Saturday, September 30, 2017

Book Review Bundle : Grit by Gillian French

Trigger warning - sexual assault

Book Review

Gillian French looks a lot  like Gillian Flynn, and the san serif font makes it look like a Gillian Flynn novel but it's not. The heady, sparse  and evocative setting where a reckless beautiful young woman finds herself both at home and an outcast in a small town is a lot like Gillian Flynn but this is not Gillian Flynn. Even if  the soft focus on small town fears , female relationships and toxic masculinity is like Gillian Flynn this is NOT Gillian Flynn.

What I'm saying is this book thematically (and physically)  reminded me a lot of Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects, while remaining firmly rooted in it's own originality. French is writing a love letter to the slow downed pace of life  in small town rural Maine. Her descriptions are so rich and  specific I could easily visualize it.

While there is no payoff for the sliver of suspense running through the book (that feels an awful lot like it was put in there for marketing purposes) there is something so effortless about  how French leads us through Darcy's summer as she hangs with her family,  rakes blueberries and  avoids the boy who broke more than her heart.

Darcy is one of these so called "unlikable" female characters, she doesn't always make what is precieved as the right choices and she stumbles a lot before picking herself up.

A low key YA that I feel slid under the radar and is worth a second look !

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Book Review/Audiobook Review : Ramona Blue

 432 Pages | Balzer + Bray | Contemporary | 5/9/17

Book Review

When Ramona's romance with a tourist ends along with the vacation season in her small town, she doesn't think she will get over it. That is until Freddie, an old friend from her childhood makes her think twice about how she identifies herself. Ramona Blue is the culmination of everything Bookish Twitter wants, a. It's a contemporary novel that focuses  on people of color, women of color, LGBTQ issues and  class, but the story isn't a "struggle" narrative. It's just people trying to live their lives. The stakes aren't particularly high and it is a story that mostly exist in the passage of time,  moments and the importance of found family.

Is this what Quiet YA is ?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Rating: ★★★ | Release Date: 06/27/17 | Historical | 10 hours 47 minutes | Harper Audio

It’s Georgian London ya’ll and Henry “Monty” Montague, the rouge18-year-old Viscount of Disley, is all set for his year long Grand Tour of the European continent--where he hopes to attend to some general rakish-ness.  Along for the tour is his annoying younger sister Felicity and his best friend Percy--who he also happens to be madly in love with. Yeah, what could possibly go wrong ?

I think this should be one of those books that the less you know going in the better. This book gets talked about as a road trip novel, but to me it is less road trip and more Hero's Journey with a sprinkling of Dan Brown intrigue and like a pinch of Southern Gothic tropes. I've never read anything quite like it before and it was amazing.

This is my first Lee, but it definitely won’t be my last. Everything from the character development to the pacing to story structure worked for me. At first I really hated the Monty character and found him obnoxious and I just didn't get it, but by the end of the journey Lee had completely redeemed him and I was going wherever she took me.

Audiobook narrator Christian Coulson does an amazing job and his narration for Monty is what is making this  a 5 star review.  Coulson has this sharp, rhythmic, caustic voice for Monty and somehow he completely smooths out the tone for Percy, the only other male character we hear the most from. It was  to a point that he practically sounds like a different person. I think the audiobook would be really good for Americans because all the British slang just sounds so good in his accent. Also, yes yes, the narrator also played Tom Riddle in Chamber of Secrets movie.

I rarely join the hype train (and actually I feel like the hype for this book kind of died down once it came out) but this book is great and completely unique adventure that’s never exactly what it seems. I'm super excited for the sequel and I'm going to go back to  read her first book because it sounds intriguing!

I noticed some reviews called the book anarchistic but I'm not sure I saw that. Some of the language felt more true to form than some historical romance I've read. Also there aren't a lot of explanatory commas to explain the slang, clothing and social structure of 18th Century England and I do wonder if that would be confusing to some readers since we don't get a lot of historical YA like this. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Audiobook Review: Gem and Dixie by Sara Zaar

Rating: ★★★★ | Release Date: 04/04/17 | Contemporary | 5 hours 45 minutes | Balzer + Bray
I've had this book on my radar since I saw Sarah Dessen was just gushing out it on Twitter late last year. It’s the 7th book from veteran YA author Sara Zaar and tells the story of the titular Seattle sisters who grew up with neglectful parents that never wanted to grow up. The sisters have always looked out for each other  but when Dixie, the younger, more social sister, enters high school with Gem, the introverted, quiet sister it brings a new strain to their relationships.

This is a short, slice of life novel that I think is what the cool kids call quiet YA. It reminded me a lot of the early 90’s contemporary YA I used to read in high school. While there is a game changer plot point about 50% and they go on an adventure for most of the book you’re just kind of along for the ride, watching their life play out as they manage their mother and responsibilities.

Audiobook narrator Julia Whelan had some great voices for all the characters and I liked the way she did dialogue but Gem is the narrator in the book and Whelan has this very cool, flat affectless tone that just didn’t do it for me. She also  sounded just a little too mature for a teenage characters. 

I’ve started to notice that contemporary YA has been really reflecting the current moment the best it can. We’re seeing books about police brutality and undocumented immigrants and I think this is probably the first of many book reflecting the opioid crisis.

Gem and Dixie is a quiet, introspective YA that made me feel a little nostalgic for those early 90's books.

Also, I know some people don't like a lot of romance in their books and there is also absolutely no romance in this book.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New Cover, Who Dis : The Scarlet Series

A.C. Gaughen's  2012 Scarlet series re-imagines Robin Hood as a teenage girl. I remember this series in particular because I met the author at my very first BEA and she gave me some great bookmarks ... which I guess will be outdated because this series just got a makeover.

There has been a trend happening (much to reader's chagrin) where publishers have been re-designing covers halfway through a series, so it's interesting that they've given this series a revamp, nearly 2 years after the series ended.

Could they be priming themselves for A.C's 2018 book ? I'm not sure but let's take a look at the redesign !

I've always thought the original books had a unique cover design. The full face and  hazy illustrated glow reminds me of a few other 2010's YA's like Paranormalcy  and Splintered though there is a slightly dead-eyed look to the cover. They new covers only keep the same color scheme for two of the books, but they all still have the pointed dagger motif. I think the new covers are modern and have a bit more of a darker edge. While the original cover looks a bit more mischievous.

I haven't read this series so I don't know which one matches the books more, but something tells me I'll be seeing the old covers on sale at BookOutlet.


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