Author: Margaret Owen Series: The Merciful Crow (#2) Publication date: August 18, 2020 Genre: young adult fantasy My rating: 5/5 stars
In short: this book rocks. It’s dark and magical and serious and funny and full of so many elements that ought to conflict but instead just weave together and make the storyline even stronger. I laughed. I was anxious. I was angry. I was happy. And I think you will be, too. This post is part of a blog tour, so there is a lot of content here, including a giveaway at the end–hopefully you’ll read it all 😉
Author: Hanna C. Howard Publication date: August 18, 2020 Genre: young adult fantasy My rating: 3/5 stars
Ignite the Sun is a quick, simple, straightforward YA fantasy that makes the whole light-versus-dark concept quite literal. Set in a world where the sun has been blocked from view by an enormous shield of darkness, the story follows a reluctant heroine on a quest to overthrow a corrupt leader and restore light to the world. Though certainly not a perfect book, and though it is a bit predictable (which isn’t quite my taste), this story is nevertheless a great choice for younger YA readers.
Author: Megan McCafferty Publication date: July 28, 2020 Genre: young adult, (recent) historical fiction My rating: 3.5/5 stars
The Mall is a book that, I kid you not, made me nostalgic for a time period I didn’t even live through. I was born in the mid-90’s, and this book takes place in ’91, but this fun-filled romp through teenage drama and self-discovery resonated with truths that are still relevant today, while seasoning them with a distinct 90s flair that I couldn’t help enjoying. Was it cheesy? Sure. But it was the good kind of cheesy, the sort of fluffy read that is perfect for a summer day.
Author: Bethany C. Morrow Publication date: June 2, 2020 Genre: young adult, fantasy My rating: 3.5/5 stars
First, I want to make something abundantly clear: this is a tremendously important book. It deals with lots of major issues that the Black community is currently facing, and has been facing for a long time, and it uses a highly unique premise (some very literal Black Girl Magic) to convey those ideas. I feel like I need to stress that part because this was one of those books that I loved in theory, just not in execution. I don’t want this review to be taken as, “This book isn’t important.” I think it is a book that is very, very much worth reading. However, it would be disingenuous for me to rate it higher, because it faltered in its actual writing, on technical elements like worldbuilding and pacing.
Author: Omar Holmon Publication date: May 12, 2020 Genre: poetry My rating: 4/5 stars
In his quick, lively debut collection, poet Omar Holmon delivers a rollercoaster of emotions chronicling everything from the death of a parent to racism to love to the pride in being a nerd. This is a book that will make you laugh, but will also make you think, often in the same poem. It may not be hugely advertised, but this is a solid addition to Button Poetry’s catalog, as well as an excellent testament to the experiences of a Black nerd trying to navigate family and this complicated world we live in.
Author: Phil Stamper Publication date: March 4, 2020 Genre: young adult, contemporary, LGBTQIA+, romance My rating: 3.5/5 stars
Once again, I’m finding myself in a position where I’m a little too worn out to write full reviews, but I do have thoughts I want to share on books! To that end, I present you with this mini-review of a cute, if not remarkable, queer YA contemporary (with a splash of romance, a ton of commentary on media, and a hefty dose of outer space).
As I mentioned before, I’ve been digging into a lot of middle-grade books this month, including quite a few on audiobook. You know the drill: mini-reviews are all coming up next. This time, we have a contemporary told from the point of view of a gorilla who lives in a mall (currently one of my favorite books of the year), a touching novel-in-verse about a girl who immigrates to the US from Syria, and a cute-and-spooky book that is loosely part Coco and part Ghostbusters.
Up first: the book that OH MY GOD I WAS NOT EMOTIONALLY PREPARED FOR.
Author: Seanan McGuire Series: Wayward Children, #5 Publication date: January 7, 2020 Genre: fantasy, portal fantasy My rating: 4.5/5 stars
Let me start this by saying that Seanan McGuire is an absolute gem. Her writing is always brilliant, and I absolutely adore all the worlds she created in this series, so I of course was looking forward to getting to further explore them in this latest installment. In fact, after Down Among the Sticks and Bones, Jack and Jill quickly became my favorite characters in the series (alongside Kade, but alas, he hasn’t gotten his own book yet). However, this wasn’t a five-star read–honestly, it’s on the lower end of the 4.5-star rating. I guess I just didn’t quite feel the same “spark” with this one that I did with some others from the series. (Was that a pun referencing the excessive lightning in the Moors? Maybe…)
Anyway, given that it is a short book, I don’t quite feel up to a full review, but here is the publisher’s blurb, followed by my thoughts in a quick bulleted list for your enjoyment/reference. Please be aware, there aresome spoilers in here for the earlier books in the series, if you haven’t read them yet–though, of course, no spoilers on this particular installment!
Author: Roshani Chokshi Series: Pandava Quartet, #1 Publication date: March 27, 2018 Genre: middle grade, fantasy My rating: 4/5 stars
This was a cute and enjoyable read, for sure, with a delightful voice, a feisty and salty protagonist who was a little too relatable, and so much mythological fun. Obviously the #OwnVoices take on Indian mythology was a strong point in its favor. Seriously, props to Rick Riordan for helping support authors from other cultures in getting their mythologies into stories to be published and loved as much as his own Percy Jackson was. He could have written those books himself, but instead he decided to step away and let #OwnVoices authors take the spotlight. But I digress–let’s start with the publisher’s blurb!
Oh boy, more audiobooks! Yaaaayyyy! In lieu of a long intro, I’ll just describe them quickly and then get straight to the mini-reviews. We have, in order, a social science book about miscommunication, a super-queer YA fantasy with genderfluid and genderqueer main characters, and a thoroughly-researched book detailing the lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.