Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star

28763485A while back, I read Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star.

By “a while back”, I mean I finished it in the first few days of January.

Yeah.

It’s been a while.

I enjoyed Yoon’s debut Everything, Everything – it was a bit too sweet and a bit too syrupy and so not me, but eh, I loved it anyway. Everyone needs the literary equivalent of a diabetic coma every now and again, right? Well, Everything, Everything was mine.  When I read that Nicola Yoon was releasing a new novel dealing with immigration, I was pretty sure that it’d be up my alley. When The Sun is Also a Star turned out to be one of Book of the Month Club’s picks, I thought it was simply kismet and made it my selection.

To my sadness and frustration, I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped.

Yoon is a competent, strong writer and she’s got great ideas and knows how to carry them out – I didn’t feel as though the novel were half-baked or un-done in some strange fashion.

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Book Review: 3 YAs

About 3 months ago, I was lucky enough to be approved for several YA ARCs. While I’ve read several of them, I’ve been incredibly remiss in actually getting down what I think about the lovely books publishers have allowed me to read.

First, I started with Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited.

I was pretty darn excited about this as I’d read her debut,  Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda on a whim last year and loved it. Albertalli’s prose is nothing particularly special – it’s somewhere above workman but below beauty. It’s strong and sufficient enough for the tales she spins. For me, what made ‘Simon’ such an unrestrained joy to experience was the protagonist, Simon. I found him delightful and just the sort of person my younger self would have wanted to be friends with in high school. Sadly, I didn’t feel this way about Molly in The Upside of Unrequited. I’m not sure if I can explain it well enough – but I never really felt drawn into Molly – or for that matter, her friends or her family. They were well drawn, funny but still, I didn’t feel a spark there. I didn’t feel as riveted by Molly’s drama. It’s not to say that the book isn’t a worthwhile read, because it is! Albertalli is just as amusing and wry as she is in her debut and her commitment to diversity is just as wonderful – it never feels false or unearned, or as though she’s doing it simply to make a point. The characters who populate this book feel like the world in which we live. It’s simply that I cared for them and their situations less than I cared for those of Simon’s world. It’s a 3 star book for me. Continue reading

Book Review: Red Queen

AKA: I’ve Made a Huge Mistake

There is often much handwringing regarding adults reading YA novels. As someone who reads YA for kicks but who mostly reads classics and literary fiction, I can understand both sides.

There is interesting, clever and fairly well done YA. There’s also a lot of terrible YA. I do think, in general that people ought to read what they like as there’s far too little reading going on in general. YA is fun and can serve as a pretty nice getaway from some heavier adult literature. But I also don’t think that it’s best to just limit yourself to YA as an adult. There’s a lot of nuance in adult literature (in general) that is absent in YA (in general). But mostly, I fall back to “Read what you want, guys!”

Admittedly, YA isn’t a large part of my reading life. It’s there, I don’t knock it as a whole and if something looks interesting, I’m gonna read it. I’ve finished reading 56 books this year and 7 (or 8, depending on if you classify The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night as YA (some do, some don’t) are YA. That’s not exactly a large percentage. It’s simply easier for me to find more adult literature that makes me excited to read. But obviously, I’m not against reading YA. If it looks good and intrigues me, I’m gonna read it.

Based on the hype machine that is the internet, I decided to follow up Michael Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh with a current YA favorite, Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen.

This was a gigantic mistake on my part.

Red Queen is a thoroughly unremarkable novel where the only thing of note about it is how it came to be and the fact that it’s a fantastic illustration of why people think YA novels are beneath adult reading. Continue reading

In Defense of Suzanne Collins’ ‘Mockingjay’

It’s been years since Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” trilogy ended. As such, it’s been a while since the final book, “Mockingjay”, was released.

If I remember correctly, upon it’s release, “Mockingjay” received a fairly mixed reception. Many hardcore fans felt nothing but hatred and disdain for the book, along with a healthy dose of anger at Collins for writing what she did. ‘She’d let them down’, they’d say. I recall people saying that the book read as though it Collins simply threw it together, simply to be done with the behemoth with had eaten her life. Many people said that Katniss was no longer a badass heroine.

My feelings differ. Continue reading

Book Review: Everything, Everything

As an adult, I’ve really come to enjoy reading YA novels. Don’t get me wrong, I — Literary Fiction tends to still be my favorite and I still do love getting lost in the classics. It’s just that, after years of either refusing to read YA or denying that I read YA, I’m over that and am now embracing it.

I’m always on the lookout for really good YA, the same as I’m on the lookout for any good books in general. I received an ARC of Nicola Yoon’s debut Everything, Everything via NetGalley sometime ago and because I’m behind on basically life, I’m only now getting to post about it.

I was super excited about Everything, Everything from the get-go. That cover is gorgeous! It’s a debut novel! The protagonist is biracial! The author is a POC! The novel has illustrations! The illustrations were done by the author’s husband! Who is also a POC! I was all over Everything, Everything the moment I heard about it. How could I not be?

Everything, Everything ended up being a perfectly lovely, though not perfect read. Continue reading

Book Review: Paper Towns

Last summer, I agreed to house/pet sit for one of my mom’s co-workers while she and her family went on a cruise. I had been doing this for years — they paid me, they were easy going and all it really consisted of was bringing in the mail, putting out the trash, watering some plants and feeding the dogs and cat. Nothing too difficult.

About a day or two towards the end, my computer’s charging cord died and I hadn’t yet purchased a new one. Also, I’d finished reading all the books I brought with me. The daughter had left a book downstairs where she’d finished it before rushing out of the door. I wanted to read, so I picked it up.

It was John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

I’d heard of John Green, of course – I’d heard that teens were in love with this guy’s work; that he was some kind of Teenage Girl Whisperer. While I was no longer a teenage girl, I figured I’d give it a try.

I really liked it! It wasn’t high literature, but I enjoyed it.

Since I’d liked Hazel and Gus so much, I’d mentally made a note to read the rest of his work too.

I finally got around to that.

So I just finished Paper Towns yesterday.  I didn’t really like it.

I wanted so much to like it! It started out so well! But then, about half way, I wasn’t feeling it so much anymore. And then, somewhere around Q and the group driving through South Carolina, I really didn’t care for it. In some respects, I really sort of hated it. Continue reading

Book Review: Bright Lights, Dark Nights

So. Bright Lights, Dark Nights by  Stephen Emond.

Can we talk about this?

I need to talk about this.

If you’ve not heard of this book, I’ll give you a really short synopsis: The protagonist  a white kid named Walter Wilcox meets a black girl, Naomi Mills and they’re basically perfect for each other. It’s all good and golden a until his cop dad is accused of racial profiling and then the ish hits the fan.

I’ve been curious about this book since I saw it on NetGalley – I requested a copy a because I was intrigued and dying to read it but was declined. So I went and pre-ordered it because I was just that interested.

I was stoked when I got a text from Amazon on the 11th, telling me my book had been delivered and I devoured. I basically read it anytime I wasn’t sleeping, in the shower or at work.

I LOVED Bright Lights, Dark Nights. LOVED it. Like, if it were possible to marry a book, I might be tempted to propose marriage, despite my “I shall never marry!” mantra.

I’ve got so much to say and I’m gonna warn you now that this is gonna be long and possibly rambly because I’m in Book Love and it’s a damn good place to be.

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