Netgalley: Not Now, Not Ever

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Not Now, Not Ever

Pub: 11/21/17

Cons

  • I spent so much time not liking this book
  • The last 50 or so pages I had to push myself through
  • I did not like Ever/Elliot
  • Hipness vs Banter- can not tell if these are both products of the same issue or separate issues but the story felt like it was trying to be hip at points, the banter was not doing it for me
  • Most of the characters I could not remember their names or personalities but I do remember them being annoying a lot of the time
  • Not that invested in the love story

gets on soap box: If young adult is going to have more novels about college there needs to be conversations about mental health that do not divulge into get over it/you are weak for struggling with your mental health (this soap box is not completely for this novel because the story kind of fixed this critique in the end. Mostly this soap box is in result of seeing more novels set in college/preparing for college stages of characters life. Also, a lot of the novels I have read/am reading are not dealing with mental health and college).

Pros

  • Black girl who is into nerdy culture (it surprised me at first how current the nerd culture references were)
  • It feels very current to the issues and culture of teens (the genius/AP/accelerated class teens)
  • College Libraries- one of the things I do not think people talk about is how college libraries can be really amazing. I get why she would want to go to a college for the library because there are so many books that you cannot find at a public library (even though she could have interlibrary loaned books especially since the main character is in the California area which has more books in general…)
  • There were so many small little nuggets of wisdom that seeped into the story
  • There were a lot of information about the sff community that I did not know *insert tea emoji*

Objectively *** three stars

My Mood ** stars

 

 

 

 

 

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Analyze Book Covers: Layers

*I could not find the cover artist for some of these so if you know it list them in the comments below and I will edit the post.

**Also, my analysis is based on seeing these covers online so there probably are so many elements that I am going to miss.

***have not read the synopsis or cover reveal (skimmed to find the cover designers) for most of these but know what they are vaguely about so there are obvious clues to the analysis that I may miss there too.

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Children of Blood and Bone

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Cover Designer: Rich Deas

I already talked a bit about what I liked about the cover and reviewed first six chapters here.

Background: Completely black which I think is to emphasis the whiteness of the girl’s hair.

We have a view of the main character from her hair to middle of her face. One of the most striking parts of the cover is the darkness of the characters skin (the darkest that I have probably seen on a young adult book cover). Her skin has brown or yellow symbols (this is one of the elements that I think will be better analyzed in person). Her hair is bright white and her eyes are a light blue or grey.

The shadowing and the colors makes this feel very vibrant I would not be surprised if the cover is in that velvety cover material.

Her hair is straight bright white sticking up with a red, blue, and other colors head scarfs. There is a white chain thingy with beads on it and a blue jewel in the middle. There is white symbol  lines sitting on both sides of the jewel going down her forehead.  I can not tell if the jewel has something in it or not. The title is sitting in her hair (there are parts of the hair that is looping around the words).

Cover Reveal

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Tagline: The revolution is here

Author:  Dhonielle Clayton

Artist:

Point of view: We are shown the back of the girl with her looking back at us.

Background: light flashing like what usually is shown in glamour Hollywood book covers.

On side of  her of her hair  we can see her hair is sticking up in a fohawk, with an assortment of different color and type of flowers covering a large portion of her ear. Her dress is pink with a white top. Out of all the book covers I think her face looks the softest because of how she is sitting her mouth. Her mouth is slightly open showing a bit of her teeth, a look that a lot of models have in photos. Her facial expression does not have the determined/serious look the others have she is looking more  in wonderment (I wonder if that says something about who she is as a character?).

The title words seem to be breaking apart. There are black swiveling lines that are breaking apart the word “Belles”

Cover Reveal

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Tagline: Rise Up.

Author: Justina Ireland

Cover Designer: David Curtis

Background: There is a big dingy, probably more because color of photo than anything, American flag in the background laying like it has fallen the rest is black

Point of view:  full back of girl in front of American flag

She has braids which make sense if she is fighting zombies but they are long so the zombies could grab one of the braids (but also it makes me think of action scenes where the character is fighting with their hair flying in the wind, I like it) Did you not notice that she is holding a bloody curved knife looks like a shortened sickle or hook? Is she wearing a long coat or a long dress? The outfit signifies this is in the pre/post-civil war. The cover is very dark, background and characters clothes are black. The character has a somber or serious facial expression looking off into the distance, makes sense for someone who has just fought zombies.

Overall look makes me think of an old photo.

Cover Reveal

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A Blade So Black

Author: L.L. McKinney

Cover Designer:

Background: white and crème rhombus checked pattern, author name is in red on top of cover

Words: A blade is in white so black is in black it feels like the image is siting on top of the white, the K on black is elongated

Image: black girl with naturel hair (afro) holding two small knives, inside queen of spades silhouette with red and pink roses in the background (notice that the spade has paint splatter imagery  reminiscent of Alice In Wonderland where Queen of Hearts has her guards, if I remember correctly, painting white flowers red). Also, it looks as if the girl is bursting out of the card because the painted image inside the spade is painting over the white and crème patterned background (bringing color).   The girls gaze is off in the distance not looking at the viewer. Is she looking at the queen of hearts? preparing for a fight? She is obviously in a fighter stance.

The image of the girl with the two knives makes me think of those pictures/videos of someone playing the drums with paint. The paint is splashing out  like she is sounding the revolution.

Cover Reveal

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Undead Girl Gang

Author: Lily Anderson

Cover Designer:

Background: Blue jean jacket

Point of view: focus is on one of the shoulder pockets 

There are pins throughout the jacket (7 in total)

Top

(1) pink stone (diamond?)

(2) partially spread deck of black cards, showing only the face of one card which shows a gold crescent moon

Bottom

(3) zombie green  hand with pink nails (decaying) pinky swearing with a brown hand with black nail polish and pink bracelet with star (occult?) in the middle

(4) author name in cursive pink with black outline with gold stars on certain parts around it

(5) sword with black hilt with pink or silver blade, black outlined

(6) little black banner off to the side that has in white lettering a novel by

(7) Biggest pin is pink heart with “Undead” in black (horror font) “Girl Gang” in black lettering in gold banner at bottom

Cover Reveal

 

Reprintable: Promises

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Synopsis

Carlie and Gordie…
They had know each other since early childhood. Gordie had moved into the house behind Carlie’s when she had been only five years old. They had been inseparable for seven years until Gordie’s father had received another assignment and moved his family to Germany. For four long years Carlie had missed Gordie.
Now he had written her to tell her they were coming home. Carlie was having a fit. Had he changed over the years? Would he still be her best friend? Or would they greet each other as strangers?

The Rad

  • Has black teen characters but does not has race as a plot while not erasing the racial dimensions of the characters.
  • Friendship between a boy and girl. The story centers this strong relationship it could be said that this is the true love story.
  • Subplot which I will not reveal because spoilers but I liked it and it added dimensions to the main conflict.

The Damage

  • The shortness/there needed be a some sort of subplot or something that went beyond Carlie dealing with Gordie.
  • There was not enough put into the main plot or subplots that did exist.

Subplots that could have been beefed up

A. Friendship between Gordie and Carlie

B. Gordie *spoiler* plot

C. Carlie life outside of Gordie

The As If

There was some questionable things presented such as Gordie saying one girl was the bad girl who he would date but Carlie is the good girl who he would take home.

Felt a way about how the family took Carlie on like she was the wife or something to Gordie. I don’t know how to exactly explain it but it felt like too much for a teenager girl to take on.

If this was printed today…

– there would be at least a 100 more pages

-there would be more subplots and a beefed up main plot

-it probably would not be painted as a romance (but also I feel I read it as a romance based on the cover and the “first love from silhouette”/”Americas favorite teenage romance” tags so it may be based on my assumptions because the synopsis does not read at all like romance)

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/

Allegedly Readalong: Chapters 17-18

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Pre-reading Thoughts Before Final Chapters:

I get that there are no easy answers so it makes sense if the ending is open but I will probably not like it. Again, this I do not feel like talking thing with Mary is old on page 200/218.

Chapter 17

I can see they are trying make Mary’s mom three dimensional but eh.

Q: So Mary brother died of natural causes or what? And is that what made her mom become who she is today?

Q: How believable is Mary (as a nine year old) keeping the cross and burying it all without prints?

Like she knew she would have to testify now. Unrealistic! Also, you could have had this ready 50 pages ago when you first met the lawyers.

Q: So the whole Dr. Cross meeting was dropped or what?

Chapter 18

Okay, Dr. Cross meeting came through. Mom and daughter thing is annoying!

Q: Why is Mary changing her story now? Weak!

Ending (Initial reaction):

It feels like an unpolished mess in ways. She either (or both) could not commit to one true ending and/or could not create a future for Mary because “realism”.

Q: So all of this was a plot to be the perfect daughter for white people? So did she kill Alyssa or not?

Ending (after a couple of days and further thought. since I finished the book before I could finish doing these posts week by week I had the time to actually go over what I wrote while drafting them. It has given me greater perspective.)

I think that the ending makes sense now but I still do not like it.The story did build up the idealization Mary has of Alyssa and her family. In the earlier chapters I did actually find it weird how Mary was acting.

I was ranting to my brother afterwards saying having the main character hold something back from the reader is one of the things you just do  not do in a first person narrative. It is probably one of the rules of writing to not do (especially in the mystery genre).

Q: Do you think the story left itself open for a sequel?

Yes! There are so many unanswered questions left behind. The only thing she would have to deal with is this whole Mary doing this for this idealized image of Alyssa family. Basically, making it where Mary is guilty.

I am definitely going to do a review that talks that collects all (or most of) my thoughts on the book after having some time to think about the book as a whole.

Allegedly Readalong: Chapters 13-16

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Chapter 13

I forgot about Alyssa father. We are going to see more of outside reactions now (also, misogynoir). I guess it is good for her to make strides without Ted.

Chapter 14

I told you new girl is a psychopath.

Q: Why is Dr. Cross so creepy? Is she lying about files she has on Mary? How does Mary know her?

I think she met Mary as a child way before Mary could remember and will serve to fill gaps in Marys past. I do not think she is lying about the files she has on Mary. If anything the files “conveniently” disappeared some other way since everyone hates Mary.

Chapter 15

So sick of Mary hoarding secrets so the plot can continue!

I do not know how I feel about new girl turning into a villain.

Q: Can you get into school with a big criminal record?

I get running away thing but this plan seems (sounds) good on paper but not actually  good. I do not know if I completely feel either plan (Ted vs Lawyer). Long term if she wants to be a teacher or almost any professional profession she needs to be exonerated.

Chapter 16

Q: Are we ever gonna find out  who Mary real parents are?

Please Ms. Richardson do not adopt Mary baby!

Mary is being real dumb about meeting Ms. Richardson thing. I get that it may have had to happen for plot reasons but ugh.

Overall

We had a lot of “realistic” conclusions- Ted having to be distant.

I feel I am going to be disappointed with the ending since it is more than likely going to be open ended. It will not solve anything thus making Allegedly a contemporary and not a mystery.

Personally, I wanted them to get more into the actual court proceedings. If they don’t drop this bomb with mom (that mary has been hoarding from reader even though this is first person story) it will probably get a star knocked off.

Allegedly Readalong: Chapters 9-12

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Chapter 9

Q: Does new girl have a plot with lawyers and/or Kelly? Did Kelly do crimes on purpose?

I think she did it on purpose.

Questions Marys mental stability.

Interesting that Mary is friends with the white (innocent) girl. Again, thinks about the questionable race stuff in this book.

Chapter 10

I feel like the lawyer is exploiting Mary.

(We finally get the events of what happened with Alyssa according to Mary)

Q: So what was all this about Mary blacking out? The story and some of what we read do not match.

File:Broken Heart symbol.svg

Ted has a point! Remember he has no experience and a record of doing the horrible crime he has done. It is real that he would get involved into some shady stuff to have somewhere to stay.

Q: Did Ted low key say he is a pimp?

Chapter 11

Word of the day: Exploitation

Mary is not getting any money for anything that profited off of her. If Allegedly says anything it says something about the exploitation that happens on these murder cases.

I do not like Alyssa mom (I get it and all). Nonetheless, I do not like Alyssa mom. So she thought Mary did not do it but she still carried on letting Mary go to jail. She really made me mad.

Chapter 12

The reality is that even if she is found not guilty people could still not believe her. Mary could still deal with condemnation especially since she is a black girl.

All these people do not care about her. The only people she had in her life have left her in the cold. Her mom let her take fall for a crime she did not commit. Alyssa mom just let her take fall even though in her heart she felt she did no do it. It made me feel like so any black woman/girl would do.

Mary very much mythicizes Alyssa mom and white people in general- dad is white savior, Alyssa mom is greatest mom ever.

What I do not think we are going to get answers to:

  1. Who is Mary father?
  2. What did the other girls do?
  3. Does her father know about her?
  4. Does her mom even know who her father is?

What we have left to cover in book:

  • trial
  • all reveals/reactions of people

Q: Do you think the portrayal of mental illness is done well? A lot of books use it for short hand=criminal.

The story overall has been a mix of hopefulness with dose of  “realism”.