16 January 2018

Review: Truly Devious

Truly Devious
by Maureen Johnson

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 16, 2018

TRULY DEVIOUS is about murder and a girl. Not murder of a girl, or at least not the main character. Stevie Bell, a “true-crime aficionado" has never stood over a dead body in her life. But she has wanted to for a long time. She gets her chance a few months into her first semester at Ellingham Academy, a famous private school. ...Famous for exceptionally bright, genius-like students, and an unsolved accident involving a kidnapping and quite a few blunt objects. Stevie Bell wants to figure out exactly what happened. 

I liked TRULY DEVIOUS, because I like hidden things and big twists and awesome women. Pix and Stevie and Vi all remind me of different aspects of myself. I think I’d want to go to Ellingham despite the murder, because I liked the way things are run. The faculty all seem very nice and understanding, but completely miss out on figuring out the murder, and it seemed kind of funny that it took a high school student to figure it out. I enjoyed the flashbacks to the past. I actually liked the current characters less than the precurrent characters; the precurrent characters seemed more alive to me.         


Review: Zenith

by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: January 16, 2018

Androma Racella, also known as the Bloody Baroness, is one of the most feared mercenaries in the Mirabel Galaxy. But when a routine mission goes awry, she and her ship’s all-girl crew are put to the test. Paired with a ruthless bounty hunter from Andi's past, they must complete a dangerous mission or face being locked up for good. Yet as they embark on this journey, across the galaxy toils the queen of Xen Ptera who will stop at nothing to exact revenge to those who have destroyed her people.

This book can easily be one of my favorites of 2018, and the year has barely begun. So many aspects of this story influenced my decision, so I would first like to begin with the characters. While you begin the book feeling like several characters are just straightforward and one dimensional, there is so much growth and character development all through the book. Andi is not your typical statistical badass, Dex is not your typical bounty hunter, the queen seeking revenge does not do so without an understandable cause, and the loyal pilot Lira doesn’t just follow orders. I loved that the authors took these characters and made them into something new. Not only did this enhance the story, but it made reading it so much more fun because you never knew when someone will do something or something will happen!

Another thing that I really enjoyed about this book was the plot. Starting out like SIX OF CROWS, but in space, it changed from what I thought would be a copy of another tale into something much better. The authors purposely hid origin stories and dispersed them throughout the book, giving them to us bit by bit as we learn more about our characters. And during several parts of this book, I constantly found my mind wandering towards where I though the plot would go or towards what I thought would happen. Yet almost every time this happened, I was proven wrong. I loved this aspect of ZENITH, because the authors were always giving you the unexpected plot twists.

Lastly, the universe that ZENITH was set in was also amazing. Filled with galaxies and  alien worlds and beautiful technology: the authors succeeded so well in their world building. I loved how everything felt so complete as the authors made sure that every fact was backed up with more content as they created religions and other characteristics for each of the peoples discussed. They stayed away from our regular images of beauty as each race has different skin tones, attributes, and quirks, creating a truly diverse world. For example, Andi is riddled with barely-hidden metal implants across her body, something that so many would find ugly; yet in ZENITH she is called beautiful.

Overall, I would recommend this book to sci-fi and fantasy lovers alike as this book includes everything from magic to high-speed space travel. Fans of books like SIX OF CROWS and NEVERNIGHT will enjoy this book.

Review: Love, Hate & Other Filters

Love, Hate & Other Filters
by Samira Ahmed

Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication Date: January 16, 2018

LOVE, HATE & OTHER FILTERS by Samira Ahmed tells the story of Indian-American, Muslim protagonist Maya Aziz, who is struggling to reconcile her own dreams of filmmaking with the expectations placed upon her by her parents, such as marrying a suitable Muslim boy or attending college close to home. These concerns seem almost trivial, however, when an act of terror is committed and the primary suspect happens to share Maya’s last name, she has to discover ways to cope with the rapidly surfacing Islamophobia in her community and discover those who are truly there for her. In the story, she also faces a choice between two boys, which was a bit predictable and fluffy but enjoyable nonetheless. Despite not being Muslim myself, I found Maya very easy to identify with because of her authentic, articulate voice. I could relate to her feelings of uncertainty about the future and thought that her insights were beautiful, thoughtful, and reflective. My favorite character by far was Maya’s fiercely loyal best friend Violet, who offers Maya invaluable advice and perspective throughout the novel. Overall, the subject matter was highly topical and I would definitely recommend the novel to anyone seeking a refreshing, well-written narrative that deals with some very prevalent issues in politics right now.

12 January 2018

Review: Rookie on Love

Rookie on Love
edited by Tavi Gevinson

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: January 2, 2018

Tavi Gevinson founded Rookie, an online magazine, in 2011. ROOKIE ON LOVE is an anthology featuring essays, comics, and poetry ­­– each with a focus on the subject of love. The pieces in both the magazine and anthology are all either written by teenagers, or adults who are writing to teenagers. Coupled with this unique detail, ROOKIE ON LOVE presents a diverse look at the different ways of defining and thinking about love. With such a wide range of styles and angles included in the anthology, readers will be able to relate and connect to at least one of the 46 pieces (and likely many more than that). They say not to judge a book by its cover, but as a fan of Rookie magazine and the Rookie yearbooks, I expected a lot from the cover art of ROOKIE ON LOVE; I was not disappointed. While I recommend reading the entire anthology, some of my favorite essays included “On Love and Associated Leavings,” “Karma,” “Memory is an Angel Who Can Fly No More,” and “The Most Exciting Moment of Alma’s Life.”

09 January 2018

Review: Ink

by Alice Broadway

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: January 2, 2018

The story of INK lies in a world where life stories are documented on one’s skin, including every important step towards or away from the soul weighing ceremony at the end of one’s life. Leora struggles between the expectations of society and upholding the legacy of her father when she discovers the hidden mark of a traitor on her father’s neck. Now that he has passed away, Leora slowly uncovers the secrets of her past and the true history of the town of Saintstone.

With layers of romance, family, friendship and self acceptance, there were aspects of Leora’s life that I found very easy to relate to and that helped build a connection to the book. It certainly is a reflection of today’s society, and the need for stability and order, despite the dark secrets protected by the people you would least expect.

Review: A Taxonomy of Love

A Taxonomy of Love
by Rachael Allen

Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 9, 2018

A TAXONOMY OF LOVE by Rachael Allen follows the blooming romance between Spencer, a young boy with Tourette’s who seeks to explain life through various scientific diagrams (taxonomies), and Hope, the girl who moves in next door. Told through time-jumps, we catch a glimpse of various points in their lives, and see them truly grow throughout the book. Despite how much time is covered in the novel, there’s a certain intimacy between the reader and the characters that’s often hard to achieve in novels with this sort of style; however, Allen manages it brilliantly. If you’re looking for a cute romance with quirky storytelling, be sure to give A TAXONOMY OF LOVE a read!

Review: Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner
by Lianne Oelke

Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: January 9, 2018

In NICE TRY, JANE SINNER, Lianne Oelke tells the story of 17-year-old Jane Sinner as she begins to complete her high school degree at a local community college. In an effort to move out of her parents’ house and win a car, Jane auditions for a campus reality show called House of Orange. Through HOO, Jane finds an unexpected opportunity to work through personal and family struggles. The novel is written in a series of journal entries and conversations with Jane’s made-up therapist, Dr. Freudenschade, which immediately gives readers unique insight into Jane’s character. Jane is witty and cynical (without sounding obnoxious or rude) which gives the book a fresh feel; her personality and tone match the fast-paced dialogue and diary entries that move the novel forward. Oelke balanced this cynicism impressively with a more serious discussion of mental health throughout the story, which never felt forced or unnatural. Overall, NICE TRY, JANE SINNER offers an original premise and is a great read.