Thursday, June 29, 2017

Shorter Musings

Here are some shorter musings on recent reads.

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean by Kirsty Murray
I saw this at the library and decided it looked interesting. I had not heard about it before seeing it on display. It is a fascinating combination of narrative short stories and graphic shorts created by Australian and Indian authors and illustrators. The point of the book is to highlight struggles of teen girls with harassment. The book came out of a series of events that occurred close together in both countries where teen girls were the victims. Many of the stories depict a future where girls are still having to deal with the every day terrors of misogyny. All of them are empowering. The art in the graphic stories is all excellent. There were stories I enjoyed more than others, but they were all incredibly good.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston
This is super cute and adorable. It is told in alternating point of view between Elle and Darien so we get the perspective of both the Cinderella character and the prince character. It is a really great nod to cons and fan culture. There have been several books with this focus released the past year or so, and this one is definitely my favorite. I really enjoyed Darien as the hero. The supporting cast of characters adds a great dimension to everything too. The pacing is a bit off and I would have liked more on page time with Elle and Darien together. I'm going to be recommending this to a lot of teens I know though.

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
This is a prequel to [book:Code Name Verity|11925514] and follows a younger Julie as she has to say goodbye to her grandfather and ancestral home. It is an excellent book that captures the feeling of summer when you are a teen and everything is ending, but everything is also beginning. This is a little mystery and a lot of coming of age. It is a fascinating look into Julie's past. In this book we see Julie become Queenie and in this we see the firm foundation of Verity.

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
In the Stranje House series, Kathleen Baldwin explores an alternate historical timeline in which Napoleon returns from Elba, the Congress of Vienna is disastrous, and the chaos of the Napoleonic wars continue. In England there is a school that takes in the unusual daughters of the aristocracy with the promise to render them normal, biddable misses. Except that's not what's happening at all. The girls are being trained to use their talents in the interest of their country and to revel in who they truly are in a place where they're appreciated for the first time in their lives. For the most part, I enjoyed the concept. I found the main character of this volume, Georgie to be frustrating. It took her way too long for her to figure out what the school really was for someone as intelligent as she was purported to be. It wasn't like they were keeping it that much of a secret. I wasn't as impressed by the ship as some either. The romance was a fun addition, but not something that I was particularly invested in. (I can see myself being invested in Tess's story in the sequel more. I'm not sure if I'm going to read it or not though.) Some of the girls do have paranormal (not sure that is quite the right word but I'm going with it) abilities so this is definitely a fantasy for those reasons as well as the alternate timeline. One thing that really  bothered me was the use of the words  "Oriental" and "exotic" to describe non-white characters. I know that this is taking place in a time when those words would have been used but as the rest of the language in the novel is modern, it wouldn't have altered anything to use words people from those groups mentioned find less offensive. And it's an ALTERNATE history after all so those could have been left out.

Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein
This is a fun contemporary story about two seniors in high school who are forced to ride to school in the same car every day courtesy of their mothers' friendship.  Oliver and June have a great chemistry. The banter between them is inspiring. Oliver is a popular jock who embraces everything high school has to offer and revels in it. June is a sneering, rather pretentious smart girl who can't wait until it is all over. The morning car ride leads to a competition involving their differing music tastes and opinions about high school. I enjoyed how their characters developed. June is rather hard to swallow at times, but she reminds me so much of many teens I've worked with. The payoff for their relationship in the end is worth it. I really couldn't buy the  music battle though. YA authors you really have to let go of this idea that all teens are super into the 80s. Even with Stranger Things, they are only flirting with the decade. None of them are going to argue over the Ramones and Whitesnake.

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