Title: Tiger Lily
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Page Count: 292
Publishing Date/Publisher: July 3, 2012 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Review: I had a very difficult time rating this book because it had a lot of elements that I loved, and yet the ending did not make the impact on me that I was expecting it to.
I really enjoy reading retellings of classic tales, and this one really takes the cake for originality. I thought that the author very cleverly wove in concepts such as modernization, colonialism, and the proselytization of indigenous peoples into the narrative. She also touches upon some very difficult topics such as abuse, rape, murder, suicide, trauma recovery, and transphobia (for lack of a better word). A lot of these subjects can be gleaned through subtext, so they may not be apparent to every reader. I want to stress that this book is not at all graphic or gratuitous. It simply shows that even in a place as magical as Neverland, darkness lurks beneath the surface.
The author does a really good job of balancing the heavier content with the yearnings of first love. Tiger Lily and Peter’s love is intense and raw, but their naivety adds an element of innocence to it. It is heartbreaking as a reader to witness their struggles as they try to define themselves and what they mean to each other. This book very eloquently shows that although we may not always end up with our first love, they can still hold a special place in our hearts long after we have moved on.
The ending of this book was satisfying in it’s own way, while at the same time feeling a bit rushed. That, coupled with the slow pacing, prevented me from giving it a full four star rating.
Title: Patron Saints of Nothing
Author: Randy Ribay
Page Count: 323
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2019 by Kokila
Review: This is a coming-of-age story about struggling with identity and belonging. The main character, Jay, must learn to cope with the senseless death of his beloved cousin, while also coming to terms with how his own decisions may have played a role in the unfortunate series of events that led to the tragedy. It is also a story of the many ways people can surprise and disappoint us. For better or worse, our family and friends do not always live up to the image we have of them in our heads.
The writing style of this author is very similar to the writing style of Kelly Loy Gilbert. The first person perspective feels very authentic, and you very much feel like you are inside the head of the main character. This book didn’t emotionally gut me the same way that Picture Us in the Light did, but it is similar in that the story touches on some very heavy topics and reveals some very painful truths about Jay and his secretive family.
The cover art for this book is absolutely stunning. If I had not needed to read this book for a mock Printz committee, I probably would have picked it up simply for the cover art alone. Both front and back incorporate beautiful colors and symbolism.
Title: Crown of Midnight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Page Count: 418
Series: Throne of Glass, Book 2
Publishing Date/Publisher: August 27, 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Review: Sarah J. Maas is a truly an exceptional storyteller. These days it seems most fantasy series are trilogies, but she manages to drag her stories into long sagas without becoming boring. Her characters are engaging, her twists surprising, and her plot layering is superb. The only reason this is not a 5 star book for me is because it reads very much like a second book in a trilogy (i.e. setting the stage for a final installment), at least at the beginning. I have noticed this is a common trend in Maas’ writing. She starts out slow and then hits you with a lot in the last 25% of the book. Her ability to write strong endings is what keeps her readers chomping at the bit for more. I am really looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Heir of Fire.
Title: Foul is Fair
Author: Hannah Capin
Page Count: 336
Series: Foul is Fair, Book 1
Review: I am shocked at the positive reviews this book has been receiving from early reviewers. All the characters, including Jade/Elle, were terrible people. I did not enjoy reading about them, and I found it very difficult to get behind the revenge story because it was so ridiculous. Although I can completely empathize with a sexual assault victim wanting justice, a murderous rampage certainly does not seem like the answer and I did not find it at all gratifying. I would be extremely hesitant to promote this book to teen readers, because it glorifies murder and manipulation through sex. None of Jade/Elle’s coping mechanisms for her assault were positive, and I personally feel this book would be very unhealthy to put in the hands of someone who has actually been sexually assaulted.
Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Performer: Ariana Delawari
Length: 10 hr, 38 min
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2015 by Listening Library
Review: I like the story of A Thousand and One Nights, so I was excited to read this YA adaptation. I was underwhelmed. This book did not do nearly enough to develop the story or the characters before jumping into the romance. The whole time I was thinking, they have spent hardly any time together, know almost nothing about each other, and yet they are deeply in love. After so many extraordinary girls before her, it is unclear why Shahrzad is the one who gets to live. She tells stories? So what. I personally did not find the stories she told to be that riveting and I was perplexed by the rapid passage of time. She tells one short story and then it’s dawn. Hooray she lives to tell another tale! The king trusts Shahrzad implicitly, but again, why? I just didn’t buy it.
I did enjoy the imagery and I listened to the book in it’s entirety, so I didn’t hate it. I would have loved to see the magic aspect fleshed out better. I saw great potential with that particular storyline, even if it didn’t get a lot of page presence. I am on the fence about starting the next book The Rose & the Dagger.
Author: A.S. King
Page Count: 394
Publishing Date/Publisher: March 26, 2019 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Review: This book is bizarre from start to finish. It comes together in the end, but I was confused for about 3/4 of it. Personally it wasn’t my cup of tea. It was dark and delved into difficult topics such as abuse, murder, and deeply entrenched racism. There were many things that still didn’t make sense to me even at the conclusion, but I just did not have the bandwidth to wade back through the book to try to make all the connections. The writing style is very unique and it took me awhile to adjust to it. I would not be surprised if people DNF this book simply because it is difficult to follow. Although I can see why there is buzz surrounding this book, it is not one I will be widely recommending.
Title: Across a Broken Shore
Author: Amy Trueblood
Page Count: 360
Publishing Date/Publisher: November 5th 2019 by Flux
Review: The setting for this book was lovely, but I found the plot to be painfully slow and I did not find any characters to be particularly compelling. This falls into the rare category of books that I did not finish (I stopped at 42% completion).