Review: You Must Not Miss

You Must Not Miss
By Katrina Leno
Published April 23, 2019 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

She did not want Ben to kiss her because if he did that, he might get the wrong impression: that she was the type of girl who should be kissed. And she wasn’t. She was the type of girl who should be run from.

After reading Summer of Salt last year, I became a big fan of Katrina Leno’s work. I’m making my way through her back catalog, and I grabbed at the chance to read an ARC of her latest book, You Must Not Miss. It’s a very different book than her previous work. Her You Must Not Missother books have a slightly cozy, magical feel, but You Must Not Miss is all sharp edges.

Magpie’s life has fallen apart. She caught her father in bed with her mother’s sister, her sister took off, and something terrible happened at a party the same night. Now her best friend hates her, everyone at school calls her a slut, and she’s stuck in a house with her alcoholic mother. Her life is a mess, and the only thing she can control is what she writes in her notebook. Her notebook is her constant companion. She writes about a place called Near, a world where her life is still good, where her father didn’t cheat, where her best friends still likes her. Near is a perfect world, and Magpie wills it into existence.

Then he saw the yellow notebook that she had hurriedly closed when he walked into the classroom. He touched its cover and Magpie felt the touch on the inside of her body. The notebook as as much a part of her as her blood, her soft tissues, her large intestines. It was as if he’d run his fingernails across her heart. It wasn’t a nice feeling.

You Must Not Miss is a gripping, creepy little book, and I’m still thinking about, weeks after I finished it. Magpie isn’t a nice character, but she is a compelling one. The force of her rage makes a whole other world. Her rage is a palpable thing, big enough to create something magical and also terrifying. Teenage girls are so often belittled, disregarded, and ignored. Consider what rage can do, and there you have Magpie. You Must Not Miss is a difficult read in some ways. There will be times that you cringe and rage and feel so much for Magpie. It’s dark and weird, and it’s the kind of book I wish had been around when I was a teen.

I received an ARC from another blogger.

 

 

 

 

 

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Review: Last Girl Lied To

Last Girl Lied To
By L. E. Flynn
Published April 16, 2019 by Imprint

Last Girl Lied To is the kind of messy teen drama that will appeal to fans of Pretty Little Liars. Fiona is grieving for her best friend Trixie, who committed suicide over the Last Girlsummer. Starting her senior year, Fiona is still in shock, and she starts to think that the story of Fiona’s suicide doesn’t add up. She seeks out Jasper, the guy Trixie was hooking up with, hoping he’ll have some answers. Fiona and Jasper make a connection, but Fiona also has feelings for the guy she’s been in love with since freshman year, Beau, who happens to be the boyfriend of her former best friend.

At first I thought this was going to fall into the messy misfits making out category (which I love), but the story went in a different direction. I’m a little torn on how to rate it. It was a gripping read, I didn’t want to put it down, and I was genuinely surprised by the resolution of the mystery. On the other hand, I found Fiona to be a bit of a limp noodle and I couldn’t bring myself to care about her. Also, she’s hung up on Beau, who is basically a hot mess (drunk at school is not a good look). They have a bond because he’s also grieving the suicide of his older brother (which is why he’s a hot mess).

So, this was basically a 3.5- star read for me since it was entertaining and fast-paced, but I didn’t connect with it on more than a surface level.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley.

Review: Serious Moonlight

Serious Moonlight
By Jenn Bennett
Published April 16, 2019 by Simon Pulse

This book was so delightful, and I really enjoyed it. It’s your basic Girl meets Boy, Girl has sex with Boy in his car, Girl freaks out and runs away story.

When Birdie starts her first job, the night shift at a hotel front desk, she’s horrified to find that she’s working with Daniel, the guy she had an awkward hookup with a few weeks Serious Moonlightearlier. They met in a diner and ended up having sex in his car. She freaked out afterward and ran away. Now that they’re working together, it’s very awkward, but Daniel, knowing Birdie’s love of mysteries, convinces her to help him solve a mystery: he thinks a famous, reclusive author may be visiting the hotel. As they grow closer during the investigation, Birdie has to figure out if she can actually manage a relationship.

This book is so cute, and I liked watching two people stumble into a relationship. Both Birdie and Daniel have baggage. Birdie’s mom died when she was 10, and after that, she was raised by the grandparents who kicked her mother out of the house when she got pregnant as a teen. The grandmother didn’t want Birdie to follow in her mother’s footsteps, so she was very overprotective and homeschooled her. The grandmother died a few months before the book starts. Birdie is still grieving, but she also has a lot of unresolved resentment toward her grandmother. She’s also ignoring a pretty big health issue.

Daniel also has some issues, having survived a rough patch in high school, and he’s got unresolved issues with the father he’s never met (who dumped his mother when she got pregnant). He wants to be a magician, but he’s also being pressured by his mother to go to school for something more practical.

This book has a lot of things I really enjoyed. It’s very sex-positive. There’s no shame attached to sex, as long as you’re being careful (which the characters are). It’s a really nice exploration of grief as Birdie realizes that she can grieve for her grandmother even while she still has some conflicted feelings toward her. I like that the books features young people who aren’t going to college. Daniel just isn’t interested in college, and Birdie technically hasn’t graduated high school since her grandmother passed away unexpectedly before giving her a diploma for her homeschooling. A lot of YA books focus on college-bound kids, and it’s refreshing to see other options explored. There’s some diversity–Daniel is half-Japanese. And as a mystery buff myself, I loved Birdie’s interest in mysteries. I really loved the character of Birdie’s “Aunt” Mona, a quirky artist who was Birdie’s mother best friend and who helped raise Birdie. She’s super wacky, but she’s also a great friend to Birdie and is always there for her. I firmly believe We all need a wacky aunt in our lives.

Serious Moonlight is a really fun read, and I definitely recommend it.

I received an ARC from Simon Pulse via Netgalley.

Review: White Rose

White Rose
By Kip Wilson
Published April 2, 2019 by HMH Versify

White Rose is an important and timely book. It tells the story of Sophie Scholl, a young German woman who was part of group called the White Rose that resisted the Nazi government during World War II. Sophie, her brother, and their friends were university White Rosestudents who wrote and distributed anonymous letters and pamphlets condemning the Nazi regime.

This is a really valuable book. As we get further away from World War II, it’s important to keep the memories of what happened alive. In a regime where most people just went along with the horrors, it’s inspiring to read about people who tried to make a difference. Sophie and her friends were just normal people who found a way to stand up to tyranny, at great personal cost.

The novel is written in verse, which I think was a good choice, as it lends a certain gravitas to the story. The poems are very straightforward and readable, and even readers who aren’t used to poetry shouldn’t be put off. There are many lines I could quote, but here’s a brief passage that’s representative.

After sitting
on the sidelines
like a caged tiger
for a week,
I can’t wait
to
face my fear
to
break out of my complancency
to
do whatever I can.

I found the book very moving, and I think the story will resonate with teen readers. I highly recommend it.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Amazon Vine.

 

Review: The Princess and the Fangirl

The Princess and the Fangirl
By Ashley Poston
Published April 2, 2019 by Quirk Books

The Princess and the Fangirl is a truly delightful retelling of The Prince and the Pauper set at a sci-fi fan convention.

Jessica Stone is an actress who just played the legendary character of Princess Amara in a reboot of the sci-fi franchise Starfield. The princess appeared to die at the end of the movie, and Jessica wants nothing more to do with the franchise because she wants to be taken seriously as an actress. Imogen Lovelace is a major Starfield fangirl, and she’s spearheading a campaign to save Amara from being killed off. The two meet at ExcelsiCon when Imogen is mistaken for Jessica and ends up inadvertently taking her Princess and Fangirlplace on a panel. Jessica is livid at first, but then she loses her script of the Starfield sequel and pages are linked online. Worried that this will hurt her career, Jessica enlists Imogen to pose as her so Jessica can go undercover at the con and figure out who stole the script.

This book was so much fun. It’s a really entertaining look at fandom culture and cons. Jessica and Imogen are both great characters. Jessica seems a bit unsympathetic at first, but her desire to leave Starfield behind makes a lot of sense when you see the harassment she has to put up with on a daily basis. Then there’s Imogen, whose love for Starfield is so pure, but she has to face up to some of the uglier sides of fandom.

There are two cute romances. Imogen has to work with Jessica’s assistant, who she finds very annoying, but also maddeningly attractive. And Jessica finds herself attracted to Imogen’s friend who think she’s Imogen (the con is the first time they’re meeting in person). The book has a lot of diversity: a f/f romance, one love interest is African-American and the other is Japanese-American, Imogen has two moms, and her brother is gay.

This is a companion novel to Geekarella, which I haven’t read. This book stands on its own, and you don’t need to have read the first book, but The Princess and the Fangirl has some spoilers for Geekarella.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Amazon Vine.

 

 

 

Review: Field Notes on Love

Field Notes on Love
By Jennifer E. Smith
Published March 5, 2019 by Delacorte Press

Sometimes you just want a book that you will make you feel happy, and Field Notes on Love was that book for me. It’s got a very original meet cute story and people falling in love against the backdrop of a cross-country train trip.

Hugo has a major problem. As a last hurrah before starting college, he and his girlfriend Field Notes on Lovewere going to take a train trip across the United States. For Hugo, who’s never been outside the UK, this is a big adventure. Then his girlfriend dumps him and he finds out that all the reservations for the trip are under her name and nontransferable and nonrefundable. So, Hugo turns to the internet to look for a traveling companion with the name Margaret Campbell.

Enter Mae (full name, Margaret Campbell). Her dream was to go to the University of Southern California for film school. She got into USC, but not the film school and she’s trying to reassess her work, not understanding why it didn’t measure up. She’s in a weird place, and when she sees Hugo’s post, she decides to go for it, and they take the cross-country trip together.

This book was really delightful. Hugo and Mae are great characters. They’re both at a crossroad in their lives. Hugo is a sextuplet. He’s never been on his own, and he’s supposed to be starting college with his five siblings in a few weeks. Suddenly, he’s not sure this is the path he wants and he’s feeling trapped. In an effort to move past the failure of her film school application, May decides to start a film while they’re traveling, and she and Hugo interview their fellow passengers about love. She’s got some barriers set us, but with the encouragement of her sassy grandmother, she opens herself up.

Field Notes on Love is a really cute, fun travel romance. It’s perfect for anyone who loves travel and trains (if you find trains romantic, this is definitely the book for you).

I received an ARC from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

 

Review: Bloodleaf

Bloodleaf
By Crystal Smith
Published March 12, 2019 by HMH Teen

After checking out the description, I wanted to read Bloodleaf because it seemed to have a lot of tropes I love: a princess in hiding, banned magic, and a forbidden romance. Then I realized that it’s a loose retelling of the Grimm’s fairytale The Goose Girl, and that sold me on it, because I love fairytale retellings. I really enjoyed this book. It’s got a great Bloodleafheroine, a swoony romance, spirits, and blood magic.

Princess Aurelia of Renalt is in a precarious position. Although her mother is serving as queen until her younger brother comes of age, the true power in the kingdom is held by the Tribunal, an anti-magic group that burns anyone suspected of being a witch. It’s a fear-based regime, and Aurelia is hiding her blood magic, but not very well, because she’s widely suspected of being a witch. After an assassination attempt, her mother sends her to the neighboring kingdom of Achleva, whose prince she is betrothed to. On the journey there, she is attacked again and barely escapes with her life. She manages to make her way into Achleva, where she assumes a new identity and tries to figure out the plot against her.

Now calling herself Emilie, Aurelia starts to build a new life. She forges an alliance with a mysterious nobleman named Zan, tries to figure out the plot against her, and makes a friend, something she hasn’t had in years. She also has the chance to explore her blood magic without the fear of being executed as a witch.

Bloodleaf was a great read. Aurelia is a great main character, and I like how much she grows as a person throughout the book. She embraces her power and learns how to survive on her own. Unlike a lot of fantasy I’ve read, the magical system makes sense and works within the political context of the world. There are lots of twists and turns to the plot, and being familiar with the original fairytale, I guessed one of the plot twists, there’s a big twist at the end that was a complete surprise. The romance was a fun one, because I tend to like romances where both parties are keeping big secrets. I highly recommend it.

I received an ARC from the published via Amazon Vine.