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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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.

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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)

280:The Hate U Give

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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/

Picture Book Reviews: Netgalley

I received all of these picture books for free in exchange for my review from netgalley.

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Pub: May 16 2017

Liked: Cute main character and book. She is a rambunctious main character, has the diversity (parents are interracial couple is normalized), art

Disliked: It was very this event is happening then this event is happening (but it is for kids so yeah)

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Pub: April 15 2007

Liked: Making worry into a monster that is kind of scary,  lurking and hiding waiting to pounce. In the end I liked that the story not only shows what worry does but also how to combat it.

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Pub: Nov 1 2016

Liked: Creativity of plot (made me think of Inside Out at first but it goes beyond that to be more). It is about holding onto something to get through adversity for kids, Latina main character

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Pub: Oct 11 2016

Liked: Teaches kids about facing their fears and it is a unique story.

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Pub: May 16 2017

Liked: The art is really cute and bright. It is not an obviously you are learning things type of potty training book. If you are trying to get kids to potty train you could sneak this in.

[all images are from goodreads]

Funnyhouse of a Negro

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A Black woman awakens in a phantasmagoric rooming house where she is visited by the Duchess of Hapsburg, Queen Victoria, Patrice Lumumba and Jesus Christ. Only she and Lumumba are not dressed in white; she has a white fixation and wants to become whiter and whiter. She harangues against her father who gave her a jungle strain and then sold out to white harlotry, dreams of returning to Africa to save the continent, and hangs herself amid swirling conflicts and desires, a victim of a nightmare world.

The Good

Well, you can never say black people cannot be weird/artsy. I have never felt fore mentioned statement so much after reading a book since it is not that common to see books with black characters that are artsy and weird.

So much commentary on black issues: internalized racism, colorism, worship of whiteness, multiracial issues (I think it talks about the tragic mulatto) and those are the ones off the top of my head. I know that there was so much commentary and references that I missed, one character in the story I realized after the fact was a person from history.

The Bad

Part of the weirdness/artsyness I did not like.

Review: Song of Blood & Stone

 

23783638Synopsis

Enter an alternate 1920’s world of magic and adventure in this gripping, new adult, fantasy romance…

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her magical abilities are feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive – an injured spy who steals her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines nearly cost him his life but he is saved by the healing power of a mysterious young woman. Together they embark on a perilous journey straight into the heart of a centuries-old conflict.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

New Adult. Recommended for readers 17+.

 

The Good

The world and magic system is fascinating. The backstory into how the world came to be what it is interesting too.

Cover

The Bad

I had it reminded to me when watching a Korean drama (Another Oh Hae Young) that I like the chase/ realizing they like each other/ building of the romance more than the actual part when they are in a romantic relationship. Once the couple gets together I lose a bit of interest in the relationship. This book does not build the main couples relationship so it can feel insta-lovey. Not being able to enjoy the part that I like the most in romance made me not enjoy it as much as I could have. There is so much time spent telling you they love each other but not enough spent showing you their love.

I wish there was more world building. Part of me wishing this was  for more fantasy than romance. I wish the characters were more nuanced/dimensional rather than being straight good. There are moments when the characters are stopped from making hard decisions that would make them grey.

The Meh

I can not tell how nuanced it is.

Conclusion

Overall, I enjoyed the world building more than anything. I wish that there was more work built on the relationship and the fantasy elements. It feels like a bunch but nothing really at all at the end.