I had massive reservations when it came to Queens of Geek. Sure, I preordered it, but that's just because it featured an LGBTQ+ relationship and it waI had massive reservations when it came to Queens of Geek. Sure, I preordered it, but that's just because it featured an LGBTQ+ relationship and it was six bucks, so I thought "Why not?" But I have to admit that the publisher being something called Swoon Reads did make me judge this a bit cause I'm not normally a swooner...and I'm not overly in love with romance. However, I've been going through a massive reading slump and this book was literally the only book I had any desire to read out of the hundreds of books I own. So, I read it. And I really, really liked it.
The Good: Queens of Geek was filled to the brim with geekiness. Now, I consider myself a full-fledged geek and have been part of many fandoms. So, I loved all of the fandom speak within Queens of Geek and loved that I recognized most of them (I also squealed extremely loudly at the Orphan Black one cause that's my fave at the moment). This book is a geek lover's wet dream and it doesn't disappoint in that aspect one bit. It also really made me want to go to a Con. And as someone who tends to get incredibly anxious in big crowds and thus tends to avoid them, this was pretty big.
More Good: I did like all of the characters in Queens of Geek. I wasn't in love with any of them, but I really liked them. I identified a lot with Taylor and I absolutely adored Charlie's confidence. So, I never really preferred one POV to another. I thought Jamie was really sweet, as well. I also really liked the relationships. The friendship between all 3 main characters was solid and the romantic relationships veered between sweet and steamy.
The Okay: I loved all of the messages included in Queens of Geek and think that they are so, so important. However, I wish this would have been done in a more...fluid way. The way these messages were told affected the flow of the book for me. It seemed more preachy than natural. Again, all of the themes in this book are so massively important, but I wish they would've read less like speeches and just something more natural.
Overall, I really enjoyed Queens of Geek. It's the first book in about a month that I haven't wanted to throw against the wall because it just wasn't reeling me in (damn reading slumps). I can't wait to check out more of this author and am going to pick up a couple of more Swoon Reads to have on hand when I'm in the midst of another reading slump....more
I so wanted to love The Education of Margot Sanchez. Growing up, there were so few YA novels with a Puerto Rican protagonist that now as an adult, I'vI so wanted to love The Education of Margot Sanchez. Growing up, there were so few YA novels with a Puerto Rican protagonist that now as an adult, I've decided to slowly, but surely gorge myself on all the ones that exist. Unfortunately, I did not love The Education of Margot Sanchez because I did not love Margot Sanchez.
Holy mother of privilege and self-centeredness, Batman! Margot only cared about herself and how her family's problems affected her. And as someone who grew up in a Puerto Rican household that did have to live paycheck by paycheck, I didn't sympathize with most of Margot's "problems". "Oh, I stole $600 from my parents and now I not only have to pay them back by working in my family's grocery store all summer, I actually don't get any money from them? AND I have to buy my own expensive clothing?" Yeah, boo freaking hoo!
And I'm trying to figure out what "education" Margot actually got. She never really changes her self-centered ways. She still thinks that she's the center of the universe and looks at things only in the glance of "how do they affect me?" She's no better than those two shallow friends she has. Margot experiences very little growth in this book. She starts off as unlikable and she remains unlikable.
Is there someone else to root for in The Education of Margot Sanchez? Nope. And that's mainly because none of the supporting characters are developed. I would have loved to know more about Elizabeth, Moises, and all of the other supermarket employees, but unfortunately we don't get anything from them. They're just there and don't really do much. I also would have loved it if we got to experience Margot actually working in the supermarket. I worked at a supermarket throughout high school and would have loved to see things in that context.
In the end, I was highly disappointed in The Education of Margot Sanchez. It gets two stars only because it was a quick read, the Spanish was spot on and not italicized, and because the cover is absolutely gorgeous. The rest of the flaws, however, make this a bust for me....more
I wanted to like this one. For the most part, I was engaged with The Serpent King (still thought it had some flaws, though), so I expected to feel theI wanted to like this one. For the most part, I was engaged with The Serpent King (still thought it had some flaws, though), so I expected to feel the same way about Goodbye Days. Unfortunately, the flaws in this were to immense for me to give this a high rating.
The Good: I liked the friendship between Carver, Blake, Mars, and Eli. I was concerned that their friendship would be somewhat brushed off seeing as how Goodbye Days starts with Carver's best friends already dead. I was worried that it would focus so much on how Carver deals with it that I wouldn't get any inkling as to why these characters were friends. Fortunately, Zentner includes flashbacks that detail how Carver met each of his best friends and how they functioned as a group. I also really liked the relationship with Carver and Georgia. I thought it was sweet.
The Eh: One problem that I had with The Serpent King was that I had to suspend belief multiple times. This happened to me with Goodbye Days. I just don't see the whole "Is Carver culpable for the death of his friends" arc going as far as it did in real life than it did in the book. And I get that Zentner was trying to say, "Wait, this can happen because look at that girl in Massachusetts who's being charged for the suicide of her friend", but those are two entirely different circumstances. Carver wasn't actively goading his friends to answer his text message in hopes that they would all die in a car crash. That girl in Mass was continuously telling her friend to commit suicide and kept telling him to get back in the car when he expressed doubts. So, one is culpable, one is not. And again, I don't the circumstances in the book playing out that way in real life.
More Eh: I never really warmed to Carver. Sure, he wasn't responsible for his friends' deaths, but he still seemed like kind of a tool. He was sexist. And sure he acknowledged his sexism from time to time, but that doesn't automatically erase the fact that it exists within him. One thing that left a bad taste in my mouth has to do with how the parents of the deceased are portrayed. I was so disheartened to realize that the black character was the one parent who decided to inflict some violence, but the other parents are shown as more "respectable". Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but that upset me and is a big reason why this book went from three stars to two.
In the end, I wasn't a fan of Goodbye Days. The main character wasn't likable and the whole court aspect of this book seemed like a stretch. I think The Serpent King is a way better read and that one actually made me cry, while this one just made me go "Eh."...more
I so, so wanted You're Welcome, Universe to live up to its awesome, swoon-worthy, beautiful cover and it did! Seriously, You're Welcome, Universe wasI so, so wanted You're Welcome, Universe to live up to its awesome, swoon-worthy, beautiful cover and it did! Seriously, You're Welcome, Universe was pretty damn great.
I really liked Julia. She was tough as nails, snarky, funny, and she made not-so-great decisions. All of these things served to make Julia a flawed human being. All good points in my book. I also adored her relationship with YP. I'm a sucker for a good female friendship, particularly because it tends to be rare in YA books where the heroines are more focused on romance than anything else. You know what's also rare in YA? A book that has very little romance. And BAM! You're Welcome, Universe has virtually no romance. The whole focus of the book is Julia and her art, as well as her navigation of a "mainstream" school.
More Good: I expected a book with a Deaf MC to be told the way books with a non-Deaf MC are told, but it wasn't and I loved that about it. I particularly liked how when Julia was lip-reading, there were some words missing in the book because she wasn't catching every word the person was saying. You can just tell that this book was meticulously researched and that sensitivity readers were used (which is a must if you're writing about a culture you don't personally belong to).
The teeny tiny Eh: The reason that You're Welcome, Universe isn't getting five stars (other than the fact that I'm insanely stingy with them) is that some of the adult supporting characters weren't fleshed out as much. I say some because Mr. Katz (whom I loved and adored) and Casey were plenty fleshed out, but Julia's parents were non-entities for the most part. We get to know some of Mee, but I would have loved it if the author explored Julia and Ma's relationship a little bit more.
Overall, I really enjoyed You're Welcome, Universe. Julia was a great main character, the supporting characters were awesome, the book seems to be meticulously researched. The art was also stunning and I'm hoping the finished copy of this book has these amazing drawings in color (cause that would be insanely pretty). Highly recommended!...more
Lately, I have been singing the praises of YA contemporary fiction. My last two contemporary YA books were damn impressive, so I thought "Maybe I don'Lately, I have been singing the praises of YA contemporary fiction. My last two contemporary YA books were damn impressive, so I thought "Maybe I don't need to love YA fantasy, cause I have these!" Well, after reading The Loose Ends List, I decided that my next read needs to be a fantasy so that I could wipe the stench that this book left within me. Cause frankly, this book sucked.
Getting right to it: Maddie sucked. She was a horrible main character. I get that the author wanted her to be this popular girl who's amazing, yet insecure, who's funny and deep. Yeah, well, that failed. Maddie was shallow, judgmental, and her supposed moments of empathy rang entirely insincere. She starts off the book by stating what a shame it is that a hot guy got the diseased gene, while his ugly brother got the healthy gene. What even? This chick judges everyone. Her grandmother's lawyer is bald, so naturally that makes Maddie and Janie (her equally shallow cousin) think "Eww, gross!" She goes on to wonder who's the terminally ill one in a couple: either the really skinny one or the overweight one.
More: She's surprised that a hot girl with a surfboard and big breasts is a botanist because y'know hot and chesty = dumb. Then she says this little nugget, "I don't think I can eat next to someone in a wheelchair." Really? WTF! Last time I checked, people in wheelchairs were still...y'know PEOPLE! And she was never redeemed. There was never that lightbulb moment where she thought "Huh. I'm shallow and judgmental. Maybe I should change." Nope. She just stays horrible. Of course, why would she change when everyone around her is telling her how magnificent she is?
She's not the only shallow character in this book. Again, Janie is just as shallow. You think she might be a little bit better than Maddie because she shows some moments of empathy. But all that goes to hell when she's in Brazil and states, "That's a lot of blonde people for Brazil." Because, of course, Brazil means dark skin, dark eyes, and dark hair, right? I'm trying so hard to not say that that's kinda racist, but what it is is really fucking stereotypical. Maybe the author thought that she was being funny by making fun of people with different nationalities, different looks, different religions (because a German guy in Brazil means Nazi and Nazi's and the Holocaust are funny, right? HA HA). It doesn't come across as funny. It comes across as offensive.
The Loose Ends List was not funny in the slightest, even when you take away the offensive "jokes." This book comes across as trying desperately hard to be funny, but failing at every turn. The grandmother? A caricature. Also, what was with her honking her granddaughter's breast? What was with Janie looking at Maddie (her COUSIN!) and saying "I'd do you"? I have never, not once, looked at a family member who was dressed nicely and said, "Nice. I'd do you" because that would be really fucking weird.
Overall, I intensely disliked The Loose Ends List. It wasn't funny, the "jokes" were offensive, it was boring, and it had insta-love. This book caused numerous eye-rolls and was just a bad book. I say skip it....more
Meh. I was highly underwhelmed by Afterward despite its intriguing premise. I've always been interested in how those who have suffered through a kidnaMeh. I was highly underwhelmed by Afterward despite its intriguing premise. I've always been interested in how those who have suffered through a kidnapping cope with everything that's happened after they've been rescued. Unfortunately, Afterward left me slightly cold.
My main issue with it was Caroline. She was such an unlikable character and oftentimes downplayed what Ethan went through just because he came from a family that could provide extensive therapy. I also don't understand why she was deemed important enough to become a secondary narrator. She didn't go through the kidnapping and most of her inner thoughts had little to do with her kidnapped brother, so I just didn't see the point of her.
I also never really connected with Ethan. Maybe I would have had the book been solely about him, but while I felt sympathy for what he went through, I never really clicked with him. Also, the author had him use the word "guilty" way too many times. I understand that a character like that would feel guilty, but a synonym should have been used once or twice.
In the end, I just wasn't a huge fan of Afterward. I never clicked with any of the characters and for such a short book, it did have moments where it lagged. The ending was also abrupt. I say skip it. ...more
Okay, so Nina LaCour and I have a complicated relationship. And by that I mean that I once read one of her books (The Disenchantments), really didn'tOkay, so Nina LaCour and I have a complicated relationship. And by that I mean that I once read one of her books (The Disenchantments), really didn't like it, and have held it against her ever since. And this is totally unfair because prior to not liking The Disenchantments, I really loved Hold Still. But The Disenchantments soured me away from LaCour's books. Of course, that was until I found out that Everything Leads to You featured GLBT characters. So, I read that one. Really liked it. Read Summer Days and Summer Nights. LOVED LaCour's short story in it. Yet, despite all this, every single time I pick up a LaCour book, I hesitate. Well, after reading We Are Okay, I will hesitate no longer.
I frigging LOVED this book. There's just something about the way LaCour writes about grief that hits you in the gut and makes you feel active pain for what her characters are going through. I felt in Hold Still. I felt it doubly in We Are Okay. Marin's emotions (particularly her loneliness) just leapt off the page. So much that towards the end of it, I was just a massive puddle of tears.
So, we have tons (TONS!) of gorgeous writing and an immense amount of grief in We Are Okay. What else? Well, the relationship between Marin and Mable is so, so understated. At first, I was a bit put off (because HELLO! I came here for the GLBT relationship), but this book is primarily a book about a character attempting to deal with grief. Everything else is in the background. But that background relationship was so beautiful in its simplicity. And everything between Marin and her grandfather, extra double punch in the gut due to pain.
All of this rambling is just to say pick up this book! Seriously, everything about We Are Okay is awe-inspiring: from the cover (because OH MY GOD! is this cover the most stunning thing you've ever seen?), to the characters, to the overall writing of it. It has made its way to my favorites shelf and has just single handedly made sure that I never again hesitate to pick up a Nina LaCour book. We Are Okay is highly, highly recommended!...more