grav_ity: (books 2011)
This was a bound MS by the author who got me into writing YA in the first place, so NO NERVES AT ALL INVOLVED LET ME TELL YOU.

*breathes into a paper bag*

Basically, it's a thriller. I'm not always here for thrillers, but Lo's pacing was excellent, and the shift in style for the Before and Afters really worked for me. Also, it was four very complicated girls, and I usually like that. I liked that the viciousness was...real? Like, you know how sometimes you read a Mean Girl, and you're all "A Dude Wrote This"? There was none of that. It was on point without being gratuitous, and I thought it was really good.

The book comes out in October.
grav_ity: (PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS)
Pitched as "Labyrinth, but in the late 1700s, in Germany", WINTERSONG is about Liesl, who is good at music, but a girl and therefore untaught. When she was little, she used to dance with a boy in the forest, but then she had to grow up and be the only responsible sibling, and she locked the music away. With her younger brother, the other half of her soul, getting all of the teaching and all of the love, her middle sister gets ignored...by everyone except the boy that Liesl forgot.

What follows is a story I really enjoyed, where a girl goes to the Underworld and makes a tonne of choices and gets to be more than one thing, which I really, really loved.

Also: excellent use of music, family dynamics, sex, being-a-girl, and German diminutives. I am not a Labyrinth fan, but I enjoyed this book a lot.
grav_ity: (books)
This book is criminally underserved by its jacket copy, which makes it look like it's going to be a fairly shallow fantasy with a forbidden love that more eye-roll inducing than anything else.

EXCEPT THEN IT TOTALLY ISN'T.

Blake's use of world-building extends really thoughtfully into religion, prophecy, and politics. She places her fish-hook hints really deftly and then every reveal feels earned. I won, like, ten bets with myself reading this book, and it was AWESOME. The first part is a littttttle draggy, but it turns around really fast, and by the time part two starts, it's flying.

I finished it a couple days ago and I'm STILL super pumped about how the prophecy went down. I can't wait for books 2 and 3!
grav_ity: (sabewon)
This is the second book in her new series, about the Westcott family. The MC is the girl who lost her legitimacy in the first book, and is trying to make sense of her life now that she's basically at the mercy of the wind.

I really Camille a lot (surprise!). She is dealing with a legacy of emotional abuse (from her father, the dead guy whose will and general asshole behaviour started the whole thing off), and trying to find out what she's going to do with her life now that being A Proper English Peer is no longer possible. She also learns how to accept help, which is not something she's ever had to do before, and isn't a dick about it. I don't always like stories where girls are forced to confront their privilege by being beaten down (financially, in this case), but Balogh did a really good job of it, and Camille's self-awareness really sold it.

Joel, this book's Dude, also appeared in Book #1. He was a friend of the protagonist (they'd grown up in the orphanage together), and she wrote him letters throughout. Now, he also has to deal with his plans going awry (he and Anna would have had a practical marriage, not a love-match, before, though he does love her a great deal), and also with several revelations.

(The orphanage, btw, is very well off for a Regency-Era orphanage, because the kids in it are ALL illegitimate. Like, a baby shows up in this one left on the door step with a thousand pounds in her blanket, and Joel was also supported by an unknown benefactor until he was 15, and went to school, which the benefactor also paid for. Shenanigans, as you can imagine, ensue.)

ANYWAY, I'm not quite as lit up about this series as I was about the Survivors', but it is interesting to see Regency romance that focuses on class so much. Also, they remain hilarious.
grav_ity: (dance)
This is the second ARC I got from OLA (i.e., the one that nearly led to my proposing to the sales rep at the booth because I was SO PLEASED TO GET A COPY), and it. is. so. good.

Basically: Dimple is pushing back against her parents' traditional goals for her. Sure, they want her to be happy and smart, but they also want her to marry an Ideal Indian Husband asap (and support her going to Stanford, because there will be a lot of fish in that sea, as it were). Dimple mostly wishes they'd lay off. She has career plans, and while she's not against love, she is not interested in sacrifice. She's seen it over and over: it's always the girl who does it. So when they agree to send her to a summer programming camp? She's super excited. And not at all suspicious. Which is too bad, because also at this camp...

...is Rishi. Whose parents are familiar with Dimple's parents (they live far enough away that they don't cross paths much), and who decided a long time ago that when the time was right, they'd introduce the kids, hope for the best, and see what happened. Rishi knows all about this plan, and is for it, even though this programming camp is a bit ahead of schedule. He is okay with being the traditional son.

So when Dimple and Rishi meet? Let's just say it does not go well.

I loved this book so much. It's like how sometimes you see a kitten and then want to punch yourself in the neck. It's so GOOD and so CUTE, and I spent the whole time reading it alternating between making pterodactyl noises and smashing my face against the pages.

Both Dimple and Rishi are such good characters, and their nuances and flaws are PERFECT. And Menon balances first generation Americans against their parents and against the US with heart-wrenching precision. As Dimple thinks about what her plans really mean, and Rishi starts to acknowledge that his plans might not be worth as much as his parents hoped, the story unfolds and just:

it's so fluffy i'm going to die

I wish I still worked at the book store so I could PUSH THIS INTO THE FACE OF EVERY PERSON ALIVE. It's so good.
grav_ity: (aly married a crow!)
This is one of those YAs that's kind of a Middle Grade? The MC is 15 and it's a straight up faery story, but more Perilous Gard-y than anything. Needless to say, I really liked it. I'm just glad I didn't have to do any marketing for it.

ANYWAY. It was Irish. It was interesting. It was refreshingly full of characters who apologized for calling the MC stupid when they had forgotten to give her the information she needed. There was teamwork. I had fun.
grav_ity: (all in)
So this was very, very dark? And not at all in the annoying way. Basically the MC is dealing with depression and self-harm, and then that attracts a demon (because: book), and then she figured it out, and then she got help. But it's SUPER dark. Lindsay is one of my favourite people, so I am not sure how that influenced my reading of the book, but I am sure it did.

(I'm not usually here for DARK LIKE MY SOUL books. Though, tbh, this one had a pretty strong thread of hope woven into it, and the pacing of the reveals was good, so that helped a lot.)

Anyway, YMMV, but definitely trigger warnings for self-harm, suicidal ideation, and depression.
grav_ity: (that's how we roll in the shire)
This was an ARC for a book that comes out on March 27, and I was VERY lucky to get it at OLA last week.

(What happened was that they had samplers at the booth, and I stood there staring at them for a second, and then said out loud "Do I want a sample though? Because they I'll have to wait?" and the sales rep was all "Do you want one? Because I have one!", and then I may have accidentally proposed marriage, because in addition to The Gauntlet, she came back with another ARC I wanted EVEN MORE.)

Anyway, so it's a MG Jumanji-style adventure, about a girl whose brother gets trapped in a game, and so she and her two best friends go in after him. It was very fast paced and also very beautifully written, which was sometimes a little whip-lashy, but generally worked. Kaye is an AMAZING writer, and I am SO PLEASED about her book.

What makes it extra special, though, is that the MC is Muslim. So you have this wacky adventure romp, starring a girl who gets to wear a hijab on the cover of her own novel, and that just makes me so happy.

Also, the descriptions of food are amazing. ;)
grav_ity: (machete)
A follow up to last year's TRUTHWITCH, Windwitch continues to the story of Safi, Iseult, and Merick, while adding and developing new characters and incredibly complicated political and personal shenanigans. It was made for me, is what I'm saying.

I super pleased that this is a true series. I think we're looking at five books total, which is just not common in YA. I'm thrilled with what Susan is doing, though. Her world is just so well developed, and I love how big and thorough it is.

I continue to really like Safi and Iseult, even though they are separated from one another for the entire plot, having adventures with new characters. They are just so great. And both of them are coming into their power and the magic and they are just so good at being...characters.

I was not Merrik's biggest fan (surprise!), but he was at least interesting in this. His mistakes were logical and his solutions reasonable, at it was a solid progression, but it was his sister Vivia who really shone. She was awesome.

The third book is called Bloodwitch, and won't be out until next year, and I can't wait.
grav_ity: (books 2011)
This isn't a book I loved, but I did enjoy it quite a bit. I think this is because the book is outside my preferred genre, but does spend a lot of time on topics and themes I like.

Anyway, The Careful Undressing of Love is a book you relax into. For the first few pages, you're picky: trying to sort Haydu's magical world from the real one, and then it just takes you over. It's weird until it's not, and then it's an examination of love and legacy and family, and the things girls do when we back them into corners and then blame them for being there in the first place.

Haydu's feminism shines on every page, and I was caught between wanting to linger, and wanting to turn the pages even faster.
grav_ity: (books 2011)
This was a book about isolation and grief, and then getting over isolation and grief, and I really liked it. I was afraid at it would be bleak af, but it was so, so the opposite of that, for which I am profoundly grateful.

LaCour's exploration of family and lies and secrets and love was excellent, and the relationship between the two main characters, both romantic and otherwise, was just perfect. Watching them grow back together and figure out how to talk again, now that they've had some distance is so painful and so true. They don't know how, but they also don't want to give up, and so they keep working on it, and it's great.

Also, the roommate (and her family) are wonderful.

Basically, it wasn't quite "good things happen to good people", because it was shrouded by a tragedy, but it was "good people come together", and I enjoy that, too.
grav_ity: (bite psychiatrists)
(note: this series starts with volume 0, which means I am NEVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO KEEP TRACK OF THEM.)

Anyway, this one was waaaaaaaay plottier than the first two Silk volumes, so it was a bit less funny, but still packed with awesome ladies who are badass in a variety of ways, which is really all I ask for from life.

I love how these comics address Cindy's trauma without kicking her while she's down, and I love how they don't use her "victimhood" to make her a hero (does that even make sense? I meant they're not gratuitously beating her up to give her something to conquer within herself. Like, they give her actual villains to fight, instead).

Also: awesome lesbians, good bosses, Mockingbird, family, a talking dragon, and Silk is really good at her powers.
grav_ity: (wadi rum)
I read about half of this last night while avoiding a New Years party, and then finished it today. I love this book so much. Re-reading it is a joy. It's perfection. A good way to end the year and start the next one.

Lady of Stars, make me worthy of love.
grav_ity: (books 2011)
This was a SUPER light sci-fi novel where a "mirror Earth" is discovered, throwing our Earth into some chaos, and allowing our protagonist to have her Teenage Existentialism against the backdrop of the very real possibility that there's another her on that planet. It sounds like a bit of a stretch, but I actually really enjoyed it, though usually I prefer my sci-fi on space ships. :)

I think the reason I liked it so much is that the main character wasn't white (one of her main struggles is with being the "second generation", and also with deciding what of her culture she wants, and what of American culture she wants). And also because there were about nine side-characters, all of whom were super teenager-y, which I always like as well.

Basically, it was quiet and the high school politics were painfully on point and the family drama was real, and I thought it was very well done.
grav_ity: (books 2011)
I think one of the smartest things I did this year was remember to read Jen's books. She's so smart and her books are SO well constructed. They're just a delight to read.

This is the third book in the Naturals series (the fourth one's out, but I've come this far in trade paperbacks, so...), and the stakes are quite high. We also get a lot of fun new backstory, and development for the ensemble. I felt like there was a lot more teamwork in this one, but I think that might be a reflection of how the series' arc is coming together. Anyway, I really enjoyed it, and I can't WAIT for the final instalment.
grav_ity: (books 2011)
I'm really not sure about this one. It's clever and interesting, and the voice is good, but the portrayal of disability (specifically the "magical cure" trope) is...well, honestly I am not an expert at this, so I don't know for sure, but it made me uncomfortable. The book is an ARC, so I'm waiting for people wiser than me to weigh in, but...yeah. I'm not sure about this one.
grav_ity: (john crichton approves of this plan)
This is the sequel to Madly/The Potion Diaries, which I read last year and really enjoyed. Basically, it's modern England/Europe, but with magic, so everything is slightly more complicated, as you do. It's a "light" fantasy, which means it's a fun read and there's not death and rape all over the place, which I also really appreciate.

Anyway, Sam, our heroine, continues to make potions and defend the crown princess. There's magic and science, friendship and romance, adventure and family legacy, allies and betrayal...all the good stuff, really. Alward's world-building is top notch, and the structure of the book is also excellent. I don't think the book suffers from 'second book' syndrome (the trilogy will end next year), which is also nice.
grav_ity: (aly married a crow!)
I think my chief problem with this was that I read it right after The Girl Who Drank The Moon, and therefore was v.e.r.y. picky about my Middle Grade at the time.

It's impeccably researched and the story is neat, but it's not as deft as tGWDtM, and it's certainly very dude-heavy. (I mean, there's a reason I rarely read books written by men in the first place.)

So anyway, it was interesting but not really gripping, and then I read the author's note and felt it was a little patronizing, but it's a solid entry, and it doesn't fall prey to any of the "But there weren't any black people!" bullshit that lazier medieval storytelling does (the three main characters were a girl, a Jewish boy, and a boy whose mother was African). Also, the whole book is illuminated, and the art is wonderful.

Anyway, so I didn't love it, but I do kinda respect it? YMMV.
grav_ity: (star wars bb-8)
This comic is so good.

First of all: Poe, Jess, and Karé are NOT drawn with lighter skin AT ALL. Second, Jess and Karé get a TONNE of screen time (both independently AND as part of the team). So I was super happy on that front.

Also, the writing mirror's Oscar Isaac's actual delivery and cadence of speech, which is great.

Also, BB-8 has, like, a whole action sequence at one point, and it's BEAUTIFUL.

Also, despite having accidentally spoiled myself reading the Flight Log, the comic was really good. I enjoyed it immensely. It was gorgeously drawn and coloured, and the story was top notch. I hope they keep doing it (even though waiting a year for the volume in the first place r.o.u.g.h.).

ALSO, the scenes with Leia and Poe were AWESOME. Leia was also drawn fabulously, and I live for their relationship at this point. It's just awesome.

10/10 would recommend. (especially if you, like me, watched Rogue One and need something to warm your soul.)
grav_ity: (star wars team i ship it)
This is a Middle Grade, in the style of Rey's Survival Guide (which was amazing and made me cry more than once), except I didn't like this one as much. It was more a straight up summary of the movie and the comic (which I hadn't read yet, so I also accidentally spoiled myself!). Much as it pains me, you can probably just skip this one.

(There is a glorious section where he repeatedly laments having lost his jacket, but still.)

I hope the Finn one (in the mail, arriving at some point) is better.

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