Reviews, Thrillers, young adult

You’ll Be The Death Of Me by Karen M McManus | Book Review

You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M McManus

Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be close. Now all they have in common is Carlton High and the beginning of a very bad day.

Type A Ivy lost a student council election to the class clown, and now she has to face the school, humiliated. Heartthrob Mateo is burned out–he’s been working two jobs since his family’s business failed. And outsider Cal just got stood up…. again.

So when Cal pulls into campus late for class and runs into Ivy and Mateo, it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn a bad day around. They’ll ditch and go into the city. Just the three of them, like old times. Except they’ve barely left the parking lot before they run out of things to say…

Until they spot another Carlton High student skipping school–and follow him to the scene of his own murder. In one chance move, their day turns from dull to deadly. And it’s about to get worse.

It turns out Ivy, Mateo, and Cal still have some things in common. They all have a connection to the dead kid. And they’re all hiding something.

Now they’re all wondering–could it be that their chance reconnection wasn’t by chance after all?

I really enjoy thrillers that aren’t too dark and have a more ‘happy ending’ (maybe not for the dead body :D). Not saying that YA can’t get dark and heavy, my favorite YA thriller is dark as heck and doesn’t really have a happy ending. And McManus has shown before that her YA thrillers can be dark. I like that this one deals with a more small-town kind of murder mystery involving teens.

The characters really bring this story around and give us a feeling that while they haven’t spend time together in years, they can still fall into that same easy banter. While it’d be nice to see more showing instead of telling of Cal’s insecurities or Ivy’s crush, I still enjoyed being in each of their POVs.

I loved Ivy’s character, the smart, uptight teen that tries so hard to earn her parents respect. Ivy doesn’t often think things through before she acts on them, like the bowling alley incident or charging head first into danger in the abandon studio. At the end, when she takes charge and fights to save both hers and Cal’s lives, I was cheering. And the final scene, of seeing who the mysterious D is, ohmygods, I was like that’s a way to end this book.

Mateo is probably my second favorite, if only because he’s so knight-in-armor over his mother and cousin. The fact that he lies to his mom so his cousin can continue to help with the cost of meds, had me in figurative tears. I loved the ending with him and his mom opening up on the problems they both have to work on, on being more open to each other about their struggles. Not entirely in love with Ivy and Mateo as a couple, but eh.

Cal is Cal. I liked him enough, but man was it very annoying to see him constantly defend his predatory teacher. I wish there was more explored there at the end of their relationship and how female teachers can get more leniency when charged with inappropriate relations with a minor. I did enjoy his moments of talking about the web-comic.

The big baddie felt a little like a letdown, if only because of course its the unassuming nice guy that has the town in his Oxy clutches. I did like that McManus didn’t shy from making her a unlikable female character. She’s in it for herself and only herself, damn the bodies she leaves behind. And I love that she didn’t disappear at the end but became a whole new problem for the teens.

If you like young adult thrillers without the mess of gore or hopelessness, You’ll Be the Death of Me is a perfect fit!

Lists

Reading Back-listed titles | 2022 Reading Goals

Happy New Year to everyone! 2022 feels like a year of possibilities and journeys.

For a ton of book bloggers and readers, new books always takes our attention away from the ones that been released previous years. This year, I really want to prioritize the books of past years, ones that flew under my reading lists.

Middle Grade

Room to Dream by Kelly Yang

I absolutely love reading Kelly Yang’s novels. Room to Dream is the third book in her Front Desk series, a middle grade series following young Mia Tang, a Chinese immigrant whose family runs a motel. While this novel was released last year, I still haven’t read it!

Shuri by Nic Stone

Shuri by Nic Stone has been another semi-recent book that I haven’t read by another author that I absolutely adore. I know nothing about this middle grade book outside of it being about Shuri, T’challa’s little sister from the Black Panther universe. If it’s anything like Nic Stone’s amazing writing, I know this will be well worth the wait!

Young Adult

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chin

A 2019 release, The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chin has gotten me with buzzwords like family drama and food. From the synopsis, I can say with confidence that this novel will bring the tears and family dynamics that I so love in a good contemporary YA.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

What surprises me is that I have not read this one yet! Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera is a staple in the queer community. I’ve had this one on my kindle for the longest time and need to read it. A timeless coming out story set over the summer is exactly what I need.

Adult

If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura

One: The title alone gets me every time. Two: I’ve been wanting to enjoy more translated works, and this one has been on my TBR for the longest. First published in 2012, Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappear from the World sounds like a great book about time and life, and the material things we choose to surround ourselves with.

Sweethand by N. G. Peltier

A 2021 romance that I’ve been meaning to finally read, Sweethand by N G Peltier has a great set-up of enemies-to-lovers and possible food being mixed in. I’m a fan of romances set outside white-majority communities, and this one follows a Trinidadian baker and her family preparing for her little sister’s wedding. Shenanigans approved!

Thanks for joining me on looking back at books that need to be read! I hope this encourages y’all to read back-listed titles, too, as well as your most anticipated releases!

Uncategorized

WWW Wednesday 1/5/2022

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words! All you have to do is answer the following three questions: 

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish?
What do you plan on reading next?

Wow, I haven’t done a WWW Wednesday in a minute. Time to share what I’ve been reading!

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  • The Conductors by Nicole Glover
  • Yusuf Azeem is Not A Hero by Saadia Faruqi
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I recently read Will My Cat Eat my Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty, which is a fun, humorous way of looking at death, funerals, and what exactly happens to a body once you die. I’ll definitely be reading more of Doughty’s works.

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There are many read-alongs and readathons I’m looking into participating in this year. Mainly, I want to join Chloe in their Thistle and Verse in the Inheritance Trilogy read-along. Other than that, I might finally break open The Burning God by R F Kuang, but really, anything is fair game.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

This has been a wild week already, and I hope y’all are doing what you can to be safe! Remember to hydrate and be kind!

Reviews

Can death be discussed with funny puns? | Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty | Book Review

Title: Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? And Other Questions About Dead Bodies
Author: Caitlin Doughty
Category: Non-fiction
Published: 9/10/2019
Rating: 4 stars

I originally became interested in this book after Caitlin Doughty came to my library for an event. I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to attend the event (I was working during it). My curiosity lead me to her YouTube channel and slowly becoming more interested in the job of death.

Death in the USA has a capitalistic feeling when you attend a service for a deceased loved one, which is probably the point. I was grateful to Doughty’s kindness and wittiness to out-there questions about death and what happens to a body after it stops working.

Each chapter of this book covers a question about death, rituals, and how a body is treated after death. I love the incorporation of the images, too. Brings a fun, quirky feeling to the questions. Along with Doughty’s humor (like what’s left over after a body is cremated), there is much research in the where and why these questions are so popular to those not in the business of death. I am trash for well researched topics and humor sprinkle throughout something that could be a dry, boring text on what and what doesn’t happen to bodies.

I really enjoyed my reading journey of this book and can’t wait to read more of Caitlin Doughty’s works.

To follow my up-to-date reading:

GoodReads
Twitter
StoryGraph

Uncategorized

Happy New Year! + Reviving A Book Blog

We are finally here, the end of the turbulent 2021 and into the foggy morning of 2022. While I’ve been away from social media in general, my reading has been full of amazing books.

One of my main goals is bringing back book reviews and general posts centered around reading. I miss typing out my thoughts and sharing them to a wider audience. I’ve done pretty well including reviews on Goodreads, but I miss the fun of constructing a post.

I won’t lie and say disappearing is gone for good. Last year, I went through a lot of personal trauma and milestones. Hopefully this year will be the year I can truly enjoy being in my 30s, ha!

May 2022 be kinder to everyone this year, and I look forward to typing more content. Please, keep looking out for one another!

Lists, Manga, Recommendations, romance, Uncategorized

E-Manga You Can Read with Kindle-Unlimited! | Romance Edition

Hello and Hallo! I hope everyone is doing extremely well or at least surviving. Today, I wanted to share the manga I notice you can read thanks to the Kindle Unlimited subscription.

I recently been reading a crazy ton of manga and re-visiting old favorites thanks to KU. Today, I’m going to share some romance manga that I enjoyed reading. All of these are currently available and I’ll list up to the volume number.

Peach Girl by Miwa Ueda (Vol 1-18, complete series)

Trigger Warnings for sexual assault, rape, emotional and mental abuse, miscarriage, colorism, blackmailing.

PEACH GIRL is the classic shojo drama if there ever was one! This series follows Momo, a teen girl who is constantly put down because of her dark skin and bleached hair. Momo ends up in a game of backstabbing friendship and a very tough love triangle between two hot boys. I love this series for its outrageous plots and realistic relationships. However, this series is very triggering, so please take the trigger warnings serious.

Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura (9 Omnibus Vols, completed)

What is there not to love about Princess Jellyfish? This manga series has hilarious characters, fashion, and a pretty good love triangle going on. And it’s all available in 9 omnibus volumes! This series follows Tsukimi, a unemployed adult in love with jellyfish. After meeting a cross-dressing boy, her life will never be the same! I recommend going into this series not know too much. I promise Higashimura has you in good hands!

My Boy in Blue by Maki Miyoshi (16 vols, completed)

Content Warning for Age-Gap romance, domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault of a child, murder, death of a parent, assault.

MY BOY IN BLUE is an age-gap, soft romance with a young girl falling for a policeman after he saves her. The two decide to marry while the girl is still in high school (I can hear the screams now) and start to build a relationship together. I know the marriage will turn off many readers, but I really enjoyed this series. Nothing graphic goes on between the couple and much of the story is them learning and loving each other. I also enjoyed all the side characters and love interest in the story too.

Love Hina by Ken Akamatsu (5 omnibus vols, completed)

Content Warning for fanservice!

LOVE HINA is my teenage favorite for the romance manga. There are so many gags and Keitaro, our protagonist, is a pervert, although extremely clumsy pervert. This manga series follows Keitaro, a college guy trying to get into the most prestigious college in Japan, Tokyo University after he promised a girl on the playground that he would meet her there. When he decides to live with his grandmother at her Hot Springs resort, he’s shock to find out that the hotel is now a girls’ dormitory! Will Keitaro survive these girls before he can get into Tokyo U?!

This series does carry a lot of fanservice, with the gags pertaining to that. But I love the romance in this series and the humor never really dies.

MARS by Fuyumi Soryo (15 vols, completed)

Trigger Warnings for sexual assault, rape, suicide, suicidal thoughts, and depression.

This series was even more dramatic than PEACH GIRL, if you can believe it. Kira is a shy, introverted girl who loves art and Rei is a daredevil, no cares motorcyclist. The two end up becoming friends after Kira gives Rei a drawing and Rei offers Kira his body as a model. MARS promises dark drama and humor and drama between Rei and Kira.

I love how this series portrays Kira and Rei’s relationship. There are plenty of dark moments, which is what I love in some of my romances. Please do be careful if you are sensitive to suicide and suicidal language.

Hope you guys get a kick from reading these romance manga! There are plenty more out there, but these 5 are ones I really enjoy. I’ll share more if I come across any others.

Thanks!
-Bee

Black Authors, nonfiction, Uncategorized

Book Review | You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED TO LACEY: CRAZY STORIES ABOUT RACISM

By Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

January 12th, 2021

Grand Central Publishing

Writer and performer on Late Night with Seth Meyers Amber Ruffin writes with her sister Lacey Lamar with humor and heart to share absurd anecdotes about everyday experiences of racism. 

Now a writer and performer on Late Night with Seth Meyers and host of The Amber Ruffin Show, Amber Ruffin lives in New York, where she is no one’s First Black Friend and everyone is, as she puts it, “stark raving normal.” But Amber’s sister Lacey? She’s still living in their home state of Nebraska, and trust us, you’ll never believe what happened to Lacey.

From racist donut shops to strangers putting their whole hand in her hair, from being mistaken for a prostitute to being mistaken for Harriet Tubman, Lacey is a lightning rod for hilariously ridiculous yet all-too-real anecdotes. She’s the perfect mix of polite, beautiful, petite, and Black that apparently makes people think “I can say whatever I want to this woman.” And now, Amber and Lacey share these entertainingly horrifying stories through their laugh-out-loud sisterly banter. Painfully relatable or shockingly eye-opening (depending on how often you have personally been followed by security at department stores), this book tackles modern-day racism with the perfect balance of levity and gravity.

Content Warning for Racism, Racial Slurs, Invasion of Physical Space

One thing to know about before going into this non-fiction book is that: the main audience is not people outside of Black women. As a white woman, my review will not be an authentic look at racism in the midwest (Omaha). I suggest that readers remember that as they are reading about Lacey’s experience with the most outrageous racist actions and the ones that seem not-so-bad. Also, I suggest getting this on audio book, because the book is written out like a conversation at times and I believe most readers will appreciate the tone more verbally than reading.

I’ll admit that I laughed a lot while reading these stories. Amber Ruffin brings a ton of her humor to the stories and the banter between the sisters as they rehash Lacey’s most crazy stories made me feel welcomed at the table. I love that Amber and Lacey both reiterated that no BIPOC person, whether they are your partner, family, friend, or coworker, owe you their encounters with racism or to explain to you why what happened was racist. Our jobs, as white population, is to be quiet, listen, and reflect and learn on our owns. These stories are not to teach whites what is racist. Amber and Lacey are sharing their stories so their fellow Black audience will see that they are not alone when they experience their own racist stories.

I felt such fear for Lacey when she is followed by the security guards in Macy’s as a child and a young adult. That Lacey cannot even go shopping without white people invading her personal space to touch her hair or comment on her skin nor can she escape the “casual” racism in the office in the health care field. Each chapter talks about a multitude of stories from racism at school, work, in their neighborhood, and even at the doctors.

There is fear in reading about how Lacey almost died when she was pregnant or humor in the story of pissing off racists while waiting to get some outrageously good donuts. Again, I am missing many nuances in these stories. I don’t know what it is like to be followed around or be denied rental openings because of my skin color.

What I’m saying is if you enjoy humor but also want to read a book about Black women growing up in the midwest, I would definitely pick up YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED TO LACEY. You’ll yell, you’ll holler, and you’ll feel outrage for Lacey and her sisters on what they experience in the everyday life.

Where to find YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED TO LACEY: CRAZY STORIES ABOUT RACISM:

IndieBound.org


Grand Central Publishing


storyGraph


-Bee

fantasy, historical fiction, Manga, Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review | The Earl and The Fairy by Ayuko and Mizue Tani | Series Review

THE EARL AND THE FAIRY

Story & Art by Ayuko

Original Concept by Mizue Tani

Published by Shojo Beat, an imprint of VIZ

First volume published March 6th, 2012, Last volume December 4th, 2012

Edgar Ashenbert claims to be descended from the human ruler of the fairy kingdom, and he urgently needs Lydia’s help to find and claim his birthright, the legendary sword of the Blue Knight Earl. Things will never be the same for Lydia as she is pulled into a dangerous quest against dark forces!

I am always into reading more historical manga that feature some fantasy elements. THE EARL AND THE FAIRY give me historical with the England setting and fantasy with the run-ins that the main characters have with the fairies. This series only has 4 volumes, so I’ll go ahead and give my thoughts for each one.

The first volume starts with a hidden identity, a lonely girl, and some trickery. I liked Edgar and Lydia enough to keep reading the story. I really like Lydia’s talking fairy named Nico. Lost identities and conman style story telling is fun but I felt it seemed a bit jumbled and that there weren’t many interesting plot points to really make the story fun. The second volume continues with the first in that Lydia has to help find this missing treasure.

The stories felt flat for me and there wasn’t much emotion I felt to make me sympathize with Edgar and his history of being forced into slavery. Even with volume three and four introducing more of his backstory as a child sold into slavery, we still don’t get why this Prince, the owner of Edgar and his companions, is so fearsome outside of him beating and branding Edgar.

For me, the third and fourth volumes were the best in the series. I liked that the two got to investigate the disappearances of young kids and adults due to the “fog man.” I wish the first two volumes really used that historical investigation setting with a fantasy flare like the last two volumes. Lydia’s stubbornness gets her into trouble and Edgar is back to hiding secrets from Lydia.

There is a background attraction between Edgar and Lydia, but not much to really impact the story. The same thoughts go around and around of Lydia not trusting Edgar and Edgar not opening up to Lydia. If this is your kind of troupe, and you like historical settings with a smidge of fairies, this series will make you happy.

I give the series a round 3 Kanthoros. I didn’t hate it nor did I love it.

Find THE EARL AND THE FAIRY:

IndieBound.org

RightStuf

Viz.com

-Bee

Black Authors, contemporaries, Diverse Reads, Favorite Books, Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review | Flyygirls – LUX : The New Girl by Ashley Woodfolk

Lux: The New Girl by Ashley Wood-folk

Flyy Girls Series

September 1st, 2020

144 Pages

Published by Penguin Workshop

Lux Lawson is on a spree.

Ever since her dad left, she’s been kicked out of every school that would take her, and this is her last chance: Harlem’s Augusta Savage School of the Arts. If this doesn’t work, Lux is off to military school, no questions asked. That means no more acting out, no more fights, and definitely no boyfriends. Focus on her photography, and make nice friends. That’s the deal.

Enter the Flyy Girls, three students who have it all together. The type of girls Lux needs to be friends with to stay out of trouble. And after charming her way into the group, Lux feels she’s on the right track. But every group has their secrets, including Lux. And when the past starts catching up with her, can she keep her place as a Flyy Girl?

Ashley Woodfolk is one of my new favorite authors since I read their book, The Beauty that Remains. When I saw that she has written a series of fiction novels following a quartet of young artists, I knew that these books were going to be impactful. And I was right, LUX: THE NEW GIRL really hits it outta the park!

What readers need to know about the Flyy Girl books, is that they are part of a writing style where the main objective is to get these books into reluctant readers’ hands. I came across the term when I was looking at reviews (thank you to Ashley at BookishRealm): Hi/Lo. High-interest and Low readability. Do not let the simple text pull you away from these amazing characters.

The first book of the series follows Luxana, a girl with a very short fuse and a passion for photography. Lux is a character that so many of us probably have in our lives: a child whose parent leaves and starts another family. Lux is having a hard time with coping without her dad after he up and left Lux and her mom to be with his girlfriend and their new child. I really related to Lux’s feeling of abandonment and anger toward her dad. It’s not something that magically gets fixed when she has to move in with her dad, either.

I absolutely love the girls, Noelle, Micah, and Tobyn. While we don’t get much from them in the terms of character development, they are important to Lux starting at her new school. Lux mainly interacts with Noelle, the Mean Girl. Lux doesn’t immediately trust the girls, but by the end of the book, she does grow to respect them and they respect her in turn.

As you probably guessed, this book mostly focuses on Lux’s drama and problems. I like that Lux is very much into taking pictures without posing. And that she has a go get them attitude when it comes to her art. I really enjoyed her friendship and crush with Emmett. They really seem to have a great friendship at the beginning and at the end.

I believe this is one of Ashley Woodfolk’s greatest assets; that she can write a complex character and shows how complex Lux is through her actions. There is less telling us that Lux is complicated and more showing in her emotions, her lack of trust, and her fear of abandonment by both her family and friends.

Find LUX: THE NEW GIRL by Ashley Woodfolk

Penguin Randomhouse


IndieBound.org


storyGraph

-Bee

Uncategorized

Book Review | Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

REMOTE CONTROL by Nnedi Okorafor

January 19th, 2021

160 Pages

Published by TORDOTCOM

“She’s the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Beware of her. Mind her. Death guards her like one of its own.”

The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa­­–a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.

Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks–alone, except for her fox companion–searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.

But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?

Content Warnings: Death on Page, Decomposition of a human body, Physical Abuse of a Minor, Death of Loved Ones

Novellas are (in my experience) notorious for feeling incomplete or flat in storytelling. Often, when I reach the end of a novella, I am wanting more, to be with the characters for a few more chapters. Or I am eagerly awaiting the end of this story to absolutely nowhere.

REMOTE CONTROL is a novella that feels like a fleshed out novel in only 160 pages. The characters are unique and have their own personalities, the country is full of history that is never spelled out for the reader, and the plot is one that is mostly an inward journey for the main character. Nnedi Okorafor has sat and weaved the story of Sankofa, the legend of the cities, towns, and villages as a bringer of death. Okorafor brings challenges on the idea of a young orphan wondering for the item that was taken from her, sold by a parent to a man of power, and the fear that young Fatima feels when she is confronted with danger to her mortality.

I loved reading about young Fatima. She is enchanted with the stars her grandfather teaches her and ends up writing messages in them, thinking of it as a game. Fatima is a sickly child and was always playing alone up in the shea tree, writing her words. I find it interesting that a character like Fatima is the main focus of the story. She is naive in some ways and smart than most adults give her credit. She loves her parents and her brother and cannot wait to attend school. And when the tree gives her a gift, her reaction isn’t fear or disgust, but wonder.

Even after the incident happens to her village and Fatima is alone, she still carries that same amazement as Sankofa. Sankofa is an interesting girl, only carrying her mysterious power to offer death, and yet she is still trusting of most of the people she comes in contact with. I like the sense of community and care the adults in these towns and villages give to Sankofa. She gets offered food, clothing, and sometimes shelter. But there’s also the downside of honoring her as a deity than as a child who has lost her family in a horrific way.

I’m glad that Sankofa does at least get a sense of normalcy when she stays with an electric shop owner. Sankofa is treated as both an adult and a child, she is given love and space. I wish it lasted a bit longer for the young girl.

One thing that is also interesting, outside the characters, is the setting and background plot.

REMOTE CONTROL is most definitely a character driven story, focusing on Sankofa’s journey and her powers. But the world of Ghana is set in a time that is past, present, and future. There are the occupations like farming without any mass technologies, kids that play outside without any electronics, and markets still selling things as common as textiles. At the same time, there are tablets, drones, and robots around, even in the most remote villages. And, finally, there is technology that does not exist yet. And this is Africanfuturism. A world where a child can come down with malaria, but drones can still spy on the citizens.

In the background, as Fatima is growing up and Sankofa is traveling, a company called LifeGen. They are mention as early as the beginning of Sankofa’s journey, when her prized item was sold and stolen. As Sankofa travels, they are studying her with their drones. But they never really become a character in the story until near the end. I enjoy the little Easter eggs through the story. A mention here or a carving at the end showing exactly what LifeGen is really up to.

Although not outright mention, there are moments reflecting colonization and the effects that happen to those in the native regions. I might not truly understand these nuances and will have to do a re-read one day. REMOTE CONTROL is a novella that deserves the praise of full length novels.

Obviously, I really, really enjoyed REMOTE CONTROL by Nnedi Okorafor. I recommend this for people that enjoy stories that take place in Ghana, science fiction mixed with the modern/past worlds, and tragedy involving a younger protagonist.

REMOTE CONTROL gets 4 1/2 Kantharos from me.

Find REMOTE CONTROL:

IndieBound.org

storyGraph
TORDOTCOM

– Bee