Books, YA (Young Adult)

Wilder Girls by Rory Power Review

Mark it on Goodreads!

Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Page #: 353
Genre: Young Adult, Apocalyptic, Survival, LGBTQIA+
Age Recommendation: 13+

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

This book, hands down, has one of the best covers out there.  I think this book will wind up in a lot of  hands simply for its visual presence.

Unfortunately for this book I think it’s sale figures are  going to be out of whack as I got a copy for Barnes and Noble before the release date.  I later found out that it will be released officially on July 9th 2019.  I wouldn’t have grabbed it early as I want the publisher to get accurate data regarding the success of this book  and also so that the hype around the book is properly placed.  I waited to review it until close to it’s release date so as not to put this out into the world before it has a fair shake.

I wanted desperately to love this. I heard it pitched as an all girls version of Lord of the Flies and  while I can see that comparison I don’t think that is quite accurate.  The themes of the two books are in no way comparable.  The best I can say is that they both follow a group of children on islands.  Wilder Girls is focused much more on the characters relationships, it didn’t really dive very deep in a philosophical sense, whereas Lord of the Flies was a criticism of modern society, specifically questioning if manners are inherently human or if we are all just animals somewhere deep down.  I see the comparison, I just don’t totally agree with it.

I ended up rating this three stars out of five.  It was an okay book.  I wanted it to be a fabulous book, but it was okay.  This was the sort of book where the entire time I was reading it, I picked up on bits and pieces of stuff that I loved, but it didn’t feel right.  There were aspects of it that felt rushed and therefore unsatisfying and that kept pulling me out of the story.  I am definitely going to read anything that Rory Power puts out in the future as there was enough in here that I liked and I think the more she writes the better she will become.

This book shines most in its action and its mood.  It has such a lovely sense of dread and anxiety about it.  You feel like you are  with the kids and are fighting for survival while their own bodies betray them.  In scenes where the characters are forced to fight I felt like I couldn’t put the book down.  Power’s descriptions of The Tox and what it did to the physicality of the girls and the island at large was delightfully grotesque, yet beautiful at the same time.

Unfortunately, it seemed like the character relationships were a bit … rushed or underdeveloped.  Which is unfortunate when it comes  to a book that focuses so much on the dynamics between characters.  I enjoyed the banter between the girls but I also felt like I didn’t get to know any of them very much.  Hetty is obsessed with Byatt … Byatt is a bad girl who likes to push her boundaries … and Reese is an orphan?  They don’t seem to have much more than those traits and when they do or say things to suggest interest or even import in other things it felt disingenuous rather than opening up the characters.

Another strong aspect of this book was the girl on girl romance.  Nothing risque, honestly the treatment of the LGBTQIA+ aspects of this book was tasteful and normalizing.  It allowed for confusion and interest and there was no stigma presented on page AT ALL, which honestly was the best part.  It is one thing to put a queer romance to the page, it is another to make it seem just  as mundane and cute as any other … almost as if … it is just romance!

I think this would be a good read for the younger folks who read YA, although I will throw out the caveat that it does have a fair bit of violence in it so make sure your kid is okay with that. The reason I am saying that it would benefit younger readers more than older is that The Tox is a thinly veiled metaphor for puberty.  It would be a great way to engage with a younger reader who feels like … wait for it … their body is not their own (i.e. your arms are too long and your hips are too wide and you feel a bit weird and off sometimes).  It is a great way to open up discussion, especially with a fantastic and extreme counter point (at least you don’t have a second spine growing out of your back!)

This isn’t going to be a book for every kid.  I think that it could be great for some, but overall it is just okay.

Would I tell you not to buy it?  Of course not.  I am going to keep it as there will be times when it would be the right book to recommend to someone, I am just unsure that it will be a go to book to hand out at every chance I get.  I’m also not positive it will hold the test of time and remain a staple both in the cannon and  in young adult literature at large.

I did read this book with my book club and we will be posting a podcast episode with a full discussion.  If you don’t mind some plot spoilers and zany antics, then look for the episode on Bibliomancy for Beginners.

It has been a hot minute since I have posted on here.  This is partially because I have been struggling in my real world life.  I miss talking about books with you all and I hope to jump back on the band wagon.  My goal is to post once a week. I don’t know yet if I want to set a specific day, but once a week is going to be the goal.

Talk to you again soon!

7-12, Books, Children, YA (Young Adult)

Books for the Budding Environmentalist

I have spent the last month or so trying to decide how best to structure the blog going forward.  I have always known that I wanted to post Mon/Wed/Fri but I wasn’t sure what to do to help stream line my content.

I work best in some sort of structure and I think that what I will be doing moving forward is making each day have a theme.  Friday’s theme will focus on Young Readers.  This is a wide theme, it could include Middle grade book reviews, lists of content that best suits the young reader genre, or anything that for children who have learned to read on their own and are expected to do so for school.

Starting it off this month I wanted to talk a bit about some middlegrade books that I recommend for parents who want their kids to be ecologically conscious.

Some folks may have heard of this one, but I was surprised to find that Carl Hiaasen is not as well known.  I read this one when I was a child (and if you need some quality early 2000s film then the movie adaptation is pretty great as well) but all of Hiaasen’s books have some element of animal activism.  This one involves a group of kids who are attempting to save endangered owls from losing their habitat when a popular breakfast joint wants to expand and build a parking lot.  It discusses why it is important to protect animal rights and the “evils” of big business … a.k.a. greed.  I really enjoyed the book and there are a number that he has written so if this particular plot doesn’t work then just looking at his back catalog is definitely worth while.

If you have a more mature tween or a teen who is interested in environmental post apocalypse situations then this one is definitely worth a look.  There is a bit of high tension between humans and some violence so I would definitely reserve it for the older kids but it is still a great look at the issues that fossil fuels have on our water.  The story follows one girl in a world where all of the water has become poisoned and humans are fighting to survive as their crops are destroyed and the drinkable water is difficult to find and controlled by a few very powerful individuals.  The protagonist was lucky enough to have a safe place to hole up but there are strangers moving toward her and she fears what that might mean.

This is another older book so it may difficult to find in main stream stores but it was one that I really enjoyed.  The protagonist of this story volunteers his time at a veterinarian’s who takes in birds of prey injured by the wildfires that have been threatening the local forests.  It involves discussions on the forestry industry, community service with animals, and the tension between business and nature in a rural Montana community.  If you can get your hands on a used copy then it is definitely a worthwhile book for animal lovers, prospective vets, or folks who want to learn more about the dangers of forest fires to natural habitats.

If your kid is interested in renewable resources and the depletion of fossil fuels then this dystopia might be one that they enjoy.  It takes place just ten years in the future when all oil and gas has been used up.  It follows how the world copes with the sudden loss of energy in a not so great way.   It is another one that has more interpersonal violence and would be better for more mature young readers and teens but is worth a read for anyone looking for a more realistic dystopia, no offense to The Hunger Games.  There is also an element of climate change and extreme weather caused by the over use of fossil fuels so it would also be good to look at if you wanted to discuss more sustainable practices in the home environment.

This last one is definitely the oldest book on this list (being younger than I am but not by much) but it is one for any kids who prefer mysteries to science fiction.  This particular Joe Bass Adventure revolves around an old boat maker whose daughter was found drowned after raising awareness of the dangers of DDT being sprayed on the crops in her area.  This would be a good choice to discuss the use of chemicals and pesticides which has greatly fallen to the way side.  If you want to discuss why organic food is healthier or why it is important to always wash your fruits and vegetables the environmental aspect of this.  It is also good to discuss the danger that comes with being the face of a movement.

This was definitely an interesting collection to pull together.  If you guys have any other good suggestions for books that discuss issues with the environment for young readers I would love to hear your suggestions.  There were a fair number of young adult books but finding some that were appropriate for younger readers was a bit difficult.  I don’t think I was as interested into them when I was that age, I was definitely more of a fantasy reader though so that isn’t super surprising.

If you have any suggestions for collections I should pull together in the future or books I should check out then also feel free to pass it along.

5-7, 7-12, Books, Children, YA (Young Adult)

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

This one goes out to all those parents, teachers, librarians, and kids who loved Wonder by R. J. Palacio and want something similar.  I gobbled it up and loved every second of it.

Title: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
Author: Dusti Bowling
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
Page #: 272
Genre: Middlegrade, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

I made a video review of this one right after finishing it, watching it back several months later I realized that it took me a while to catch my footing while talking about it but if you can stick with my scattered thoughts for about a minute I get there and you can hear why I think this book is going to become an instant classic.

 

I liked it more than I liked Wonder which is blasphemy in some ways and warranted in others.  Definitely one to read to help introduce empathy and acceptance of diversity in kids, also a great way to discuss deformity, disability, and mental health at a young age.  One to pick up next week when it is published.

I look forward to Dusti Bowling’s future books because I’m sure she has a bright career ahead of her if this is any indication.  Well done.

7-12, Books, Children, YA (Young Adult)

The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz Review

Making our way through the backlist reviews, slowly but surely.  I promise that I will be posting the reviews for books I have read recently as well.  I just wanted to make sure this content was here for you all to find.

Title: The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or The Three Magical Children and Their Holy  Dog
Author: Adam Gidwitz
Illuminator: Hatem Aly
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Page #: 384
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction

Books, YA (Young Adult)

Almost Adulting by Arden Rose Review

Here is a post for all of those parents of teens.  I admit that my focus on here and in life is very focused at the younger (tween) market than it as teens but I am going to try and at the very least throw something out there for you.

Title: Almost Adulting
Author: Arden Rose
Publisher: HarperCollins
Page#: 208
Genre: Self-Help, Tell All, Humor

 

Hope you enjoyed our take on this one.

As always, if you have any questions, recommendations, comments, etc. you can find me all over the interwebs or right down below in the comment section.

7-12, Books, Children, YA (Young Adult)

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud Review

Another of the backlist reviews, this time a book that I read out loud to my best friend.  We both happen to be adults, and we both happened to really enjoy this book.  We had many a giggle and fell a little bit in love with the banter found within.

Series Title: Lockwood & Co.
Book Title and #: The Screaming Staircase #1
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Page #: 381
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Middle-Grade, Ghost Story

Adult, Books, Comics, Musings, YA (Young Adult)

Summer Reading Wrap Up

So it has been a while since I have wrapped up the books I have read.  Not only has it been difficult for Gretchen and I to get together all summer for various reasons (time conflicts, mental health, internet being actual butts) so you weren’t getting weekly wrap ups in any way but I have been completely nonexistent on the blog.  Which we all know I am attempting to change here and now… hopefully forever, but no promises.

In any case I am going to try and talk a bit about all of the books I have read in June, July, and August.

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This was the first book for book club this season so there is a full discussion on it here!  I loved this.  I still feel that way.  It did seem to check all of the boxes of things that Michaela would like though.  So if you feel very strongly that we are akin then definitely check this out.

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This was an ARC review I did back in June.  It wasn’t my favorite book I’ve read this year but I definitely did enjoy it.  I had heard of Lisa Jewell as an author and this was my first of hers.  I think that I will look into some of her other work.  She is a bit more commercial than I usually go for but not bad by any means.

The second book club book was Gretchen’s pick and I was super not a fan.  That could have been due to the fact that I was super ill at the time of reading it but I kind of hated it.

Next we kicked off the second season of Nostalgia Junkie.  Unfortunately the unanimous decision on this was that we weren’t super huge fans.  It may be that we just aren’t the target audience but we all had issues with it.

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Taylor’s pick for the first round of book club was a debut and we all really liked it.  It was surprising because it takes a really good book to win all three of us over.  This one did it so you should definitely check that out!

Gretchen and I read Nimona together and we did a video review of it for you guys.  It was super cute and sweet and we completely understood why so many people loved it.  I have followed Noelle Stevenson for a while and new she is a cookie to pay attention to in comics.  Watch her.  She will do great things.


I started the second round of summer book club picks with Middlesex.  Taylor was the one who liked this book the most, Gretchen and I had a bit of an issue with the way it was laid out. You should watch the whole discussion to find out more.

I have to say that I do so love Patton Oswalt.  I haven’t spoken about this anywhere else.  It was a pick for my pop sugar challenge and I listened to it on audio, read by the man himself.  It is always great to listen to autobiographical works when written by the author and especially so when he is as awkward and nerdy as you.

Now we find ourselves in the books I read for booktubeathon.  This was my pick for the book I would only read at night.  I both read the physical edition and listened to parts on audio.  I actually wound up enjoying it more than I thought I would.  It also fulfilled the requirement of a book that is more than 100 years older than me for the Pop Sugar challenge.

This was listened to entirely on audio.  I was conflicted with this.  I was expecting a bit of a funnier story from Steve Martin.  That isn’t to say I wasn’t a fan of his writing style, it just caught me off guard.  It was about a community that I haven’t spent much time learning about so I did enjoy that aspect of it.

This one will be featured in an upcoming post so look out for that.  It was a book with yellow on the cover and a book I learned about from booktube.  I ended up really enjoying this one though it took me a while to decide that.  It was definitely one the the end justified the rest of the book for me.  I like what it was saying politically.

This was both Taylor and my own book to movie adaptation and we both came out of it feeling like … welp that was a mess.  I think it was meant to be a mess.  It was really entertaining but all over the place.  We both enjoyed it but were mildly disoriented by the experience.  Which I think is apt.


I reviewed this one on the blog yesterday actually!  So here we have an interesting new comic coming from Image.  We all know how much I love Image.  If you like robots and stories that ask what it means to be human then definitely give this one a go.

Gretchen and I did a discussion of this one but the audio ended up being a bit borked.  Over all I enjoyed the experience.  It read a bit like fanfiction but it was nice to dip back into a world that I loved as a child.  I am curious to see if watching it as a play would be better than reading it if I ever get a chance to do so.

David Wong is a comic god.  Well, he is.  This one isn’t my favorite of his works but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good book and he isn’t a good writer.  I loved hearing from a female protagonist it did change the way the story progressed for me.  If you like science fiction and laughing, give this one a go.

There will be a future review of this one on the blog as well.  Gretchen and I have already filmed it, it just needs to make its way out into the world.  We enjoyed listening to the audio book but we didn’t feel like it ended up doing for us what it was trying to. It was a delight to listen to though so there is that.

This book is most likely going to be in my top 10 books of the year.  It honestly blew me away.  It will also be featured in an upcoming review.  I went into this book skeptical and came out just amazed.  She was able to do so much and so well.  I loved it.  A must read in my opinion.

This was a comic that I picked up based on Taylor’s recommendation.  He had really enjoyed it or had heard good things about it, I am not certain which at this point but I picked it up.  It wasn’t my favorite comic but it did go somewhere entirely unexpected and I give it props for that.

And now we reach the last book I read in August which happens to be Gretchen’s pick for the second round of book club.  This showed up on the blog earlier this week so you can find our discussion of it there.  I enjoyed it, even if much of that video is us picking apart the book.  Sometimes you just have to say, it was a fun experience.

Apparently I have read 19 books in the last three months… which honestly amazes me since I have been struggling to read.  A lot of them were audio books and a good chunk were thanks to the booktubeathon but hey they were things that I read.  I have been reading more in the last couple weeks so the hope is that I am feeling safer in myself again and will be able to read a whole bunch more and talk about it with you guys.  That is the hope anyway.

As far as my reading challenges go:

Goodreads: 66/50 surpassed!
Pop Sugar: 27/40 (13 left I think I can do it!)

How are you guys doing after the summer?  Are you excited for fall.  It is my favorite season and I am in the mood for all of the Horror books!  I need a bunch of cider and pumpkin bread and some crisp fall air and I will be a happy girl.

Talk to you guys tomorrow!

Bibliomancy For Beginners, Books, Musings, YA (Young Adult)

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor Review (Bibliomancy for Beginners)

That’s right folks we are almost done with this season of Bibliomancy for Beginners only one more book! *shock and awe*

I know you guys are all sad about it but don’t worry we have super secret plans in the works.  Secret plans you won’t hear about until the end of the next episode so be sure to stay tuned in!

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Title: Days of Blood and Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Browne Books for Young Readers
Page #: 517
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

 

Almost done.  I believe.  Let’s go.

Bibliomancy For Beginners, Books, YA (Young Adult)

A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry (Bibliomancy for Beginners)

Alright we are caught up.  This post was supposed to come out today.  It came out today, *breathes a huge sigh of relief*  From now on we are moving forward and we are going to stay on track or so help me, I’ll have to apologize AGAIN.

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Title: A Fierce and Subtle Poison
Author: Samantha Mabry
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Page #: 288
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism

Alright, there we are.  We did it.  We got caught up.  There were a million posts, but its there now, we managed it.  I will see you guys tomorrow for a new post!

Bibliomancy For Beginners, Books, YA (Young Adult)

Nostalgia Junkie: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (Bibliomancy for Beginners)

Speaking of late content, we did this live stream last Sunday which was very nearly a week lately.  Not quite, but almost.  Casey joined us for this discussion which is always a good time!

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Title: The Golden Compass
Author: Philip Pullman
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page #: 399
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

I hope this episode was entertaining for you all, a bit contented I think.  Will hopefully be posting the rest as they come.