Good morning everyone! It's the last day of April, and I'm hoping the rain goes away sometime soon too. I want spring! I've been spending a lot of time cleaning and getting my summer clothes ready in the front of my closet, which really excites me.
This weekend I'm going to a bit of a party, and... it's on a boat! I have a couple dresses and can't decide between them, but I'll have to do that soon if I want to get shoes or a clutch. Yikes.
Anyways, here's a bit of a preview for the coming week: May Cover Love (I haven't forgotten!), a reflection on my new schedule, and a review. Of course, I can't tell you when I'm posting them, so you'll have to check back and see!
Happy Tuesday everyone!
This darkly comic debut novel by an award-winning playwright is like Mean Girls meets Heathers with a splash of Bring it On.
Jenna Watson is a cheerleader. But it’s not some Hollywood crap. Cheerleaders are not every guy’s fantasy; they are not the “popular girls” or the “mean girls” of Marsen High School. They’re too busy for that. They're literally just some human females trying to live their lives and do a perfect toe touch. But that all changed after Raejean stopped talking to Jenna and started hanging out with Meghan Finnegan. Jenna stopped getting invited out with the rest of the squad and she couldn’t tell if it was on purpose or if it was all in her head.
At times heartbreaking, at others hilarious, Squad follows Jenna through her attempts to get revenge on Raejean and invent a new post-cheer life for herself through LARPING (live action role-playing) and a relationship with a trans guy that feels like love—but isn't. In the, end Jenna discovers that who she is is not defined by which squad she's in.
I was drawn in by "darkly comic," but didn't find either of those in Squad. Luckily, other elements of the book made up for it.
The good: MacCarthy nailed the high school hierarchy, and how to work around it and change your place in it. She subverted the usual mindset that is against social mobility, which I approve of. Her messaging in Jenna's characterization around combining interests (cheerleading and LARPing are stereotypically incompatible) and Jenna's path towards viewing herself as a whole was really valuable and I appreciated it.
Good messaging! Very true to life around being a teenage girl. MacCarthy also nailed the mindset of a girl who's been frozen out without a reason, the anxiety and questioning. Jenna's reactions were questionable, and I sometimes found her an unrealistic character because of what lengths she went to, but in all I liked this aspect.
The bad: Jenna's reactions! Some of her actions were just plain weird, and I was thrown. I think in order for a character to be morally grey, her "negative" actions must still be somewhat realistic, and Jenna's weren't. As an antagonist towards other characters, she crossed boundaries in a strange way that I didn't quite enjoy, and it was uncomfortable.
Overall: 3/5 stars. Recommended for those interested in a coming-of-age story and female characters with depth.
Here is what happens when your mother dies.
It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.
That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.
Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.
How to Make Friends with the Dark recounts, in unminced words, the process of grieving. I've read (and reviewed) a lot of books about death, but none of them got to me the way this one did. I am fortunate. I have little experience with death-grief. Being inside Tiger's head turned me inside-out, emotionally. I am still reeling.
The summary states the catalyst for the events of the book, but essentially, Tiger had no other family except for her mother. She winds up in foster care, where she meets many kids with a variety of stories, as well as adults--helpful and unhelpful. I appreciated Glasgow's consideration of how in the system, there are both good and bad experiences. Some made a genuine effort to help Tiger, and others didn't. I know it's not officially part of the book, but Glasgow's author's note at the end was particularly thoughtful.
I digress. What I liked most was how imperfect Tiger's grief was. First-person perspective contributed so much to this, because in combination with Glasgow's writing, Tiger was SO REAL. Her emotions were tangible, and I cried no less than four times. We didn't know her mom (June) for very long, but Tiger's love for her was evident, and thus her sorrow and confusion and anger and sadness were all the more weighted.
We spend so much time inside Tiger's head, but also get to experience her relationships with multiple secondary characters, all of whom I liked. One in particular I can't say anything about, but her mere existence shocked me. In the end, despite multiple mishaps, I'm glad her story of recovery was included in the novel. I think Tiger's relationship with her helped establish Tiger's story as unique, and not just the generic story of a girl whose mother passed away.
Overall, Tiger's powerful story earns 5/5 stars from me. I was blown away by this book, and I 100% recommend it.
In honor of my friend, who loves fantasy books and had a milestone yesterday (congratulations!), I've assembled a list of upcoming fantasy that she (and you) might enjoy. These are releasing throughout the Spring/Summer and Fall seasons, so you'll have something wonderful to start every month. Happy reading!
Hi everyone! This week there have been two things happening in my life. One, a wedding (not mine!), and two, a Women in Technology conference!
So, as you might know from my bio, or picture, or if you know me personally, I'm Indian. I talk about it a lot, maybe not all the time, but definitely a good portion of the time. This past weekend, I was at a beautiful wedding, and I had a great time. Indian weddings are multi-day affairs involving mainly three components: family, food, and a whole lotta dancing! I spent time with all three, and I could not think of a better use of my weekend. The events were beautiful, I got to hang out with my family and meet my baby cousin, and watch a beautiful ceremony. Perfect weekend.
The second thing is actually coming up this Saturday, and it is that I am an organizer and workshop host for a Women in Technology conference being held at my school! I'm incredibly excited about working with this team of amazing women to bring together female and non-binary students interested in all facets of technology this coming Saturday. If you know me personally, feel free to ask for details, but I'm sorry to say I'm unwilling to release details for general readers as I value my privacy. On another note, the workshop I am planning is called Blogging 101, which I still feel unqualified to give. I have been blogging for 5 years now, and I've had this website for three of them, but I don't think of myself as an expert. Maybe it's time for that to change!
I'm considering starting a new post series on the mechanisms of blogging, but I'm still brainstorming ways to make it unique and unlike the millions of how-to posts already clogging the interwebs.
Happy Tuesday, everyone!
From the chaos of Dissolution rises a secret order, a Brotherhood formed to protect the world of the living from the world of the dead.
Adam, a teenage boy living on the streets of London, knows nothing of the fantastic and precarious world that exists just beyond his reality – until he dies, cold and alone, aged 14. After years of rejection, Adam discovers he is important, and the Brotherhood needs him. His recruitment to their Order will take him on an adventure that spans the worlds of both the living and the dead, as he and a living girl (14-year-old Edie Freedom) battle to solve a prophetic riddle and save the world.
I love nothing better than an adventurous ghost story. Unfortunately, Brotherhood of Shades could not hold my interest enough for me to find that love.
First, the good: I liked the history behind the worldbuilding, and the concept of the Brotherhood. I found the combination of technology and spirits intriguing.
*Keep in mind, this is just one reader's opinion. I do not speak for everyone, and you might find your opinion is the complete opposite of mine. The only way to know is if you try it.*
Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives.
But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove's investigation?
For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future, and failure could cost the world everything.
Time travel! Sapphic cuteness! Family! I'll be honest, I didn't like this one as much as the first, but it was still pretty darn good. I liked the inclusion of files and chat transcripts to reinforce the scientific/observational/notebook idea of the book.
Clove was adorable. She was impulsive, but she learned to right her wrongs and genuinely improved. Also adorable? Her relationship with Ella. The banter, the "long distance" relationship, it was all so cute! Never thought I needed cute girl time travelers, but with the killer combination of this book and Jodie Whittaker as Thirteen, I was WRONG.
I was super attached to the first book in the series because I loved seeing each incarnation of Kate and Matt, which was something I missed in The Last Beginning. Clove's story was continuous and well-written, but I liked the vignette style with common elements in the first book.
Overall: 4/5 stars, and recommended to readers interested in time travel, romance, and cleverness.
Hi everyone! As I'm sure you've heard, tragedy struck Paris yesterday as the tower of Notre Dame fell when the building caught fire. I know I felt an all-encompassing sorrow when I heard, for the loss of hundreds of years' worth of architecture and history lost. However. I will reiterate what has been said in this post from Tumblr. The building is still standing, and restoration will happen. This site is too important to forget, and many will unite to rebuild. Additionally, the structure of the building is intact. Notre Dame still stands. In light of this, here are my favorite YA titles set in/featuring France! (Without pictures, because I am very tired at the moment, sorry!)
The second thing that's happening to me is a bit more complicated, in the scheme of things. I won't go into too much detail because y'all are here for the booooooks, not my turbulent life, but I will say this: Balance is important! Knowing what makes you happy is one thing, but the path to success in the long run often involves compromise and you can't always stay happy by doing as you please and not fulfilling external requirements.
The Graphic Novel. Not a new art form, but one with rising popularity, especially in YA. With more and more being published, I figured I'd put together a short list of my most-recommended graphic novels. Some are classics, others hidden gems. Some I've reviewed (Pashmina), others I'm ordering soon (Bloom).
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.