Friday, October 20, 2017

more reviews from Saleena 10/20/17

I really wanted to like this, it looked fun and sweet for a middle school reader; however the author really tried to do too much.  There is the angst of transitioning from child to teen; there's the sister away at college; there's the over-protective parents; there's the bullying older student; there's the best friend who has changed; there's the best friend who has a boyfriend; and finally there is the classic "I will turn this nerd into someone cool and fall in love with them" theme.  That is A LOT for one book and it gets very jumbled.  Sometimes I forgot that the characters were so young, because they acted and talked more like high school than middle school and the "absentee teacher" in an afterschool middle school....well, it is hard to believe given that every middle school I have seen seems to treat the students like bombs about to explode if they aren't watched and monitored every second of the day....it's the high school students who get that kind of leeway most often; and again, it was like the author kept switching from middle school to high school with problems, language, and situational handling of things.  Overall, I just don't think this is a great book, but tell me what you think.

It Looks Like This is a coming out story that includes conflicts with a very religious family and being sent to conversion camp.  The protagonist is young, early part of 9th grade and new to town.  As he finds himself attracted to a particular boy, he also finds friends who accept him before he can accept himself.  There is a lot to handle in this book, and yes, it's another "coming out" book; but it brings in a peek at a conversion camp and it's trauma which isn't seen as much.  I am not sure I buy the quick turnaround of the mother at the end, but it is technically feasible so I'm willing to give it a pass.  All in all a solid addition to LGBTQ literature.


Not having read the first book, Bluescreen, I nonetheless quickly caught up on the world building Wells had done.  This future dystopia has everyone with implanted devices and corporate greed run amok.  The main story involves a group of teens who play an online game and have managed to land a coveted spot in a tournament.  Marisa, the main protagonist, finds herself determined and in a position to take down one of the corporate giants that is threatening her family's livelihood through monopolies and buyouts in addition to a chance at winning her favorite game and making a name for herself.  There is a lot of excitement and suspense in this novel and I love that it is not only multi-cultural but international because the girls live across the globe but are best friends due to online connections.  This was a fun ride.



Evangelista has written a true romance that just happens to have two boys falling in love.  The real conflict isn't the "I'm attracted to a boy" thing, but the "do I lose my best friend if we become more" idea; and she does a great job.  No Holding Back is a quick romantic read that will be enjoyed by anyone who likes those.



Ryan Quinn is a sort of Alex Rider character but he has been training his entire life, moving around the world with his family and their cultural connections through their lives as ambassadors.  When his father goes missing and his mother is kidnapped, of course he manages to find a way to go rescue everyone....it's a given.  McGee makes a rousing and adventurous story that is a fast and exciting read.







Shuffle, Repeat is a standard romantic tale of two opposite who fall in love.  There is nothing bad about it, however, there is also nothing outstanding about it. 











Ashlee Vance really likes Elon Musk.  You can see the admiration on every page of this biography.  Maybe it's more obvious due to it being a "young readers' edition" but perhaps not.  Either way, it's a well written and topical biography with lots of photos and interesting stories.  As a librarian and a skeptic though, it's hard not to wonder what else might have been told if the author weren't so attached to her subject. 






American Street was a book I did not expect to like.  It has been highly touted by everyone and that usually indicates a book that is "literature" and I just like good stories.  However, Zoboi DOES give a good story.  She tells us about Fabiola who has ended up alone in Detroit with her mother's sister and her cousins after a lifetime spent in Haiti.  She was supposed to be emigrating with her mother, but ICE detained her mother and had to let her go due to being born an American citizen.  Fabiola is a smart girl and has a good heart, and figuring out how to handle things is part of the journey, so I don't want to spoil it....let's just say, things get exciting and crazy and you might cry a bit....but it will be worth it.  I love the interactions and the connections Zoboi makes and the characters she has built in this story really stick with you. 


I wanted to read this book before I watched the movie, and it was really good.  I have a feeling that the movie will not have quite as much information on the history and the connections between people; but I will enjoy it for having had the information prior to watching it.  Definitely a book to read for everyone and very well done indeed.











Clash of Empires finishes out the alternative history begun in Rampage at Waterloo.  Now the author can lose the historical accuracy and just dig into the story and it gets really good very quickly.  This is another surprisingly dense but quite enjoyable historical alternative fiction novel....it feels like historical fiction but reads like SF...really nicely done.



Mesrobian tells us a story of a girl who's been determined to be "easy" but isn't sure she agrees.  Rianne likes boys and sex, and isn't ashamed of enjoying a good time.  She does however hate the reputation and the awkwardness of being THAT girl in a small town.  This story is really just an exploration of the character of Rianne, and it is well done.  I'm not sure I agree with the ending, but the fact that I wanted to argue with Rianne's choices says a lot about how realistically written Mesrobian's character is.






Tess is forced to move in with her sister in Washington, D.C after it is discovered that her grandfather has Alzheimers.  Tess ends up at an exclusive school full of movers and shakers and finds out that her sister has a reputation as a "fixer" or the person you call when you need something fixed.  Tess doesn't realize it, but she is well on her way to being the junior version of the same thing....and all she really wants to protect her friend.  What she gets is caught up in a political mess that ends up revealing corruption and murder...with implications that go all the way into the White House.....and leave her knowing way too much.   Barnes does a great job of telling an intense story with a strong character that you really root for. 




Vengeance Road is a classic Western tale of revenge...so I expected to hate it...but I couldn't help admiring the gumption of Kate Thompson who is determined to do whatever it takes to bring vengeance to the gang who killed her father.  She is an amazing character and the writing is really well done.  There are parts that are a bit far fetched, but it's all in good fun, so enjoy.



Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, review by Nina Soukhanovskii

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.  A Quote to Consider: “With a shiver of foreboding he saw his marriage becoming what most of...