Posts Tagged ‘books I own’

Ghost Girl in the Corner
Ghost Girl in the Corner by Daniel José Older

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: lesbian relationship, death, drug mentions

I adored this book. It’s a nice novella to tide you over in between Shadowshaper and Shadowhouse Fall that’s coming out later this year. I haven’t read Bone Street Rumba but I did catch the character that appeared in this novella from that world. I also caught a lot of other references that I’m not going to mention because you’ll just have to read it and catch them yourself (and it’s so worth it trust me).

I adored the fact that this, like Shadowshaper, was a political commentary especially with regards to how police can and do tend to treat brown people when they go missing. Which basically comes down to the fact of if you’re not white they don’t particularly care as much.

The author also did this wonderful interview with himself about this book here which I advise all of you listen to. I definitely advise you read this book AFTER reading Shadowshaper (it’ll make SO MUCH MORE sense).

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Shadowshaper
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: discussions or depictions of violence, racism, sexism, gentrification, family values, appropriation, family values, heterosexual relationships, lesbian relationships, police brutality, respectability politics, anti-blackness, misogyny, colorism, racial identity, white apathy,  ancestral memory, street harassment, slurs, ableism

This was my first book I read from this author. Like I’ve read the stuff he’s put up on his Wattpad account and follow his Twitter account and read the stuff he puts up on his website as well. So I knew going into this that I already liked his style of writing and I like his voice (both his speaking voice and his writing voice) as well as the things he says. Knowing all that going in, holy crap! I was still blown away by this book. THIS is a good example of what I mean when I say I want diverse books.

Once I started this, I did NOT want to stop reading it. And *HATED* having to put it down to do anything. I read it in once sitting essentially. With interruptions of having to deal with life things (unfortunately food is needed to survive so shopping was necessary). But like initially, the cover was what drew me in. It’s colourful. It’s GORGEOUS. It’s unapologetic. It not only fits the general theme of the book’s main character Sierra (especially her unapologetically being authentically herself which I *LOVED*) and the book itself but it sets the entire mood and theme of the book and helps you to really get into the book IMO. The cover photo was done by Michael Frost and the cover art and design was Christopher Stengel and they deserve so much appreciation and love for what they’ve helped to create for this book. Truly.

Nydia was one of my favourite characters and I want her to get her own library so badly in this series at some point. I loved Tee and Izzy as well. But I adored Nydia and Sierra the most. I also loved that there was no heroine hijacking in this book (where MC girl meets boy and suddenly the story is ALL about their love story and him instead of where it originally was going because that seriously irks me in books and is a huge thing in YA that happens). Sierra’s portrayal and her friendships felt real and authentic to me. Like they were people who I could run into were I to go out with the intention to meet people. I loved that her friends supported her but they weren’t guilted in the “if you don’t support everything I do then we’re not friends” way that some novels do. And that the ones who felt they couldn’t support this part by doing what everyone else was doing weren’t guilted into doing the thing. Yes some tried and it was stated that the characters felt bad that this person couldn’t be there for them to do this but they more or less understood and weren’t going to try and make them. Acknowledging the hurt and accepting it was an important thing to show since a lot of media especially geared at teens and female teens in particular like to focus on ignoring the fact that things like that can and will hurt and that it’s ok to tell a friend that you love and support them but can’t physically be there supporting them for this. We need more healthy depictions of friendships like that.

The acknowledgement of attraction to Robbie but not wanting to be too involved in him was also great. As was the discussion Sierra and Robbie had regarding his tattoos and his not fully knowing his heritage/ancestry.

One of my favourite quotes in the book comes from Sierra looking at herself in the mirror and giving herself her own pep talk.

Today she looked menacingly into the mirror and said: “I’m Sierra María Santiago. I am what I am. Enough.” She sighed. These days were spooky enough without her talking to herself. “More than enough.”

The last line especially. She is definitely more than enough. Everyone is. And I think that’s a quote that will resonate with people, especially teens. At least I hope it will.

I look forward to reading more in this series. It’s a  great first book. There’s background, there’s action, there’s conflict, there’s resolution, there’s a solid ending that is both ambiguous enough to continue but enough to leave you satisfied and happy that it’s an end.

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Written in the Stars
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: kidnapping, drugs, marital rape, forced marriage, abduction, imprisonment, servitude, heterosexual relationships, forcibly making someone eat, abuse*

Firstly, Aisha Saeed has done a wonderful job with this book. I LOVE her note at the end about how even in religions and cultures where arranged marriages are a thing, that forced marriages are frowned on. And I especially loved that she put a list of resources in the back of the book. That was wonderful.

Second, this book ripped my heart out. I recommend it. And for those of you who are not Pakistani and/or do not come from similar cultural/religious types backgrounds to *NOT* paint all with the brush of the types depicted in this book (for those of us Americans who aren’t of cultural/religious backgrounds that participate in arranged marriages, which, from everything I’ve read, usually wind up being consented by the parties being married and wind up being happy marriages fwiw, imagine us all being depicted as the ignorant assholes who do ridiculous things like we deface historical buildingstaking indecent photos inside of holy sitesknown for defacing our own national parksthat even our celebrities deface our national parksand that hey, most of us are ok with celebs destroying sacred sites (while simultaneously having this faux outrage about a piece of fabric and “patriotism”) or even being the stereotypical white redneck being interviewed on Fox News about the natural disaster that has just ripped through the city/county/state and is dirty, unkempt, barely literate, more concerned about guns and religion than anything else, backwoods, (insert whatever other stereotype you want here).)

This was both engaging and heartbreaking. Because not only is it fictional but it’s also completely a thing that happens outside of fiction. And it’s a terrifying thing to think about and no doubt go through.

Now, in my content warnings, there’s an asterisk next to abuse. There’s a reason for that. What I, as an American, particularly a white American, who doesn’t come from a religion or culture where I wouldn’t be sold at a bride price or an arranged marriage (or in case of this book a forced one) or really anything of the sort see as abuse can be seen from a cultural and/or religious perspective as normal (see: swatting your kid once or twice on the butt for doing a thing you told them not to in the 80s vs now. Then it was just discipline/re-enforcement of the “no” and now it can be considered child abuse even if first time if someone else sees you do it). So, my perspective, some of the things in this book are very highly abusive in my experiences. However, in someone who is raised heavily in a religion or culture where things as described in book as punishments for disobedience are seen as “the norm” it might not be seen the same way. But I would very much consider forcing someone to eat who doesn’t want to eat as a form of abuse given the circumstances of the why and all that.

ALL of that said, I hope to see more books from this author. Hopefully not as heavy as this one but definitely more books with non white main characters following what they believe is right to do what they believe is right. I bought the book before I had even finished half of it because I wound up that engrossed in it. It’s not a purchase I regret.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: death, heterosexual relationships, psychiatric treatment, mentions of WW2, mentions of bombings, mentions of the holocaust, mentions of abilities bordering on magical, minor gore mentions, kidnapping, attempts to force someone into something they don’t want to do, mentions of body horror (minor mostly), mentions of blood and gore, mentions of mental illnesses, gun violence

I really want to do more content warnings for this book. Truly. But if I do I fear it will spoil the book. So those are the minimum I feel comfortable doing.

This was a decent book. It didn’t necessarily drag me in like people have told me it would. But it also wasn’t terribly off putting. It was just somewhere in between. Decent we’ll say. There’s a lot of world building in this book. In fact, at least 3/4 of this book felt like world building (which, this isn’t the first book I’ve read that has done that and probably won’t be the last and isn’t necessarily good or bad it just is). Which, for what I think it’s setting up for is absolutely needed.

The version of the book I read has photos in it some depicting some of the aforementioned warnings above. So if you have issues with any of those visually you might want to do so on one of your better days and know that’s going to happen going into it.

Overall my feelings are generally neutral about this book and it will probably be more one of those hit and miss books. I liked that it didn’t skimp over certain details (especially being a YA book and teens don’t need to be handled with kid gloves despite what some people in America might think with their pearl clutching “think of the children” mindsets).

I had one thing that did unsettle me but I feel it’s kind of a spoiler to speak of it so for my review I’m not going to but those who have read this book who want to know/talk about it feel free to contact me via email or twitter and I’ll talk it over with y’all.

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Empress of the World
Empress of the World by Sara Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: Lesbian relationship, alcohol use

I received a copy of this book from a friend who moved out of state because she had duplicates. And I cursed her when I finished it. So many feelings were had.

For a first novel this rates pretty high in the good category. It did have it’s problems and a few moments of dragging but overall it was highly enjoyable for me.

I especially liked how well the social awkwardness was portrayed. Because that is me. 100%. Find the first most inconsequential thing and latch onto it. I’m not a highly sociable creature truth be told.

I liked especially the progression of the relationships of all the characters to each other. The romances. The friendships. Everything. The ending was good. And felt natural and not forced which is a problem I’ve seen with both new and established authors.

Overall, good and quick read. And would definitely recommend it to others.

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Love Thyself: “gay fiction, transgender fiction, thriller, child trafficking, LGBTQ drama, and Love Thyself” by Layla Stevens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: sex, paedophilia, prostitution, mentions of miscarriage, cheating, violence, transphobia, hate crimes, suicide, death, talk of medical procedures, childhood abuse by parent, molestation

In addition to the content warnings, there’s trans acceptance by family and doctors and friends. There’s also a bit of medical misinformation in the form of saying that it’s absolutely irreversible to start transitioning and then stopping. I mean yeah, if you’re transitioning there is a good possibility that you won’t be able to reverse certain aspects hormone wise (without going on additional hormones).

This story isn’t perfect. AT ALL. But I had so many emotions from it. I was a little irritated at the whole “pansexual character appears, confesses attraction, and then is forgotten after telling parent about encounter and the fact they’re pansexual”. I mean it’s better than pansexual people not getting any mention but that doesn’t really say much. Pansexual people are also mentioned in the explanation from the doctor about what the letters stand for in LGBTQQIPA (as explained in the story Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Queer/Quiestining/Intersex/Pansexual/Asexual) (personally, I prefer LGBTQUIA+ – Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender & Transexual/Queer & Questioning/Unknown & Uncertain/Intersex & Intergender/Asexual/and the plus standing for all the other gender identities and sexual orientations that you can’t fully put into an acronym and also refuse to acknowledge that an A for ally should be there as allies aren’t marginalized due to gender and/or sexuality orientations).

Ultimately, I loved the acceptance. And the trans family member. And the vindication of getting rid of abusive and toxic people from your life. The particular methods used…eh I wouldn’t advise them but I understand why they were used for the situations in this story.

I would definitely advise people to assess their own mental health and triggers before picking this book/story up.

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Filthy English
Filthy English by Ilsa Madden-Mills

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: sex, assault, robbery, mentions of prior deaths, alcohol use, alcohol abuse, heterosexual relationships

I received an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

So, as we all know, I LOVE modern day tellings/re-tellings/inspired by literature classics (which can also depend on what you consider to be classics). I very much enjoyed this. In fact I enjoyed it more than the first book, Dirty English. This one was inspired by Romeo and Juliet. However, even had I not read the first one (and/or enjoyed it), I would have enjoyed this one.

I’m very hit and miss when it comes to this author. Some of her works I really love. Some I really dislike. Some I’m just kind of ‘meh’ about. This one fell more closer to really love.

As to the main character’s ex, I’m not entirely sure he wasn’t b.s.ing her but I’m overall happy with the fact that things turned out the way they did.

One of the things I didn’t fully enjoy was how often it felt it was thrown in your face that “Hey this is inspired by Romeo and Juliet”. It felt a little bit much to me. But your mileage may vary there. I did enjoy that the version of Romeo and Juliet that was watched was Baz Luhrmann’s version, which word for word is the most accurate to the text version.

Overall this was an enjoyable read that I’d recommend to people who enjoy romance books.

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Lost
Lost by Ron Vitale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: alcohol use, violence, heterosexual relationships

I received a free audio copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I’ve mentioned before, but I’m a sucker for re-tellings or different spins on fairy tales and shakespeare. And this was no exception. This is a slight re-telling and different spin on the story of Cinderella. And it was highly enjoyable. I should also mention that I own this book in kindle format as well.

I really enjoyed the narration for this book. The author (or his publisher) chose a voice that was even but not monotonous. Which is always great. Especially for long books like this one was.

I enjoyed the idea of pulling out bits of fae lore to be used in this book. It gave it that nice spin.

Overall it was an enjoyable book that I’d recommend to other lovers of fairy tales and re-imaginings of them.

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Geek Bear
Geek Bear by Scarlett Grove

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: sex, stalking, kidnapping, alcohol use, heterosexual relationships

I received a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

As the last installment of the Rescue Bears, I loved this. It was cute, shows the dangers of having a stalker, AND shows that having a stalker is not sexy (which, given the way our culture is going media wise is a really nice change of pace and I expect nothing less from this author)

.I wasn’t big on the whole “we’re going behind your back to do the thing you said you didn’t want done” thing even though it worked out for the best.

I did adore how the whole stalker issue was handled and don’t have a doubt that the way that the ghostwriting was handled is how it is in the industry currently. Overall, I loved this book.

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Risen Gods by J.F. Penn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: death, murder, violence, kidnapping, religious ideologies, discussions of religion, heterosexual relationships

I want to start off by saying that I put in a lot of attempts at research into the Māori language, culture, and religion. From my limited ability as an outsider into the language and culture I can say that the words used in this book are actual Māori words in the language and mean what the authors say they mean. As to the religion and culture, that was a bit more difficult to get into to the point I needed to (and if any Māori people would like to talk with me about your religion and culture, I would LOVE to talk to you please email me) to say whether or not it was even remotely accurate.

I wasn’t fully happy with the story (which, will happen from time to time) because a little bit of it felt a bit white saviour-y to me. I did enjoy the chosen one(s) trope in this book (though it’s not a true chosen many trope). I can’t say that this book isn’t culturally insensitive or culturally sensitive. Nor can I say that the author is or isn’t Māori.

I did enjoy the narration of this audiobook.

If you aren’t worried about cultural sensitivities or accuracy (so sue me. I KNOW it’s fiction but it still matters to me when using real life places and cultures) this is an enjoyable read/listen. If you are, proceed with caution and use your own best judgement.

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