Mini-Reviews: Netgalley

I got all of these books from netgalley for my honest review.

Saints and Misfits

Saints, Misfits, Monsters, and Mayhem is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

Pub: 6/13/17

(this is an arc so it may be different from the finished novel)

Pros: Getting the viewpoint of one arab-indian muslim teen girls life which is important to mention because throughout the story you see that her identity is important. It is something that is apart of her everyday. One of the things that I had to think about is that this is probably the only book that shows a teen (or adult) whose religion is prominent in their life.

Another thing that surprised me out the gate is how dark this book is (which would not if I had really read the synopsis…). It brought up some Muslim intra-faith and interfaith conversations up (liking these contemporaries bringing up issues in a way that many poc deal with them. Not everyday is a heavy day). It is an everyday contemporary dealing with her everyday issues being a teen: school, dating, and etc.

Cons: I did not like this story as much as I expected/wanted to. Part of it is possibly because I did not like My So Called Life.

Meh: (disclaimer all things that I did not like can probably be attributed to this being from point of view of a teen so yeah) Janna- I did not like her most of the time and her evolution felt out of nowhere. She was so judgmental, selfish, and mean. It felt like she kept people at a distance from her (probably because of the event that happened at beginning of book) but it felt like she was just there at times and nobody was actually her friend.

34515018

Linden Hills (DNF)

Pub: 3/14/17

-20%

Pros:  From what I read so far it does bring up a lot of black racial topics (colorism, assimilation, respectability, and the problematic bits of affluent black neighborhood)

Why DNF? This sounded so good I thought this is going to be a literal or more direct Dante’s Inferno with black folks. In my head it was going to be sci-fi, I think.

What about black women? I can’t tell if it is a good representation of how black men view women during this time period (or in general) or another book with black women as set pieces. Or I did not read it far enough to get to the nuanced women. Overall, I just was not enjoying it and felt it was a conversation that has been had a lot already in more reachable/non-black women exclusionary ways.

34020927

Cinderella and the Furry Slippers

Handsome princes, fancy castles, extravagant balls . . . in this girl-power fractured fairy tale, Cinderella learns that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is, and it’s better to create your own happy ending.

Cinderella is dying to go to the ball. She’s seen pictures of the fancy castle and the handsome prince, she’s heard the fairy tales about true love, she’s found the perfect dress in Princess magazine and she’s even found an ad for a Fairy Godmother. She’s all set.

Except the fairy godmother doesn’t look like the one in the ad. And the castle doesn’t look like the picture. And the prince . . . well, Cinderella decides her fairy-tale ending is going to look different–and be a whole lot more fun.

Pub: 8/10/17

Pros:   It is a unique Cinderella retelling, fantasy world built-in the story (my favorite part of the story), the last three pages of this book which makes me wish that it would have started with Cinderella leaving Prince Charming. Then the rest of the story could have been her discovering herself in the fantasy world  around her.

Cons: I found the last three pages of  this book more interesting than the all the pages before it.

33375926

Tobor

After receiving a special gift, Ben comes to understand that friends come in all shapes, sizes – and types. Ben receives a very special present for his fifth birthday. Unlike Ben’s stuffed animals who can’t move on their own or talk, Tobor is different; with a press of his square nose, Tobor comes alive, suggesting and playing games, talking and asking questions and soon he becomes Ben’s best friend. Sometimes friendship develops where you least expect it.

Pub: 8/11/17

Pros: Art, Idea (toy robot)

Cons:  It does not feel like it has a middle point where problem happens (or that much of) to have a conclusion

 

 

Prom Queen Review

 

19709215

Synopsis

A spring night, soft moonlight, five beautiful Prom Queen candidates, dancing couples at the Shadyside High prom—these should be the ingredients for romance. But instead they’re a recipe for terror…

The Good

I could pretend that I did not read Prom Queen in October of 2016 but I will not.

I liked that it was small and short. I miss the small mass market paperbacks that you can put in your purse. I miss the artsy cover arts of the 90s. I miss feeling like there was an expansive world out there in horror *sigh*

The Bad

I like the idea of Fear Street, the nostalgia, more than what the story is today.

Image result for Tiara TemplateBook version of jump scares (ugh)

Image result for Tiara Templatefeeling detached/underwhelmed by it all

Image result for Tiara TemplateThere was seriously a point where I was like I do not actually like this book. I wanted to put it down which is never a good sign.

Image result for Tiara Templatecharacters mesh together/they are not distinct. Did not like any of the characters because they were all mean. I am not into this thing where people are mean to each other and call themselves friends (unless it is fun which it was not in this case)

Image result for Tiara TemplateKind of guessed who did it early on (which probably was easy because I read almost all of the Fear Street books as a kid)

Image result for Tiara TemplateI wish I liked it because the books are old enough to be easily and cheaply accessible in used book market. I just did not feel any excitement while reading it. Overall it was blah.

I need some good (diverse) horror books in my life.

(image and synopsis are from goodreads)

21 Days of Comics: #1-7

Introductory Post

LCSD 2015 Welcome To Showside #1

(Discontinue) Welcome to Showside #1

I was not feeling this  so I discontinued it. My mood, underwhelmed by novels aka five seconds from a reading slump, so my first 21 Day comic book had to be good/amazing. I could not suffer through something I did not like.


Jem #10-13

Neg: Feeling  underwhelmed by Dark Jem because they are not bad enough for my tastes.

Pros: Seeing Rio p.o.v (he was talking about how good a journalist he is but not good enough to know Jem=Jerica which makes me laugh). Number 13 in the series is what I have been waiting for since the entire Dark Jem happened. It made me realize not only was the true ummhm but also the fun of the series was missing in this Dark Jem thing. I only have one (well, two but it is #19 so can’t read it) comic left that I do not want to read it until I get the other ones.

2848937330362350

Red Wolf #1-2

This is all I have in the series so far. I enjoyed this the most out of the comics I have read(before I read Jem #13). I can admit that the plot is something you see a lot but it felt like they are doing something interesting with it so far.

I do not know about the horror of disfigured man being the villain but have to read further to see if that is where they are going with his character.

All New All Different Avengers #1

Neg: The stories were mostly bad/eh so it was not necessarily tough to get through but at points not really fun to sit through.

Pos: Funny moments (most of the writing was bad!!!), commentary about fan fiction, nerd culture, misogyny in fan culture, the good bad of fanfic writing.

Where is my momentum?

I just feel that I do not have something propelling me to read comics. I go on twitter, booktube, and etc most of the focus is novels. This is not a new problem or realization for me but it is still unresolved. It has not been helped by the fact that I read 3 out of 4 good novels in 2017.  I was not facing the really horrible stinkers/underwhelming until recently. Being underwhelmed brought me back to the thought of you are not a resident. I am a guest in fiction so I should not be unpacking (really getting into reading fiction). Originally I was supposed to only read 12 novels this year which actually with the way my reading is going I am staying true to this goal. Also, I think since I know I have to work harder to find good novels I put a lot of space into that.

I cannot put all the blame on novels without acknowledging the fact that there is also a feeling of underwhelming in comics too.  I need comics that excite/amaze so I can want to read more. If anything I hope that doing this 21 days of comics will make me get back into reading comics more.

(all images are from comicvine)

21 Days of Comics….

Looking at my goodreads 2017 ratio

47 books total

4 novels- does not bother me because novels are hard for me to finish

32 picture books- like wow

11 comics- usually my picture book and comics  reading are neck and neck.

It just shows I have not been reading comics enough this year which is a problem. So I decided to do something that has been on my mind to do for a while. I am going to do a reading of 21 comics in 21 days to get myself back into comics.

Dates 4/15/17-5/6/17 (it is ending on Free Comic Book Day)

So I purged/finished some comics in time to get even more comics

Rules

  • Physical copies- so there is a physical checklist of finishing/letting go of
  • Like > Testing- gonna try to focus more on comics I know/think I will like. So no comics that I own that I have a huge feeling I will not like but want to read to get rid of.
  • 21 Comics in 21 Days- I have not decided if I want to exclude volumes or not since I more than likely will only get single issues at free comic book day. If I count volumes then I have to think about if volumes count towards just 1 of 21 or more since they are multi-issues.
  • Challenges are not concrete- so I can complete 1, 2, or none if it comes down to it. More than anything it is about having fun. Also, I might add more challenges if I think of something cool.

Challenges

  • Finish an entire series
  • Pick a few from TBR Jar
  • Get up to date on a series

I learned my lesson from my last (challenge? readathon? I don’t know) thingy Before You Buy More Books. I am not going to do a concrete TBR but I do have some books I want to read in mind. Since it is starting today and I have not read a single comic yet… I will get started on reading my first comic.

280:The Hate U Give

32075671

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

The Good

I have a lot of thoughts which makes me wish that I would have done a readalong for it. I  wish someone else did one too but I think I understand (possibly/more than likely) why. I believe many people did not do a readalong for it because  there are so many touchy subjects in this book. Anyway, on to what I liked about this book…

  • Not white centered: One of my fears was that it was going to be for white people thus watered down/sanitized. My fear came from many other y.a. novels with black main characters that I have read who go to a boarding school or a school that is majority white/mixed racially (which many people see as the dream for interracial harmony but do not talk about the reality of what assimilation has meant for poc in general). My fears were mostly unfounded because Starr was not cut off from the black community.
  • It is set in modern black lives matter world through the eyes of a black girl: black lives matter and police brutality is not all new all different it is a thing in this world.
  • So much black culture is shown: it made me think about how much I do not hear books talk about black culture.
  • Shows the trauma that comes with being involved with police brutality: seeing friend be murdered and people’s reactions to it
  • Allowing Starr to grieve and not fall into the strong black woman trope. Her trauma does not go away after five minutes. Also, she does not just have bad days of her being sad.
  • Bringing police brutality and all the issues in T.H.U.G to a young adult novel-thus a young audience. By putting everything into a young adult novel it can reach a wider audience than a literary novel.
  • Cuts all ties that would lead to respectability politics
  • Poc solidarity
  • White feminism: I mean you can have entire middle grade books about white feminism casually but it is something else to have one about racism
  • Intraracial black issues
  • Reality of interracial relationships: I don’t know how I feel about Chris and Starr relationship. For a long time the only thing we see Chris partaking in is black culture like making references to Fresh Prince of Belaire but at the same not knowing that much about police brutality (appreciation vs appropriation). It annoys me because going along the points above people think that the work of solving racism is just putting poc and white people together. His ignorance/naiveté got on my nerves at many points but he is not terrible like Hailey but still… They are in high school too so growth can come later. Then characters in THUG said he ain’t white he light skinned, nah. Nah!
  • Moral ambiguity to black characters: they are not one dimensional tropes.
  • Stay in hood vs suburbia: suburbia≠utopia
  • White privilege
  • and so so so much more

Emotionally it was an enjoyable book to read.

The Meh

Police are given nuance with Uncle Carlos- which I get but at the same time it is annoying that black people have to go not all cops when talking about police brutality.

The story lightly treads some things that it could go harder on (but also I know it could not be everything, do everything, and hit everything)

The Bad

Do I think it wants to jampack every issue in one book? I can’t get mad because this info all of it, the entire book needs to get out to everyone who can read it.  Nonetheless, there are moments put in the book that felt unnatural/inorganic to the story.

The story wrapped up some things in a way that was too neat and convenient.

Ending Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book a lot. I just would love to see more critique about it (that is not obvious/blatant/just plain anti-black racism because there is a lot of those on goodreads). I am enjoying all the love that her book is getting and cannot wait for her next novel.

Here is a critique of the book that is notable: http://blacknerdproblems.com/the-hate-u-give-blm-gets-the-novel-treatment/

T5W: SFF TBR

Recently, I have been in a mood for reading some science fiction (well, some of these are fantasy but I am more in a mood for science fiction. I think I actually may like sci-fi more than fantasy) books.

T5W Group  where meme originated can be found on the link.

15751616

1. Unplugged

Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World—an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz’s family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.

Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.

But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.

Status: Currently reading but waiting to get from the library. I already sampled the first three chapters.

What I like about Unplugged is that it has a dystopia that I feel is plausible. It has so many allusions to current day issues that black and brown people deal with and main character is latina. Also, this would be a good series to get into because the second one came out recently and the third  one comes out in December.

905246

2. The Between

When Hilton was just a boy, his grandmother sacrificed her life to save him from drowning. Thirty years later, he begins to suspect that he was never meant to survive that accident, and that dark forces are working to rectify that mistake. When Hilton’s wife, the only elected African-American judge in Dade County, FL, begins to receive racist hate mail, he becomes obsessed with protecting his family. Soon, however, he begins to have horrible nightmares, more intense and disturbing than any he has ever experienced. Are the strange dreams trying to tell him something? His sense of reality begins to slip away as he battles both the psychotic threatening to destroy his family and the even more terrifying enemy stalking his sleep. Chilling and utterly convincing, The Between follows the struggles of a man desperately trying to hold on to the people and life he loves, but may have already lost. The compelling plot holds readers in suspense until the final, profound moment of resolution.

Status: Currently reading – same as Unplugged except I am going to buy this one because it is cheap online.

Horror and fantasy!

22020598

3. On the Edge of Gone

January 29, 2035.

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

Status: Haven’t started yet.

I moved it up my TBR because I think it would be fun to read it for autism awareness month. With the line “When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?” it is a sci-fi I have to read.

23943137

4. Sorcerer to the Crown

Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Status: Read the prologue but have not read further yet.

Black. Victorian. fantasy.

25607199

5. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.

But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.

Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.

Status: Still haven’t started yet.

A lot of sff books are doom and gloom so I like the idea of reading something hopeful. Having a book about exploring species, cultures, and worlds is appealing. I have not  read a book with any of these things since reading The Best of All Possible Worlds last year so I hope it is good.

Netgalley DNFs #2

I got all of these books from netgalley for my honest review.

31423554

The Takedown

Pub: 4/11/17

Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club, a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible-take something off the internet-all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint. Set in near-future Brooklyn, where privacy is a bygone luxury and every perfect profile masks damning secrets, The Takedown is a stylish, propulsive, and provocative whodunit, asking who would you rely on if your tech turned against you?

Why DNF? It reminded me of Before I Fall which I did not finish either because the main characters were not nice people. The thing is that I do like ambiguous/possibly mean/possibly villainous characters. What I do not like is that the main character meanness is just an average high mean girl meanness. The way that the main character built things up she was going to be more than that. I don’t know what is going on in terms of the story and what I see doesn’t catch me at all.

Questionable: There is a lot of mention of thinness in the first few chapters, conversation about how main character would rather girls who advance forward in life because of their brains (a woman can use her brains to use sexism to advance her forward)  I only read a few chapters so it may deal with these things later.

Liked: There is a relationship between two people of color, the embellishments in each chapter

29640839

Girl Out of Water

Pub: 5/1/17

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.

Why DNF?  Girl Out of Water is not a bad book and that is the hard part about letting it go.  I just know that I could (and have) put it down and forget about it. It is in that middle area of its okay but I’m not engaged by it.

32785013

Hollywood Homicide

Pub: 8/8/17

Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semi-famous, mega-broke black actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. After witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she figures pursuing the fifteen-grand reward isn’t the craziest thing a Hollywood actress has done for some cash.

But what starts as simply trying to remember a speeding car soon blossoms into a full-on investigation. As Dayna digs deeper into the victim’s life, she wants more than just reward money. She’s determined to find the poor woman’s killer too. When she connects the accident to a notorious Hollywood crime spree, Dayna chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes and movie premieres. She loves every second—until someone tries to kill her.

And there are no second takes in real life.

Why DNF? Once I got to later part of the first chapter when we reached the mystery that is when things went down for me. I didn’t find the mystery interesting.

Liked: I liked the first chapter a lot. The idea (and follow through) of the main character being a former child star was really entertaining.

34137708

Rotten Stepbrother

Pub: 8/1/17

AGAIN, Holden?! First you broke Cinderella, now Beauty and the Beast? Your stepsister is ready to strangle you. Pointing out that the Beast kidnapped Beauty and only fell for her looks has somehow put the real Beast in jail! Now there’ll never be a happy ending. You need to go into the fairy tale world of rural France and– what do you mean you don’t speak French?!

Why DNF?  I did not realize that this book was part of a series (it’s the 2nd book). The first book comes out the same day as the second so I cannot review it. Also, what I read so far I was not into.

Liked: Cover (the beast and beauty are my favorite part of it)