Tag Archives: 2017 ya debut

Book Review: Saints and Misfits by SK Ali

Saints and Misfits

Saints and Misfits

4 stars

Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.
How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?
Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.
And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.
While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

I decided to finally pick up this book after seeing that it made the longlist for Canada Reads. I’d been planning on reading it for a while now but it always seemed to get pushed back for a new release. I can definitely see why it made the list and now I’m wishing I had read it sooner. It was full of interesting characters, culture, growth, and ended up being a very good read.

Janna was a great character and I enjoyed her POV. She had an interesting dynamic with her family members that I really appreciated, especially having siblings of my own. She loved her family but they could drive her crazy, make her feel selfish, or not good enough. She had a crush on someone outside of the Muslim faith and we saw how that affected her. We also saw her struggling with being forced to be around someone she called a monster, someone everyone else thought was a good person. I especially loved her relationship with her elderly neighbor that she cared for.

The pacing was a little slow but with the plot so focused on Janna’s growth journey, I found the pacing didn’t matter to me. I was enjoying the every day life of Janna, all the little things that made her such an interesting character. Her faith was important to her, it wasn’t just something that was mentioned in passing or pushed to the background. There were times when she struggled with what she wanted versus what she knew was expected of her to be a good daughter.

This was a great #ownvoices novel and I really hope it ends up making the short list.

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Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is Top Ten new to me authors in 2017 but all my new to me authors were debuts so I guess this is more of a top ten debuts I read in 2017(including some from 2018).

10. Dangerous Art of Blending in The Dangerous Art of Blending In – Angelo Surmelis. This book was amazing and the writing felt so personal.

9. Everless Everless – Sara Holland. Great world-building and definitely has me excited for the next one.

8. Nyxia Nyxia – Scott Reintgen. One of my best surprises of 2017. This book really blew me away.

7. Ginny Moon Ginny Moon – Benjamin Ludwig. I love finding gems that I might not have picked up because they’re outside my comfort zone.

6. one-of-us-is-lying One of Us Is Lying – Karen M McManus. So twisted with great characters.

5. Caraval Caraval – Stephanie Garber. This was so magical and I loved it.

4. a-list-of-cages A List of Cages – Robin Roe. This one was hard to read but so worth it.

3. Queen's Rising The Queen’s Rising – Rebecca Ross. I really liked this world and the main character.

2. youre-welcome-universe You’re Welcome, Universe – Whitney Gardner. I loved the way graffiti was incorporated into this book. And romance took a backseat.

1. the-hate-u-give The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas. Still my number one book of the year.

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Weekly Reading Recap

14836299-stack-of-books-books-stacked
It’s less than a week until Christmas. So much wrapping to do.

Currently reading: Meet Cute

Finished reading: Dear Martin35098416Honor Among ThievesThe Broken World

Reviewed: Thunderhead

What I’m hoping to get to next week: Say You'll Remember MeMarkswoman to read

Possibly a review, depending on Christmas plans.

Books read it 2017: 202

Debut authors read in 2017: 41

Debut authors read for 2018: 6

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Book Review: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

27 Hours

27 Hours

Release date: October 3rd 2017

3 stars

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.
But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.
Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.
They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.
During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

Even after reading the synopsis, I wasn’t too sure of what to expect going into this book. I’ve been reading a lot of sci-fi lately so my hopes were high, maybe a little too high. The concept was very interesting and is a topic that is talked about today. The setting was the moon which had been colonized by humans and they were heading toward a war against the species that had inhabited the moon before them. All the POVs were from human characters and it might have been nice to see a POV from a Chimera so it felt more balanced.

The four main characters were very diverse. There was Rumor, Jude, Nyx, and Braeden. I really liked seeing the relationships, both romantic and platonic, develop between these four, plus Nyx’s best friend Dahlia. It did feel like it took me a long time to connect with the characters, longer than I’m used to, but that could be because I haven’t read a multi-pov book in a while and was a little impatient to find out which would be my favourite character. It was Jude.

I loved how inclusive the book was. There was so much representation and it was a huge positive. What I found hurt the book the most was the time frame. 27 hours is so short that any character development or deep connections/relationships seemed to happen very fast and I wasn’t very convinced that it would last. I will be reading the next book to find out what happens, the concept was what pulled me in initially and I’m curious to see how things turn out.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider

Kiss me in new york

Kiss Me in New York

Release date: October 3rd 2017

3.5 stars

It’s Christmas Eve at JFK in NYC.
Charlotte is a British student, waiting for a flight home after the worst semester of her life. Anthony is a native New Yorker, surprising his girlfriend at the airport after three months apart. Charlotte has just been dumped, and Anthony is about to be dumped, right in the middle of the holiday crowd.
Charlotte’s flight is canceled when a blizzard blows in, and Anthony can’t bear to go home. So, they set out into the city together, clutching a book Charlotte picks up in the airport gift shop: Ten Easy Steps for Getting Over Your Ex. For this one night, they’ll focus on healing their broken hearts … together.
Step-by-step, the two struggle to put the past behind them. But the snow is so enchanting, and the holiday lights are so beguiling, that soon their shared misery gives way to something else. Soon, they’re not only over their exes — they’re falling for each other.
Then a subway ride splits them up by mistake. Will they reunite before Charlotte’s flight leaves New York forever?

This was a very fast, very cute read. It’s perfect for curling up with on a cold night, hot chocolate in hand, snuggled up with a blanket, and just letting it warm you up. It took place pretty much within a twenty-four hour period and had our two main characters, total strangers, bonding over their respective break-ups. I loved the idea of them teaming up to have one night of following the steps in the book Get Over Your Ex in Ten Easy Steps and it made for a book that was cute, heart-warming, and made me smile.

The book was told alternating between Charlotte’s POV and Anthony’s POV. Charlotte was a British exchange student who’s flight home for Christmas was cancelled. She had just been dumped by her boyfriend and was eager to get home, away from all the reminders. I really liked Charlotte, she was pretty rational but she could also be impulsive, and while I would probably never have the courage to ask a stranger to do the steps in a Get Over Your Ex book with me, she made it seem perfectly acceptable. Anthony wanted to surprise his girlfriend at the airport when she arrived but ended up getting dumped instead. He was more reluctant to get involved in Charlotte’s plan with his break-up being more fresh but he eventually agrees to go along with her plan. It was better than wandering the streets alone because he didn’t want to go home and face his family, who thought he was spending the night with his girlfriend.

The plot was mostly Charlotte and Anthony getting to know each other while doing the steps in the book. They had to improvise on a few of them but they made it work. The connection between them maybe happened a little fast but I could also understand it, both heart-broken and alone on the holidays and finding someone who understands what they were going through formed a bond. If they’d met under any other circumstances they might not have even given each other a second look but everything that night worked to form a bond between them.

As mentioned, it was a fast read at about 200 pages, but it was one that put a smile on my face and i really enjoyed it.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Brooding YA Hero by Carrie Ann DiRisio

Brooding YA Hero

Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character Almost as Awesome As Me

Release date: October 3rd 2017

3.5 stars

 

Have you ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend? Ever dreamed of being the Chosen One in a YA novel? Want to know all the secrets of surviving the dreaded plot twist?
Or maybe you’re just really confused about what “opal-tinted, luminous cerulean orbs” actually are?
Well, popular Twitter personality @broodingYAhero is here to help as he tackles the final frontier in his media dominance: writing a book. Join Broody McHottiepants as he attempts to pen Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, a “self-help” guide (with activities–you always need activities) that lovingly pokes fun at the YA tropes that we roll our eyes at, but secretly love.
As his nefarious ex, Blondie DeMeani, attempts to thwart him at every turn, Broody overcomes to detail, among other topics, how to choose your genre, how to keep your love interest engaged (while maintaining lead character status), his secret formula for guaranteed love triangle success, and how to make sure you secure that sequel, all while keeping his hair perfectly coiffed and never breaking a sweat.

This book was hilarious, poked fun at some more popular tropes in YA books, but also had a lot of great writing tips. The book was told mostly through Broody’s POV with some additions from his ex-girlfriend Blondie, teaching the reader how to become a main character. He talked about the different types of characters, plots, settings in a way that made sense but was also funny.

Broody was used to being in many, many books so when he was suddenly not the one being chosen to star in books, he decided to write his own. It was full of reasons why he was the most awesome character ever while being like a self-help guide to supporting or new characters to becoming a main character in their own right. His guide delivered hilarious commentary on so many tropes, pointing out flaws without being insulting. I loved that there was actual writing advice within Broody’s narration.

I really liked the addition of Blondie DeMeanie’s narration, interjected in between Broody’s Broody-centric advice. She was tired of being cast in the role of villain simply because she liked make-up or because she was Broody’s ex-girlfriend. She just wanted to be the main character for once. She often added her own advice or broadened Broody’s thoughts.

It was a quick read that had many, many laugh out loud moments. Broody showed some character growth as he went through trying to figure out how to write his book. This book definitely made me want to check out Broody’s twitter account for more laughs and awesomeness.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Release date: September 5th 2017

4 stars

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.
Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.
Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

I love fantasy books and I love re-tellings so this book seemed like it would be a perfect choice. There was definitely a lot that I found entertaining about the story, the characters, and I enjoyed the dual POV, especially in the beginning when we saw Mina’s childhood versus Lynet’s childhood. I thought it still worked well later in the book when Mina was grown and Lynet was still a teenager. They had an interesting dynamic and having seen that glimpse into Mina’s childhood made her a more sympathetic character than beginning the book with her as an adult.

Both girls had very distinct voices so I found it easy to tell which POV I was in, which was good since there didn’t seem to be a clear format(like switching every chapter). Both girls also had similar journey arcs through the book, different enough so it didn’t feel like I was reading the same thing from a new POV but similar enough so they felt connected. The relationship between Mina and Lynet was key to the plot and was my favourite part of the book. Their dynamic was so much more than just a stepmother who hated her stepdaughter for a seemingly shallow reason. Instead they had a complex relationship where Mina had known Lynet for years, helped raise her, and Lynet had always admired her.

The romance was slow burn, very slow burn, so anyone reading simply for the romance might be a little disappointed in the lack of it. It focused on Mina and Lynet’s relationship, their growth as individual characters, and their desire to be their own person instead of the people their parents wanted them to be. I would have liked to have seen more world building, especially in regards to magic and how it was used, and it would have been nice to have seen more interactions between more characters instead of most of the character interactions being between a small group. Other than that, it was a very enjoyable read.

*I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara

The Last Namsara

Release date: October 1st 2017

4.5 stars

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

I was really excited to get my hands on this book. It was one of my most anticipated to come out and I will definitely be buying a hardcover when it hits shelves. This book had an interesting world, plenty of interesting characters, and dragons. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to think after the first chapter with Asha being a dragon slayer but the plot turned into directions I enjoyed.

Asha was the only daughter of the king, the youngest child, and had been declared the Iskari, a title that made people fear her and a way for her to atone for the destruction she caused as a child. She was the kingdom’s dragon slayer and each dragon she killed was one step closer to making up for breaking the law she had when she was younger. The Asha at the beginning of the book was so different from the Asha by the end. There was so much character development that it will be interesting to see where the character goes in the sequel. She was very protective of the people she cared about, though she counted few among that group, and I loved seeing her open up to knowing more people and questioning the laws and her beliefs as the story went on.

There were a few main dynamics in the book. The most prominent was the one between Asha and Torwin, a slave belonging to Asha’s betrothed. Torwin challenged her to think for herself and was a great partner through the book. Secondary was the dynamic between Asha and Jarek, the jerk she was supposed to marry and I loved seeing Asha finding ways to show her independence even as Jarek tried to control her. There was also great dynamics between Asha and her cousin Safire, and Asha and her older brother. They both showed glimpses that they were not exactly who Asha thought they were so I’m excited to see more of that developing.

I loved all the old stories that broke up a lot of the chapters. It was a great way to show some backstory and historical content without feeling like an info dump. It was reading folk lore for this kingdom and learning why the people had their beliefs. The book started off a little slow but not in a bad way. The pace picked up the more Asha found herself outside the walls of the kingdom, hunting, and by the end, I had to finish the book even though I should have been asleep hours before. It really was a book I just couldn’t put down.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh

Who's that girl

Who’s That Girl

Release date: July 11th 2017

4 stars

Junior Nattie McCullough is totally OK with her place in life: Latin whiz. Member of the school’s gay-straight alliance. Joni Mitchell superfan. Seventeen-year-old who has never been kissed. So when last summer’s crush and her former classmate—Young Lungs lead singer Sebastian Delacroix—comes back to town with his new hit single “Natalie,” she can’t bring herself to believe it could possibly be about her…could it?
As Nattie sorts through the evidence (the lyrics, Sebastian’s elusive text messages, and their brief romantic encounter last year), the song’s popularity skyrockets, and everyone starts speculating about “Natalie’s” identity. If that wasn’t mortifying enough, Nattie runs into another problem: her confusing, flirtation-packed feelings for her good friend Zach. With her once-average life upended, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her short-lived past with Sebastian was something love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.

I went in to this book thinking it would be a cute read with some romance, a growth arc, a little angst, and it had all of that. It also had great friendships, great dialogue between characters, and was a lot of fun to read. I loved the group of friends, the family dynamics, and the plot.

Nattie was an easy character to like, even when she was making bad decisions because I could understand her reasoning behind them. That didn’t mean I agreed with her or that I couldn’t see the bad outcome that was coming from that decision, I could just understand why she came to the conclusion that her way was the best way. It was fun to see her push herself out of her comfort zone as she tried to get answers from Sebastian about the origin of the song “Natalie”.

The dynamics between the two main groups Nattie interacted with, her family and her group of friends, were so great. I loved the quirkiness of her parents, the sibling bond that had developed between her and the family’s exchange student Sam, and just the whole overall family dynamics. Her group of friends were just so much fun any time they were all together. I enjoyed the romance aspect of the plot as well. I was a little worried about it feeling too love triangle-ish, but it felt more like a girl who was ultimately trying to figure out her confusing feelings.

The main plot was mostly Nattie trying to figure out if she was the mysterious ‘Natalie’ in Sebastian’s song and how to deal with it, while also figuring out her feelings for her friend Zach. It made for a light, perfect beginning of Summer read. I could easily see myself re-reading this by the pool on a nice day.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Art of Starving by Sam J Miller

Art of starving

The Art of Starving

Release date: July 11th 2017

4 stars

Matt hasn’t eaten in days.
His stomach stabs and twists inside, pleading for a meal. But Matt won’t give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away.
Matt’s hardworking mom keeps the kitchen crammed with food, but Matt can resist the siren call of casseroles and cookies because he has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have . . . powers. The ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see. The knack of tuning in to thoughts right out of people’s heads. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space.
So what is lunch, really, compared to the secrets of the universe?
Matt decides to infiltrate Tariq’s life, then use his powers to uncover what happened to Maya. All he needs to do is keep the hunger and longing at bay. No problem. But Matt doesn’t realize there are many kinds of hunger… and he isn’t in control of all of them.

This was a book I was a little hesitant going into since it involved a boy thinking that starving himself was giving him superpowers. I’m very glad I gave it a chance because the book was full of quirky characters, an interesting family dynamic, and a plot that would be really interesting to see debated on if it was more magical realism where Matt did have superpowers or if his mind was trying to validate his choice of not eating by making him think he had superpowers.

Matt was a likeable character who could be frustrating in that he was hypocritical at times and sometimes just wasn’t that nice. He was also hurting because his older sister had run off and he had no idea where she was or what had driven her to take off. Part of the plot focused on Matt trying to discover her reasons, blaming a few fellow high schoolers for his sister’s disappearance. I liked how determined Matt was to find out what had happened to his sister and how much he cared about his mom, who worked so hard in an effort to keep their roof over their head and food on their table. I also liked the developing relationship between Matt and Tariq as Matt got closer, trying to figure out if Tariq was responsible for his sister’s disappearance.

I really appreciated that there wasn’t any romanticizing of Matt’s eating disorder. If the powers were real, I would have liked more background on them. Where did they originate? How did they work? Were there a lot of others out there like Matt? But then that would mean knowing for certain if the powers were real or if they were from Matt trying to justify not eating. I like the idea that it could be argued that either theory is valid based on how the reader saw the events. Matt’s powers reminded me a bit of the aliens in We Are All Ants, as I was also questioning if they were real or part of the character’s coping mechanism.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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