16 January 2019

Review: The Girl King

The Girl King
by Mimi Yu

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: January 8, 2019

I highly recommend THE GIRL KING. The book draws you in with its fascinating and intriguing worldbuilding, which is perfectly complemented by the gritty and realistic nature of the book’s own characters. You really feel like you’re with the characters as they navigate through a world of magic and political intrigue. Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough!

11 January 2019

Review: Hide With Me

Hide With Me
by Sorboni Banerjee

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: November 6, 2018

HIDE WITH ME by Sorboni Banerjee is about a seventeen year old named Cade who finds a badly injured girl in the fields behind his house. She is clearly dying and she asks Cade to hide her. Throughout her recovery we find out about her life and how she got to this point. I had a fun time reading this book. The plot was entertaining and fast moving. The development of the connection between Cade and the girl (who is referred to as Jane Doe) was written very well. I liked the fact that the book was written from the perspective of Cade and Jane Doe. It added different layers to the book that I enjoyed a lot.

Review: 1968

1968: Today's Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change
edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: September 11, 2018

A historical nonfiction anthology might not be for everyone, but if that sounds just as intriguing to you as it did to me, you’re sure to love 1968: TODAY'S AUTHORS EXPLORE A YEAR OF REBELLION, REVOLUTION, AND CHANGE. Edited by Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartletti, 1968 explores its titular year through the lenses of just about everyone. A man reflecting on his youth in Southern California. A Southern woman recalling how she broke free of her family’s racism. A young Chinese American researching the effects of Mao’s regime, and the true nature of the Red Guard. 

If you’re interested in history beyond the facts and dates and memorizable tidbits, reading an anthology like 1968 is a real treat. It gives you insight into more than just the landmark events of the year; rather, it showcases what it was really like to live through it. Experiences varied vastly— depending on age, location, race— but 1968 does its best to highlight this, providing multiple perspectives.

Each story is riveting in itself, and I hope you’ll enjoy catching a glimpse into what life was like in 1968. CW for violence.

08 January 2019

Review: The Field Guide to the North American Teenager

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
by Ben Philippe

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 8, 2019

In Ben Philippe’s sharp-tongued and witty debut, we follow the misadventures of Canadian-turned-Texan Norris Kaplan as he careens throughout life, work, and love. Norris has just been displaced from his native city of Montreal and is forced to adapt to life in the sweltering heat of Austin, Texas. It is by no means an easy transition, and Norris records his musings and snide remarks in a notebook given to him by the school guidance counselor. In no time at all, Norris has a best friend, a part-time job, and a love interest. But how long before he screws it all up?

This charming debut has the heart and fast pacing to land itself on the bookshelves of teens across the country. Norris is a quirky and relatable teen who, despite being unlikable on occasion, is fully capable of carrying this novel. The other characters are fully defined and interesting, with no shortage of internal conflicts. The place where this novel comes up a bit short in is originality - it falls into quite a few cliches, especially those surrounding high school and love triangles. In the end, THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER is a fun and enjoyable read.

03 January 2019

Review: Strange Days

Strange Days
by Constantine Singer

Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: October 4, 2018

STRANGE DAYS is about Alex Mata, a teen from Los Angeles, who possesses the talent to be capable of saving the human race from invading aliens. He is able to “Witness” a certain future, setting it in stone. This talent is used to help formulate a future where the Earth is not invaded. STRANGE DAYS is a book featuring time travel and aliens. As with many stories revolving around time manipulation, this book uses the theory that one cannot manipulate the past, only influence the future. Once a future is “seen” by a Witness, that future is destined to happen. However, I found it confusing later on in the book, where if a Witness dies, their foreseen future is no longer guaranteed. The ending is also very abrupt. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

02 January 2019

Review: A Winter's Promise

A Winter's Promise
by Christelle Dabos
Translated by Hildegarde Serle

Publisher: Europa Editions
Publication Date: September 25, 2018

A WINTER'S PROMISE by Christelle Dabos is a wildly complex and intriguing fantasy novel that follows the arranged engagement of young Ophelia to a broody and mysterious foreigner named Thorn. Ophelia is accustomed to her average life using her powers of “reading," the ability to view an object’s past, and running a museum in her homeland of Anima. When her family promises her hand to Thorn, she is forced to move to his homeland, the Pole, which is wildly different from the land where she grew up. Upon arriving at her new home, Ophelia is forced to hide her true identity as Thorn’s fiance to protect herself from his many enemies. The inhabitants of the Pole have the ability to manipulate perception and cause pain, and Ophelia must work hard to distinguish fact from fiction and form alliances with the brutal and unpredictable people she encounters.

Dabos draws her fantasy world and cast of characters in life-like, vivid detail without ever leaving the reader struggling for explanation. Dabos also never lets her heroine betray her morals or her personality. From her disinterest in romantic attachment to her practical but fearless nature, Ophelia is able to grow as a character without betraying her values. I would absolutely recommend this book to readers who enjoy well-built fantasy worlds and family and political dramas.

Review: The Agony House

The Agony House
by Cherie Priest
Illustrated by Tara O'Connor

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: September 25, 2018

THE AGONY HOUSE written by Cherie Priest and illustrated by Tara O’Connor initially attracted me because of Priest’s previous work I AM PRINCESS X. Once again I find Priest and O’Connor make expert use of integrating illustration to add dimension and mystery in duality to richly written characters and settings. Despite them being similar in that aspect, THE AGONY HOUSE is wholly its own in story and structure. Denise and her family move back to New Orleans to fix up an old, run-down house in hopes of making a small bed and breakfast with what little savings they’ve got. As they begin renovations, strange occurrences lead Denise to suspect supernatural presence. When she discovers an old manuscript for the unpublished comic, Lucinda Might, in the attic she can no longer deny the connection between her house and the comic book. Throughout the novel she acquires a cast of friends and begins to uncover the secrets within the “agony house” are far more sinister than she could have imagined.

Despite Denise’s optimistic, light, often sarcastic demeanor, the story, aided heavily by the comic drawings, is able to maintain a spooky, yet not terrifying, tone. While the narrative focuses on the supernatural mystery it also lightly explores her family's economic difficulties, race prejudice in New Orleans, and, in general, Denise’s struggle to fit in in this new, unfamiliar town. By the end you’ll feel satisfied and definitely will want to flip back to the beautifully illustrated comic pages. I’m excited to see what comes next for Cherie Priest as her first two books are simply addictive.