Published: March 7, 2017 by Knopf (who kindly supplied me with a review copy! In no way does this affect my review.)
A vibrant, edgy, fresh new YA voice for fans of More Happy Than Not and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, packed with interior graffiti.
When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.
Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.
Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.
Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.
LA DEE LA DEE DA. ALL THE DIVERSITY FOR ME TOO READ! Let’s review:
Indian-American protagonist! I can attest to perfectly acceptable rep 😉
Deaf protagonist! With helpful ASL illustrations and authentic lip-reading faultiness, the accurateness of the deaf rep is explored in this review.
Julia’s got a pair of interracial moms. WAHOO!
I love art! And by I love art, I mean yesterday a drew a stick figure of myself holding a piece of pizza twice the size of my face. Art! So the illustrious street art spraying through the pages were a wonder. Though, I gotta say, I’m still not a fan of the illegal aspect of it. Ya know. Not cool.
THE BOOK SOUNDS SPECTACULAR ALREADY, RIGHT?? But I’m not even done! There are…illustrations! Of the street art, of some ASL. BY. THE. AUTHOR.
MAKE NEW FRIENDS. KEEP THE OLD (except when they betray you and snitch). ONE IS SILVER AND THE OTHER IS GOLD (except in this situation silver is more valuable ahem roll with it). From broken old friendships to shiny new ones, the story rocks with girl power love.
Here’s the thing with YA books with “angst.” People get fluffered because “they’re teens—if you don’t like reading about angst, don’t read YA.” Which I, as a fifteen-year-old girl, find incredibly offensive. I don’t like reading about angst as a teen…so what am I supposed to read? Now let’s talk about Julia’s overwhelming angst. Understandable in certain cases—discrimination/hardship due to deafness or being Indian-American is acceptable. Being angsty because people want to be your friend? Because you can’t do illegal things? Eh. I don’t get it. I don’t like reading about it. And I’m a teen, so what’s the deal?
This year, I have read ONE book that hasn’t been ferociously predictable. You’re Welcome, Universe wasn’t that book. THAT’S IT. IT’S FIRM REVIEWER BECCA HERE. I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE A CONTEMPORARY. IF YOU’RE GOING TO INCLUDE A “TWIST’ IN YOUR STORY, SURPRISE ME WITH IT.
A masterpiece! A work of art!
But even the Mona Lisa gets tiring after you’ve seen copy after copy…
What books include artist protagonists? More importantly, Indian-American protagonists? MOST importantly, deaf protagonists? Have any books surprised you? Do ya think it could pass my test? 😏
Published: February 21, 2017 by Simon & Schuster (who provided this delighted blogger with a review copy! Yay! This does not affect the honesty of my review.)
Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.
THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:
Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot
Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.
With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…
Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Arabian Nights Retelling, #diversebooks
When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.
But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?
As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
Published: August 30, 2016 by Dutton Children’s Books
A captivating and colorful adventure that reads like a modern day fairy tale, from the bestselling author of the Shatter Me series.
Inspired by her childhood love of books like A Secret Garden and The Chronicles of Narnia, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi crafts a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.
There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.
But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.
In Furthermore, imagination exhibits NO RESTRAINT. It’s blessed with complete freedom: from towns of paper crinkling in two-dimensions to cities whistling atop trees with eggshell-houses hanging happily from branches. And let’s not forget those magicked rulers and edible tulips. The world is a wonderland!
Tahereh Mafi’s powerfully scrumptious vocabulary will explode vibrant visuals and sensations throughout your mind. Your eyes will widen, your ears will listen, your nose will sniff, your tongue will savor, you hands will graze, your heart will feel—oh, it’ll feel all right.
Our charming MC, Alice, is rather underapprecaited. Which is quite relatable! I mean, I wash the dishes without anyone even asking, and who thanks me and showers me with gold pearls and fiery petals? NOBODY. I take my dog out without anyone asking, and who thanks me and showers me with gold pearls and fiery petals? NOBODY. Honestly, I’m so sick of no one appreciating my talent, hard work, and determination. So thank you, Alice, for being the character who understands me.
Furthermore = the inspiration all writer’s need. Any wordsmith immersed in Tahereh Mafi’s verbose bath will step out dripping with a fiercer motivation to create.
Now y’all hear me—I LOVE THE WRITING. But. There was so much description. SO MUCH. And because of the creativity prancing from page to page, there was so much to describe, so much to understand. The writing shifts too quickly from lyric beauty to overwhelming verbosity.
Furthermore is rushed and brushed up into a conclusion WAY TOO DARN QUICK. It was especially unsettling because of the beginning of the story, which took its sweet time. And then, you take a bite of your cinnamon roll and blink, and the book’s done! Conclusions are vital, they need balance—not too much time, not too little. Unfortunately, Furthermore failed for me in that aspect.
Furthermore is imagination gone wild! How scandalous and dangerous and all together wonderful!
What books with uncontained imagination do you love to graze in? Recommendations please! Which book give you writerly inspiration? Favorite fantasy worlds? Do you ever feel unappreciated?
Published: August 9, 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books (Nice chums who sent me this book for a HONEST review!)
As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.
NOPE. NO THANK YOU. I was living a very fine and holy life before this book, thankyouverymuch.
I’M A TOUGH READER OKAY. I can take a lot of things in literature. Severed heads on golden pillows. Poison burning a person from the inside out, melting fair skin and other useful organs. You know, the usual.
BUT I COULD NOT TAKE WHAT WAS IN BOOK.
Ugh, where to begin??
Honestly howWavy was represented was pretty darn annoying. I feel like Bryn Greenwood was trying to make her “quirky” but no??? She’s mentally not ok! I mean, she’s been living with an abusive mother and a father that’s a meth dealer! That’s not quirky!
Wavy’s whole childhood sucks. Like…too much. You can tell the author’s just trying to tempt your pity and she goes extremelyyyy overboard. It’s just exhausting reading about how every single aspect of Wavy’s life is sooooOoooOoo awful.
We were promised some brother-sister relationship love WHICH WE DID NOT GET. So basically, Wavy raises her little brother, THEN HE IS MENTIONED IN LIKE TWO PAGES. Sibling relationships are scarcely detailed in YA, and this book had the perfect opportunity to fix that! But it failed. Atrociously.
Now let’s get down to the TRUTH. To the real problem I had with this book. Sooo the story gives you something pure, sweet, and innocent. Then it brings up those sculpting little hands and twists it into something broken and disturbed. How? Well, towards the beginning of the book, Wavy and Kellen have this charming sibling-y friendship. Then, halfway through, it shifts. They become romantically involved. What’s the big deal, you inquire? Oh, pfft, nothing. Except that Wavy is 13 and Kellen is 25ish.
With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie’s intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance–until Algernon begins his sudden deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?
This book makes you think SO MUCH about EVERYTHING. Intelligence, love, morals. It’s just sentences building up paragraphs that completely change your ideas, your beliefs, your views. THIS IS WHY WE READ, CHUMS. So we can brag to peasants about how cultured and smart we are especially compared to them. Shall I elaborate?
“How strange it is that people of honest feelings and sensibilty, who would not take advantage of a man born without arms or legs or eyes—how such people think nothing of abusing a man with low intelligence.”
“Intelligence is one of the greatest human gifts. But all too often a search for knowledge drives out the search for love. This is something else I’ve discovered for myself very recently. I present it to you as a hypothesis: Intelligence without the ability to give and receive affection leads to mental and moral breakdown, to neurosis, and possibly even psychosis. And I say that the mind absorbed in and involved in itself as a self-centered end, to the exclusion of human relationships, can only lead to violence and pain.”
The writing flawlessly illustrates the mindset of Charlie. Because of the “progress report” writing style, we see how his words and grammar reflect his shift in intelligence.
There’s a mouse. Honestly, why are fluffy animal companions so absent in books for those who no longer need a car seat?
I didn’t really get that emotionally attached. For me to thoroughly devour a book, I need to love not only the plot and ideas fluttered through the pages, I must also love the characters. SO WHY DON’T I LOVE CHARLIE UGHH??? I think it’s because as his intelligence grows, his compassion and kindness decreases and as troubles and obstacles bubble, so does his self-pity. And that, my friends, is something I can’t stand.
The plot was good—ideas, perspectives, conflict, all woven through. But the pacing? Hmm. Yes, I’m the most impatient reader. That certainly doesn’t mean Flowers for Algernon had to be so terribly patient.
I will never be the same. Like, I’m so smart. Super smart.
What books make you feel smart and ready to conquer the world? What’s your favorite classic? How do you feel about furry friends in literature?
Andie has a plan and she always sticks to the plan.
Future? A top tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby – pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.
So it’s no surprise she’s got her summer all planned out too.
Until a political scandal cancels her summer pre-med internship, and lands both her and Dad back in the same house for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all – working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark in closer than expected. Palmer, Bri and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but here’s the thing … can she?
DRAMA. YES. GIMME. While being part of drama can be extremely exhausting, spectating on it is absolutely scrumptious. This book has lots and lots and will probably lead to drama-withdrawal once you finish. Sorry, chums. 🙂
Friendship! Kumbaya! YUMYUM! Basically 3829% of YA books ignore friendship because I mean why would teens need to read about that obviously it’s much more important that they learn how to describe the eyes of someone they love in the most horrifically semi-romantic way possibly pffftttt…BUT SERIOUSLY. Morgan Matson loves to include themes of friendship in her book and they are so delightful! From the fuzzy wuzzy moments to ALL THE DRAMA, The Unexpected Everything really highlights the importance of friendship.
Family! Ohana! YESYES! Another thing Morgan Matson so spectacularly includes in her books are family relationships. In this book, Andie starts out basically estranged from her workaholic father, but then they really start developing a super sweet relationship and mmmmmm it warms my little heart right up.
GUYS THERE ARE DOGS. LOTS OF DOGS. Because Andie is a dog walker. What do I love? Dogs. What am I? A dog walker. Well, isn’t this coincidence just delicious, chums.
There’s a bestselling author who wrote his first book at fifteen…FIFTEEN. Basically, authors that become famous at a young age are my favorite, ergo, this book includes my favorite. How considerate of it!
Andie learns how to be a little less planned and a little more spontaneous. THIS. This is what I want to read in contemporaries! Mainly because the idea of being spontaneous delights me! However, sitting on the couch eating also delights me and this is generally what I end up doing…
The plot as a whole was…disappointing. Every twist was absolutely expected. And the plot didn’t have much of a direction at all. It was a little mindless and wandering. Were a lot of the pointless bits enjoyable? Sure! But let me tell ya: they sure would’ve been a lot more enjoyable if they formed an actual plot.
Let’s talk about realism for a minute. Andie walks five dogs at once in the book. NO ONE WALKS FIVE DOGS AT ONCE UNLESS THEY HAVE SUPERNATURAL DOG POWERS. Let’s say you can control five dogs. (who more than likely all want to wander to different places at once) Okay, cool! But how are you going to control five dogs at once and scoop their poop? Or when they all want to chase a squirrel? I’m a dog walker, so I feel like I’m qualified to say that a teenage girl walking five dogs at once is virtually impossible and definitely ridiculous unless you are Daniel Radcliffe.
Don’t hate me…but I was not in loooooove with the romance. It was sweet! It was SO SWEET! But I didn’t really feel any passion or any real this couple needs to stay together or else emotions. I was neutral about it. Which is okay. But okay doesn’t make a five star book.
Sure, the title is plenty misleading. But oh boy, it’s a super sweet story!
Also. PUPPIES. 😀
What spiffy summer reads do you have to recommend? DO YOU LOVE PUPPIES?? YES. YOU LOVE PUPPIES. EVERYONE LOVES PUPPIES. YOU MUST LOVE PUPPIES. I WILL MAKE YOU LOVE PUPPIES, HEARTLESS FIEND. Ahem. So. Do you like kittens?