My Rad Life

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My Rad Life: A Journal

by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl

A companion to the New York Times bestseller Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, this cool guided journal draws from a number of the “rad” women featured in both books, while also including a diverse range of new women, all of whom come to life via inspirational quotes and paper cut portraits.Blank pages invite doodling, lined pages encourage writing, and a collection of thought-provoking prompts encourage users to get to know themselves better by recording their thoughts and ideas on paper.

Originally I had gotten this journal as an ebook a while back, but due to it being something that you need to take part in and write in, I felt like I couldn’t review it until I saw a real copy of it. It just happened that I was able to snag a real copy. And I’m so happy I did because I don’t think an ebook copy would do this justice.

It’s a brightly colored book filled with quotes and images of women from this time and the past. It gives you suggestions on how to fill the journal but also gives you plenty of free space to do whatever you want. I think it’s something that women of all ages could love this book. It celebrates women and being women and is something we need to do more often.

I already have plans for my copy. I’m planning on doing pictures for each woman based on the things they are known for and fought for, that way it’s easy to know more about them than just a quote because we don’t always need words. I also plan on doing some of the prompts offered.

I’m really excited about this book and it can give you inspiration every day when you need it in your life and drive you to be a better person and a better you. I highly recommend it if you want something fun and journal like while learning about different women from history and who are fighting still today.

Rating: 4 stars

#NotYourPrincess

#Notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women

by Lisa Charleyboy & Mary Beth Leatherdale

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.

To me this, this collection of poetry and prose is important. It gives voices to Indigenous women, tells their stories and empowers their sisters to embrace themselves and who they are. To me, this collection that contains experiences I haven’t felt myself and experiences I deal with as well into words. The poems and stories that did this was stories talking about how they weren’t raised with their heritage and have to learn it on their own or families that whitewashed themselves to hide who they are, much like my own family has. These pieces hit hard while reading them, leaving me wanting to tell my own story instead of biting it back in fear of ‘not fitting’ the expected mold.

To me, I found these pieces well done. However, about half way through this collection, the formatting sort of gave out on me. Sentences ran into other sentences, not ending but cut off suddenly. Some poems make use of different colored fonts while others have the same idea, but the formatting  made it repeat the sentence above when it wasn’t meant to. As it was, the white colored fonts can’t be seen well on kindles, leaving your eyes hurting trying to read it. A more common issue with ebooks on kindles is art work getting cut to pieces so it’s not a full images but small pieces. This was an issue through this arc as well. I felt like the formatting issues did effect my impression simply because half of the pieces I couldn’t understand because I had to try and repiece the pieces together again, leaving me a little frustrated. Hopefully, this can be fixed before this goes out into ebook formats.

Do I recommend this? Yes. Wait to get it in physical form or for the publishers say that formatting has been fixed for ebooks if you get it. I find it a really important read and one that touched my soul and my own experience of trying to find my way of my heritage and understand what that means for the woman I am, as a Metis, who’s family that has been rewritting who they are to hide this side. I feel like this book is important to both Indigenous women and women who want to better understand the struggle.

Rating: 4 stars

A not so Dreadful Tale

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The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding

by Alexandra Bracken

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type. 

 

Remember how I said Middle Grade books win this year? Well, this book just proves this fact in Alexandra Bracken’s newest book that comes out this fall. It also happens to be my new favourite book by her, and I’ve read at least the first book of each of her series that are currently out. And here’s why: We follow the story of Prosper Redding, a bit of a sad kid who’s bullied at school and who has become distant to his once close twin sister. He doesn’t fit in with the rest of his family either. More so when he finds out his ancestor made a deal with a demon, who just happens to residing in Prosper currently. I don’t want to give much more away about it though. You’ll have to trust me that Prosper’s tale manages to become even more magical from there. Just take the warning in the first few pages of this book to heart, don’t trust a Redding. Or really anyone for that matter.

The writing in this book is just so much fun. To me, it was one of Bracken’s better crafted stories and it doesn’t get too boring, only a few moments that slowed down and left me crazy because I needed to know where the plot went past the filler section. As someone who loves witches and grew up on Harry Potter magic, this book had just the right amount of magic in it while bringing us a whole new ideas while feeling familiar. It also has the right amount of spookiness without being completely scary. I admit, I was creeped out a few times, so maybe not read this with younger readers just yet, but let them once they’re in middle school, in my personal opinion just to keep it on the safe side. As for the writing quality, it was good. Unlike in some of the past books I read from Bracken, there wasn’t as much unneeded moments in this book. There was a few that I wouldn’t mind not seeing, but most of them come with at least a small purpose behind it, which we do find out later. I think she finally found the right balance in my opinion.

Do I recommend this book? Yes. Highly. I’d seriously run to my store and preorder it now. If that isn’t an option yet, then wait for it to be, mark on all your calendars and whatever else until you can. It’s the perfect book for most ages and is perfect for fans of Hocus Pocus. It might be the only thing that ever comes as good and so purely Halloween as this movie.

Rating: 5 stars

The Upside of Adorable

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The Upside of Unrequited

by Becky Albertalli

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

 

I admit, I got accepted for this eARC ages ago. But with other hot releases I was also approved for this, this book got put on the back burner. And part of why was because I was sort of scared to read it. I had heard both good and bad about Becky’s first book. The comment about gay girls having it easier was a turn off. But Becky, the champ she is, came out and apologized for that comment and explained it wasn’t how she personally felt. For me, I was willing to give Becky’s books a chance and I kept seeing this one getting praises. So I jumped in with Unrequited. And I’m SO happy I finally did. Because I’m not kidding when I say this book is one of the sweetest stories I’ve read this year. I’m not a big romance person, but this book hit all the right notes for me.

The story follows Molly Peskin-Suso through her experiences of trying to find love and her twin sister’s determination for Molly to finally get her first kiss. Molly is chubby and full of anxiety. Basically, I related to her instantly because I’m pretty sure more than once when I was her age I had the same thoughts. Heck, I probably still do. Molly fears she’s not what boys look for, that no one would find someone big attractive. She meets Reid and slowly develops a crush on him while her sister is trying to set her up with Will, a friend of her sister’s girlfriend. Oh, did I mention most of the characters in this book are gay? Because let me tell you, as someone desperate for more gay characters in books, I loved this, even if Molly herself may not be.

This book was just magic to me. It was sweet and soft and it was just what I needed to remind that some romances are amazing. I loved reading a character like Molly who reminds me of myself a lot. She’s a sweet character who just wants love, which was me when I was younger. She’s nervous of what people will think of her and her anxiety doesn’t help. The anxiety in this book was done so well. I always fear that it’ll be made romantic like mental illness sadly has been in a lot of YA book, but this wasn’t the case. Unless you yourself don’t have anxiety, you might not know that Molly’s thoughts are caused by it. But as someone who suffers from it pretty badly, I saw it clear as day. I’m so happy it wasn’t the main focus of the book, but was done realistically.

Another aspect I loved was the relationship between Molly and Cassie as twins. I love sisters. And to me, having grown up with a sister the same age as me, I can say that the sense of a distance growing happens. This book expressed this experience well and beautifully. Sadly, sisters grow apart. They fight. But it doesn’t change that they’re sisters. They want each other to be happy and I found how Cassie was determined to set Molly up with someone as something familiar.

The writing was really good and though the story itself was simple, I loved it. For once I didn’t mind a love triangle that was sort of there. It didn’t feel like others. It was teenagers trying to find themselves and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s too heavy handed, but this wasn’t like that. I loved the sweet moments with Molly and Reid and how soft they were. Sometimes I need relationships with soft characters that are sweet and nerdy and just lovely. I loved the wedding of Molly’s moms and just the diversity of this book. It was done well. It felt like you could easily meet this family out in the world. To me, this book was just everything I needed for this moment. It was hard to put down and made me happy, left me sad, left me aching for the characters.

I highly recommend it. It might not be for everyone. I know some people didn’t like it or understand it. But it’s okay to admit this book wasn’t targeted for you as an audience. But if you want a story with really great characters that are gay, that come from a mixed raced family, a character with anxiety and characters that want love.

Rating: 4 stars 

Noteworthy

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Noteworthy

by Riley Redgate

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.
In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

This book was the perfect read to go from Asian Heritage month to Pride month. The main character is first generation American and find out within this journey of this book that she’s bisexual.

I was in chorus for a good chunk of my early life. Like Jordan, I had a deep voice for a woman. I often sang tenor or alto 2. Like Jordan, it wasn’t a fan of my high school music teacher that kept trying to make me sing higher until my rang was somewhere in the middle but not as great. As you can imagine, that didn’t sit overly well with me when I had worked hard for my range. My love music sort of dried up by that time. So almost right away I related with Jordan’s situation. I admit this book did catch my interest a little, but due to my lack of interest in music drying up, it was only when I heard great reviews from others that I finally put in for this ARC and was approved rather quickly, to my joy.

I found the book really interesting. I think it did a good job with keeping the audience on their toes so that the first half of the book didn’t get boring despite the lack of action to the main plot. However, I did find most of the last part of the book predictable. I knew what relationship Jordan would end up with, how her identity would end up being revealed the way it was. If anything, I don’t believe in a real situation it would have taken so long. I’m really surprised that the teachers didn’t look into the kids trying out for the Sharps before they were let into the group to make sure they’re students at the school. For me, it was the smaller things within the story that was more unpredictable than the main plot lines. I found the rivalry between them and the Minuets was very unpredictable and could have been ugly if Jordan hinted about what she knew about their leader. I would have loved if she used the fact she was a girl that was beat up to throw said leader, but that was just my own opinion. It could have gotten ugly with her threatening to reveal that she knew that the leader was gay, but I think that the book did good by not doing this, which is harmful for any gay person, much more than being beat up. I know a lot of authors would have, I’m just happy that this author learned from her first book how to better write gay characters in a less harmful way. I would have loved for some sort of plot twist though that wasn’t so obvious to see coming.

The writing itself was pretty amazing. I found it really well done and almost lyrical in it’s own right. I didn’t find much to really critique because I was too busy highlighting some of the more beautiful phrases, the end of the book even more so than the rest. I loved the diverse cast of characters, how music could be found in the writing, and the friendship between the characters. The friendship in this book was probably my favourite part. I think it would have been even better without a relationship happening and just kept a good friendship mostly because it would have made this book stand out more than others. I’m still craving a book that chooses friendships over relationships, but alas this only gave me a little of it but added a relationship that I’m only so-so about. I’m also a bit so-so with her figuring out her sexuality but it not really mean anything. She could have not and nothing would have really changed the story. If anything, she could have bonded with the other gay character, but she doesn’t do that. It’s not a coming out story, or really anything with her being bi other than a small mention of it. I think it could have been used to help patch her relationship with her friend because she never lied about not being gay when she’s bi. Instead, she sort of just buries it too. To me, it just doesn’t make sense other than trying to put diversity into a story but not think anymore about it. It might be the only thing in the writing I don’t like, just because it feels sort of half done.

Do I recommend it? I do. I think that if you like music or don’t, there’s things about it that are good and great, some things that are a bit off, but it could have easily been fixed for the final version. This is just a reminder that this is an ARC. If they did fix it and you’ve read it, let me know and I’ll add a note about that. But all in all, I did enjoy this read. It was a really fun contemporary read.

Rating: 4 stars

Ahisma

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Ahimsa

by Supriya Kelkar

Lee & Low’s Tu Books has bought world rights for Supriya Kelkar’s Ahimsa, a middle grade historical novel about a privileged 10-year-old girl in 1942 India whose mother joins Gandhi’s freedom movement, and who takes up her mother’s work for freedom when her mother is jailed.

2017 is the year for Middle Grade books. This book is about Anjali, a ten year old growing up and seeing the world around her for what it truly is when her mother joins Gandhi’s freedom fighters. Her mother helps Anjali see the world more clearly while the two of them learn to see past their privilege and come into the world that they’ve been blind to due to it.

This book is important today because we’re yet again facing the idea one group of people see’s their lives as more important than others, in this case the British over the Indians, and the higher castes over the lower caste of Dalits (I won’t use the slur for them here, just google if you don’t know who they are). If this sounds familiar, we’re currently living through this idea still with the fact we still need to protest for the rights of people of color. Because sadly, when we don’t know our history, it simply repeats itself again and again. In this case, freedom fighters aren’t truly fighters, but protesters that use nonviolence in hopes to free India of the British control and bring rights to all castes, much like today with Black Lives Matter protests. It’s also important due to the fact this book also deals with the Muslims in India at the time that later created the country Pakistan. We see the tensions of them and the Hindi’s heating up, the two sides rioting and fighting and watch as Anjali has to come to terms with it herself when her and her best friend are on the two sides of the religious divide. Again, this is similar to today in much of the world where Muslim’s see backlash for their religion.

The writing in this book was really well done. It went at a good pace and not once felt boring or too slow. I found myself completely hooked on this book and stayed up into the early hours reading this because it was simply addicting and too hard to put down. I found that it read simply as a book, not just for middle grade readers, but for all, but made it very clear for those middle grade readers and without too much violence and other frightening things while staying true to the history.

I highly recommend this book for everyone. I know that I personally didn’t learn much about Indian history in school and what I do know I had learned myself from reading and documentaries I had seen. This book does a good job in sharing with us an important time in India’s history and makes it easier for all readers to understand while keeping all readers also hooked on the plot and story. However, I do warn that there is violence in this book. Sadly, history like this tends to be and to tell this story without it wouldn’t tell the full story despite the fact it also teaches us about “Ahimsa”. Violence isn’t always the answer, even if that’s the easiest option.

Rating: 5 stars

Wants of the Future

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Want

by Cindy Pon

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

Want takes place in a near future where only the poor can’t afford clean air. Zhou and his friends decide to change this by targeting the maker of suits that gives the rich fresh air to make them wake up to the issues with pollution and enviroment that the rich stopped caring about ages ago. This means getting into the rich crowd in order to find a way in.

This book is probably one of my favourites of this year so far. It’s really well written and is the first dystopian/near future book I’ve been able to read after spending a whole semester reading them for a a class. I wasn’t even sure if I was able to going to be able to simply because these books can be so exhausting. But this book hooked me in the first chapter. Because it’s different from most of these books I’ve read and it’s more than those typical books. This book is also a heist book. It’s a small change that can have the biggest impact, not about leading rebellions. Zhou is honestly the hero that I personally needed to get me back reading these books after reading so many Katniss’s, just repackaged.

I found it all in all exciting. I wasn’t bored during the times Zhou was ‘Jason’. When one thing fell, another thing picked up and you’re too distracted to realize part of the plot was done and had moved to the next. The last 10% of this book I couldn’t put down that I went to bed reading it and woke up and continued to read because I needed to know what happened after falling asleep reading it.

Not only does this book speak of environmental issues, which isn’t an issue that is heavily relied on for these books, but it deals also with the growing divide of the rich and poor populations, to how big the divide becomes, and the treatment of these people in epidemics.

There’s few things I disliked about this book. But one was honestly this: Victor. I wasn’t a fan. I know that he might look like a heart throb to many girls, but to me, he reminded me of someone who couldn’t grasp the idea of someone was gay and pinned after them, making both that girl and her girlfriend feel awkward. I had a few guys that did that to me in high school and who became hostile toward me because of it. So he simply left a bitter taste in my mouth.

I found the writing really well done other than a few editing errors such as us learning Daiyu’s name before she even gave it to Zhou and before he knew it. But I’m sure that it was cleared up in future edits. Other than that, the writing was flawless in my opinion. It was vibrant in being able to get you to see everything clearly due to description, which is huge in a book where most the tech is new or different than other futuristic stories. I honestly could see everything almost as if I was living it while reading, which made me super excited. I love details in books.

Now as for plot, there were only two things that were sort of left hanging to me. So skip this part if you don’t want spoilers: What happened to Daiyu’s friend and his family after they got sick? It might have been hinted that he died and it was covered up, but Daiyu had said that he was still getting treatment. So it’s not completely clear as to what happened. Next: Zhou’s mother’s family. They were brought up and recognized by Zhou for a reason, making it seem like they would become bigger parts of the story but they don’t come back up again. Luckily, Cindy has just recently announced that she’s currently travelling for research for the sequel to this. I’m hoping that this will give us more answers on these subjects.

I highly recommend this book. It’s fresh and exciting in a world that feels like all ideas have been hashed out already. The characters are well written and has honestly left me missing them. I even slowed down my progress of reading this book so I could continue to have them for a day longer. But my curiosity won out in the end.

Rating: 4.5 stars or 5 stars on goodreads