You’re Welcome, Universe | FOR THIS DELIGHTFUL REVIEW ;)

Title: You’re Welcome, Universe

Author: Whitney Gardner

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, #DiverseBooks

Published: March 7, 2017 by Knopf (who kindly supplied me with a review copy! In no way does this affect my review.)

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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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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?  😏

 

Written in the Stars | Force Your Marriage? No. But I Will Force You to READ THIS BOOK!

Title: Written in the Stars

Author: Aisha Saeed

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, #OwnVoices

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The Forbidden Wish | This Book > Disney’s Aladdin! {Review}

img_0940Title: The Forbidden Wish

Author: Jessica Khoury

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

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A Book Review of the Election of 2016

Once Upon a Time Kat ‘O Keefe blessed us with this little tweet:

Naturally, my mind began immediately converting this clever quip into a blog post. Wouldn’t it be funny, I thought. Wouldn’t it be neat if I portrayed my views on the Election of 2016 the same way I portray my views on books? Wouldn’t it be swell?

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Thus, I’m introducing my take on the Election of 2016…as if it were a book. In the same format as any ‘ol book review. 🙂

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda | This Book is Basically Just About Oreos {Review}

Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, #diversebooks
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.

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Edgar Allan Poe Adult Coloring BOOk | Spooky & Dark + Colorful & Bright {Review}

2 things I’ve never before experienced:

  1. Edgar Allen Poe
  2. Adult Coloring Books

So wasn’t I a cheery pumpkin when Sterling Publishing kindly shipped me the Edgar Allen Poe Adult Coloring Book  by Odessa Begay for an honest review! Woohoo, new experiences!

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Furthermore | IMAGINATION GONE WILD! {Review}

 

Title: Furthermore

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

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!

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  • 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? NOBODYHonestly, 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. 

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  • 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.

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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?

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things | OH LORD JESUS, FIX IT

Title: All the Things Ugly and Wonderful

Author: Bryn Greenwood

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

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 how Wavy 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.


    If you’re still questioning why I gifted this book with only one-star, here is a book recommendation for you: The Word of the Lord Our Savior

    Chums! Excuse me for that rant! What one-star reads have you been burdened with this year?

    Also, what books with “unpopular” topics have you read? How did you view them? Was it a) wow my eyes are totally opened to the world or b) JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL?

    Flowers for Algernon | I’M SO SMART NOW GUYS

    Title: Flowers for Algernon

    Author: Daniel Keyes

    Genre: Psychological Science Fiction 

    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?

        Rebel of the Sands | How to Be Best Book Ever 101 {Review}

        Title: Rebel of the Sands

        Author: Alwyn Hamilton (which is only a few letters of from ALEXANDER Hamilton)

        Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

        Published: March 8, 2016

        She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

        Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from. 

        Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is. 

          

          

        • Arabian Nights + Wild West fantasy world. It sounds absurd. It is. ABSURDLY AND ASTOUNDINGLY AMAZING. It meshes together PERFECTLY, more so than me and potatoes. 
        • Can you put this book down? No. Never. It’s not a choice, it’s not an option. You read or you die (emotionally).
        • PRAISE BE TO AMANI. She’s the sharpshooter heroine who is 138% not cliched! I know. I feel like every other female character I read about is stuck in that “strong femal character” mold, but Amani is wonderfully original. She’s tough, yes, but never fearless. Plus she actually learns morals in the book such as saving someone who is not yourself WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT.
        • Wit. So much. In the dialogue, in their actions. This is my unspoken requirement for all books and Rebel of the Sands has more than met it!
        • JOURNEYS ALL AROUND! Character development, plot development, and en actually journeys. Simply Scrumptious. 
        • This book is clever…it makes you believe you know what’s going to happen but—NEVER MIND. I CAN’T SPOIL.

          

        • The writing is musical and clever, but it can be unclear. For example, there were times when I had no idea who was speaking a certain bit of dialogue. I’m still unsure, actually. This isn’t too big of a problem, though, and it’s not an uncommon mistake among debut books. I have faith in Alwyn Hamilton, I’m sure that once she straightens her writing out a bit more, WE WILL ALL BE BOWING.

          
        Arabian nights, witty dialogue, and character development. These are a few of my favorite things AND THIS BOOK HOLDS THEM ALL.

        Do you know of any witty books you could recommend to me? Some Arabian Nights fantasies? Or perhaps Indian inspired fantasies? COME DISCUSS EVERYTHING WITH ME.