September 23, 2016

Why Intersectionality in Books is Important to Me: a Guest Post by Guinevere Tomas

I’ve struggled a lot with how to approach this post.


As the conversation for inclusivity in books, but not just books, but mirrors in media or all forms of entertainment, shifts and will continue to, I don’t think I need to tell people we need more inclusion in books.

But I think when it comes to inclusion we stop at one identity. Most people are an intersectional group of identities and are not able to survive as one without the others. When KimberlĂ© Williams Crenshaw, the scholar who created the term in 1989 coined it, I don’t think she could’ve been prepared for just how important it would be now, and how we approach conversations about being marginalized today.

It’d been difficult to express how different feminism treated women versus being a person of color, as if they were two separate issues. This is something I’m understanding more now, that it is difficult to say my struggle with identity has been separate, when I have no choice but to walk through life with each one.

September 19, 2016

Susan Koefod: "Naming the Stars"

Title: Naming the Stars [on Amazon | on Goodreads] 
Series: None 
Author: Susan Koefod [Site | Goodreads] 
Genres: Contemporary with a Twist 
Year: 2016 
Age: 12+ 
Stars: 2.5/5 
Pros: Interesting premise. Doesn't rely on stereotypes. Tries to convey a message about self-image and self-esteem. 
Cons: Execution is a bit confusing and not always consistent. Characters are not explored to the fullest.
Will appeal to: Those who like coming-of-age stories with an underlying mystery and without romantic undertones.

Blurb: 16-year-old Mary-Louise (note: it erroneously says "19-year-old" on Amazon) comes home from swimming lessons one day to find she is absent from family photographs, her bedroom has turned into a linen closet, and all of her possessions have disappeared. More troubling, her family goes on as if she never existed. The only person in town who can actually see her is a boy she calls Fish, a YMCA swimming instructor, but Fish is hiding from a troubled past and the person he sees is entirely different from who she thought she was. The teens discover the photo of a spirited, beautiful young woman photographed many years before - Pearl - who exactly resembles the girl Fish sees. The truth about Pearl's identity is the key to discovering why Mary-Louise has disappeared and why Fish left home. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received this novel from Curiosity Quills in exchange for an honest review. To be more precise, I specifically requested a review copy. That didn't affect my opinion and rating in any way. Here goes... 
This is one of those books where you recognise a potential and understand the author's good intentions, but that fall a bit flat for your tastes. We all have read at least one of those...well, more than one, I'm sure. I feel sad not to be able to rate it higher - but then again, the execution has to count for something :(. 

I'M NOBODY! WHO ARE YOU? *

It's difficult to write a review for NTS without giving away the whole twist. It's even difficult to categorise it. You can say it's a contemporary novel with magical realism elements, because that's how the story unfolds - but the ending puts something new on the table...or maybe not.
Mary-Louise is an insecure teen who entertains a couple of hobbies/interests (swimming and playing the saxophone) and has her heart in neither. She has a habit of introducing herself to anyone - even family members - as if afraid of slipping through the cracks. Which is precisely what happens to her one day. The only person her mysterious invisibility doesn't seem to affect is Fish, a boy she knows via her swimming lessons, who in turn has a couple of huge problems of his own. The biggest chunk of the story revolves around Mary-Louise and Fish's unusual interaction, and the lessons they learn from each other while they're trying to crack her mystery. I really appreciated how the author didn't weave a romantic plot around the two of them, neither did she make Fish "hot". He and Mary-Louise are indeed connected, but in a way that will only come clear in the end (BTW, this doesn't ultimately rule out a romantic connection, but doesn't affirm it either). And the path that goes there is full of mystery and philosophy, but avoids your usual girl-meets-boy scenario - of which I was grateful. 

* from a poem by Emily Dickinson [...]

September 09, 2016

Why Ratings Give Me a Headache (Sometimes)

Hello my stellar beauties! (OK, where did that come from? O_O).
(From the equation stars = rating, probably. I guess my subconscious was trying to tell me something...).


OK, here's my confession for today: a couple of days ago, I went and changed a handful of my old ratings. Nothing major, just half a star more here, half a star less there. But the thing is, I felt that I needed to do it, or my present and future ratings would be taunted. Here's the whole story...

September 08, 2016

Matthew S. Cox: "Nine Candles of Deepest Black" (ARC Review)

Title: Nine Candles of Deepest Black  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Matthew S. Cox [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural, Horror
Year: 2016
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Strong mix of supernatural and horror. Characters with authentic voices. Great development of a sibling relationship.
Cons: A little heavy on the descriptive side. Some aspects of the supernatural plot are a bit derivative, or leave too little to the imagination (e.g.: the demon).
WARNING! Blood, gruesome deaths and spiders in all sizes.
Will appeal to: Supernatural/horror lovers who can appreciate a coming-of-age story with a strong accent on family.

Blurb: Almost a year after tragedy shattered her family, sixteen-year-old Paige Thomas can’t break free from her guilt. Her mother ignores her, doting on her annoying little sister, while her father is a barely-functioning shell. He hopes a move to the quiet little town of Shadesboro PA will help them heal, but Paige doesn’t believe in happiness anymore. On her first day at school, a chance encounter with a bullied eighth grader reawakens a gift Paige had forgotten, and ingratiates her into a pack of local outcasts. For weeks, they’ve been trying to cast a ritual to fulfill their innermost desires, but all they’ve done is waste time. After witnessing Paige touch the Ouija board and trigger a paranormal event, the girls are convinced another try with their new fifth member will finally work. Once the darkness is unleashed, it’s not long before they learn it will give them exactly what they asked for - whether they want it or not. (Goodreads)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received this novel from Curiosity Quills in exchange for an honest review. To be more precise, I specifically requested a review copy. That didn't affect my opinion and rating in any way. Here goes...
I'm a strong believer in reading a book at least twice in order to do it justice with my review. And sometimes I even like it more the second time around. This is one of those times.

INNER POWER

Paige has always been a loner, living in the shadow of her older sister. After tragedy striked, she was devastated - and now she's only going through the motions, occasionally lashing out at her little sister who, in turn, idolises her. She looks Goth without even trying, so she decided to embrace it. A witchy look, you think? Maybe, but Paige is far from being your stereotyped little necromancer. Cox does a great job in that he doesn't introduce her as a magic-endowed character; the things she can do (which were first triggered by her love for her older sister and the sense of an approaching tragedy) are actually revealed bit by bit, and Paige herself doesn't know the extent of her powers until they are put to the test. Hers is a coming-of-age story as much as a magic-gone-wrong one, where her efforts to revert the deadly effects of a spell she acted as a catalyst for go hand-in-hand with a journey to make her family whole again - though it's missing a vital piece - and finally empathyse with other people. [...]

September 05, 2016

Book Spotlight: "Naming the Stars" by Susan Koefod

  Curiosity Quills Press presents:
"Naming the Stars" by Susan Koefod


Today marks the release date for Susan Koefod's YA novel "Naming the Stars". It's contemporary with a magical realism angle (the kind of book I call "Contemporary with a Twist"). While waiting for my review (which should be up in a couple of weeks), here's the book ID...