Go The Distance: A Twisted Tale – Jen Calonita
Retellings, Hercules, Megara, gods, goddesses, young adult, fiction.
Megara and Hercules go to Mount Olympus together after he defeats the Titans and rescues her from the River of Souls. As he has a family reunion she doubts that she would be welcomed up here. Zeus tells Hercules he can’t go back to earth and he has to stay up on Mount Olympus. However, Hera makes an offer to Megara that if she can retrieve Athena’s double flute that she would give more and further instructions to help her become a God. Megara, wanting to be with Hercules, agrees. She goes and manages to retrieve the flute and Phil plus Pegasus helped her along the way. Now she has to make a choice of going to save her ex-boyfriend’s wife from the Underworld or never be able to be at Hercules’ side. Her heart and guts guide her to the right choice she must make and the trials she must face to gain Godhood.
The moment that this book was announced and was available for preorder I had to get it. I love Hercules and Meg from the Disney movie. They were so adorably cute and in this one they are still adorable and cute. I loved this book because there was an intriguing plot and purpose for Megara that she also learned about herself along the way. As well as what truly happened about her ex-boyfriend and how Hades deceived and lied to Megara. The bad person there was Hades for being a manipulative God. Every time I read any parts that had Phil talking, I read it with Danny DeVito’s voice which was ironically funny. I hope if they should come out with a sequel to Hercules, Disney should use this book because it’s an excellent idea. The writing is phenomenal and feels really immersive as well. I HIGHLY recommend going and getting this book to read.
Where Dreams Descend – Janella Angeles
Young adult, retelling, burlesque, magic, shows, competition, mystery, fiction.
Kallia has been training and using her magic for basic tasks but she wants a challenge. Jack, her Master, doesn’t want her to leave where she resides even though he can’t really stop her from entering the competition for the Conquering Circus. She arrives at the audition when accidents and other people who are magicians go missing. Marco doesn’t like how Kallia is effortlessly skilled and tends to have chaotic control of her magic. This doesn’t stop her from wanting to compete.
This was pretty good overall for a retellingish novel. I could tell it was inspired by Phantom of the Opera but this was fresh with a woman of color that added diversity and representation. I loved it. I loved the world that the author created and just wished that the pacing was a bit faster. It was slow at first and then it picked up some speed. The world building was excellently paced and enjoyed the characters. Can’t say more than that because otherwise it will spoil the good stuff.
Love is a Revolution – Renee Watson
Love, dating, self-acceptance, social action, Jamacian Americans, Harlem, New York, Young Adult, POC representation, fiction.
Nala goes to an open mic night with her cousin for her birthday. When one of the poet activists, Tye, goes on stage her attention is drawn to him. She makes herself more relatable to him by omitting lies and she struggles to keep them straight as she is falling more and more for Tye. Her relationship with her cousin isn’t easy either and Nala learns to stop and reflect. She needs to love herself first and in turn love Tye.
My heart vibed with what the author wanted to express through this narrative. Love can really change and inspire a person to love themselves better. I loved the place and this felt so real that I was there. I was witnessing everything happening with Nala and her interactions. Everyone needs to go pick up this book and read this novel. I can’t express how much I love this book. I did borrow this from the library and I am definitely going to buy the book. Then most likely read it again because it was so good. I finished this book in one day and it’s that type of book that can be read in one sitting because the pacing is perfect. I do not see enough hype but this book deserves so much more hype.
On The Come Up – Angie Thomas
POC Representation, rapping competitions, young adult, Fiction.
Bri is going through some rough times and it shows in her school grades. She knows for sure she wants to be the greatest rapper of all time and go through her first rap battle successfully. In hopes of gaining attention for a record label so that she can provide a better living. She fights to get her voice heard and in the positive light and not be labeled as a hoodlum. Her first battle she kills the competition but roadblocks are thrown in her way and she must overcome them.
I had read one of Angie Thomas’s books before and I loved her unique style of writing. The dialogue is natural and doesn’t feel forced. I felt that this was really believable as it is believable in real life. Not only that but the characters she creates as well. I don’t typically listen to rap music but I really loved Bri’s rhyme and the rap songs she has made. There were some that absolutely felt like a burn to whomever she directed her anger at. Angie Thomas’s books always point out the inequality and the inadequate treatment of the African American community. She also points out that this doesn’t just affect the adult population but the younger population. The realities presented to them and the type of lives the parents want their children to have. I felt that Bri was losing that hope and desire, but rapping battles and competitions can bring more opportunities. School and education also can bring just as many opportunities. I felt mad at her but she does have points about the way the faculty treated her. I really enjoyed this novel and I saw that Concrete Rose is on the shelf and I look forward to reading that one as well in my near future. I highly recommend this novel and all of Angie Thomas’s books.
The Girls I’ve Been – Tess Sharpe
Swindlers, swindlings, hostages, bi-sexuality, LGBTQ+, young adult, fiction.
Nora finds herself going to the bank with her girlfriend and running into her ex-boyfriend. Fate makes things more awkward is that the bank is being robbed thus making them forced into a small space. Nora comes up with a plan with having known the art of conning; she plans to con the robbers. She gathers information and some tools then makes herself a valuable person to these con artists. What they don’t know is that she was trained to be the best con artist and she is going to pull the biggest con.
I was so intrigued by the synopsis and wanted to see how this would end up. This book was not easy to find that wasn’t an e-book format. I wanted the physical hardback because the art on the spine was so pretty and my bird brain was like… I want this. LOL. Anyways, I loved the diverse characters. The pacing was great and organization was splendid. I loved the writing and excellent storytelling. However I felt that some passages were too short and not as descriptive as others. I loved how the first half of the book was written and the second half I felt it was alright.
Scythe – Neal Shusterman
Death, reaping, young adult, fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, fiction.
Citra and Rowan are chosen as Scythe apprentices to practice the art of reaping. Since the world is nearly perfect where death is not as easy to happen, someone has to reap to keep the population in check. Faraday chooses Citra and Rowan to train even though they do not want to become the reaper of death. He increases intensity and importance by forcing them to make the ultimate decision. Who gets to become the reaper while the other has to be reaped by the new reaper.
I loved the idea of reaping in this dystopia but I found this too predictable. I loved the writing and world building. The characters are really diverse and each person of the novel has such a rich character development. I know this is a series but I do not wish to continue the series. Maybe down the line I might change my mind. I mostly got this book because I recalled reading one of Shusterman’s books before. I read one of his children series that was really well written and I loved those books. The author writes phenomenally and I would recommend any of his works. Expect uniqueness and intensity with the works.
Simon vs The Homo Sapien Agenda – Becky Albertalli
LGBTQ+, high school, young adult, fiction.
Simon loves everything in the drama department and for drama to stay there. He prefers to keep his sexual identity to himself and his email conversations to Blue a secret. He accidentally leaves the email account open, someone finds it and blackmails him into helping him get a girl. Later Simon decides to come out into the open after he was exposed. He wonders who Blue is and only gives so many clues as to who he is. That is when it hits him and he hunts down his Blue.
This was a cute one sitting high school romance story I had read so far. I loved how this was short and perfect. Coming out to parents or friends is never easy and the responses are always different. Some parents are good with it while others not so much. I would recommend this novel for anyone looking for something heartwarming like this. I loved this book and I would reread it again. There was not any weird trope and there was enough background information fleshed out about the characters. I know that there is a movie but I’m more of a book type person. Maybe I might watch the movie but I do have to say get the book and read it.
If I was Your Girl – Meredith Russo
LGBTQ+, young adult, contemporary, fiction.
Beginning at a new high school, Amanda just wants to make friends and survive high school. She meets Grant and falls head over heels for him but she fears that if she told him about who she was before, that he wouldn’t be as accepting. They grow close together and she finds out that she has to give others the benefit of the doubt. As well as learning more about herself.
I had to read this book again because I read this years ago and this book never got the recognition that the book should have had. I feel that this book is appropriate for everyone to read because this gives insight of what it is like to be a transwoman in this society. Transwomen are real women just as transmen are real men. I cried throughout this book because I have had a transwoman at my community college assaulted for going to the ‘wrong bathroom’ and thinking of all the teens out there who just want to feel comfortable with their own bodies. This author does paint a happy ending but sometimes in reality there are no happy endings for teens who come out as trans. This author did a good job of writing the plot with the characters. I do have to say go read this book. I liked it a lot. This book needs way more hype and more attention to this novel.
Stalking Jack the Ripper – Kerri Maniscalco
Mystery, detective, serial killers, Jack the Ripper, London, 19th century, Great Britain, Victorian, young adult, fiction,
Audrey loves criminal forensics and working in her uncle’s lab as his apprentice engages her interest in that field of study. She takes on the recent murder case of a victim of Jack the Ripper. She is immediately intrigued and further her own investigation of who murdered these women at night. When more bodies turn up, she notices a disturbing pattern that leads to her sheltered world shattered.
This was a little too hyped up and I don’t understand why folks liked this book. I am glad I borrowed this novel from the library. I predicted who was the murderer so fast and the book was yawn inducing in my opinion. I’m sure there is a demographic that loves this type of stuff but this was not my cup of tea. That is all I can say. However, for those who love these type of novels and the plot then it’s for that demographic.
The Wrath & The Dawn – Renee Adhieh
Fairy tales, reimagining, retelling, Arabian Nights, young adult, fiction.
Shahrzad volunteered to be Khalid’s bride. Everyone knows that each bride was dead by sunrise and she doesn’t care. She wants revenge for her best friend who was murdered by him. The first night she tells him a story but doesn’t finish telling the story. He demands her to finish but she wants to live another day. He let her live another day to finish the story. Second day goes by and he is enthralled by her storytelling. She intends to drag out these stories as long as she needs to create a plan to murder him. Along the way, she loses interest in murdering him and falls for the monster who isn’t really a monster. He is simply misunderstood.
I had read this novel before and wanted to reread it. Mainly because I remembered how good this novel was and how different it was. I love different retellings and I got tired of beauty and the beast retellings even as they all are great in their own ways but it gets repetitive. This is a retelling of Arabian Nights and I loved it. She tells a story every night or so to stay alive and to prolong the possible execution as a form of revenge. She does learn about his history but honestly it should have ended differently. I’m fine with the ending. The author outdid herself in this novel with the characters and interactions. I recommend this if one loves Arabian Nights. Its a fun read and I would go on this journey of rereading it for sure.