Q&A Review: Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins

Q&A

Written by: Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 264, hardcover
Series: Rebel Belle, #3
Add on GoodReads

Book

Just as Harper Price starts coming to terms with her role as David Stark’s battle-ready Paladin, protector, and girlfriend—her world goes crazy all over again.

Overwhelmed by his Oracle powers, David flees Pine Grove and starts turning teenage girls into Paladins—and these young ladies seem to think that Harper is the enemy David needs protecting from.  Ordinarily, Harper would be able to fight off any Paladin who comes her way, but her powers have been dwindling since David left town…which means her life is on the line yet again.

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins brings the fun once again in the finale of this pitch-perfect romantic paranormal comedy series.

1) Best Part of this Book?

The fact that a large portion of it was an all-female road-trip, with three very different girls fighting evil together! I love the role that Harper’s relationships with Bee and Blythe played in the series, and how much we got to learn about Blythe. The humor in the series is, as always, on point.

2) Favorite character?

Blythe plays a bigger role in the book than she did in the previous one, and I appreciated every moment of her–her practical, ruthless thought process, her sass, the parallels between her and Harper, and the relationship they developed.

3) Worst part of this book?

The ending fell really, really flat for me. Pretty much the second they walked into the cave, I knew exactly what was going to happen. It was forced, and predictable, and I have never ever read a book where the particular trope the author used actually worked.

4) Favorite Quote?

“What’s a pretty thing like you want with a sword anyway?”
“She’s going to use it to castrate guys who ask stupid questions,” Blythe answered for me, her voice flat.

5) Was it what’s expected?

Yeah, pretty much. It was predictably, but fun and lady-centric and generally a fitting end to the series.

 

Pickup

If you’ve read the first two books, you’ll probably read this one anyway. But yes, this series is worth finishing.

 

Sondra

Q&A Review: District Ballet Company Series by Katherine Locke

Q&A

Written by: Katherine Locke
Release Date: April 13, 2015
Series: District Ballet Company

Book

Four years ago, a car accident ended Zedekiah Harrow’s ballet career and sent Philadelphia Ballet principal dancer Alyona Miller spinning toward the breakdown that suspended her own. What they lost on the side of the road that day can never be replaced, and grief is always harshest under a spotlight…

Now twenty-three, Zed teaches music and theatre at a private school in Washington, D.C. and regularly attends AA meetings to keep the pain at bay. Aly has returned to D.C. to live with her mother while trying to recover from the mental and physical breakdown that forced her to take a leave of absence from the ballet world, and her adoring fans.

When Zed and Aly run into each other in a coffee shop, it’s as if no time has passed at all. But without the buffer and escape of dance—and with so much lust, anger and heartbreak hanging between them—their renewed connection will either allow them to build the together they never had… or destroy the fragile recoveries they’ve only started to make.

 

1) Best Part of this Book?

I have three things to talk about here, and I’m not how to because they’re all intertwined: the writing, the love story, and the portrayal of mental illness.

When I say love story, I don’t just mean between Aly and Zed (though that too, they’re absolutely beautiful and electrifying and soul-shattering together) but between both characters and ballet. And this is where the gorgeous, lyrical writing comes in–the way Aly and Zed think about each other and about dance is powerful and brimming with emotion. During some of the dance numbers in the series, I could actually hear music in my head.

And then Aly has anxiety and an eating disorder, and Zed is a recovering alcoholic, and the portrayal of that is excellent as well. There are short chapters where Aly talks to her therapist throughout the books, and a lot of what she says completely mirrors what’s in my head at times. Also, I love that the series consistently treats mental illness not as something to be fixed, but as something to be managed.

2) Favorite character?

Aly has a special place in my heart, just because her issues with anxiety mirror my own so much. She also has very good taste in tea.

3) Worst part of this book?

The pacing was not great–particularly a quarter of the way into the second book, when Aly and Zed were rehashing the same issues over and over, which is true to real life but not the most interesting thing to read about. I was also very bored by the prequel, though maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read it after the other two and not before.

4) Favorite Quote?

“There will be bad days. What if the bad days are too bad?”
“There were bad days before this, and we’ll handle any bad days to come. I promise. That’s what we do, Aly. We’re pretty good at weathering storms.”

5) Was it what’s Expected?

In terms of the general outline of the story, yes. In terms of the writing and its effect on me, definitely not. I ended up a lot more invested than I thought I would be.

 

Pickup

Yes! If you’re interested in ballet, or second-chance romance, or mental illness (and physical disability) representation, or writing that will make you Feel Things, you should definitely pick up this duology.

Sondra

July 2016 Monthly Wrap-Up

Month

Polina
5 Stars 45 Stars 4
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas Tales from Perach by Shira Glassman The Olive Conspiracy by Shira Glassman Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
35 2 stars
The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

 

 Sondra
5 Stars 4  2 Stars
Fire Falling (Air Awakens, #2) Earth's End (Air Awakens, #3) A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

Water's Wrath (Air Awakens #4) Crystal Crowned (Air Awakens, #5)

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles, #1) Tales from the Front by Elise Kova  28495214

 

Sondra

This month I read 14 books, ten of which heavily featured LGBT characters. This is more than my usual percentage, so I’m really happy it worked out that way.

Favorite Book: My Lady Jane! Clever and fresh and shippy and completely hilarious.
Least Favorite Book: A Fierce and Subtle Poison. Other than the beautiful writing, it just was not my thing at all.
Most Fun Book: My Lady Jane made me very happy.
Most Heartwarming Book: I’m going to have to go with Shira Glassman again.
Most Painful Book: I’ll Give You the Sun. I can see what people mean about it making them cry.
Most Surprising Book: ACOMAF, on so many different levels.
Characters of the Month: As I’ve already mentioned, Nate Foster is a cinnamon roll and must be protected at all costs. I felt a lot of things about Kate and August, both separately and together.
OTPs of the Month: Shulamit/Aviva and Kaveh/Farzin from the Mangoverse, both too precious for this world. Greta/Xie and Maria/Lily were good and heartbreaking.
Friendship of the Month: Kate and August from This Savage Song and Shulamit and Rivka from Mangoverse.
Book I’ll Try Really Hard to Get to Next Month: The Lies of Locke Lamora for real this time.

Sondra

This month I read 6 books, 2 novellas. Basically I just binged read Air Awakens. That’s what I really did.

Favorite Book: Can I just chose the whole series of Air Awakens? Because like I read it so fast and hard I don’t even remember what plot points happened when. I just loved all of it.
Least Favorite Book: Bridge of Seven Sorrows. I was given this by my boss to understand the world of Age of Sigmar for work…But oh boy it was so far off from, well, everything I expect in a book that I couldn’t hardly wait for it to be over.
Most Fun Book: It’s just gonna be one of the Air Awaken’s books
Most Heartwarming Book: Ummm…Probably Fire Falling?
Most Painful Book: A Court of Thorns and Roses. Yes it was a reread, but also like how did I miss so many simple little things? Damn.
Most Surprising Book: The Kiss of Deception! I really enjoyed it, and I was surprised by a lot of the twists and turns.
Characters of the Month: Vhalla. That girl is so badass. I don’t know how to even begin with how great she is.
OTPs of the Month: Feyre/Ryhsand. Also Vhalla/Aldrik. (Oh look same as last month)
Friendship of the Month: Vhalla/Fitz. Those two are going to be the best.
Book I’ll Try Really Hard to Get to Next Month: I’m hoping to finish The Remnant Chronicles, and probably pick up a new series. Hopefully at least one arc so I can feel a part of ARC August.

 

Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag

Mid-Year Freakout

(It’s a little too late for mid-year, but it’s never too late to freak out over books. Ready…set…go!)

Best Book You Read So Far in 2016
Polina: It’s a really difficult choice between The Raven King and The Winner’s Kiss. Even though I think The Winner’s Kiss was better plotted overall (and even though Roshar is a character who exits), I’m going to go with TRK because I have so much attachment to the characters and because I can still remember the rush of happiness that ran through me as I read certain scenes. (We Are the Ants and On the Edge of Gone are also very high on my list.)

Sondra: Oh god, um I’ve read so many good books… I think I’m gonna have to go with My Lady Jane. The book was so different and yet so fantastic and just holy yes wow. I loved it okay.

Best Sequel You Read So Far in 2016
Polina: …and since I didn’t say The Winner’s Kiss for the last one, I’m going to list it here instead. Gorgeous writing, very painful, A+ relationship development, ROSHAR, etc. If series enders don’t count under “sequel”, I’m going to have to go with The Bands of Mourning.

Sondra: A Court of Mist and Fury. I cannot even. I just can’t guys. That book is my end. I haven’t even really had a hangover from it since I literally restarted the series and have been savoring it. I don’t even know how to get over it or start to think about getting over it. Also The Raven King, because how does one words like Maggie? How did three books of so much come together to this one tome of perfection.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To
Polina: And I Darken by Kirsten White. Actually, this is partially untrue–I looked at the first few pages in the bookstore, and I want MORE.

Sondra: ……Tell The Wind and Fire… OKAY I KNOW DON’T SAY IT.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year
Polina: I have a whole list here! Crooked Kingdom is number one, surprising no one.

Sondra: Oh lord…Umm… I might also have to go with Crooked Kingdom? I probably would say Gemina but I managed to get an ARC and have already read it, so to go with one I haven’t read. Crooked Kingdom.

Biggest Disappointment
Polina: Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat. It was all right, but after everything I’d heard about the series, the actual book was underwhelming and made me uncomfortable.

Sondra: Alanna The First Adventure. I dunno what I was expecting but just something…more. I might go back to this series later, but I dunno, maybe not.

Biggest Surprise
Polina: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, both in terms of plot and in terms of how much I loved it.

Sondra: Either The Diabolic or The Fixer… Probably The Diabolic. I was expecting something to just sacrifice to the DNF pile after A Court of Mist and Fury, but oh my god I fell in love with this book so hard.

Favorite New Author
Polina: Definitely Corinne Duyvis. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and pick up On the Edge of Gone.

Sondra: Katie McGarry! I know so many people already have read and loved her work but I just fell into this pit and I’m so happy here.

Newest Fictional Crush
Polina: I actually can’t think of any fictional crushes I’ve had lately. Can I say Lila Bard again?

Sondra: Oh boy. Rhysand. Shocking no one I know. (Or honestly Mor. She’s amazing too)

Newest Favorite Character
Polina: I’m reading This Savage Song right now and I have a lot of love for Kate Harker. I just have a thing for female characters with dark pasts who could easily kill me, I guess?

Sondra: Percy Jackson. I hadn’t read any of his books before this, and now I just feel like I need more of them, even though there’s so many that I’ve already finished.

Book That Made You Cry
Polina: The Winner’s Kiss. Every time Kestrel’s relationship with her father came up? Cue the waterworks.

Sondra: The Raven King. I don’t normally cry in books, at all, but oh my god. It just hurt all over the place and I just wow.

Book That Made You Happy
Polina: The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan. Because RICK RIORDAN, and also because it’s a superpopular middle grade book with a canonically bi protagonist.

Sondra: Pretty much all of Katie McGarry’s books. Like I just sat there with a stupid grin for a large portion of all of the books okay. (Also I think I laughed more than I have in a VERY long time with Trials of Apollo. But since Polina used it I went different)

Favorite Book-to-Film Adaptation of the Year
Polina: I’m planning on doing a post on the literary webseries I’ve been watching lately, but for now, let’s just say The Autobiography of Jane Eyre completely surprised me with how well certain elements of the book translated to modern times, and with how good the acting was.

Sondra: I’m waaay behind the train here but Hugo was absolutely amazing! It followed the book crazy close and I just was thrilled with it overall.

Favorite Post You’ve Done So Far
Polina: My review of Tell the Wind and Fire, because it just wouldn’t be a year without me screaming about Sarah Rees Brennan.

Sondra: My review of A Court of Mist and Fury.

Most Beautiful Book You Bought This Year
Polina: I haven’t been able to justify buying it to myself because money, but once I do the Hamiltome will automatically take this position.

Sondra: OH THE HAMILTOME FOR SURE. I was gonna say My Lady Jane because that cover until I read Polina’s. The Hamiltome is absolutely 100% gorgeous inside and out.

What Books Do You Need to Get To by the End of the Year?
Polina: The Lies of Locke Lamora (which I listed for this last year as well. Oops.)

Sondra: If I don’t say Tell the Wind and Fire, Polina will fly to Texas and hit me. I already know it. But also Vicious by V. E. Schwab.

Q&A Review: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Q&A

Written by: Jeff Garvin
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Pages: 352, hardcover
Series: standalone
Add on GoodReads

Book

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

 

1) Best Part of this Book?

“The fact that it exists” is pretty much a given here–it’s about time YA books started featuring more nonbinary characters and exploring the complexity of gender.

That being said, I loved:

  • Riley’s blog entries, which could easily have felt like infodumps but didn’t, because Riley’s voice was so powerful throughout. 
  • the way Riley’s anxiety was portrayed–the fact that it didn’t magically go away at the end of the book but was something Riley learned to cope with better, Riley’s conversations with their therapists, the depiction of the anxiety medication’s effects.
  • Riley’s heartwarming friendships with Solo and Bec.

2) Favorite character?

Riley is very believable as a teenager who has been through a lot and is trying to figure out what to do next, who is fantastically snarky with great taste in music, who shows a mix of strength and vulnerability and grows so much.

3) Worst part of this book?

Can I say I’m jealous of the fact that Riley got five thousand followers in a week? Does that actually happen to people?

On a more serious note, Jeff Garvin made the decision not to reveal Riley’s assigned-at-birth sex, and I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, it means readers will (hopefully) question why the want to know that information when that isn’t the gender Riley identifies with. On the other hand, someone’s assigned sex does influence how people treat them, and that contributes to who they are.

4) Favorite Quote?

“The world isn’t binary. Everything isn’t black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial. And it’s not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval.”

5) Was it what’s Expected?

Honestly, it was. Other than Riley’s gender identity (which I haven’t seen many books feature), this was a pretty garden-variety coming out story, with both the good and the bad that this entails.

PickupI’d say yes!

Polina

Waiting on Wednesday: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

WoW
Hosted by Breaking the Spine

wintersong

Written by: S. Jae-Jones
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Pages: 448, Hardback
Series: Standalone
Add on Goodreads

Book

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

WIW1) Look at how beautiful the cover is!

2) Creepy-ish magical underworld!

3) This book will probably make me cry a lot.

4) Music is apparently an overarching theme, which is always a pull for me.

5) Labyrinth is one of my favorite movies. I haven’t rewatched it in a long time, and I’m excited for this book to bring me back to the story.

Sondra

June 2016 Monthly Wrap-Up

Month

Polina
5 Stars 45 Stars 4
20443235 23437156 23308084 18798983 13414183 17342700 20500053 23357716
35 3 Stars
15711341 26156203 13436373 213647 58345

 

 Sondra
5 Stars 4
Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2) Take Me On (Pushing the Limits, #4) A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

The Diabolic  Nowhere But Here (Thunder Road, #1)

Kindred Spirits Crossing the Line (Pushing the Limits, #1.1) Air Awakens (Air Awakens, #1)

 

Sondra

This month I read 13 books, two of which where rereads, and I would like to note that on my part, this wrap-up is late because tech rehearsal. Again.

Favorite Book: Not including Six of Crows (because reread), so definitely The Winner’s Kiss! Gorgeous writing, gorgeous relationship development, gorgeous everything. I cried a lot and Roshar is everything to me. That is all.
Least Favorite Book: Probably The Warrior Heir. It had some really interesting worldbuilding, but everything about the writing and characters and to extent plot was just so basic. I had really high expectations for this book, and I was disappointed.
Most Fun Book: Better Nate Than Never. Nate’s voice was really endearing, and as a grown-up theater kid I really enjoyed his reactions to various theater personalities. Lizzie’s banter with Connor in Last Will and Testament was also a lot of fun.
Most Heartwarming Book: The Winner’s Kiss. Even with the pain, the relationships between Kestrel and Arin and Roshar and Arin were just full of awwww.
Most Painful Book: Gathering Darkness. I will never forgive Morgan Rhodes for that Thing That Happened at the end, probably.
Most Surprising Book: Again, Gathering Darkness. One thing I’ve come to appreciate about Falling Kingdoms is that the last chapters are always filled with game-changers.
Characters of the Month: Kestrel Trajan is, of course, brilliant and complex and wonderful, and her strength in coming back from everything she went through in TWK made me love her even more. And have I mentioned how much I loved Roshar? Because I do. A lot. He’s snarky and knows who he is and his relationships with both Kestrel and Arin are precious. I’m starting to love a lot of the Falling Kingdoms characters, particularly Cleo, Magnus, Lucia, and Nic. (I’m not mentioning Six of Crows, but you all know how I feel about those kids.)
OTPs of the Month: Kestrel/Arin (thank you for actually communicating and being honest with and trusting each other! it made me ship you so much more!), and to a lesser extent Khalid/Shahrzad and Connor/Lizzie and Magnus/Cleo. (I’m not mentioning Six of Crows, but you all know how I feel about all the main ships.)
Friendship of the Month: Roshar and Arin are too precious for this world. Cleo and Lucia had a fascinating friendship before everything turned to shit. Nikolai and Pasha were my favorite part of TCG. (I’m not mentioning Six of Crows, but you all know how I feel about Nina and Inej.)
Book I’ll Try Really Hard to Get to Next Month: And I Darken, This Savage Song, The Lies of Locke Lamora

Sondra

This month I read 6 books, 2 novellas, and started a new series that I really just can’t get enough of.

Favorite Book: You’re really gonna make me pick between Gemina and A Court of Mist and Fury. REALLY? WHAT IF I REFUSE??
Least Favorite Book: I don’t have one??? This is why I’m picky with what I pick up. Like I’m specific so I don’t wind up with books I won’t love and adore.
Most Fun Book: Kindered Spirits, a novella but still so cute.
Most Heartwarming Book: Nowhere But Here. I’m such a Katie McGarry stan anymore.
Most Painful Book: A Court of Mist and Fury, I mean it was good, really good but oh man.
Most Surprising Book: The Diabolic! I was expecting something that I could DNF easy or something after ACOMAF, but I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it!
Characters of the Month: Ryhsand. He surprised me so many different ways and whoops, fell in love.
OTPs of the Month: Feyre/Ryhsand. Also Vhalla/Aldrik.
Friendship of the Month: Kady/ADIAN. Leave me alone I love that little evil computer.
Book I’ll Try Really Hard to Get to Next Month: July is Make Me Read so I’m hoping to blast through a bunch of them. Starting with Kiss of Deception. But also I want to try and finish Air Awakens.

 

ARC Review: We Awaken by Calista Lynne

ARC

Written by: Calista Lynne
Release Date: July 14, 2016
Pages: 180, e-book
Series: standalone
Add on GoodReads

Thank you to Netgalley and Harmony Ink Press for the ARC!

BookVictoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.

But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.

 

LetsTalk

 

It’s going to be a bit difficult for me to review this book. I wish I could give it five stars and scream about it to everyone in my immediate vicinity, because it has so many things I love–beautiful prose, girl friendship, mysterious and unusual worldbuilding, and of course, f/f romance with well-written asexual representation. We Awaken had all the pieces I wanted to see, and I really wish it had gone through another round or two of editing–something to make the pieces come together more fluidly.

We Awaken is about Victoria Dinham, a dancer whose father recently died in a car accident and whose brother is in a coma. One night, she dreams about a beautiful girl who creates good dreams and claims to have a message from her brother. You can guess where the story goes from there. She falls in love, learns about asexuality, reconnects with her former best friend, and comes to terms with what happened to her family.

Ultimately, We Awaken was enjoyable, but left me feeling like something was missing. The romance was cute, and the asexual representation was amazing, but so much about the characters and the world could have been fleshed out and wasn’t. While I would still recommend this book, I feel that it did not live up to its potential.

 

Didn'tWork

 

I really wish all the characters had more depth. Victoria was a pretty well-developed character. Ashlinn had hints of things that made her interesting, but the narrative utilized her more as a love interest and a way for Victoria to learn about asexuality than as a character in her own right. Victoria’s family and friends are pretty much tropes (though her best friend, Ellie, was at least an enjoyable one).

Victoria and Ashlinn’s relationship, while adorable, was rushed and very much insta-love. How did they fall in love? What brought them together besides Victoria thinking Ashlinn was pretty and a couple of lines of flirting? Who knows?

The world was underdeveloped as well, and it made me grit my teeth in frustration because anything dream-related is fascinating to me. I wanted to know more about Ashlinn’s history, and about her counterpart who creates nightmares, and whether there are others like them. (Because really, Ashlinn is only one person, and unless something timey-wimey is going on, which the novel did not imply, there’s no way for her to visit everyone’s dreams every night). (I know that’s exactly the type of thing I need to suspend my disbelief on, but it bothered me). The ending, too, was very anti-climactic–very much a case of “let’s resolve that troublesome plot so they can cuddle!”)

 

DidWork

 

My favorite thing about the book was the portrayal of asexuality. While it felt a little info-dump-y at times, it was still great to see a character go through pretty much the same process I went through a couple of years ago. Both Victoria and Ashlinn are asexual, and one thing I appreciated was that they both experience asexuality differently–for example, Ashlinn likes kissing and Victoria doesn’t. The narrative makes it clear that there is no one way to be asexual–everyone’s experience is different. Victoria and Ashlinn’s relationship also exemplified how it was possible to be intimate without being sexual.

While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the dialogue (which I found extremely clunky and forced), the actual descriptive prose was beautiful. Victoria’s thought process, the running theme of permanence and lack thereof, and the images of the dreams Ashlinn creates were perfectly illustrated.

Because I always have a weakness for things like this, I loved Victoria reconnecting with her friend Ellie. They had a fun dynamic, and I liked that they were both good friends in some ways but lacking in others, and balanced each other out. Ellie’s reaction to Victoria being asexual–both the initial response and how it changed later–was also very realistically written.

 

Pickup

 

I had my problems with this book, but in the end, it’s an enjoyable, fluffy story that provides some much-needed asexual representation. Definitely give it a look if you have the chance.

Sondra

Book Review: On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

BookReview

Written by: Corinne Duyvis
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Pages: 455, hardcover
Series: standalone
Add on GoodReads

Book

January 29, 2035.

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

LetsTalk

If you haven’t read a Corinne Duyvis book, I highly, highly recommend you start. Just like her first book Otherbound, On the Edge of Gone is captivating, complex, and intertwines the characters’ diverse identities with the plot in a meaningful way.

On the Edge of Gone takes place in the aftermath of a comet hitting the earth, and focuses on an autistic girl, Denise, trying to secure a place for herself and her family on a spaceship about to leave the planet. Like Denise, Corinne Duyvis is autistic, and the nuance she is able to add to her character makes this book a welcome change from numerous others where autistic characters are treated as tragedies, learning experiences, or problems to solve. As someone who has long suspected that I might be on the autistic spectrum, I very much appreciated her.

This is a story about survival, about family about the choice between a few individuals and the greater good, how we as a society decide who is valued and why these assumptions might not always be right. It’s a powerful, important, ultimately optimistic story and one of my favorite books of 2016.

Didn'tWork
Nothing, really, for me. It’s not a plot-heavy or fast-paced book, but I didn’t really need it to be those things.

DidWorkDenise is a wonderful character, and I emotionally connected to her right away. She’s smart and brave, and gets excited about cats and organizing information. Her autism is handled realistically, and, as I’ve said before, refreshingly. She struggles, and doubts herself, and gets overwhelmed, but she also comes up with good ideas that often succeed. Above all else, she is the heroine of her own story. The end of the book shows her starting to value herself more.

Just in general, the book is really diverse. In addition to being autistic, Denise is half-Surinamese, and the fact that she’s a biracial girl (as opposed to a white boy) makes it much more difficult for her to get an autism diagnosis. Her sister Iris is trans and bisexual, and there are plenty of secondary characters of different races and sexuality.

The apocalypse part of the book is amazing as well. First, the fact that it’s happen relatively close to now, and not two hundred years in the future, made it resonate so much more strongly because what if that happened during my lifetime? Second, Denise’s fight for survival is handled in a really complex way. Everyone wants their loved ones to live, and choosing the people who would be most useful in building a new world seems like a good idea–until you look at the people you’re leaving behind, who may not be “useful” (whatever that means) but still don’t deserve to die. Iris has this one line that I really loved: “Whether someone is useful only matters if you value people by their use.” (This may be a misquote, since I don’t have the book in front of me). Without giving away spoilers, the middle ground the book was able to find on this issue (at least in Denise’s situation) was a very satisfying solution.

Third, it’s one of the most optimistic apocalypse books I’ve read. Bad things happen (obviously) but the focus is on the power of people to survive and endure, on people banding together and helping each other survive painful situations. The ending filled me with hope for the characters and the world.

PickupAbsolutely! Corinne Duyvis’ voice is one you need to hear. (And if you enjoy this book, Duyvis has a short story called “And the Rest of Us Wait” in the Defying Doomsday anthology, which takes place in the same world.)

Sondra

Q&A Review: We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Q&A

Written by: Shaun David Hutchinson
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Pages: 455, hardcover
Series: standalone
Add on GoodReads

Book

There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.

Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.

What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

1) Best Part of this Book?

The characters are so vivid and well-drawn. Everyone, from Henry’s asshole brother to his science teacher, has hidden depth, and it makes the story all the richer and more layered. Henry asks everyone what they would do if the world was ending and they could prevent it, and their answers reveal so much about them. Because the character are nuanced, the relationships are as well, and there’s a balance between family, friendship, and romantic love, which I always appreciate.

2) Favorite character?

Henry. His voice is very believable–raw and painful, but also sometimes hilarious. Sometimes his headspace reminded me of mine during the worst parts of my high school years, and I read the book with my fingers crossed for him to make it through.

3) Worst part of this book?

It was hard for me to take the aliens seriously at first, to integrate their weirdness with the serious themes of the book. By the end, I didn’t really care. It wasn’t about the aliens.

4) Favorite Quote?

The universe may forget us, but our light will brighten the darkness for eons after we’ve departed this world. The universe may forget us, but it can’t forget us until we’re gone, and we’re still here, our futures still unwritten. We can choose to sit on our asses and wait for the end, or we can live right now. We can march to the edge of the void and scream in defiance. Yell out for all to hear that we do matter. That we are still here, living our absurd, bullshit lives, and nothing can take that away from us. Not rogue comets, not black holes, not the heat death of the universe. We may not get to choose how we die, but we can choose how we live. The universe may forget us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.

5) Was it what’s expected?

Definitely not. This is one of the most unique books I’ve read.

PickupThis book is gorgeous and complex and original, and I definitely recommend that you pick it up, especially if you enjoyed More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera.

Sondra