Quick Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

turtlesPlot in a sentence:  There is a reward for information leading to the capture of fugitive billionaire Rusell Picket and Aza, who once knew his son, is well placed to find some but being a detective, not to mention a friend and girlfriend, is made difficult by the spiraling thoughts that keep her trapped within her own mind.

****STARRED REVIEW***** 

Recommended age: 13 and up

Diversity:

  • Mental illness : Aza has OCD.

Who will love this book:

  • Fans John Green will be more than satisfied by his new book.
  • Readers who have been looking for a realistic portrayal of OCD.

What I liked about this book:

  • Green portrays mental illness with such realism and truth. I recognize my own obsessive thoughts in Aza’s experiences. This is a book about OCD that goes beyond the stereotype of hand washing.
  • This is, as Aza’s best friend Daisy expresses, a buddy comedy, not a romance. And I need more buddy comedies between girls and women.
  • The mystery of the missing billionaire and the moral quandaries surrounding it are fascinating.
  • It is as geeky as I am, filled with Star Wars fanfic references and the like.
  • John Green just keeps getting better. This was definitely worth the wait.

If you liked this book, read: Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley for another beautiful and entertaining novel about friendship and mental illness.

highly illogical behaviour

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Quick Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

strangethedreamerPlot in a sentence: Lazlo Strange has been obsessed with the lost city of Weep since he was a child, so when a group of mythical warriors from the city appear seeking specialists to save their people, Lazlo is determined to join them.

****STARRED REVIEW***** 

Recommended age: 14 and up

Diversity:

  • Race: The cast is racially diverse (not even counting the blue people).
  • LGTBQ+: The is an important lesbian secondary character.

Who will love this book:

  • Fans of dark fantasy and tragic love stories.

What I liked about this book:

  • Lazlo Strange is a librarian!
  • Taylor makes me feel so much. I found myself gasping out loud, crying and just going “no, no, no, NO”. …not a super happy novel, in case you are wondering.
  • The magic of Lazlo’s dreams as well as the strange, disturbing powers of the god children.
  • A brilliant look at the consequences of colonization, through a horrific fantastical lens.
  • I could go on forever: this novel was so beautiful, magical, lyrical and sad. I loved it and I can’t wait for book 2.

If you liked this book, read:  Laini Taylor’s previous series, beginning with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, for the dark fantasy, star crossed lovers and lyrical language that she does so well.

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The Best Man by Richard Peck

thebestmanPlot in a sentence:  Archer is just an ordinary kid learning to deal with changes in his life including death, bullying, the end of elementary school and the marriage of his beloved uncle to his favorite teacher.

Recommended age: 10 and up

Diversity:

  • LGTBQ: Archer’s uncle and teacher are gay

Who will love this book:

  • Readers looking for a lighthearted coming of age novel that promots diversity without being preachy.

What I liked about this book:

  • Archer is very relatable and tells his tale in a light, fun way that should speak to kids.
  • I really liked the varied models of masculinity that Archer has to inspire him in his Grandfather, father, uncle and teacher.
  • Archer’s best friend Lynette, with her tough as nails personality and her huge vocabulary.

If you liked this book, read: George by Alex Gino another sweet middle grade LGTBQ+ novel.

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Quick Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

the hate you give.pngPlot in a sentence: Starr sees a cop fatally shoot her childhood friend and she must decide how to react to this tragedy when her community and her own life are on the line.

***STARRED REVIEW***

Recommended age: 14 and up (discussions of violence and sex but nothing graphic)

Diversity:

  • Race : This is a novel about a black from a black perspective.

Who will love this book:

  • Socially conscious readers and those who want to better understand the black lives matter movement.

What I liked about this book:

  • This is such an important novel as the US (and Canada too, we’re not innocent in this) is finally starting a conversation about police violence against the black community. #blacklivesmatter
  • Starr is a complex and conflicted character with hard decisions to make.
  • It is, sadly, very realistic and does not shy away from nuance.

If you liked this book, watch: Dear White People on Netflix. I usually recommend another book but I feel the varied black experiences and responses to police violence against black people makes Dear White People a great companion to Thomas’ novel.

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You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner

you're welcomePlot in a sentence: Julia is kicked out of her School for the Deaf for graffiti in the gym, now she needs to go to a regular school where no one understands her and finds herself in a graffiti war with an unknown vandal.

Recommended age: 13 and up

Diversity:

  • Disability: Julia and her mothers are Deaf
  • LGTBQ: Julia’s mothers are gay
  • Race: Julia is South-Asian

Who will love this book:

  • Readers who like realistic fiction about female friendship.
  • Anyone who wants to learn more about the Deaf community.

What I liked about this book:

  • This is a book about female friendship: the good, bad and sometimes difficult.
  • Julia is not disabled, she is a member of the Deaf community.
  • Gardner avoids stereotypes and creates interesting, complex characters that defy expectations.
  • The illustrations of Julia’s art included in the book. I also learned a lot about graffiti.

If you liked this book, read: Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older The two novels are very different, one realistic fiction and the other urban fantasy, but I like that both focus on woc and graffiti culture.

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Frogkisser by Garth Nix

frogkisser.jpgPlot in a sentence: Princess Anya goes on a quest to depose an evil wizard, restore the rights of the people and, of course, transform frogs with her princess-ly kiss.

****STARRED REVIEW****

Recommended age: 10 and up

Who will love this book:

Fans of twisted fairy tales and whimsical fantasies with strong female characters.

What I liked about this book:

  • Magic in this world is a strange with unexpected (and often funny) consequences.
  • Watching Anya grow from an unwilling quester and aspiring sorceress into not just a heroine but a leader.
  • Nix’s writing is both lyrical and funny.
  • The references to fairy tales and legends like the frog prince and Merlin, and how well they fit into the story.

If you liked this book, read: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland by Cathrynne Valente is another whimsical romp through a fantastical world.

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Looking for a Group by Rory Harrison

Looking-for-Group-Rory-HarrisonPlot in a sentence:  Dylan is in remission from cancer but life doesn’t feel like a miracle. He decides to take off on a road trip with his World of Warcraft friend, Arden.

I got this book from my Quarterly YA box (so far I have been so happy with the books I’ve discovered through them) so my copy was full of notes and comments by the author.

Recommended age: 14 and up (frank discussions of sex and drug use)

Diversity:

  • LGTBQ: Dylan is gay and Arden is trans.

Who will love this book:

  • Fans of road trip stories.
  • Readers looking for novels with good trans characters that are about more than coming out or transition.

What I liked about this book:

  • The sheer geekiness. I played a lot of WoW back in the day and the references were so much fun.
  • Harrison puts a new twist on YA plotlines (the cancer kid one in particular) that have sstarted to feel cliche.
  • Arden: she is just refreshing, a great, developed trans character whose character doesn’t simply revolve around her trans-ness. I feel Harrison handles this aspect of the book so well.
  • The romance is great and nuanced and addresses an interesting problem: a gay boy in love with a trans girl.

If you liked this book, read: Going Bovine by Libba Bray. I cannot stop recommending this book, it is my favorite road trip novel and it is every bit as diverse and quirky.

Going Bovine