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Ship It ~ Britta Lundin

October 11, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Freeform
ISBN: 9781368003131
384 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

Y’all, it took me way too long to read this because grad school ate (and is currently eating) my life. My friend recommended it right before school started and I thought “Oh, sure! Geeky, queer fiction about fan fiction? I’ll finish it in a day!” And really, I should have. But I didn’t. And I’m glad I didn’t because there are so many layers to think about that it is almost one of those books one NEEDS to read slowly.

The entire story is set around fan fiction and comic convention culture, weaving in the world of social media and a healthy dose of queer, color, gender conversation that absolutely needs to be had around this genre.

The story is told in two (well, three, if you add in a sprinkling of fan fiction) voices, pitting the big booming voice of Hollywood against the small but mighty world of fandom.

Although I’m not exactly known for my stoicism, my spontaneous sobbing at the end caught me quite off guard. I’m not usually someone who cries over books (puppies and sunsets, maybe). Britta Lundin writes obnoxious white dudes, as my friend Kate put it, “frustratingly well” if that gives you any sort of idea as to where the book started and where it ended up.

I have to go, now, before I tell you something top secret (just know that there are a LOT of twists and turns). Just read this. Read it in an hour or take your time but just read it. I promise you’ll love it.

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Bess and Frima ~ Alice Rosenthal

October 9, 2018

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Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: She Writes Press
ISBN: 9781631524394
304 pages
Source: TLC Book Tours

When I was originally asked to read and review this book for the tour, I had mixed feelings. I have been so into fantasy and YA, lately, that I wasn’t sure I would connect with Rosenthal’s depth for Bess and Frima.

I was so beyond wrong, though, and I honestly should have known from the outset. The book follows two women from 1940’s New York (the Bronx, specifically) as they wind their way through love, politics, friendships, and heartbreak during both personal and global upheaval.

Right. So, I am from a socially active, part Jewish, part socialist family and I absolutely adore World War II stories.

Y’all, I honestly could’t tell you what my reservations were. So many questions that run through the book are applicable to our present moment. News spin, parental approval of partners, race, religion, ethnicity, and a sense of belonging all work together to make this one of those books I will continue to recommend and pass forward for a long time.

As can be expected, here I go with my “Yes, I’m a social worker” speech. I know I say that a lot of books fit into a special place in my heart for that reason but y’all have to believe me, this time, when I say that this one does tuck squarely into my professional life.

Please go check it out if you have the chance!

Purchase Link

Amazon

About Alice Rosenthal

Alice Rosenthal was born and raised in 1941 in the same Bronx neighborhood as her protagonists, though a generation later.

To All the Boys I Loved Before ~ Jenny Han

September 3, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9781442426719
384 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

I wanted to love this book, so much.

Everyone else has been so enamored with the entire series but it just didn’t hold my attention. And that might just be the mood I’m in (a little bit edgier, at the moment).

I loved Lara-Jean but I don’t think the story gave her enough of a chance to kind of get out from under herself.

It was sweet, though. I’ll give it that. And there are so few stories with single dads and little girls that it totally had the “Aw” and appreciation factor, for sure. I think it was just maybe a little TOO sweet for me.

I may, eventually, get to the rest of the series if I’m in the mood for a light little read but for the moment, the hype is kind of escaping me.

I will, however, go check out the movie, since it is hounding me every time I open up Netflix.

August 21, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780062308344
432 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

Emma and Evie have been friends for as long as they can remember though they are as different as any two high schoolers can be. They balance each other in their best moments and repel each other in their worst.

I spend a lot of time clucking my tongue and sighing at the lack of attention given to the nitty-gritty side of mental health in fiction.

There is often an emphasis on normal-spiral-treatment-healed.

A Flicker In the Clarity does no such thing.

Emma and Evie both stumble through their traumas and grief in their own ways, leaning on each other and away from each other in less than healthy or neatly tied up ways.

Because their journeys were presented in realistic, messy ways, the entire book felt pretty frustrating but that was what I loved about it, too.

The writing as beautiful and the story was authentic. In moments of frustration, I had to remind myself that the way each young woman was acting (either acting out or enabling of the other) was far closer to reality than I had come across before this particular book. When I could step back and gain that perspective, I was able to truly appreciate the raw beauty of the book.

The Cheerleaders ~ Kara Thomas

August 10, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Mystery
Publisher: Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9781524718329
384 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

Going into The Cheerleaders, I didn’t know what to expect. Well, that’s not true. I had my assumptions and they were pretty much all wrong. I expected something light and frilly with cheesy stereotypes about high schoolers.

I expected mushy crushes and the stoical love story.

I am so relieved that I was wrong.

The back of refuse jacket describes the book as a cross between Riverdale and Veronica Mars. I had I not read that, that would have been my exact description. I am such a sucker for “smart girl solves the case” storylines and that is exactly what I got with Thomas.

Rather than being dictated by boys or social drama, The Cheerleaders brings a refreshing look at the darker, less desirable grittiness that high school books are so often lacking.

Monica, the protagonist, leads most of the story but it is also periodically interrupted by her late sister, who was killed five years before the book starts. As the two stories weave together, there are so many striking parallels. It makes the ending that much more shocking and welcome (and that’s all I can tell you!).

I’m off to read Thomas’s other two books because I’m definitely hooked. If this is what we can expect from her, going forward, I am officially a lifetime fan.

TLC Book Tour: Day of the Dead ~ Nicci French

August 9, 2018

Hey, y’all! I’m back with another spectacular book tour pick from the wonderful team at TLC Book Tours!

I was new to the Frieda Klein series when I originally signed up to host this tour stop but I am now, officially, a giant fan. It is one of the most entertaining, fast paced rides I’ve taken in quite some time.

Day of the Dead is the final installment of the set and starts off with fireworks, as our team comes upon a week-old corpse in a runaway vehicle, smack dab in the middle of London. Deaths begin to pile up as a bonfire reveals another victim, another mile marker on a gruesome serial killer path.

Mind games and sick tricks are overflowing as this is far from an ordinary string of murders. They are all intricately planned and aimed at our fearless hero, Frieda Klein.

The entire series is well done but so few writers understand exactly the commitment it takes to wrap up an epic tale with the creativity and wit. I admit I was holding my breath going into this book as I really needed for it to wrap up with bang. And my goodness it did.

I highly recommend the entire series but I have nothing but the highest praise for the final chapter.

Thank you so much to TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins for the opportunity to be included on this tour.

About Nicci French

Nicci French is the pseudonym of English wife-and-husband team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Their acclaimed novels of psychological suspense have sold more than 8 million copies around the world.

26 Kisses ~ Anna Michels

August 6, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ISBN: 9781481452472
304 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble

After a heartwrenching break up with her high school soulmate, Vee takes the advice of her best friend and embarks on a summer-long challenge to kiss one boy for every letter of the alphabet. Obviously, hijinx ensue.

I felt all sorts of feelings about this one and it wasn’t a terribly long (or even complicated) book.

Let me start by saying that I am all about sexual freedom for women and have no problem with the concept of willingly and freely getting snuggly with multiple people as long as it is consensual.

That said, something about the way this story played out made me really uncomfortable for the entire ride. There is an ambivalence on the part of the actual kisser and a lot of pressure from her friend, including guilt, shame, and a fair amount of alcohol to “fuel” the kissing. It almost had a coercive nature to it and it made reading it pretty difficult.

There were also a few kisses that were not consensual on the part of the boys being kissed which is never ok. If the protagonist had been male and he went around kissing girls without their go ahead, this book would never fly. I think we need to be aware of that double standard and give boys the same respect we give girls over their sexual ownership.

So, I know I’m kind of being a wet blanket and this book was largely supposed to be about fun. There was some fun, involved, and I loved the way Vee did occasionally pause to look at why she might be doing something that didn’t quite sit right with her. She was, it seems, attempting to fill a bottomless pit of feelings, where it comes to her dad’s love and I could go all Clinical Therapist on that front but I’ll spare you.

Overall, I think the book was somewhat cute but way more problematic than adorable.