Penguin Teen Social 2019 - Recap (May 23, 2019)

Right before going to NYC for BEA/BookCon, I got to be at Penguin Teen Social event at Penguin Random House Canada HQ - effectively, kicking off my bookish 2 weeks. I was trying to write and upload this post before I left, but there was just too much happening!

I love going to book events in Canada as I get to see lots of bookish friends and bloggers! Not to mention get my hands on the newest releases. And this event was not an exception.

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Book review: "The Magic Misfits" by Neil Patrick Harris (audiobook)

The Magic Misfits I came across “The Magic Misfits” as I was browsing the newest releases at my favourite Indigo store. I was thrilled to find out that Neil Patrick Harris wrote a book! The cover looked so adorable that I couldn’t wait to read it. Since I occasionally struggle with middle-grade books, I went to my favourite option - that is an audiobook.

“The Magic Misfits” has a gorgeous cover! And for once, I can’t decide whether I like US or UK edition better!

The Magic Misfits UK edition

Synopsis

 

From beloved award-winning actor, Neil Patrick Harris comes the magical first book in a new series with plenty of tricks up its sleeve.

When street magician Carter runs away, he never expects to find friends and magic in a sleepy New England town. But like any good trick, things change instantly as greedy B.B. Bosso, and his crew of crooked carnies arrive to steal anything and everything they can get their sticky fingers on.

After a fateful encounter with the local purveyor of illusion, Dante Vernon, Carter teams up with five other like-minded kids. Together, using both teamwork and magic, they'll set out to save the town of Mineral Wells from Bosso's villainous clutches. These six Magic Misfits will soon discover adventure, friendship, and their own self-worth in this delightful new series.

 

Review

 

“The Magic Misfits” is read by Neil Patrick Harris himself and it was a treat to my ears. I should not have expected anything less than a stellar performance from him, but I was still thrilled. He has a perfect voice range and goes from low and grumbly to high pitched. Neil also performs all the songs in the story, and that was just an added bonus! The audiobook is only 4 hours long, so I went through it fairly quickly.

My admiration for Neil’s performance, I was a bit bored by the plot. It is a cute story about an almost orphaned runaway boy who finds his place in the world and his new family. Everything from Carter’s backstory (which really reminded me of Oliver Twist for some reason) to the magic shop and carnival, to the group of unpopular kids - it all has been done before.

What has not been done before is this amount of diversity in a middle-grade book, and that representation is not the focus of the main story and nobody is given grief or bullied for whatever they represent. And that is a big deal! We have characters of colour, disabled characters, foster and adoptive families, as well as LGBTQ+ representation. In one middle-grade novel. I mean, c’mon! This book has to be a bestseller at least for that!

Sadly, I had issues with the plot, especially the very ending. The conflict seemed to have been resolved as if by magic (which it was, in a way). The book has filler chapters in which the author addresses the readers directly, breaking the fourth wall (which is my least favourite device as it keeps taking me out of the story), and provides instructions to future magicians on how to do tricks. It is a lovely concept and will, undoubtedly, appeal to the younger audience, but for me, it was all more of a nuisance. Overall, it felt as if the book was targeted at the younger side of the middle-grade scale. I mean, sometimes the author even explained certain words to the listeners! It felt as if it was not a recording but a real person reading the story, which is excellent, but I am obviously too old for that kind of narration.

It is hard to rate the book without taking into account the brilliant performance by Neil. So, I am going to give the book a half-star more for the narration and representation, although the plot left more to be desired. It was a cute story, but not a very original one.

However, since “The Magic Misfits” is only the first book in the series (a quartet?), I have hopes that the plot will improve with the sequel, and I definitely plan to continue reading the series.

 

Performance: 5 stars Plot: 2.5 stars Overall: 3.5 stars

 

More of my book reviews

 

Links:

Book review: Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Have you ever been in a situation when you don’t know what to read and then randomly find a book and it is exactly what you have been craving but you just didn’t know that? Well, this is what I felt when I started reading “Peter Darling” by Austin Chant, after seeing it being recommended by Cece at ProblemsofABookNerd. I still mentally salivate when I think about it.

I did not read the synopsis of the book before reading it, and I encourage you to do the same. Not because it is really spoilery (it is but there is just no other way to summarize the books, I guess), but because it does not reflect the dark and surreal feeling that this book inspires. To put it shortly, it is an adult fantasy novel, a sequel to Peter Pan, which features a transgender main character. That’s all you need to know. Go and read it now!

It takes place 10 years after the events of “Peter Pan”. Peter Pan has grown up, but his life has not been easy with Darlings. His father keeps calling him Wendy and his brothers think he invented Peter Pan. Peter feels the pull to return to Neverland, and this time for ever. Once he is back, he has to face his old adversary, Captain Hook. Ten years is a long time, and Peter is not a boy anymore, and it is not only hatred that he feels towards Hook.

I love reading books by indie authors, however, I rarely stumble upon real gems, and this book is definitely one of them. The book is well written with the right amount of angst and action. And I am a big sucker for angst. Peter struggles to be true to himself while managing his relationship with his brothers and parents, who see him only as Wendy. It is striking and moving, and I couldn't help but root for Peter.

Peter, when he returns to Neverland, and Lost Boys are brutal and more savage, which reminded me of “Lord of the flies” in some ways. There is a certain twist in the novel, which I freaking loved, and wish I could rant about it in my review, but it is a big spoiler.

Relationship between Peter and Hook is very believable, and I appreciate the fact that it did not happen out of blue or developed at a warp speed. For those who are concerned with the age difference, remember that Peter is of legal age in this story.

I really, really liked this book. I wish I had a physical copy, but it is definitely joining my favourites collection on my Kindle. I liked this book so much that I immediately went on twitter to tweet at the author and ask if he plans to do more fairy tales retellings/sequels because this one was awesome.

So, if you like queer stories and retellings peppered with angst, go and read it!

Personal rating: 4 stars

Buy on Kindle:

Book review: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

   

This book kept coming up on BookTube and GoodReads as a new YA contemporary with a main gay couple, so of course I had to pick it up! I chose to read this book as part of #LGBTQIAREAD Read-a-thon, as I mentioned in my blog post.

“The Love Interest” is a slightly sci-fi young adult contemporary romance novel. Sounds confusing? Well, how about the plot. There is a nefarious secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. They are taken from their families and raised and trained to be perfect love interests for people who are destined for great power or influence. Those “love interests” are split into Nice and Bad, depending on their personality fit, and are constantly evaluated for various skills. Once they are deemed to be fit and are matched to their “chosen one”, they are then given the directives and are implanted into lives of those “chosen” to spy on them for the rest of their lives.

 

Caden is a Nice, Dylan is a Bad. They are give the same target and the ultimate incentive to win this dangerous game: be chosen or be killed. But, unexpectedly, they start to develop feelings for each other.

 

The plot summary was what attracted me to this book. I am not a huge fan of YA contemporary romance, but I love queer books and dystopian/sci-fi elements, so I was very excited to read it. Good thing that I purchased the book before I checked its rating on GoodReads or I might have never picked it up. As I am typing this, “Love Interest” has the rating of 3.18 on GR, and I try to never go for books which are under 3.5, because I get mostly disappointed (the only exception besides “Love Interest” was “Wink Poppy Midnight” which I adored).

 

Let’s be fair here, “The Love Interest” is far from a strong debut novel. There are a lot of plot holes surrounding the secret organization and how it was dealt with. Especially, in the last third of the novel - I had an impression as if the author was rushing through the ending or didn’t have it fully outlined, because everything that was happening was just too fantastical to be real. Some of the characters were too two dimensional for my taste and some of their actions were just implausible.

 

The good thing about this book is that it is just pure fun. The first half or even two thirds of the book is just a pure satire and parody on a typical young adult romance. And it is intended to be such. I found the narration overall pleasant enough and the action was fun.

 

I think that this book would have benefited from more editing and perhaps another round of revisions. I liked the idea of love interests/spies, I liked both Caden and Dylan. But the book lacked depth and even the moments that were supposed to move me felt a bit shallow as they were so brief. Not to mention the fact that the ending was extremely weak.

 

Is it a great book? No, but it IS a fun book which I might even re-read if I need a good laugh (because some of those romance tropes were just hilarious). But most importantly - the book gave me exactly what I wanted to read: a queer love story. We don’t have enough of those in YA, even nowadays.

 

I will definitely keep an eye on Cale’s books and hope to read more by him.

Personal rating: 3 stars

 

Affiliated links:

 

The Love Interest

My #LGBTQIAREAD TBR

Okay, I am not very good with TBRs or read-a-thons or read-a-longs as I am a moody reader and prefer to read what I want to read in a particular moment. But when I watched George’s video on YouTube announcing Queer Read-A-Thon, I just had to sign up! I mean, I read queer lit anyway, and it is Pride Month, so I am going to do it!

I put together a list of books and graphic novels that I would like to read in that week. It is, undoubtedly, a pretty big list, but like I mentioned before - I am a moody reader and I need to have options. I also need to tackle some of my eBooks, as I keep shopping on Kindle and not reading them (does anyone else have the same problem?).

 

My TBR:

 

 

The read-a-thon takes place during one week, June 25 - July 1. #LGBTQIARead is going to be the official hashtag on Twitter, if you would like to join in.

 

I can’t wait to start as I have been meaning to read some of those books for awhile!

 

Sign up here: http://daydreamersthoughts.co.uk/lgbtqiaread-is-back/

George’s video: https://youtu.be/xJBK3pQmo4A

Book Review: Long Story Short: An Anthology of (Mostly) 10-Minute Plays

 

I was provided a copy of this anthology by Playwrights Canada Press in exchange of a free and honest review.

 

“Long Story Short” is an anthology of short plays by Canadian playwrights of diverse backgrounds. The introduction by Rebecca Burton gives insight into how she picked the plays and on the background of the authors. Selected plays are intended to appeal to a variety of readers and variety of tastes as they range in genres from satire and comedy to absurdist and dystopian and encompass an array of topics from coming of age, love, relationships, race, gender norms, and death. Every read is bound to find something to their taste.

I have never had a pleasure of reading anything so diverse in genre and style. I found this idea extremely thrilling: an anthology of plays without one topic or common genre or one idea that would bind all of those stories together. With only one common ground of (relatively) short length, they are like mismatched beads, glass and seashells on a single thread. With so many of authors of different backgrounds involved, it is astounding how all of those talents shine individually as well as together.

 

I fell in love with this anthology almost from the very beginning. I did have a couple of instances when I was left confused or detached after finishing the play, however, the overwhelming majority of works left me reeling with emotions and thoughts. I couldn’t wait to review this anthology, only to be left stumped about how to approach something so different.

 

Eventually, I decided to do an overall review and provide a quick synopsis and rating for each play as they all deserve a mention.

 

The Book of Daniel by Lawrence Aronovitch

Summary: A man recalls his schooldays at a Jewish school.

Rating: 3 stars

 

The Baited Blade by David Belke

Summary: A young movie star comes to a veteran actor to receive a lesson in swordsmanship. Dark secrets are revealed.

Rating: 5 stars

 

Green Dating by Chantal Bilodeau

Summary: A teenage girl has very specific environmental ideas about what she wants in a man.

Rating: 4 stars

 

Sisters by Per Brask

Summary: A homage to Chekhov’s Three Sisters

Rating: 3 stars

 

Cook by David James Brock

Summary: The private cook of a demanding family interviews a boy who wants to be their next meal.

Rating: 4 stars

 

The Auction by Trina Davies

Summary: A married couple fights over the junk that the husband keeps buying.

Rating: 5 stars

 

Air Apparent by Sandra Dempsey

Summary: Aisling struggles with the aftermath of 9/11

Rating: 4 stars

 

Summer’s End by Francine Dick

Summary: Three sisters inherit the family cottage but one of them has quite different plans for it.

Rating: 4 stars

 

Pee & Qs by Josh Downing

Summary: Three men find themselves in an awkward situation as they face the workplace washroom rules.

Rating: 4 stars

 

The Prisoner by Jennifer Fawcett

Summary: In an unnamed country, a widow comes to prison to ask a guard about what happened to her husband and warn him about his fate.

Rating: 4 stars

 

This Isn't Toronto by Catherine Frid

Summary: An adult daughter and her mother have a conversation.

Rating: 3 stars

 

Troupe by Ron Fromstein

Summary: Four women attend the hundred and tenth meeting of Khodoriv Dance Collective

Rating: 2 stars

 

Brother, Brother by Meghan Greeley

Summary: A little girl with speech impairment needs to learn important words and asks an older boy to help her.

Rating: 4 stars

 

It’s Going To Be a Bright by Matthew Heiti

Summary: Two people break up and break up again. And again.

Rating: 4 stars

 

Garbed in Flesh by Arthur Holden

Summary: An old sexual offender is interrogated by a young detective and is confronted by his wife.

Rating: 3 stars

 

A Recipe for Tomato Butter by Florence Gibson MacDonald

Summary: A sixty-year-old woman contemplates God, tomatoes, 9/11 and her neighbours.

Rating: 4 stars

 

The Living Library by Linda McCready

Summary: A young woman borrows “a human book” from the library.

Rating: 3 stars

 

Flesh Offerings by Yvette Nolan

Summary: A Cree/Metis woman in Wild West show invites you to her performance.

Rating: 3 stars

 

The Only Good Indian by Jivesh Parasram

Summary: a standoff between a suicide bomber and a police officer

Rating: 5 stars

 

A Friend for Life by Talia Pura

Summary: Kristy is heartbroken, because her boyfriend came out as gay and dumped her.

Rating: 3 stars

 

An Ordinary Guy by Ann Snead

Summary: Jeff is an ordinary guy with an unusual attachment to tomatoes

Rating: 5 stars

 

Say the Words by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard

Summary: Everything you have heard about feminists is totally true.

Rating: 5 stars

 

Steps by Jose Teodoro

Summary: People in formal clothes fret and dance to Miles Davis “Flamenco Sketches”

Rating: 4 stars

 

Nancy by Michael Wilmot

Summary: A boy comes across an elderly gentleman sitting in the park.

Rating: 4 stars

 

Burusera by Laura Mullen and Chris Tolley

Summary:  Used underwear for sale.

Rating: 4 stars

 

I think all of my most favourite plays involved death or murder in one way or another (oops) but I enjoyed all of the plays for their diversity and unique taken on various facets of humanity, from ugly to touching.

 

I am incredibly grateful to Playwrights Canada Press for providing me with the copy of this anthology for review. I will be definitely re-reading this one more than once. Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Play review: My Night with Reg by Kevin Elyot (Mirvish)

My Night with Reg I watched "My Night with Reg" on February 24, almost by the end of the play’s run, which is unfortunate as I would have loved to see it again. This was one of those plays which I had on my list as something that I would like to see but it was nowhere near at the top. More so, I bought the ticket only because it was on sale on Boxing Day, since I am not too fond of Panasonic Theatre as a venue.

I also knew next to nothing about the play as I have never heard of it before but I did have an inkling that it might have something to do with LGBTQ+ community (I still have no idea how I guessed but here you go!). But then the show started its run, three actors of the main cast did a short interview during Morning Show on Global (which I watch faithfully every day), so it gave me a better understanding of what I was going to see. And I got excited.

It is a rather short, only one hour and a half long, chamber play. There is no intermission, however, there are three distinctive parts that span across several years. The transition is so quick that the audience is often left to wonder how much time has actually passed.

 

It is a play written by British playwright Kevin Elyot. The events take place within gay community in London in 1980s, when the threat of HIV/AIDS is on the rise. The story is about a group of close friends who go through love, heartbreak, betrayal, and death, somehow still maintaining their friendship. The central figure in the majority of conversations is a mysterious Reg, who never makes an appearance, but whose existence affects most of the characters in one way or another. In spite of a looming threat of terminal disease and occasional bouts of depression, the play is surprisingly funny and racy (plus, it includes full frontal nudity on stage - just saying!). There are a lot of tongue in cheek jokes, as well as jokes that might fly over the heads of those who are not part of LGBTQ+ community (I was sitting next to a couple who seemed to be confused throughout of the play), however, the problems that those guys face are universal and relatable.

 

I, personally, found the play both heartwarming and heartbreaking. All of the characters have their own secrets and troubles. The threat of HIV/AIDS is never discussed or mentioned explicitly, although it is being referred to more than once. There is also a mention of rape, which is sort of glossed over as well. I had a feeling as if the Guy’s apartment was some sort of a bubble in which they all encompassed themselves, trying to hide from the realities of death, disease and reality. This bubble, unfortunately, starts to crack as the play progresses and the friend face the deaths of their loved ones.

 

I think all the actors did an amazing job at playing their characters. If I had to pick my favourite, I would say that Daniel was probably my favourite. I stayed for a bit of Q&A at the end of the play, which provided a bit of more insight into the characters of Bernie and Benny.

 

I wish I had read the play before watching it but I am going to rectify it soon. This was the first time it was performed in Canada, but hopefully not the last time.

 

Personal rating: 4 stars

 

Sources:

 

More of my theatre reviews

Book review: The Darkest Part of the Forest

I started reading this book and fell in love with the writing style immediately. I loved it so much that after reading 20 pages of a library book, I went and purchased my own copy. Because I knew that this book would become one of my favourite reads of this year.

It is a stand alone YA novel based on folklore/fairy tales.  Seeing how tightly the world of fairies is tied to the real world, I am almost tempted to call it magical realism and not fantasy.

It is the very first book I have ever read by Holly Black and, oh boy, did she exceed all of my expectations.

There is a boy and a girl, who live in a small town. There is a forest where fairies live. A girl used to slay monsters, a boy used to tame them with his magical music. There is a horned boy sleeping in a glass coffin. There is a some evil threatening to hurt everyone. And there is someone leaving obscure clues to our characters.

I am bad at summaries but the story is a whimsical action packed narration that gave me everything I could have dreamed of: a strong female lead, lost children trope, magic, one or two broken hearts, lots of monsters, and queer themes.

I wish I could write a more coherent review (the one in which I don't squee and gush and yell at people to read this book).

I am very glad that it is a stand alone novel, as the market right now seems to be oversaturated with book series, but at the same time I wish I could spend more time in the universe.

Can't really talk about the ending as it would a spoiler. But you have to read it! It is wonderful!

Personal rating: 5 stars

Book review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

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Personal rating: 5 stars

Nothing could have prepared me for this book. In spite of a promising title, it turned out to be more real and less happy than I expected it would. There are a lot of coming of age (and coming out) stories out there right now in YA, but this one has a gritty and realistic feel to it that kept me nailed to the ground all the time. Poverty, drugs, violence, mental health, suicide, death - all of that is not sugar coated but that left out in the open as it is, forcing you to deal not only with the mounting affection that you feel towards the characters but also the gnawing worry that this story may not have a happy ending.

In the internet talk of nowadays, the books gave me THE FEELS.

And I am okay with that. I am okay with recurring "no homo" catch phrase (which usually makes my eyes bleed); with the violence and pain; with futuristic "magic pill" that will make you forget who you are and the reasons WHY you needed to forget in the first place; with the fact that my heart started to disintegrate piece by piece from the page one - to the point that by the end of the book I was ready to sign up for a Leteo procedure myself.

This book is not what it seems at first glance. It is deeper, more touching, more serious, more personal. Don't let those smiley faces fool you. You will crying by the end of it, whether you want it or not.

Well done, Adam! I can't wait to read more books by you.

p.s. I got this book from the library, because I wanted to read a hard copy, even though I got an ebook copy on Kindle when it was on sale some time ago.

Books: November Wrap-Up & Reviews

I had an amazing reading month in November. I didn't have a set TBR list for November. I got a lot of books from the library and simply tried my best to read them all. And I read  A LOT of books. Mostly due to the fact that I was sick for the majority of the month, even taking a couple of days off work, that allowed me to read more. (Although reading while being sick really sucks, let me tell ya.)

I split my list of read books into sections. The reviews will be at the bottom. This is going to be one hell of a post.

Books:

  1. Alex Gino "George"
  2. Kelley York "Made of Stars"
  3. Melissa Landers "Invaded"
  4. Alex London "Proxy"
  5. Alex London "Guardian"
  6. I.W. Gregorio "None of the Above"
  7. Nicola Yoon "Everything, Everything"
  8. Rainbow Rowell "Fangirl"

E-books:

  1. R.G. Alexander "Curious"
  2. Bonnie Dee "The Tutor"
  3. Laura Harner "Continental Divide (Separate Ways, #1)"
  4. E.M. Lindsey "Time and Tide"

Graphic novels:

  1. East of West, Vol. 1: The Promise by Jonathan Hickman
  2. East of West, Vol. 2: We Are All One by Jonathan Hickman
  3. East of West, Vol. 3: There Is No Us by Jonathan Hickman
  4. Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
  5. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  6. Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy (Lumberjanes, #1-4) by Noelle Stevenson
  7. Blue is the Warmest Colour by Julie Maroh
  8. The less than epic adventures of TJ and Amal vol. 1 Poor boys and pilgrims by E.K. Weaver
  9. Emily Carroll "Through the Woods"

Books re-read:

  1. Marie Sexton "Promises"
  2. Marie Sexton "Strawberries for Dessert"
  3. Sue Brown "Nothing Ever Happens"

So, if my math skills do not deceive me, in the month of November I read 24 books. Holy moly! That's definitely way more than I expected! Granted, a huge part of those were short ebooks and graphic novels, but still! I don't think I will ever be able to beat that.

Okay, onto reviews then. All of these are posted on my GoodReads page, so I am only going to post reviews of books and graphic novels and will skip ebooks and books I've read before.

Reviews:

"George" by Alex Gino

Personal rating: 4 stars

I read this book in one go. It has less than 200 pages with huge font and it a middle grade novel.

I liked it. I think it is great that the author touches upon a topic of gender identity in a middle grade novel. Reading it, I couldn't help by sympathize with George. I think that her voice was very prominent and well defined.

I am happy that such books exist nowadays.

"Made of Stars" by Kelley York

Personal rating: 5 stars

You know there are some books that you finish reading and then next day you still keep thinking about it? For me it was "Made of Stars". (Where has this book been before?? Why haven't I read it sooner??)

This is a contemporary/suspense YA novel, that tells the story of three friends (a boy and his half sister and their friend, whom they see once a year during summer). One summer they all meet again, and things change. And their feelings change too.

Hunter and Ashlin start noticing the lies Chance is telling them and things he is NOT telling them. They start questioning things he says and does.

And then a murder happens.

It is not exactly a murder mystery, but the book has a very strong suspense undercurrent. I don't want to say anything or I might spoil the ending, but let's just say that I spent the last 20% of the book dreading what was about to happen while knowing that it would probably happen. Basically, I was just sitting here and yelling "NO!" a lot.

I couldn't put it down.

The ending was like a sucker punch. Have you read Allegiant by Veronica Roth? Remember THAT? Well, THAT thing in Allegiant gave me the same feeling as this book. Remember, how at some point in Allegiant (just by the way the POV is switched) you could totally tell that THIS was going to happen? Same thing here.

I spent some time trying to think of what might happen next, if there is hope, if there is any way that it could not have ended in so much heartbreak.

But no, there was no other way.

I both heartbroken and in awe with what the author did to my poor heart. It was painful and amazing.

I want more. I am definitely putting Kelley York on my list of favourite authors.

"Invaded" by Melissa Landers

Personal rating: 3.75 stars

(SOME MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!)

I read Alienated in September and was quite excited to get ahold of Invaded quite easily (I landed a copy from the library and it was a new copy which is a rarity at times).

I can't say I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Alienated. For one thing, I really liked Cara's blog, which was barely there in Invaded, as well as her sense of humour (overall the novel felt more serious in tone than Alienated). The romance between her and Aelyx still ran true but Melissa used pretty much the same trick as in Alienated: creating a rift between them, only to bring them back together followed by a dramatic event. It felt rather boring to read the same plot twist in the second novel.

I did like the intrigue that was happening in both worlds, as well as depiction of L'eihr and its traditions, but I felt as if the first part of the book dragged a bit.

There was one character whom I really liked and who died, which really annoyed me, because it could have been avoided (seeing as other major characters are always saved by deus ex machina). This death affected another character, who has already been through a lot. I feel as if this was done for the sake of drama and it felt a bit cheap to me.

I feel like there might be a third novel. Invaded does not end with an obvious cliffhanger than Alienated had, but still there are some things that were left unresolved. The problem is that I am not sure how Melissa can create the third novel without making it even more boring. Will I be reading it? Perhaps, but it won't be high on my list.

"Proxy" and "Guardian" by Alex London

Proxy

Personal rating: 3.75

I couldn't wait to pick up this book. I heard great things about it. I can't say that I was disappointed but I wish my expectations hadn't been set so high. It is a great dystopian YA novel, with a unique world, but at times it felt as if it lacked depth, and some of the characters' actions didn't make much sense. There was a lot of talk about feelings and decisions, but I think that the author described things instead of *showing* them.

I did like the characters and I love the fact that this book had a main gay character, who was essentially "the chosen one".

Some events in this book didn't make much sense, but the ending had a good twist. And it made me a bit sad too. You will know why. (I would have preferred a different punch line at the end, as it felt a bit weak, but over all it was ok.)

Guardian

Personal rating: 4 stars

I think that this book is stronger than "Proxy". It is better written and it has more plot twists. I did enjoy both the relationships (a budding romance) between the characters and the main intrigue. I also liked how it was shown how "the chosen one", ex-proxy, was dealing with his fame.

The resolution of the moral peril in which the characters found themselves felt a bit too "deus ex machina", but I did like the ending. One might say, it is too open, or even a cliffhanger, but I enjoyed it.

Can't say this book is going to be high on my "re-read list" but it was enjoyable. I would love to read more dystopian YA with main queer characters.

"None of the Above" by I.W. Gregorio

Personal rating: 3.75 stars

I enjoyed the book because it is rather different from all other YA which is readily available on the market. It is the first book with an intersex character that I have ever read. I liked the book. I didn't love it though. I feel that it was more educational than anything else, as the plot was rather predictable (discovering herself, friends turning enemies, bullying at school, therapy) and some twists made me feel rather sad.

I liked Kristin. I liked that she is an athlete, she is a runner. I liked how her struggle to come to terms with her diagnosis was described. What I didn't like was how predictable everything else was (her boyfriend, her friends' reaction, etc).

I still recommend this book. It has to be read at least for the educational purposes. I feel that it was a bit overhyped for me in terms of the plot though.

"Everything, Everything" by Nicola Yoon

personal rating: 4.5 stars

This book deserves all the love and hype surrounding it! It is a very cute story about a girl who is allergic to everything. One day, a new family moves into a nearby house and she befriends their son.

I liked everything about this book. The way it is written. The fact that it is interrupted by illustrations and notes written by Madeline. The fact that this book has some similarities to "The Fault In Our Stars" but only it is way better and lighter and happier. (And also, HAWAII!)

The characters are unique and have very distinctive voices. I loved both Madeline and Olly. I loved the setting of the book. I loved all the descriptions.

I also loved the twist and the way the story resolved itself, even though I did suspect something like this would happen. (It also quite unexpectedly resonated with my own experience, which was a bit surprising.)

Can't say more but this book gave me rather happy, warm and fuzzy feeling. Even though it mostly about illness. Nicola Yoon has achieved something that John Green failed to do for me.

Read it. You will love it.

"Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell

Personal rating: 5 stars

I thought this book was overhyped on booktube. I thought I wouldn't like it. I thought it was something like "shopaholic" novels.

I was so wrong!

This book is fantastic. It is well written, it has amazing characters and a very sweet romance. I loved Cath. She is very relatable. Levi is a sweetheart (I was rooting for him the whole book!). Wren is something. Reagan is something else altogether.

And Cath's father, Art, is adorable. (I have a soft spot for him. Because I don't know how you can NOT. It is probably the first time ever I feel so strongly about a secondary character.)

I don't even know how to express how much I loved this book (which can be confirmed by the fact that I ordered my own copy online while being only 50 pages into the library copy). It is everything my life is and is not, but potentially can be. This book made me feel less embarrassed about being "a fangirl". It also gave me a strong urge to write.

This book was so good, and so well written, that I want to read it again.

Also I need "Carry On" like RIGHT NOW.


All of other reviews you can read on my GoodReads page, as I don't want to make this post longer than necessary. I do want to point out that Nimona, Lumberjanes, Adventures of TJ and Amal, and Through the Woods are my favourite graphic novels of the month, while Blue is the Warmest Colour is the least favourite.

Let me know what you think!

 

Book Review: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

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This is the weirdest YA book I have ever read. (Well, it is not as gory or dark or weird as Poppy Brite's novels, as it is still YA, but it is right up that alley if you take one of her books and make it funny and light as opposed to heartbreaking.) But what can I say - I loved it.

It is written in the first point of view and there are some recurring topics as well as even recurring sentences that may seem slightly weird but it all works together. Two best friends, a small town in the middle of nowhere, a strange, long time ago abandoned experiment. It is difficult to summarize the book without giving away the plot (or the plot twist at the end which I totally should have seen coming, but I didn't, because just like the main characters I was caught in the moment).

It is a weird story but it is also a very touching one. Besides all the weirdness which is happening (and if you are not squeamish and are not afraid of bugs - believe me, you will be) this book is also a coming of age story (which includes exploring one's sexuality, talking or thinking about sex 24/7, and smoking - you know, the usual).

This books has a great line which resonated with me greatly. Page 162. You know what I mean. It is probably one of the most accurate descriptions of bisexuality that I have ever read.

I don't want to spoil this story to anyone, but I just want to say that this book taught me two things:

1) adolescent boys are always horny

2) bugs only do two things - eat and fuck.

My advice: do not read this book while dealing with bug infestation - it will make your skin crawl big time. This is book not for everyone, but I loved it.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars