The Ruby in the Smoke, Book One of Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart series, never gained the same fame as The Golden Compass and the rest of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, perhaps for good reason. It’s a cute story but doesn’t have quite the magical draw of epic world-building that bolsters his other works. From a feminist perspective, I appreciated the feisty female protagonist who demonstrates math skills and business acumen, but on an intersectional level, the book fails. The novel is meant to be a treatise against opium and the role England played in encouraging the opium industry, but it is rife with simplistic or downright racist depictions of Asians and the East. Continue reading Book Review: Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke
If you’re looking for a good YA series with bisexual, Hispanic, or autistic representation, it might be time to hop on the Dark Artifices train, as the second book was just released last Tuesday, May 23. From the author who brought us our first Jewish vampire and an immensely powerful gay warlock comes a new spin-off series from her original The Mortal Instruments world. Today I will review Lady Midnight (Book 1 of The Dark Artifices) by Cassandra Clare, particularly focusing on the minority characters Mark, Christina, and Ty. Continue reading Diversity Among Shadowhunters: Cassandra Clare’s Lady Midnight
Recently, I’ve been reading Literary Wonderlands: A Journey through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created by Laura Miller. It outlines literary works with the best world-building across history, from early myths to modern sci-fi/fantasy franchises. Inspired by this, I’d like to share with you some of the books with the most immersive settings I’ve ever read, books that had me walking their worlds long after I closed the pages. (I skipped the obvious ones like Harry Potter, which were of course featured in Literary Wonderlands.) Continue reading Best Worlds and Settings in Modern Sci-fi/Fantasy
As the weather turns colder, if you’re anything like me, you want to lock yourself up inside and never venture out into that face-hurting blustery “wonderland.” To help you cope, here are some series to keep you busy while you’re all tucked up in a fluffy blanket by the fireside, ready to hibernate the season away.
Judging from the mediocre successes of Allegiant, The 5th Wave, and that of the more recent Nerve, Young Adult novels and their cinematic counterparts appear to be losing steam. Then again, it’s not entirely fair to compare said works to the likes of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and (SIGH) Twilight. After all, who can predict if a book – or a potential franchise – will end up being a hit?
Nonetheless, a valuable lesson can be learned from the root of these so-so movies.
I’d like to believe that audiences have not only caught onto the many tropes that plague the YA scene, but refuse to accept them any longer. On that note, here are my top picks for things that dissuade me from picking up a book based on its surface alone.
London has a Problem. Hauntings, once merely the subject of superstition, have now become common place and undeniable. In just a few decades, ghost sightings, and even fatal ghost-touchings, in Britain have reached epidemic proportions but here’s the catch: only children and teens can see (or hear, or feel) the ghosts. In the Lockwood & Co. series, Jonathan Stroud–King of Snark, and author of the best-selling Bartimaeus series–builds a new world of magic and real life intertwining. Continue reading Book Review: Lockwood & Co. Series by Jonathan Stroud
When eight-year-old David Piper was asked to write about what he wanted to be when he grew up, he wrote about wanting to be a girl. Jump forward five and half years and David’s nickname with the class bully is still “Freak Show” and only his two closest friends know that his wish from all of those years ago still rings true. David just doesn’t know how to tell his parents.
Enter Leo Denton, a transfer to Eden Park School from the far side of town, with rumors that he was kicked out of his last school for doing something violent. An unlikely friendship develops between Leo and David after Leo stands up for the bullied David. But Leo has his own secrets, and most people don’t know the truth about why he left Cloverdale School. As Leo and David both reckon with their own secrets, they learn more about themselves and what their own definition of “normal” might be.
You know Richelle Mead from her hugely successful YA Vampire Academy series, or perhaps her adult succubus or faerie series, but her latest work is in an entirely different vein (get it? Veins… vamps…). Soundless entwines an obscure piece of Chinese folklore with the story of the rediscovery of sound by a girl born into an entirely deaf community. Yet while Fei gains a sense, many in her community are losing one as the mines they toil in poison their sight. Only Fei and her ex-fiancé Li Wei have the courage to venture down the treacherous cliff that isolates their community to confront the powerful people below, whose control of food supplies keeps her village under their control. Continue reading Soundless by Richelle Mead Review
You know when you’re at a party, and someone hands you a free book on your way out the door? No? Well, then you’re going to the wrong parties my friend. Last week, I was given a copy of a brand new debut novel by Michelle Painchaud called Pretending to Be Erica. This YA thriller had me on the edge of my seat for the whole three-and-a-half days it took me to finish it. I don’t read a lot of thrillers but I decided lately to try reading a broader variety of books, and Pretending to Be Erica is definitely a great way to get into the genre. I was captivated by this book’s premise from the very beginning. What would it feel like to live your whole life preparing to be someone else? And how do you spend months pretending to love people you’re only planning to deceive and betray? Continue reading Living a Lie–A Review of Michelle Painchaud’s Pretending to Be Erica
As a special education teacher, when I see a YA book where the protagonist has OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), but the story has little to do with that, it makes me ridiculously happy. Most people either have or know someone who has been diagnosed with OCD or ADD or Dyslexia. It’s important that these people start getting represented in literature. From the summary of Every Last Word, that’s what I thought I was going to be reading: a protagonist who just happens to have a brain that functions differently, going about life. What this book actually is, is a teenage girl learning to be comfortable in her own head. While it wasn’t what I expected, I still enjoyed this novel for what it is. Continue reading Every Last Word: A Review