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.

shadowshaper.jpg

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.

girl-who-circumnavigated-fairyland.jpg

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

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

genteman'sPlot in a sentence: Monty, the disgraced (and disgraceful) son of a lord, is sent on a tour of 18th century Europe in order to shape up. Instead there are highwaymen, alchemists, pirates and one sided love with his best friend.

****STARRED REVIEW****

Recommended age: 14 and up (sex and alcohol)

Diversity:

  • LGTBQ: Monty is bisexual
  • Race: Percy is biracial

Who will love this book:

  • Fans of historical fiction and madcap adventures.

What I liked about this book:

  • Monty is always getting into ridiculous hijinx (often by his own fault) and it’s hilarious to watch.
  • It is a rollicking adventure full of danger, plots and crazy twists.
  • The romance between Monty and Percy was so sweet (and hot!) while remaining honest to the realities of the era.
  • Monty’s sister Felicity, an intelligent, driven young woman trying to make a place for herself in a world that wants her to simply marry and have children.
  • It is beautifully written and full of fascinating historically tidbits.

I loved this book so much it was one of my favorites of the year. I couldn’t put it down!

If you liked this book, read: I honestly can’t think another book as fun, diverse and historical at the moment. If you know one, let me know. I will pounce on it!

Quick Review: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

female of the speciesPlot in a sentence: Alex’s sister was brutally killed 3 years ago and the suspected killer went free… until Alex takes justice into her own hands. “The female of the species is more deadly than the male.”

Recommended age: 14 and up (some frank descriptions of violence, sex and sexual assault)

Who will love this book:

  • Readers who like dark, realistic stories.
  • Fans of Dexter.

What I liked about this book:

  • Like Jack and Peekay, I find Alex interesting: her unconventional ways of thinking and spending her time and the rage and violence within her.
  • The character of Branley because she could be the “bitchy slutty girl” that you see in so many High School stories, but there is a lot more to her.
  • The criticism of rape culture and slut shaming.
  • The focus on animal rescue: Alex and Peekay meet at a shelter and Alex’ gentleness towards the animals contrasts with her relationship with people.

The ending disappointed me a little, I won’t say why to avoid spoilers. Those who read it, do you agree?

If you liked this book, read: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga is about the son of a serial killer who also has a dark side and a tendency towards vigilantism.

i hunt killers

What I Read This Week

Also:

  • The Goddamned, volume 1 by Jason Aaron
    • A gritty, exciting tale of Cain and Noah in the time after the fall of man and before the flood. But the hardest part of this world isn’t the violence but the lack of hope that people can be good, can overcome the horrible world they live in.
  • Kill or Be Killed, volume 1 by Ed Brubaker
    • A young man survives a suicide only to be coerced by a demon to kill at least one terrible person by month or die himself. Add in an unreliable narrator and Brubaker and you have an engaging tale.