the book, so I'm not going to include it in the review proper, but I wish there was more fat rep of characters, especially fat girls, who aren't into fashion, and not because they don't like their body. Like Molly in Upside of Unrequited, this seems to be quite common, and while it's not inherantly bad, it shouldn't be everything there is.

Fat girls are expected to perform a higher degree of feminity than thin girls, but not all of us are interested in wearing dresses and super cute outfits. Some of us are happier in casual outfits, or don't care at all, or can't FIND clothing in our sizes that reflects how we'd actually want to dress but non-basic items aren't avalable. Some fat girls are disabled and can't put that many spoons towards clothing choices. Some fat people aren't girls at all. We severely lack representation of people who aren't fashionable white, smaller-fat girls. Who are mostly straight.

Okay, done rant. Still true, but I'm done ranting.

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, April 20, 2018

Book Blogger Hop (2)

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

This week's question is: How do you organize your books for review? Does it work for you or have you had to change it?

It's mostly a stack on my night stand (which is a coffee table). Like I said in my first Hop post, I don't get a ton of review books, so just sorting them in order and reading what comes first pretty much works for me. I have like one ARC right now, lol.

Then for eARCs, I have a collection (like a folder, essentially, if you don't know how kindles work) on my kindle with all of those in it. It's called "areview books" because then it's right up at the top when I turn it on, since I sort my kindle by title, lol. Not the most graceful way to do it, probably, but it gets the job done. I only have like 4-5 eARCs at once at the most, so I don't need anything more complicated than that.

In general the stack method is how I organize my reading pile. Since I do generally plan on talking about both library books and books I've purchased on my blog, I'll count that. I have them somewhat organized by what's due first/what will cost me money if I don't get my butt to reading, and it used to be way higher, but I've worked it down quite a ways. And then I have a box of backlist challenge books to refresh it in my closet, but that's another story.

So, boring answer from me this week, lol. I'd love to hear how you guys organize yours, though!

Thanks for reading!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (3)

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

This week, I'm excited about:

Clara Voyant by Rachelle Delaney

Release date: May 15th, 2018
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Clara can't believe her no-nonsense grandmother has just up and moved to Florida, leaving Clara and her mother on their own for the first time. This means her mother can finally "follow her bliss," which involves moving to a tiny apartment in Kensington Market, working at a herbal remedy shop and trying to develop her so-called mystical powers. Clara tries to make the best of a bad situation by joining the newspaper staff at her new middle school, where she can sharpen her investigative journalistic skills and tell the kind of hard-news stories her grandmother appreciated. But the editor relegates her to boring news stories and worse . . . the horoscopes.

Worse yet, her horoscopes come true, and soon everyone at school is talking about Clara Voyant, the talented fortune-teller. Clara is horrified--horoscopes and clairvoyance aren't real, she insists, just like her grandmother always told her. But when a mystery unfolds at school, she finds herself in a strange situation: having an opportunity to prove herself as an investigative journalist . . . with the help of her own mystical powers.

Why I'm excited: You all know I love me some middle grade, and this sounds really stinking cute, and like it's gonna be a lot of fun. It sounds like something I would have loved as a kid, honestly. And it doesn't hurt that the cover is adorable.

So what are you excited about this week?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, April 16, 2018

Things I've Read Recently (70): New Comics!

If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason. This is very convenient for comics, honestly, as there's not always a ton to say about them.

I do have some stuff to talk about, though, and let's start with this one.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson

Published: These are webcomics that eventually started to be published in newspapers, collected into a bind-up September 2nd, 2014 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Middle grade/juvenile comic
Binding: Paperback, but if you have a choice for your library for this series, get a hardcover. (I'll explain why in the review.)
Page Count: 215 plus a bunch of cute extras like little recipes and crafts and how to draw stuff. Very nice bonus stuff.
Part of a series?  There are currently 7 volumes out, one just published March 20th, and I believe the comic strip is on-going as well.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Do you believe in unicorns? Phoebe does. She has no choice.. one day she skipped a rock across a pond, and hit a unicorn in the face. Improbably, this resulted in a lasting friendship between Phoebe and the unicorn, one Marigold Heavenly Nostrils.

Come along for the unicorn ride with Phoebe, as she deals with the usual burdens of childhood (cruel classmates, gym class, piano lessons) and also some unusual ones (magic hair, candy-breathing dragons, and the legendary Shield of Boringness).

Can a precocious little girl and a self-absorbed mythical forest creature find common ground?

Thoughts: Dang this is adorable. I grew up on Calvin and Hobbes, and this is definitely reminiscent of that, but centering a great girl character. Also, I've never seen the Last Unicorn, but I know enough about it know the way Marigold is drawn is pretty similar to that, so if you grew up watching that movie, you might get a kick out of this.

It is very, very cute and really funny. I would have adored it as a kid, and I can tell that kids today are loving it, because the paperback copy I have is super beat up. Like I read it and then I went and washed my hands before doing anything else, lol. I know not all of these can be bought in hardcover, but if you're a librarian and you can get the ones in hardcover, do, because I think the durability will be worth if.

If you want to buy a gift for a kid, one of these would be great as they seem to average at or under ten dollars, and I can see the appeal being super high. There's a bit of ableist language, and it lacks a little bit of diversity (could use more POC especially), but I'm hoping that comes as it goes on. All in all, lots of fun.

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 5: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Mat Wilson, and Clayton Cowles

Published: November 1st, 2014 by Image Comics
Genre: Adult urban fantasy comic
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: Goodreads says 144
Part of a series? This collects issues 1-5 of The Wicked + the Divine
Got via: The library
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.

Thoughts: I was looking for comic book recommendations on Twitter, and someone recommended this, plus I'd heard there was eventually an ace character, so I decided to check it out. I actually really like the art style of this, and I also thought that it was super neat that they use a wide variety of gods, and not just like, the Greek ones. For some reason I definitely thought it was only going to be Greek gods, and seeing Irish mythology especially excited me because that's my thing.

I will say, this is a bit gorier than I would have expected without being told beforehand. Luci warned me about the fact that several heads explode on page in this, which I really apprecated because yeah, that's kind of disturbing. There's also a lot of sex talk done in a way which can get a little meh. Like, I get it, everyone wants to bone the gods. I just thought it got a bit old.

All in all, this probably isn't my favourite series, but I'm interested enough to read more. It's an interesting concept, and the art style works well for me, so I think I'll order another volume or two.

Paper Girls, Volume 1, by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiange, and Matthew Wilson

Published: April 5th, 2016 by Image Comics
Genre: YA comics
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: Goodreads says 144, and as always, I assume goodreads is correct, as these things aren't numbered.
Part of a series? This collects Paper Girls 1-5.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.

Thoughts: Oh yeah, I want more of this. Partly because the volume ended on a freaking cliffhanger like nobody's business, but also I really liked this. It's set in 1989, and has kind of a Lumberjanes meets Stranger Things vibe going on. Which are both things I enjoy.

The only thing I'm really not fond of is the homomisic language that one of the protagonists uses (she's called out for it by the other characters), but I'm willing to see how that character changes and grows. I have a feeling about where they're going with that and I want to see if I'm right before making a decision on that. If you're not okay with that and that's a dealbreaker, I totally get it and no pressure, but that's my view for now.

This does feel really unfinished, which it obviously is being the first in a series, but I'm very interested in reading more.

Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth, Megan Levens, and Marissa Louise

Published: June 20th, 2017 by Dark Horse Comics
Genre: Fantasy Comics, and it's an adult comic, but would be fine for teens as well and probably has a lot of YA appeal.
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: This one actually numbers them, and it has 134 pages.
Part of a series? This collects Spell on Wheels #1-5 which I believe is the whole series.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): A road trip story. A magical revenge fantasy. A sisters-over-misters tale of three witches out to get back what was taken fom them.

Andy, Jolene, and Claire aren't your average twenty-somethings. They're legacy witches making their way through a modern world. When a jealous nonmagical ex breaks into their home and steals a spell that could awaken potentials with magical powers, the witches plan their revenge. Traveling down the East Coast, they must retrieve their powerful stolen artifacts and strengthen their friendship... the big bad is even worse than they imagined.

Thoughts: This was super fun. I ordered this solely because I saw a preview of it on Twitter, actually a couple years ago, and the character on the far right there, Claire, looked maybe-fat, and I wanted to see how that was. She's comic book fat, so she's not exactly representative of me, and is more chubby/curvy than really fat, but she's also the largest character in the book. Her design can change issue from issue, and in some parts she looks almost the same as the other girls. She is clearly meant to be larger and taller, though.


So, not really rep for me or anything, but she's cute. Better than the nothing most comics give us, honestly. It's about what I was expecting.

Overall this was quite fun. I do quite like the art style, and found it fun and engaging. It is super colourful and I really like that so much more than grim and dark. It's just pretty to look at. Also, queer! Multiple characters in this are, including one of the main characters. It lacks in some areas of diversity, but not bad overall for that. And I liked how tropey it could be at times, in really fun ways. There's a magical makeover scene and that is just wonderful.

I believe this was a limited run, so this is all there is, but if there was ever more, I'd read the heck out of them. Lots of fun, and easy to read since there's just the one volume. I was quite impressed with how well the characters and their relationships were developed in such a short time period, especially. This was probably my favourite of this post, honestly. Recommended.

Alright, that's everything for this post!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Friday, April 13, 2018

Pokemon Go Book Tag Starring Luci




I don't know if you all have noticed, but my blog has been a little review heavy for the last... few years, frankly. And reviews are great, but they're a lot of work, and I also want to do things that aren't just me complaining. Things that are just fun for me and for you all to read. So I started looking at book tags and weekly posts and  things like that, and I found some stuff I want to do, so things are going to be changing a little around here.

And this one in particular seemed really cute. But I never got into Pokemon, either time around.

So I roped Luce into doing it with me! And they went along with it because they love me!

This tag was created by Aentee of Read at Midnight, and all graphics were created by them.


Starters: Book that started your love for reading?

My guess: Something I've never really heard of, because German.

Luci's answer: I don't know. I've always read a lot. The first book I was really into as a smol was "Die Maus Mathilde" (Matilde the Mouse) which was published by some tiny GDR publisher. I knew it by heart and recited it while pretending to read.

Me: I remember you telling me about that one!


Pikachu: An iconic classic that you'll always love

My guess: I'm thinking something by Oscar Wilde or Shakespeare, or the Neverending Story guy.

Luci's answer: I like Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet is hilarious. It has a lot of comedic elements. I did a presentation on that a couple semesters ago. Basically, a looooot of dick metaphors. Really the whole thing without death is pretty much a comedy.

Honestly I like a lot classics. Goethe's Faust is a good one too. Dracula is great because it has a lot of platonic relationships.

Me: Can you tell they're an English major?

Zubat: A book you lost interest in because it's literally everywhere

My guess: Luci got too fast and I didn't get to guess.

Luci's answer: The Hunger Games. I was kinda turned off the whole thing before I even started. I kinda read it late, like everyone was so into it, and then I eventually read it, but it was kinda meh. I didn't really care for it much. Mostly I just read it so I'd know what the hype was about. It wasn't as good as everyone said for me.

Also the whole Grisha thing.

Me: PLEASE ELABORATE. (I think we've documented my Six of Crows dislike...)

Luci: I actually own the first book but everyone is so into and my inner hipster is over it already. Also from my experience books or anything really that gets that much hype always diappoints, and a lot of stuff has aromisia in it, and people don't notice.


Ditto: A book that reminds you of other books/tropes, but you still love anyways

My guess: I feel like you're gonna feel this way about Not Your Sidekick, but you don't have that yet. Maybe one of Austin (Chant)'s books, or another queer romance?

Luci's answer: I don't know, romance is super tropey generally, but I wouldn't say that books with the same trope remind me of each other much. Maybe I'm weird.

Me: Well, yeah, of course you're weird, but not for that.

Luci: Thanks lol.


Snorlax: A book/series you have not started because of sheer size.

My guess: (Okay, sidenote, this concept is a little fatmisic.) My first thought was Goosebumps because we've been watching that show, lol. Honestly Luci's an English major. I don't think that's really a big thing for them.

Luci's answer: Honestly big books don't really scare me. I can't really think of a single book. I've read the entire bible. The only one that kind of fits is The Second Sex, but that's not so much a size thing as just very complex and a bit convuluted language thing. Theoretical text on feminism, very long, written in French and then translated. It's not that it's not interesting. It's just a lot and it's not like the most gripping book, and my attention span isn't what it used to be.


Gengar: A book that kept you up at night.

My guess: Okay, Luci's a wimp. I don't think they read much horror. They still haven't forgiven me for Poltergeist. They've probably read Chameleon Moon all night.

Luci's answer: I don't read any horror, lol. It's just not my genre. But I've had books that kept me up because I couldn't put them down. Yes, that (to Chameleon Moon). Also Harry Potter, A Little Life, The Fifth Season. Honestly I do most of my reading at night, like pretty much everything I've ever read was at least partially read at night.

Me: Yeah, you don't sleep.

Luci: Nope. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I got it delivered at midnight and stayed up until like 5am reading it, then slept a few hours and finished it at 8. Anyways, lots of late night reading. Oh, Well's Time Machine. I was scared as fuck. Merlocks, right?


Nidoking/Queen: Your bookish OTP.

My guess: Basically everyone in Chameleon Moon. To answer this would literally just be listing the Chameleon Moon cast list.

Luci's answer: YOU ARE NOT WRONG. ZILCH/ROWAN/REGAN FOR LIFE. Also you know their whole extended polycule, but that's like a lot of people. Jude and Pixie from Stake Sauce are Good. All the people from Dracula have like a QPP (queerplatonic partnership) thing going on in my head. Not literally ALL the people, but like the good guys. Wespeth.

Me: They don't know who that is, lol.

Luci: I BUILT THAT SHIP AND I WILL SAIL IT.


Rapidash: A fire-hot, fast paced read

My guess: If this isn't a Chameleon Moon answer I will be shocked.

Luci's answer: Chameleon Moon. Also Stake Sauce and the Fifth Season. I have a book with photos of baby (their dog) and I gotta say that's a real page-turner.


Eevee: A series you'll never get tired of seeing spin-offs for.

My guess: *cackles* Chameleon Moon.

Luci's answer: YES. Basically I love everyone in CM and I will never not want to know more about them, and also it's just a really interesting setting. Like there's a lot to explore there, all the hows and whys, and just a lot of interesting possibilities there.

Also Stake Sauce which actually has a spin-off series already with a NONBINRARY FIRE WITCH. And Stake Sauce/Death Masquerade has vampires AND witches so that's kinda self-explanatory. Vampires are at least in my top 3 of fantasy creatures.


Magikarp: A book/series that was surprisingly awesome.

My guess: I don't really have a guess for this one, but I do think that poor fish is ridiculous looking.

Luci's answer: It can literally only flop around. It's so useless. But then it evolves into gyaados which is awesome and a dragon type if I remember correctly.

Okay, don't laugh, but Chameleon Moon.

Me: I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.

Luci: For some reason I didn't really expect to like it that much? BUT THEN. Instant fave.

Me: New religion.

Luci: And then reading slump because it was SO GOOD and nothing could compare. I didn't read a lot of sci-fi before CM so I think part of why I didn't expect to be into it was that I just hadn't discovered the genre for myself yet and I kinda associated sci-fi with, like. Nonqueer White Dude Nerd CultureTM


Legendary: An overhyped series you're still excited to read.

My guess: More Percy Jackson. I know you've been enjoying that series.

Luci's answer: I'm kinda stuck on book three. God, I think I might be a hipster. I think my problem with this question is I'm reading a lot of queer lit right now and it's rare for queer books to be overhyped. And the ones that are, are like allo cis gay books or something, or just stuff that doesn't appeal to me, like Adam Silvera kinda? I keep hearing things about his books, but I don't like sad stories that much. AND the more hype something gets, the less interested I get by default.

Me: Hipster.

Luci: xD Which I guess has a lot to do with how ARCs get a lot of hype already, so by the time it comes out and I could actually read it, it's kinda like I feel like I know all about it already. So I'm not that interested in actually picking it up. Unless I've heard that it has like awesome aro or enby rep, but those aren't really *over*hyped.

Mask of Shadows got a lot of attention, though, and I'm really excited to read that one. It's just that diverse books generally don't get a lot of attention outside of diverse book twitter, so I don't know that overhyped applies there. And the books that actually get overhyped are like, Carve the Mark or The Raven Cycle or whatever, and I don't care about those. I'm like anti-excited to read those.


Mew and Mewtwo: A collector's issue you wish you owned.

My guess: Does Chameleon Moon have a collector's version? I know you wanted a version of some Oscar Wilde stories, and there are some cool Dracula editions. I don't think you're that into that kind of thing, though.

Luci's answer: I actually own a really pretty leatherbound edition of Dracula! But yeah generally I'm not that into collector's editions or anything. Unless the normal editon is like butt ugly. I care more about keeping my books in a good condition, aka PRISTINE. I would totally buy a special edition of CM though. Also we don't get a lot special editions except like movie tie-ins. But like in the US sometimes Target or whatever gets a special edition of a book, and we just don't get that, so tbh like it's just not on my radar.


Poke-Egg: A debut novel you're very excited for:

My guess: We were just talking about Hurricane Child, because the author is nonbinary and that's awesome. Was Mask of Shadows a debut, since you mentioned it?

Luci's answer: I think it was! Both of those. Also yours obviously ;)

Me: Aww dork XD (I haven't even started querying, lol.)


Lure Module: An auto-buy author

My not actually a guess but a fact: RoAnna Sylver.

Lucia's answer: Lol true. Also Claudie Arsenault, and Austin Chant.


Server's Down: A book release you've been waiting on forever

My guess: I know you're terrified to read The Lifeline Signal, although that's been out for a while, lol. Apparently you're into Game of Thrones so that one everyone else is waiting on that may never happen.

Luci's answer: Yes on TLS, and yes on GOT and same thing on the Kingkiller Chronicles, which I'm not even that excited about anymore, but I just want to FINISH it. Also I'm really excited for Baker Thief so it feels like I've been waitingfor a long time.

Me: I nearly mentioned that! Anything else you want to say?

Luci: Chameleon Moon is underrated.

Me: Hey since this is a Pokemon thing, what's your favourite one?

Luci: Eevee is cute. Mimikyu is is my fave I think. It kills people? I love it. It's spoopy. Look up the pokedex entry for Mimikyu. Also the Mimikyu rap on YouTube.

Me: Which one do you think would be my favourite?

Luci: Hmmmm. Oh, that's hard. Oh man you can't ask me that. There's like 700 of them!

Me: I know like three. Pikachu, fake Pikachu, and the plant one that turns into a flower.

Luci: Vulpix is cute and has an Alolan variant that is an ice type. I feel like yours should be an ice/ghost type or ice/dark.

Me: Oh that's cute. Okay, we'll go with that one, why not?


Okay, I think that's everything for us! Thanks for reading, and go follow Luce on Twitter, because they're obviously awesome.

Thanks again for helping me, Luci. And let me know what other posts like this you'd want to see from me!

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (2)

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

This week's book that I seriously can't wait to read is:

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Release date: May 8th, 2018
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There's not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley's favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.

So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone's explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer...before the killer strikes again.

Why I want to read it: I have a confession. I kinda love murder in books. I know it's terrible, but you know. Everybody has those things. I also heard that this has good fat rep, and that makes me extra excited. I even requested it on Edelweiss and I got rejected hard, lol. But that okay. It's gonna be out soon, so I can order it from the library.

What are you guys excited to read this week?

Peace and cookies,
Laina

Monday, April 9, 2018

YA Review: Before I Let Go

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Published: January 2nd, 2018 by Sourcebooks  Fire
Genre: YA Mystery
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 349 plus author's note and such.
Part of a series? No, standalone.
Got via: The library
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter...

Review: Okay, I kinda really liked this one. I have a few critical things to say about it, but it's one of those books that quietly worked really well for me. It's one of those books that isn't super in your face, but is kind of lovely for that. It does some things that are really subtle and leave you thinking about them for a long time afterwards. Parts of this are incredibly creepy and atmospheric, and I honestly had no clue what was going on for like most of the book, and it was a really, really good read.

Plot Talk: This is one of those books where there's not really a lot of plot but a lot happens? The summary basically explains it. Corey's best friend dies, and she goes back to their hometown for her memorial and to grieve and all that jazz, and things are weird. The rest is Corey trying to figure out what really happened to Kyra, and dealing with her grief. The book uses a variety of methods to tell the story, as well, from straight up narrative to letters, phone call transcriptions with no dialogue or prose, to almost screenplay like segments. It also utilizes a lot of flashbacks.

I'm making that sound really confusing, but it works and it's not. It reminds me of Far From You, and I think in both those cases it kind of makes sense for how the main character/narrator is feeling. Corey is thinking about her and Kyra's time together, and memories, and examining that, and wondering what she did wrong or what she could have done differently. It makes sense for the narrative to not be super lineal.

I also found the small town setting really well down. It feels isolated and weird and creepy.

Characters: I liked Corey's voice, and I especially liked how much she was into science. It's nice to see female characters with interest in STEM fields in YA. I also really liked that she had some really strong emotions. Asexual (and aromantic or aromantic-coded - I'll get more into that in a bit) characters can really be written as having no emotions or being very cold, and that can get old.

I'll also say here, one of my favourite things is how deep and intense the friendship was between Corey and Kyra. It's a relationship that's treated with as much importance as a romantic relationship, and that's wonderful to read. Kyra has romantic interest in Corey, but Corey doesn't recipricate, and she's not villanized or called lesser by the narrative for that. She sometimes struggles with feeling that way, but you know. That is pretty realistic, and it's a very small part of the book, and her entire identity is not wrapped up in feeling bad about it. She just has a low moment or two, and the narrative/other characters reassure her that no, she's actually just fine the way she is, and nothing is wrong with her.

I also feel like this is true of Kyra, specifically about her bipolar disorder. (She's also pansexual, but that's not relevant in this conversation, I just wanted to mention it because neat.) I'm going to try and find some reviews from ownvoices reviewers. That can be a bit tough, so I'm not really giving this points one way or another, but I do have some thoughts. I do think I'm going to go into this a bit more in the next section as well, so we'll come back to that.

Otherwise, kudos again for the small town depiction, including the small town characters. I was never entirely sure who to trust or who to be afraid of or if I was even supposed to be afraid of anyone at all. It's very effective. The book is pretty white, but it's kind of deliberately so? There's a lot of talk about how the land where Lost Creek is was stolen, and how it's a tiny, conservative, kind of bigoted town. There are POC characters at Corey's boarding school, which is described as basically larger than Lost Creek, although they aren't featured as prominently obviously. If that's going to be a dealbreaker for you, no worries from me, I get it, but I thought it was at least interesting that it's aware of it to some extant. You might feel like it's an excuse or something, and I'm not arguing, but I thought it was kind of accurate for the type of small town being portrayed, and handled better than just acting like it was the default automatically.

Does that make any sense?

There were also other queer characters, both at Corey's school and a couple even in Lost Creek, and the book acknowledged that the town could make that very difficult for them, if they weren't careful. It's not graphic about it, but it is realistic, speaking as a queer person who lives in a small town.

PG-13 stuff: Whole lot of this book is about ableism. Necessary spoilers in this section, so skip if you want. I'm actually going to link to a discussion about inspiration porn that the author took place in on Disability in Kidlit, because I think the book really sets out to meet that idea head on and talk about harmful it is. So while I personally think those things are handled very well, things still happen that could be upsetting. So trigger warnings for medical abuse, specifically medication being withheld and access to a therapist denied, a disabled person dying with people watching doing nothing to stop them. As well, arson and Corey is attacked and almost killed at one point.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: So my biggest complaint here probably could have been solved by hiring a couple aro sensitivity readers. There's a couple times where there are some aromisic phrases like "more than friendship" and whatnot, but the bigger thing? Corey super duper reads as aromantic. The book does do a cool thing by not actually talking about sex, and only talking about attraction. That's refreshing.

But while the asexual label is used, Corey's romantic orientation is never mentioned, or even talked about like a thing that exists, and the type of attraction talked about is never expanded on. It's only called "attraction", and that causes some conflation of aromanticism and asexuality. Corey is described as never having crushes, for instance, and other things are talked about that are obviously about romantic attraction, not sexual attraction, which leads to a not great asexuality depiction. Basically, if the book had actually used the word aromantic, I would have no problems, because she's pretty clearly not alloromantic. Instead, I gotta be a jerk and say all this.

Cover comments: The cover's creepy, and really fits the book. I like the use of a very light, almost blank space that leads into this darkness. The pop of red is great, too.

Conclusion: While there were a few things that frustrated me, there was a lot of this I loved. There's a part in the book where Corey goes back to Lost, and she sees an old picture of Kyra, and she's certain that it should be a picture of the two of them, only Corey's not in it. She doesn't know if Kyra's mom edited it, or if she's remembering wrong, or what. It's such a little detail, but it stuck in my head and really creeped out.

And a lot of the book is like that, really kind of unnerving and creepy. I was never quite sure if things were paranormal or grief or a weird small town or what and I had a lot of fun with that. That is right up my alley. This is a book that I know has some problems, and won't really work for everyone, but worked really well for me, and I think would work well for other people. Wish the ace rep had been a little different just in a few ways, but overall I had a really good time reading it. Three and a half out of four roses, but I'll probably round up to four on goodreads.



Peace and cookies,
Laina