Reviews

Review: THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER

Capture.JPGBook: THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER
Author: Jen Wang
Publisher: First Second
Pages: 288
Format: eBook (graphic novel)
ARC?: Yes, provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: 2/13/2018
TW/CW: being outed without consent
Rep: Non-gendered clothing. I wasn’t sure how to label this because it’s never explicitly stated that the Prince is genderfluid, but they do sometimes feel like wearing “masculine clothing” and sometimes they feel like wearing “feminine clothing” and being referred to as a woman.
Rating: 5/5

34506912Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?

I’m usually not a fan of graphic novels. I can count the graphic novels I’ve read on one hand, but when I saw the summary of THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER, I knew this was one that I definitely wanted to read… and I was not disappointed.

The art is beautiful in this book. Not just the characters and scenery, but also the dresses that Frances creates for Lady Crystallia. I spent a ton of time just looking at each panel, admiring the art.

This does have romance in it, which was something I did not expect. Generally when you have a character that is genderfluid but was deemed male at birth, their creator has them be attracted to people who were also deemed male at birth. It was AMAZING to see Frances and Sebastian slowly fall for each other, and I think it’s a good reminder for people who are not apart of the Queer community (and even some that are) that “dressing as a woman” doesn’t equal “gay”.

There is a lot of self exploration in this book. Not just from Sebastian/Crystallia, but also from Frances. It was great to see Frances stick up for herself. She wanted to protect Sebastian and understood why they did what they did, but still knew that it wasn’t fair to her. It was a good commentary on how we can understand that something may be good for our friends, but it isn’t good for us and we’re allowed to leave situations that hurt us.

The ending was spectacular! I think I screamed during the fashion show scene and I can’t wait until this comes out so I can make the king my profile picture.

If you’re a fan of gender noncomformity, friends turned something more, and people discovering who they are, this cute graphic novel is for you!

Monthly Wrap-Up

July Wrap Up!

 

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July was an, uh, not so great reading month for me. The first 10 days of July was spent in the hospital with my Dad. I tried to get some reading done but if you’ve ever been in a situation with a sick parent, reading doesn’t come easily. I also worked a lot on my #QueerAlaska book and spent a lot of time with my godkids (something I definitely wanted and needed). Between all of that, my job, and my library liaison position… I was exhausted. So while 11 books is kinda ‘eh’ compared to what I usually read, I’m proud of myself for reading that many.

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1. SHADOW WEAVER by MarcyKate Connolly. I loved this middle grade fantastical mystery! You can find my full review here.

2. #NOTYOURPRINCESS by Charleyboy and Leatherdale. This is an anthology that lifts Native women’s voices. I loved everything in this little book. You can find my full review here.

3. KNIT ONE, GIRL TWO by Shira Glassman. Read this on a whim and loved every minute of it! Full review here.

4. THE DREADFUL TALE OF PROPER REDDING by Alexandra Bracken. I could go on and on and on about this amazing book… or you could read my review here!

 

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5. ELIZABETH AND ZENOBIA by Jessica Miller was another delightful middle grade book. Full review here.

6. EDGEWATER by Courtney Sheinmel. Definitely for fans of Grey Gardens. Review here.

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7. LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND by M.T. Anderson. This was a peculiar little alien novel… full review here.

8. SAINTS AND MISFITS by S.K. Ali follows Janna, an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager. I had a hard time rating this book but you can find my full review here.

9. TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE by Jenny Han. This was part of my TBR Beatdown for July and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it! Full review here.

 

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10. MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller.

11. THE GOBLINS OF BELLWATER by Molly Ringle.

Mini reviews for both of these books can be found here.

 

And that’s it for my July wrap up! Hopefully August will see a few extra books on my wrap up.

What did you read this book? Any ones you would suggest I read? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Haul

July Book Haul!

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I can’t believe July is over. Honestly, why is this year flying by so fast? (Spoiler alert: we’re all hurtling towards our doom… sorry.)

This month I ended up with 14 books- 7 that I purchased and 7 that were given to me. I feel super, super blessed that I have friends that are nice enough to think of me and send me books. It’s been a nice reminder that I’m not alone, especially this last month when Dad’s health turned sour again. I’ll mention who sent what, but I just want to thank y’all again from the bottom of my heart for your kindness.

1. THE CROWNS OF CROSWALD by D.E. Night. This was sent to me by the author! I started it in July but got sidetracked… so I’ll be reading it for #ARCAugust.

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic––and her life––is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

2. THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS by Leigh Bardugo. This was a sampler my amazing friend Shenwei sent to me!

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

3. THE EXACT LOCATION OF HOME by Kate Messner was another ARC Shenwei sent. Thank you so much!

Kirby “Zig” Zigonski lives for the world of simple circuits, light bulbs, buzzers, and motors. Electronics are so much more predictable than people.
So when his dad’s visit is canceled with no explanation and his mom seems to be hiding something, Zig turns to his best friend Gianna and a new gizmo-a garage sale GPS unit-for help. Convinced that his dad is leaving clues through the popular hobby of geocaching, Zig sets out to search for answers. Following one clue after another, logging mile after mile, Zig soon finds that people aren’t always what they seem… and sometimes, there’s more than one set of coordinates for home.

4. THE WONDERLING by Mira Bartok. I sent out an SOS on twitter, asking anyone at ALA if they would pick me up a copy and the ever wonderful Katie not only picked me up a copy but also had the author sign it for me!

Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, an innocent-hearted, one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name — a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck — it is the only home he has ever known. But unexpected courage leads him to acquire the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives the Home’s loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: a real name — Arthur, like the good king in the old stories — and a best friend. Using Trinket’s ingenious invention, the pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of sweet Arthur’s true destiny.

 

5. NEVER NEVER by Brianna R. Shrum. (ebook sale)

James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up. When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child – at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up. But grow up he does. And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate. This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan. Except one. 

6. P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han.

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

7. AFTER THE WOODS by Kim Savage (ebook sale)

Would you risk your life to save your best friend? Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

8.  SAINTS AND MISFITS by S.K. Ali (Review here)

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box. And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out. While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

 

9. MAPPING THE INTERIOR by Stephen Graham Jones was sent to me by Lala!

Walking through his own house at night, a fifteen-year-old thinks he sees another person stepping through a doorway. Instead of the people who could be there, his mother or his brother, the figure reminds him of his long-gone father, who died mysteriously before his family left the reservation. When he follows it he discovers his house is bigger and deeper than he knew. The house is the kind of wrong place where you can lose yourself and find things you’d rather not have. Over the course of a few nights, the boy tries to map out his house in an effort that puts his little brother in the worst danger, and puts him in the position to save them . . . at terrible cost.

10. EGGS BENEDICT ARNOLD by Laura Childs. MY very best friend in the entire world, Shay, sent me this and the next book! You can check out her book blog here.

When Cackleberry Clubber Suzanne delivers a pie to funeral director Ozzie Driesden, she discovers him not working at the embalming table but lying on the embalming table. She barely has time to recognize his corpse before she?s drugged with chloroform. With more suspects than breakfast specials, the Cackleberry Club scrambles to crack the case before one of their own ends up six feet under.

11. STEPHEN KING GOES TO THE MOVIES by Stephen King was also sent by Shay!

Stephen King revisits five of his favorite short stories that have been turned into films: The Shawshank Redemption (based on the novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”) was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and best actor for Morgan Freeman. 1408 starred John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson and was a huge box office success in 2007. The short story “Children of the Corn” was adapted into the popular Children of the Corn. The Mangler was inspired by King’s loathing for laundry machines from his own experience working in a laundromat. Hearts in Atlantis (based on “Low Men in Yellow Coats,” the first part of the novel Hearts in Atlantis) starred Anthony Hopkins.

The last three books were all from BookOutlet. They had a $5 off coupon so I paid $.32 for these + shipping… can’t beat that…

12. PRETTY IS by Maggie Mitchell

The summer precocious Lois and pretty Carly May were twelve years old, they were kidnapped, driven across the country, and held in a cabin in the woods for two months by a charismatic stranger. Nearly twenty years later, Lois has become a professor, teaching British literature at a small college in upstate New York, and Carly May is an actress in Los Angeles, drinking too much and struggling to revive her career. When a movie with a shockingly familiar plot draws the two women together once more, they must face the public exposure of their secret history and confront the dark longings and unspeakable truths that haunt them still.

13. THE WITCH’S BOY by Kelly Barnhill

When Ned and his identical twin brother Tam tumble from their raft into a raging, bewitched river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Sure enough, Ned grows up weak and slow, and stays as much as possible within the safe boundaries of his family’s cottage and yard. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community. In the meantime, in another kingdom across the forest that borders Ned’s village lives Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King. She is haunted by her mother’s last words to her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” But when Áine and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to make their way through the treacherous woods and stop the war about to boil over?

14. MOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was. Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”
Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

 

And that’s my July book haul! I’ve been steadily trying to cut down on the amount of books I read as I get ready for YALLFEST and my pilgrimage to Montana. August might be a different story since the library is hosting its annual GIANT book sale… so we’ll see what happens.

Reviews

Review: #NOTYOURPRINCESS

Capture.JPGBook: #NOTYOURPRINCESS: Voices of Native American Women
Author: Lisa Charleyboy & Mary Beth Leatherdale
Publisher: Annick Press LTD.
Pages:
Format: eBook
ARC?: Yes, provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: 9/12/17
TW/CW: Sexual assault, abuse, suicide.
Rep: Native American, abuse survivors.
Rating: 5/5

CaptureI saw #NotYourPrincess on NetGalley and knew I had to read it.

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.

I don’t know where to begin with this review. It’s a short book but it’s a powerful read for those of us who have been overlooked in society and even in marginalized movements. #NOTYOURPRINCESS explores what it means to be a Native woman and looks at the experiences of several woman through poetry, art, comics, and stories.

There were 2 stories and 1 comic that really stuck with me with I was reading this. The first was BLANKETS OF SHAME by Maria Campbell which talks about how we all wear blankets of shame. The story starts with Maria talking about how her Cheechum told her that the government stripped Natives of everything that made them living souls and then gave them blankets to hide their shame and we still carry those blankets of shame through intergenerational trauma.

INVISIBLE INDIANS by Shelby Lisk explores what it’s like when Native people don’t meet the expectations of how white people view us and how they try to strip away our identities in order to make themselves feel superior.

THE TALE OF TWO WINONAS by Winona Linn is a comic that deals with tragedy porn, the weight of names, and heroes.

I loved every piece of this book and I cannot wait to have a finished copy in my hands. You can preorder here.

Uncategorized

A Very Personal Book Post

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Today would have been Mama’s 63rd birthday.

It has been 10 years since she passed, but every year on her birthday, I think of all the things that we’ve missed doing together. It’s a very bittersweet day for me. Any day I get to celebrate the person she was is a special day, but it hurts deeply because it’s also a reminder that I’ll never get to know who she would have finished growing into.

Mama was an artist. She liked painting lakes and forests and rivers because that’s where she preferred to be. She was an crocheter, the yard sale Queen of our family, and had the longest losing streak at cards of anyone I knew. She wasn’t above tipping over the Monopoly board when she was losing or just bored of the games. She had a patience with animals and babies and flowers, and could make three flourish and grow with little effort. She raised children who were not her own, baked cakes for all my friends on their birthdays, and once called my high school principal a dick (to his face) when he tried to suspend for skipping class because I was in the bathroom having a panic attack.

She was also my best friend. The very best friend I will ever have. She covered my back to keep my out of trouble, held my secrets safe, gave me a soft place to land, and for many, many years kept me from harming myself.

I miss her. Sometimes it’s a dull miss. A forever tingle in the back of my mind that something just isn’t right with my world. Sometimes it’s a terrible miss. Some days I feel like the weight of her being gone is going to suffocate me. But I always miss her. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second. I miss her. I miss her. I miss her.

Mama wasn’t a reader but she turned me into one. From the time I was just a little thing, she was buying and reading books to me. Every summer we spend hours at the library. She encouraged me to pursue this thing that gave me such an escape when I was a sickly child.

So this post is for her.

Books that remind me of Mama.

 

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This one has a funny story attached to it that Mama loved to tell… much to my embarrassment.

We had watched The Color Purple at my Grandma’s house one Friday night and I loved it. The next morning, Mama and I went to a church sale and I saw the book for sale. After whining about wanting it, Mom agreed to buy it for me to shut me up but had planned to put it up when we got home… I was like 7 at the time and it definitely was not an age appropriate book. I, however, would not relinquish the book and when we got back in the car, I started reading it out loud. To this day, I still remember getting to the part where Celie is describing having sex for the first time (“He put his thing in my…”) and Mama screeched “AMANDA LEANN!” which I knew meant I was in serious trouble. After she recovered from the shock of it, she started laughing… and I started bawling. She ended up taking the book and buying me a different one at the next yard sale. I still can’t read this book without hearing her horrified voice in my ear.

 

 

frThis was another one that we loved as a movie first.

When Grandma went through her Kathy Bates phase, we got sucked in, too. It wasn’t until years later that I realized this was a book and checked it out of the library.

I was half-way through when Mama realized what I was reading… and demanded I start over and read it to her, too.

When we finished, she said “It’s not the same as the movie… but it’s still good.”

 

 

 

CaptureAnne of Green Gables was the first book I truly remember Mama reading to me and this is where my love of Anne, Gilbert, and the Cuthberts began.

We only read the first one together which might be why it’s my favorite. I can’t read this book without hearing that slow Southern drawl I miss so much.

 

 

 

 

hpI’ve told this story before, but for the sake of this post (and in honor of my mom’s badassery) I’ll tell it again.

When I was very young, we were at my Dad’s parents house for Christmas Eve dinner. All of the grandkids received a gift from his parents… except for me. Their excuse was that they couldn’t find a doll who “looked like” me. The real reason was because they didn’t like me because I’m biracial.

I just remember my parents storming out. I was just a little kid, but I knew that I had been shunned by my grandparents yet again. Mom demanded that Dad stop “anywhere” to find me a gift to make up for what my grandparents had done (we all knew it wouldn’t make it better but it was something tangible that would take the edge off of everyone). The only store open in town was the newly built Books-A-Million and they were about to close. Mom went in by herself, pleaded with them to give her two minutes, and came out with two presents for me: a stuffed animal and Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone (a title that raised the eyebrows of my Pentecostal minister father). That bookish decision started my lifelong love for Harry Potter and really started my lifelong love of reading. I had enjoyed it before but Harry Potter was what really cemented me as reader.

 

 

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She’s Come Undone is a hard book for me to talk about.

When Mama died in May 2007, I didn’t leave the house after the funeral for months. Even after my senior year started, I only went to school and then hid out in my room the rest of the time.

One weekend Grandma convinced me to go to a library sale with her and I found this book on a $.50 book shelf. It was a tattered copy with a torn cover, and the librarian actually let me have it for free. I started the book that night.

In the book, the main character loses her mother suddenly in an accident. While my mom died of natural causes, her death was sudden and seeing this character go through the same emotions, the same breakdown, I was going through broke something inside of me. I cried the entire time I read this book and then I immediately started it again. And again. And again. I read nothing but this book for an entire month, crying every time. But with each passing read, I felt stronger. All of the crying, all of the brokenness I felt, was cathartic. This book helped me get past some of the worst part of my grief and helped me break out of my isolation. So while Mama and I never enjoyed this book together, this book pulled me out of the worst slump of my life… something she used to do. I don’t care what anyone says, I believe finding this book was divine interference- a last gift from Mama to help me find my way out of the dark.

 

Happy Birthday, Mama.

 

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Uncategorized

#ARCAugust

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I am SO excited to be joining Read.Sleep.Repeat’s ARC August readathon! I’ve been wanting to clear out my NetGalley and ARC list… but just never seem to find the time to do it, so this is the perfect month to get those out of the way before I start my Fall reading!

You can check out the link above for all the rules and fun stuff that’s going to be happening during #ARCAugust.

And this is what I’ll be reading this month for the challenge:

 

1. THE CROWNS OF CROSWALD by D.E. Night.

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic––and her life––is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

2. THE NIGHT CHILD by Anne Quinn.

All Nora Brown wants is to teach high school English and live a quiet life in Seattle with her husband and six-year-old daughter. But one November day, moments after dismissing her class, a girl’s face appears above the students’ desks—a wild numinous face with startling blue eyes, a face floating on top of shapeless drapes of purples and blues where arms and legs should have been. Terror rushes through Nora’s body—the kind of raw terror you feel when there’s no way out, when every cell in your body, your entire body, is on fire—when you think you might die. Twenty-four hours later, while on Thanksgiving vacation, the face appears again. This time, it whispers, Remember the Valentine’s dress. Shaken once again, Nora meets with neurologists and eventually, a psychiatrist. As the story progresses, a terrible secret is discovered—a secret that pushes Nora toward an even deeper psychological breakdown.

3. AS YOU WISH by Chelsea Sedoti.

In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true. Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.

4. THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER by Jen Wang.

The Prince and the Dressmaker is about a young 19th Century prince named Sebastian who secretly loves to wear dresses. He hires an ambitious young seamstress named Frances to make dresses for him and as their collaboration grows, so do their feelings for one another. Sebastian and Frances must find a way to balance their inner desires with the strict expectations of the royal family – or risk exposing Sebastian’s secret to the world.

5. STARSWEPT by Mary Fan.

In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce. A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her. When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music. But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.

6. MEET CUTE by various authors (Anthology)

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.  Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants. This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

7. NICE TRY, JANE SINNER by Lianne Oelke.

The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out. Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight. As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

8. STARFISH by Akemi Dawn Bowman.

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin. But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

9. THE WONDERLING by Mira Bartok.

Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, an innocent-hearted, one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name — a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck — it is the only home he has ever known. But unexpected courage leads him to acquire the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives the Home’s loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: a real name — Arthur, like the good king in the old stories — and a best friend. Using Trinket’s ingenious invention, the pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of sweet Arthur’s true destiny.

And that’s my TBR for August! Since I’m participating in #ARCAugust, I won’t be doing my normal TBR Beatdown this month and with September/October fast approaching, I probably won’t bring the TBR Beatdown back until 2018.

 

Are any of you participating in #ARCAugust? What’s your TBR? Let me know in the comments section!

Reviews

Mini Reviews: GOBLINS OF BELLWATER/MASK OF SHADOWS

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Book: GOBLINS OF BELLWATER
Author: Molly Ringle
ARC?: Yes. A free eARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 2/5

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Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out.

Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit’s end trying to understand what’s wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn’t talk of such things: he’s the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.

Unaware of what’s happened to Skye, Kit starts dating Livy, trying to keep it casual to protect her from the attention of the goblins. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kit, Skye draws his cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods, dooming Grady and Skye both to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever.

It’s a midwinter night’s enchantment as Livy, the only one untainted by a spell, sets out to save them on a dangerous magical path of her own.

Full transparency: I did not finish this book. I DNFed it around 73% but since I read the majority of the book, I did rate it.

Honestly, what killed this book for me was the insta-lust between Skye and Grady. Skye is under a goblin spell but to everyone else, it looks like she is having a mental breakdown and has gone almost completely silent. Instead of trying to help this girl, Grady spends most of his time trying to get in her pants which feels a lot like taking advantage of a situation. Even though Sky has chosen him “as her mate”, it bothers me to think about this character trying to start a relationship with someone who needs help, who had gone almost completely mute, and has suffered some form of trauma. Kit and Livy weren’t much better. Just the way the characters are described was a little weird to me. There was a lot of focus on how many women the male characters had been with and how thin and desirable the female characters were. Not for me.

 

 

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Book: MASK OF SHADOWS
Author: Linsey Miller
ARC?: Yes, provided by NetGalley for an honest review
Rating: 2/5

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

It took me 10 days to finish this book. 10. Days.

The first thing that came to me when I was reading this book was “Wow, this reads like someone who is trying very hard to copy Bardugo while pretending that they are totally not copying Bardugo.”

I couldn’t connect with the characters at all. Sal feels very bland and like every other MC in every other slightly awful dystopian/fantasy book. The fact that most of the other characters are referred to by a number and not a name furthered that feeling of being unconnected to them. I didn’t care what happened to them.

The world-building was sloppy, the writing patchy, and like a lot of other people I was confused as to why Sal was so emotional when people used the correct pronouns if this world is supposed to be so accepting that no one bats an eye at fluid pronouns.

I was very, very let down by this book. After seeing so many of my friends talk about how wonderful this was, it kinda felt like doing a bellyflop… on concrete.

 

 

Reviews

Review: SHADOW WEAVER

CaptureBook: SHADOW WEAVER
Author: MarcyKate Connolly
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Pages:
Format: eBook
Series: Shadow Weaver #1 (1/2)
ARC?: Yes, provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Pub date: Jan 2, 2018
Rating: 5/5
TW/CW: Child neglect, attempted kidnapping.

swThe shadows that surround us aren’t always as they seem…

Emmeline has grown up with a gift. Since the time she was a baby she has been able to control shadows. And her only friend and companion is her own shadow, Dar.

Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble’s mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees but the next morning the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away.

With the noble’s guards on her trail, Emmeline’s only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline’s not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it’s hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.

My goddaughter, Sidda, and I read this one together and we both loved it!

Emmeline is a shadow weaver, a girl blessed with the mysterious ability to turn shadows into tangible things. Unfortunately for Emmeline, no one in the giant estate she lives in appreciates her ability and she lives almost completely separately from the people around her. The only company she’s ever had was her own shadow- a creature named Dar that speaks to Emmeline and encourages her to do things that further ostracizes Emmeline from her parents.

When a neighboring dignitary comes from a visit and convinces Emmeline’s parents to let him take her back for “treatment”, Dar does something unspeakable and Emmeline and her shadow are forced to run for their lives. While escaping through the woods, Emmeline runs in Lucas, a light weaver, and his family who are working hard to make sure that no one discovers Lucas’s power.

As Lucas and Emmeline become friends, Dar becomes increasingly agitated and distant from Emmeline. When the shadow starts insisting that they must perform a ritual to make her human, Emmeline has to figure out who is really her friend and who is using her.

I think the thing I liked most about this story, aside from the amazing writing and characters, was the moral that it brought: just because someone claims they are your friend doesn’t mean that they are. It was interesting to see how this book handled abusive friendships. Dar continuously reminds Emmeline of all the things she has done for the little girl in the past and regularly claims that she (the shadow) is the only one who truly cares about Emmeline. It opened up a really great conversation with Sidda about how gaslighting and emotional abuse works between friends.

I definitely recommend this to fairy tale lovers of all ages but especially for young readers! This is a great lesson on friendship, family, and realizing when someone just isn’t good for you.

Book Tags

You’re Not Good Enough Book Tag!

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This tag was created by ReadLikeWildfire and Beccathebookreviewer, and the premise of the tag is this: Write down 30 character names on a individual slips of paper and toss them in a bowl (hat, dish, whatever). For each of the 15 question, select two names. From the two names selected, pick who you would keep and who you would say “You’re not good enough” to!

1. You only have one more spot on your Spelling Bee team. Who would you pick to complete your team?

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Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter) vs Miel (When The Moon Was Ours)

I’ve got to go with… Luna! After learning all those complicated spells and writing all those essays, I know my girl has to be good spelling.

 

2. Both characters want to kill you, which one do you kill first to have a better chance of surviving?

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Amy (Dorothy Must Die) vs Starr (The Hate U Give)

Amy. She’s a skilled fighter and a trained killer. Starr better run… I think I’m probably not going to survive that fight… and then Amy’s coming for her.

3. You’re on the bachelor/bachelorette an you’re down to these two characters, which one are you going to give your rose too?

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Reid (Upside of Unrequited) vs Finn (Bone Gap)

Oh no! This is actually a super hard one because these are two of my favorite fictional boys. As much as I love sweet Reid… I think I’m going to have to go with Finn. I just love a dreamer.

4. You’ve been chosen for the Hunger Games, who would most likely volunteer in your place?

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Gansey (The Raven Cycle) vs Percy (Percy Jackson Series)

Another hard one. I think both would be really likely to volunteer… but I’m going to go with Gansey just because I think he would impulsively volunteer (my son has no sense of his self worth) with Percy would have inner conflict before ultimately volunteering. So, Gansey would win because of timing?

5. You’re stranded on an island. Which character would you sacrifice to engage in cannibalism?

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Shahrzad (The Wrath and the Dawn) vs Weezie (Weezie/Bebe series)

Sorry fictional Weezie… there can only be one.

6. You’re the next DC/Marvel superhero (with your own tv show of course), who is your sidekick?

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Lara Jean vs Peter K (both from To All the Boys)

Peter K. I love Lara Jean but I feel like Peter K would have less problems with beating the bad guys up and destroying an entire city in the process.

7. You’re a manager of an Avocado admiring company, who would you fire for lack of communication skills?

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Dumplin (Dumplin) vs Anne (Anne of Green Gables)

Dumplin. Listen, no one is EVER going to accuse Anne of not communicating. Plus, Dumplin has a habit of holding things in. Right, Bo?

8. You’ve just finished a book in which your favorite character dies, which character is most likely to comfort you?

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Anise (Girl Out of Water) vs Nox (Dorothy Must Die)

While I think my boy, Nox, would be down for kicking whatever book upset me, I don’t think he’s going to be much comfort. Anise would probably be the one to step in.

9. Ugh, it’s high school. Who would most likely be part of the popular clique?

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Simon (Simon VS) vs Bebe (Weezie/Bebe series)

Bebe is already a socialite! She was definitely the popular girl in school.

10. The day has arrived; you’re finally a year older! Who would have the nerve to forget your birthday?

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Monty (The Gentleman’s Guide) vs Cas (Anna Dressed in Blood)

While I don’t think either of these guys would be very good at remembering birthdays, I think Cas would probably be more likely to forget. He’s got ghosts to kill and no time to remember… well, anything else.

11. You’ve just found an upcoming booktube star? Who would most likely be?

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Inej (Six of Crows) vs Nikolai (Shadow and Bone)

Are you kidding?? The love of my life, Nikolai, would NEVER miss a chance to do a little preening. He’d definitely be a daily vlogger.

12. Sleepover time! Unfortunately you can only invite one person, who would you invite?

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Molly (Upside of Unrequited) vs Kevin (The Foxhole Court)

Molly! We would definitely have a pinterest sleepover party. Plus, Kevin is my babe but he’d probably just get drunk and talk about Exy all night. Nope.

13. Bam, you’re pregnant. Who’s the father/mother?

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Ashish vs Dimple (When Dimple Met Rishi)

I mean… I’m going to say Ashish.

14. You’ve just written a super important text. Who would ‘see’ it, but not reply?

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Mackie (The Replacements) vs Gilbert (Anne of Green Gables)

Mackie. Gil is too much of a gentleman to ever ignore someone on anything important.

15. You’ve just woken up and it’s time for breakfast. Your mum’s been replaced by..who?!

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Leah (Simon VS) vs Kaz (Six of Crows)

Can I just raise myself? I mean, in the long run… Leah is probably the best option. I love Kaz just.. nah.

 

And that’s it for this tag! Any of my picks you disagree with? Let me know!

Reviews

Review: EDGEWATER

CaptureBook: EDGEWATER
Author: Courtney Sheinmel
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams Publishing
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
ARC?: No.
Rating: 4/5
TW/CW: Death (side characters), extreme poverty (talk of hunger, living in squalor), mentions of dead animals.
Rep: Poverty, parental abandonment, PTSD, anxiety, depression.

edgeLorrie Hollander used to be a rich girl who spent her money on boarding school and equestrian camp. But that was before. It’s been twelve years since Lorrie’s mother skipped town and left Lorrie and her sister in the care of her unstable aunt Gigi. Together they live in a decaying mansion called Edgewater, the eyesore in a town of extraordinary wealth and privilege.

While Lorrie is desperately trying to keep her family from collapse, she meets Charlie, the son of an esteemed senator. Terrified that he will learn the truth about her, she holds him at a distance. But Charlie’s family is hiding something, too. And Lorrie could never have imagined how their secrets, and their lives, are inextricably bound.

This book was pitched to me as a modern day Grey Gardens and I was instantly interested in it. If you’re unsure about what Grey Gardens is, here’s a brief synopsis: In the 70s, two filmmakers came across a crumbling mansion in the East Hamptons. The residents were Big Edie and Little Edie, a formerly wealthy mother and daughter duo, who were living in absolute squalor. If you look at the pictures of the house or watch the documentary, it’s hard to imagine anyone living with wild animals in the house.

EDGEWATER does not stray far from this. It’s established that Lorrie lives her entire life worrying about her trust money (which is the only money her family has) and is fearful of people coming to Edgewater, the crumbling mansion that she lives in with her sister, her sister’s boyfriend, her aunt, a few dozen cats, and all the wild animals that are able to wander into the house. The house, once one of the grandest houses in the area, has fallen into complete disrepair due to lack of money and the fact that Lorrie’s Aunt Gigi, the sisters’ guardian, seems almost too eccentric to function.

After the trust money seemingly disappears, Lorrie is booted from her horse camp and is sent back home to Edgewater. She is forced to take a job while she tries to figure out what had happened to the trust her mother set up for her and Susannah before she took of to London with her boyfriend. While trying to pay for gas, Lorrie runs into Charlie Copeland, wayward son of a prominent political family.

I rated the book 4 stars because I did enjoy the characters and the friendship between Lorrie and Lennox. Lennox is very privileged but she goes out of her way to help Lorrie when it comes to money and being a support system. She’s definitely not ashamed of Lorrie, her situation, or the decaying house Lorrie lives in.

Lorrie, though, is an unlikable character. It’s not necessarily a bad thing- imagine being a 17 year old surrounded by rich people and knowing you’re the laughing stock of the country club because of your house and family. Lorrie does everything she can to make sure they survive but she also has this chip on her shoulder that makes her lash out at Lennox. While she apologies and the girls make up within a couple of pages, there is definitely an air of resentment throughout the book… which feels real and natural, to be honest.

There were a few troubling elements to the book. It does feel odd that no one checked in on the girls, especially knowing that Gigi isn’t quite right and the house is in shambles. The book mentions that a neighbor continuously called the cops over the house and it’s hard to imagine that CPS was never involved at any point. It was also deeply unsettling to read about Susannah, who is 15, having a live-in boyfriend who reads as much older than her (he doesn’t go to school, plays poker, drives, and purchases beer) and not only is this a “non-issue”, the only reason Lorrie seems to not like him is because he steals from the house. I know this was meant to be a device to show just how uncared for these girls are, but it was still deeply disturbing to read.

There are two plot twists in the book. One I figured out beforehand and the other knocked me off my feet. I’ve seen reviews saying that both of these plot twists were overdone but I think feel that they fit in well with the premise of this book.

If you’re looking for a book with a little mystery, a lot of scandal, and few house raccoons, this is the one for you.