Posts

Showing posts from September, 2017

Night of Cake & Puppets - Laini Taylor & Jim DiBartolo (Illus.)

Image
Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan.

It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.

This book is super cute, full of delightful romance and inventive magic. DiBartolo's illustrations beautifully complement the narrative. I will note that it's a companion novella to go along with Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, so on its own, the book does lack a little bit of depth. However, when read in addition to the other novels, the story works remarkabl…

Dear Martin - Nic Stone

Image
Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In that media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.


If you've read The Hate U Give or All American Boys, then you'll de…

Bull, A Novel - David Elliott

Image
Minos thought he could Pull a fast one On me, Poseidon! God of the Sea! But I’m the last one On whom you Should try such a thing. The nerve of that guy. The balls. The audacity. I AM THE OCEAN! I got capacity! Depths! Darkness! Delphic power! So his sweet little plan Went big-time sour And his wife had a son Born with horns and a muzzle Who ended up In an underground puzzle. What is it with you mortals? You just can’t seem to learn: If you play with fire, babies, You’re gonna get burned.


I love my Greek mythology, and I love a good novel in verse, and I really appreciate it when an author plays with narrative and perspective! In the case of BULL, David Elliott manages to turn the story of the Minotaur onto its head by giving readers the opportunity to understand what went down, through the eyes of deliciously twisted Poseidon. Elliott employs humour, sexual references, double entendre, and many other delightful turns of phrase in this fast-paced retelling of a disturbing and tragic tale. Poseidon's nar…

Vanilla - Billy Merrell

Image
Vanilla is the story of two boys breaking up, and the reasons that bring their relationship to a head. Told in verse, Merrell's narrative explores asexuality and gender fluidity in the lives of teens against the backdrop of a world obsessed with sex. Being brought up in a society that sees sex as the ultimate expression of love in a relationship, asexuality is currently misunderstood by many and is ultimately the reason that Vanilla and Hunter feel unable to continue dating.

The writing and language are powerful, and the range of poetic forms ensures that Vanilla never feels monotonous even as it defies any type of simplistic chronological storytelling. Merrell's background as a poet is evident and I feel that the style elevates an already complex and messy story.

Vanilla and Hunter's relationship is the core of the story, and the failing of it due to differences in expectations around sex. But there is more to it than that. A third character eventually emerges as an importa…

Feral Youth - Edited by Shaun David Hutchinson

Image
At Zeppelin Bend, an outdoor education program designed to teach troubled youth the value of hard work, cooperation, and compassion, ten teens are left alone in the wild. The teens are a diverse group who come from all walks of life, and they were all sent to Zeppelin Bend as a last chance to get them to turn their lives around. They’ve just spent nearly two weeks learning to survive in the wilderness, and now their instructors have dropped them off eighteen miles from camp with no food, no water, and only their packs, and they’ll have to struggle to overcome their vast differences if they hope to survive. Inspired by The Canterbury Tales, Feral Youth features characters, each complex and damaged in their own ways, who are enticed to tell a story (or two) with the promise of a cash prize. 

Contributors: Shaun David Hutchinson - The main narrative Suzanne Young - A Violation of Rule 16 Marieke Nijkamp - The Butterfly EffectThe Chaos Effect Robin Talley - Look Down Stephanie Kuehn - A Caut…

Long Way Down - Jason Reynolds

Image
After his brother dies, fifteen-year old Will finds himself wanting to get revenge on his brother's murderer. He's sure he knows who did it. Well, he's pretty sure. At least, he thinks he's sure. He goes home and finds his brother's hidden gun. As he's descending in the elevator, which is going soooooo slow, the lift keeps stopping on ever floor, letting on an odd assortment of individuals, each of which leads Will to question his resolve and wonder what actually went down to lead to his brother getting shot in the chest.

The novel takes place over the course of a a few short minutes, though the reader, just like Will, is given the impression that time has slowed to a crawl. Long Way Down is a psychological and emotional journey through Will's subconscious. Reynolds' poetry is both beautiful and frightening in its brevity and impact. Young readers will hopefully find themselves invested in Will's internal journey as past figures and current ones help…

It Gets Worse: A Collection of Essays - Shane Dawson

Image
Hi, my name is Shane Dawson, and I'm here to tell you that it gets worse. It really does. The problems you have as a kid will seem ridiculous when you get older because bigger and worse problems will come along. But you will learn to deal with them easier as you grow up, or like me, you'll just stop giving a shit. So yes, it gets worse, but you know what gets better? Your tolerance for bullshit.I can't say I hate the It Gets Better project, but I definitely find it to be more problematic than helpful. Yes, it's true, things can change, but the project often leads to a sense of expectation that things will change on their own, while also giving young people the idea that being young is inevitably horrible and they should simply expect to be bombarded by homophobia, transphobia, physical violence, and feelings of inferiority. Now, this book isn't specifically a response to It Gets Better, but it certainly speaks to the need for a change in how we think about being yo…

That Inevitable Victorian Thing - E. K. Johnston

Image
Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendent of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she'll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire's greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria.

I adore E. K. Johnston. She can write, too, dammit! If you haven't read E…