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Review: Come Tumbling Down

Come Tumbling Down

by Seanan McGuire

Book 5 in the Wayward Children series

Whoa. Been a while. Sorry, friends.

I’m back, though, and I’m super excited to talk about the latest in one of my favorite series, Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children.

First of all, let me start by saying that I love this series with all my little bookish heart. I love the concept — a community of misfit kids, all longing to go back to where they truly belong, no one longing for the same world but everyone understanding what it’s like to be lost.

I read Books 1 through 4 with devotion, loving every world. This was the first book that was dedicated to a fantasy world that had already gotten a full book’s focus.

I was a little bit disappointed. There was still a lot to discover about the Moors — the world of this book — but I’ve been waiting since Book 4 to explore a new one. I guess my thinking was, This had better be good for her to keep us in the Moors again.

It was… fine. The writing was spectacular as always and the characters were beautifully defined. But they were the same characters I saw in the last Moors book, and that’s not why I go back over and over again to Wayward Children.

I go for new worlds. I pick up these books because I want to learn more about all of the characters that Seanan McGuire creates to populate that strange and wonderful boarding school.

There was one more thing that bugged me, too. Don’t read the next paragraph if you haven’t read this book! If no one points this thing out to you, maybe you won’t notice it. But if you have read the book…

Why is she throwing around the word “hero” all the time, when it was never a focus before? Did she suddenly get into My Hero Academia? Everyone should because it’s amazing, but heroism and saving people and stuff was never a focus of Wayward Children. AFAIK, Wayward is about discovering who you are and living authentically in whatever world will have you.

That is what I want to see in this series.

Oh well… there’s always Book 6.

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Review: Starworld


Starworld
by Audrey Coulthurst & Paula Garner

This book….

THE FEELS……..

Rarely do I say that I couldn’t put a book down, but this was one of those where I truly lost track of the passage of time. The characters were deeply real and I got so very attached to them. And both of them go through such intense emotional, personal, and emotional experiences, I felt like it twisted my heart every time I picked the book up.

And the imaginary world they created via text message… I know why they were so into it. It’s the sweetest and most beautiful escape fantasy world I’ve ever encountered.

There’s even an imaginary dragon named Humphrey. Now, I know this book just came out this year, but I still can’t believe that no one has created fan art about him. (If anyone sees any, please let me know! I can’t draw or I’d make some myself.)

The most heart-wrenching part of the book has to do with the relationship between the two characters. I won’t say any more specifics, but at more than one point I was literally muttering out loud “Oh, no no no no no…..”

I don’t do that with books. I don’t talk out loud to them. Nor do I still feel heartbroken for a fictional character days later. But this one… oh, Sam….

All I’m going to say is that the authors were very gutsy – and very strong, and trusting in their readers’ strength – to let it end like that. So harshly real.

This is an emotionally intense book. One main character has a mother with mental illness and a father who moved across an ocean. And then we learn something about the family… well. I’ll leave it there. The other has a brother with severe special needs who is about to go live in a group home and a mother in “partial remission” from cancer. And the authors don’t back off from the realities of any of that.

But if you can handle that and you don’t need sunshine and rainbows from your reading… pick this up. As soon as you can. It’s a great example of fiction that is actually worthy of the term *realistic.*

Have you read it? Planning to? Comment below.

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New list of queer YA fantasy books

Hi friends!

I just came across this list of great queer YA fantasy novels and since this list blends three of my favorite genres/sub-genres, I had to post a link here.

It has three of my favorite books in the queer YA fantasy category:

Ash by Malinda Lo, an *amazing* lesbian retelling of Cinderella.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst, an amazing original fantasy with kick-ass princesses who fall in love.
Guys, there’s gonna be a SEQUEL!!!!!

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with a lesbian love story *and* one of the most sympathetic villains I’ve ever seen.
It’s dark, but it’s worth it!

For more recommendations, go to Book Riot’s list!

These are the only ones I’ve read from this list, but I love them all, so I’ll be putting many more on my TBR.

Which ones are you interested in? Comment below.

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Discussion: Moms in YA

Happy May, friends! I’m not dead, I’ve just been insanely busy. I’m going to try to be better about posting, and I figured I’d start with a post about moms in YA lit, since, y’know, it’s coming on Mothers Day here in the US. We’ll focus mostly on spec fic, since that’s what I read and review.

SPOILERS FOR: Fairest (Marissa Meyer)

I just finished reading Fairest (volume 3.5 of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer , so let’s start with Horrible Moms.

From what I’ve seen, Horrible Moms in YA spec fic fit into the categories of Disinterested Moms and Cruel Moms. Somehow, Levana manages to be both.

Horrible Mom: Levana. Technically a stepmom but also a daughter.

Levana is a daughter only in the strictest sense of the word. She barely knew her mother. In one of the few descriptions of her, it says that she could rarely be bothered with her children. So, on a scale of 0, (“literally the worst mom in literature”) to 10 (“omg I want her to be real so she can be my mom”) I give her a 1.

As a stepmom, Levana is… um… ok, here come the spoilers. She tries to kill her niece, but she gets her stepdaughter out of the room so the stepdaughter won’t die also. So….. um… -6? The stepdaughter hates her from the beginning, cries whenever L. is around.

Similarly Horrible Moms:

I’m not going to go into all of the rewritten fairy tale stepmothers, but they’re a part of this category as well.

Great Moms in YA Lit?

So, guys, I’m having a problem. I can’t think of a really great mom in YA spec fic to write about. Do you think it’s because the kids of really great moms don’t have to go out into the world as teenagers and save everything?

I thought about the mom in Hunger Games, for example. She was sweet and did her daughters’ hair for the Reaping and everything, but she was kind of useless in terms of keeping the family afloat.

Thoughts? Do you know any great moms in YA lit that I’m missing? Comment below.

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Review: Girls Burn Brighter

Girls Burn Brighter

by Shobha Rao

Rating!

Four library cards! Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

What’s It About?

Guys, I suck at summaries. Seriously. It’s my least favorite part of doing reviews, so I’m gonna just get to the fun stuff and let you read the summary on Goodreads. Because why reinvent the wheel?

This book tho.

This book is a LOT.

Seriously, don’t pick it up unless you can handle some tough stuff. I’m talking human trafficking, physical and sexual abuse, and just generally girls getting the short end of the stick. To the very very extreme.

But what a ride. First of all, it’s set in India. And somehow, the author manages to avoid dense descriptions AND make the world incredibly vivid. I didn’t understand every word she used, especially when she was talking about foods or items in the household. But I could SEE the whole thing.

Shobha Rao manages to make rural India seem totally normal and the US seem very odd… to an American reader! I have no idea how she did it but WOW.

The characters are relatable, even though it’s 2007 and they still sleep on mats on the floor and have never seen televisions. I had to keep reminding myself it takes place in the 21st century.

The girls go through things I can’t even fathom, and yeah, sometimes it felt like it was just one bad thing after another. But they just keep going, and they get themselves out of impossible situations.

AND, it’s not inspiration porn. Somehow it just manages to be honest.

It’s pretty dark, and there’s not a lot of positive stuff going on, except “wow, what people go through and keep living.”

This book will keep you humble. Pick it up.

Reviews

The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood

by Melissa Albert
Published 2018 by Flatiron Books

The good:
Really cool world building
Interesting treatment of stories intersecting with reality

The bad:
Super annoying and whiny main character
Idealizes a dysfunctional co-dependent mother-daughter relationship
The first half is too long and the second half isn’t long enough

The biggest downside was that I didn’t see any growth in the main character by the end of the book. It looked like she was becoming independent, then NOPE.

I give it:

Three out of five library cards. (Yes, I’m experimenting with a new ratings system. Share your thoughts in the comments.)

Reviews

Review: Little Fires Everywhere

In a Word: Two families. Five teenagers. Their deepest needs and the veneer that hides them.

“What’s It About?”

The Richardson family has a house that they rent out. It’s a fact of life, but it doesn’t exactly change their lives.

Until now.

Until Mia moves in with her teenage daughter, Pearl. Until Pearl makes friends with Moody, the younger of the two Richardson boys and starts hanging out at the Richardson house every day.

Until Moody’s sister Izzy meets Pearl’s mom and finds the mother figure she’s never had in her own mom.

Until the secrets start to come out.

Who’s Who?

This book has so many main characters – five teens, at least two adults (depends on who you identify as a main character). They’re all richly imagined and read as real people. But the most interesting thing is how they form relationships with one another. Here’s a basic breakdown:

  • Mia is Pearl’s mom.
  • Trip, Lexie, Moody, and Izzy Richardson are siblings.
  • Pearl and Moody become friends when Mia and Pearl move to town.
  • Pearl starts hanging out at the Richardsons’ place and they all become pseudo-siblings, except that Pearl has an enormous crush on Trip.
  • Izzy meets Mia and becomes infatuated. She begs to be Mia’s assistant and Mia agrees.
  • Izzy gets attached to Mia. It’s easy to see why. Mia is one of those adults who’s empathetic, gentle, and accepting – everything Izzy’s mom has never been.
  • Mia becomes like a mother figure to Izzy and, later, to Lexie.
  • Mrs. Richardson, meanwhile, is trying to help her friend, Mrs. McCullough, to keep her adopted Chinese baby while the baby’s mom tries to get her back.
  • Oh yeah, Mia works with the baby’s mother and is the one who gets her thinking of getting the baby back.

Who Should Read This?

I mean, everyone, ideally, but since that probably won’t happen…

  • Teens who feel like they got placed with the wrong family
  • Adults who used to be those teens
  • Anyone with feelings about cross-cultural adoption
  • Anyone with feelings
  • Anyone who has a secret
  • Anyone who’s ever done anything out of desperation
  • Suburban kids who really just want to get out
  • Adults who made it out alive

The Highlight Reel

What makes this book truly special? What moments? What relationships?

  • Izzy and Mia. Holy CRAP, is this relatable for any kid who’s ever felt like a misfit in her own family.
  • Lexie. At home in the popular crowd, but underneath all that confidence, she’s just stumbling around in the dark. It isn’t until Mia works her Mia magic that Lexie even notices her own vulnerability.
  • The court case and baby May Ling/Mirabelle. The concept of a “real” mom.
  • The mystery of Mia’s past. You think you know, but then the truth hits you like a ton of bricks.
  • The ending. It doesn’t tie up neatly, understatement of the year, but OMG it rings true like whoa.

I give it….

Five stars. No question.