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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Check out my review of Children of Blood and Bone over at Tynga’s Reviews!

[And maybe I should warn you, if you’ve heard this is the most awesome YA fantasy this year and agree, then you might not like what I have to say…]

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Posted by on February 4, 2019 in Fantasy, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

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Let me tell you about the showstopping finale to the Rebel of the Sands series, finally posted over at Tynga’s Reviews!

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2018 in Fantasy, Young Adult/Teen

 

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

f043712f-4655-4c8a-b60f-fca1e4c6ca9fSixteen-year-old Starr Carter has two selves: one who attends an upscale prep school in suburbia, and the other who lives in a poor neighborhood in gang territory. One night while she’s at a neighborhood party, Starr escapes from gang-related gunfire with Khalil, an old childhood friend. As they are driving home, Khalil is pulled over by the police for a broken tail-light, and a horrified Starr is the only witness to his murder. He was unarmed.

As protests and riots begin and the media frames Khalil as a drug dealer and thug, Starr realizes she is the only one who can speak out for the truth and justice for Khalil’s murder. However, if she speaks, it will change her life and endanger her and her family…

 

This has been THE YA BOOK to read for 2017, so I’ve been waiting a few months to finally be able to get my hands on it.  I was SO not disappointed. This book was so real to me. It’s likely to be one I will never forget and must become a classic for YA, a touchstone for this point in history we’re experiencing. It was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and shows an example of why this movement has happened. Even if you’re against BLM, I challenge you to read this book, to see a different perspective, and then make up your mind on the movement.

It brings to life real people, true emotions, and gives a raw, heartwrenching glimpse into events that have been happening in places all over the country. It forces you to confront your own views or stereotypes of different ideas, such as Khalil’s being framed as a drug dealer and therefore his murder “negated” by him selling drugs.

Tempted to write him off?

Starr wrestles with the idea, because his own mother is a drug addict, and why would Khalil ever sell something he hated that deprived him of a mother? In short, *SPOILER* it was either do this and save his mother’s life or let her be killed for her debts. Mightn’t you do something desperate to save a parent? A sibling? A child?

Readers, be aware that this book pulls no punches. There’s violence, language, drug references…it’s for a more mature audience than middle schoolers. However, this book is full of so much empathy that I was crying and laughing in various points. There were some awesome quotes that I have to share, some are just ones I loved or laughed at (see quotes below slideshow), but others speak to a deeper meaning.

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Note: Some image quotes I created myself on my phone. That is small, so forgive me for not adding quotation marks or the book title. 🙂

* * *

“Problem is it would’ve taken Black Jesus to convince my parents to let me come [to a Garden party]. Now Black Jesus will have to save me if they find out I’m here.”

* * *

“But after Khalil I’m more like a Taylor Swift song. (No shade, I fucks with Tay-Tay, but she doesn’t serve like nineties R&B on the angry-girlfriend scale.)”

* * *

“‘She hasn’t acted like a mom to him! Now all of a sudden, he’s her baby? It’s bullshit!’

Momma smacks the counter, and I jump. ‘Shut up!’ she screams. She turns around, tears streaking her face. ‘That wasn’t some li’l friend of hers. That was her son, you hear me? Her son!’ Her voice cracks. ‘She carried that boy, birthed that boy. And you have no right to judge her.'”

* * *

“Daddy claims the Hogwarts houses are really gangs. They have their own colors, their own hideouts, and they are always riding for each other, like gangs. Harry, Ron, and Hermione never snitch on one another, just like gangbangers. Death Eaters even have matching tattoos. And look at Voldemort. They’re scared to say his name. Really, that ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’ stuff is like giving him a street name. That’s some gangbanging shit right there.”

* * *

“Maverick, I don’t give a flying monkey’s ass what your problem is, just be there for your daughter. Please?”

* * *

“A lump forms in my throat as the truth hits me. Hard. ‘That’s why people are speaking out, huh? Because it won’t change if we don’t say something.’

‘Exactly. We can’t be silent.’

‘So can’t be silent.’

. . .

This is bigger than me and Khalil though. This is about Us, with a capital U; everybody who looks like us, feels like us, and is experiencing this pain with us despite not knowing me or Khalil. My silence isn’t helping Us.”

* * *

“Others are fighting too, even in the Garden, where sometimes it feels like there’s not a lot worth fighting for. People are realizing and shouting and marching and demanding. They’re not forgetting. I think that’s the most important part.

Khalil, I’ll never forget.

I’ll never give up.

I’ll never be quiet.

I promise.”

* * *

Acknowledgements by Angie Thomas: “And to every kid in Georgetown and in all ‘the Gardens’ of the world: your voices matter, your dreams matter, your lives matter. Be roses that grow in the concrete.”

 

 

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Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

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Lara Jean is approaching the end of her senior year. She and Peter are still happily together, and all of her classmates are planning their futures. Lara Jean has dreamed for years about going to the University of Virginia, with its classical architecture and picturesque library. Peter is already headed to UVA after signing with the lacrosse team, and Lara Jean can’t imagine a better future, especially since she’d be only fifteen minutes from home and still watching her little sister Kitty grow up. She does have a few other schools she’s applied to, but in her mind, nothing compares to UVA. Even her best friend Chris is planning on being untraditional and traveling somewhere to work like Costa Rica to explore and enjoy life while she’s young. It seems like everyone has the perfect future planned out, and Lara Jean is anxiously waiting on hers.

She’s also experiencing new changes in the rest of her life. Her father gets engaged to their neighbor and Lara Jean throws herself into wedding planning to keep herself distracted. However, when Lara Jean finally hears from UVA, she hasn’t been accepted and suddenly she doesn’t know where she’s going to go or whether she and Peter can stay together.

It’s our final story about Lara Jean *crying emoji!*. I’m terribly sad about it, but also because I don’t know what Jenny Han is going to write next! I love her books. What I love about this one is how every teen can relate to the feelings of uncertainty about their future–their college plans, their relationships if they decide to move away, the unknown possibilities that could occur. Plus, it all feels very real and heartfelt for Lara Jean and the turmoil she’s in at the end of senior year faced with some big life changes and the unknown. This novel has a lot of great advice for teens approaching this step in life without being about giving college advice. In fact, everyone in Lara Jean’s life sort of teaches her some truths, whether about her relationship, herself, or just good advice for the future.

One of the biggest hurdles in the book (and in the series) is her relationship with Peter. Though she and Peter have been together for quite some time (and gotten back together after the events of the last novel), this new unknown future has affected both of them. Their relationship, while important, may not survive. And Lara Jean’s mother once told her, don’t go to college with a boyfriend because you’ll lose out on a true freshman experience (Articles discussing the case in point: The Guardian, the Independent). When they were both potentially going to UVA, it was easy to see themselves being together, albeit with different lives led at college (lacrosse and fraternity for Peter, friends of her own for Lara Jean and studying at the library and on the grounds). However, Lara Jean’s other choices mean a long-distance relationship for much of the time, even when she is trying to convince herself to transfer to UVA soon after being accepted somewhere else. Plenty of teens have this battle where they know, realistically, their relationship may not survive the stress of being long-distance and/or they might meet someone better suited at college. However, as Lara Jean and Peter discover, it’s not up to others and their opinions. They are the two in the relationship and those decisions are up to them.

The ending was beautiful, and perfectly wraps up the series that began with a love letter by ending with another love letter.

Further note:

This is also one of the few books out there that has racial diversity of an Asian American family but doesn’t deal with issues or a lens caused by race. It’s normal, and that’s great because just a few years ago, there were not books with racially different characters who didn’t have problems through a racial lens. Yay for #weneeddiversebooks.

 

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Contemporary fiction, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

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