Friday, May 11, 2018

Book Trailer Friday [@GetUnderlined @DelacortePress @karatwrites]

The book trailer I chose this week is for Kara Thomas's forthcoming YA, The Cheerleaders. It will be out July 31st:

about The Cheerleaders:
There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

July 31, 2018 // Delacorte Press // 384 pages // Goodreads // Book Depository // Amazon

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dread Nation ~ Justina Ireland review [@justinaireland @epicreads @harperteen @BalzerandBray]

Dread Nation (#1)
Balzer + Bray
April 03, 2018
455 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

I love alternate history stories . . . butt I get a bit nervous when the thing they make 'alternate' about history is something we can all (or should all) agree was something good/positive/that needed to happen.

In Jane's America, slavery has ended but things are far from equal. The dead have risen, putting a stop to the War Between the Sates and leaving everyone with a whole new danger, a new enemy. TO keep people safe  the Native and Negro Reeducation Act, declares that Jane (and other African American and Native American children) will be trained to kill the dead. To protect white people. As is their place.

Here is the thing about a novel where character think that way (you know, that racial superiority is a thing and that it makes sense): It is a brilliant way of demonstrating the fallacy of that precise way of thinking. It is easy to see the wrongs when a story is set during the time of slavery in the Untied States, but the injustices can be less obvious when set afterwards.

In Dread Nation author Justina Ireland gives readers a time when slavery was gone, but the dichotomy of how whites and blacks (and 'Natives') is nearly as profound. Without technical slavery there as a backdrop, we are able to see (and hear) more of how the characters think, how they justify the inequality (and wow is a lot of it not only horrible, but also out there - which is worse because it wasn't out there to them).

That's not to say, though, that Dread Nation is only about the societal structure of Jane's America and full of sociopolitical lessons on race and equality. (There's also bits about gender, as well.) It is a fresh and unique sort of historical fiction, zombie book. Much as the 'why' was bad, the idea of the combat schools was pretty awesome.  I like that these people were so sure that they were 'superior' that their plan involved training the 'inferior' people in combat. Yeah.

I really loved how thoroughly different, yet still very similar and recognizable this alternate America was to what happened.

The characters are very well written. There are some that you really, really want to get shot or bitten or something, and others that you want to help defend (whether or not they need it). I appreciated how the relationships developed during the book and how we learned more about the characters and their history.

Knowing what I do now of how and where things are in Jane's time and of her past, and being truly invested in the characters, their stories, and their relationships, I very much want to read Book 2 and find out what happens. And how close - or how very far - things may get to real history.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Waiting On Wednesday [@McNamaraMiriam @skyponypress]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:


A clever, romantic novel based on the true story of a girl who disguised herself as a boy to sail with the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack—and fell in love with Anne Bonny.

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Breathlessly romantic and brilliantly subversive, The Unbinding of Mary Reade is sure to sweep readers off their feet and make their hearts soar.s

published June 19th  by Sky Pony Press

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


It is not exactly a secret that I love books with pirates, maybe probably especially when those pirates are girls or women or when girls are on a pirate ship in an unexpected or unknown way. I loved Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and really enjoy books that take some of the similar ideas or themes and make it for readers that are a bit older;. It allows for so much more danger and suspense and (sometimes) romance and greatness.

I like that The Unbinding of Mary Reade is about girl who is hiding who she truly is and not only from others, but, possibly, from herself as well. I think that will add a truly intriguing angle to this story.

That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Captain Superlative ~ J.S. Puller [@PullerWrites @DisneyHyperion]

Captain Superlative
Disney Hyperion
May 08, 2018
254 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository.or Amazon

"Have no fear, citizens! Captain Superlative is here to make all troubles disappear!"

Red mask, blue wig, silver swimsuit, rubber gloves, torn tights, high top sneakers and . . . a cape? Who would run through the halls of Deerwood Park Middle School dressed like this? And why?

Janey-quick to stay in the shadows-can't resist the urge to uncover the truth behind the mask. The answer pulls invisible Janey into the spotlight and leads her to an unexpected friendship with a superhero like no other. Fearless even in the face of school bully extraordinaire, Dagmar Hagen, no good deed is too small for the incomparable Captain Superlative and her new sidekick, Janey.

But superheroes hold secrets and Captain Superlative is no exception. When Janey unearths what's truly at stake, she's forced to face her own dark secrets and discover what it truly means to be a hero . . . and a friend.

Superlatives always make me think of Latin class (or the current US President), but now I have something new, wonderful, and much better to associate them with: Captain Superlative.

Jane likes to blend in, to not call her attention to herself, to be the same. "...Then again, no one ever really saw me. I was as unimportant as air. And equally invisible." (pg 11) It might not be exciting but it keeps Jane free from being bullied, from being picked on, from being hurt. And it's working just fine . . . until Captain Superlative arrives.

Showing up to Deerwood Park Middle School dressed as a superhero - cape, masks, gloves, the whole bit - on a chilly January day is not normal. It's definitely different. Just like everyone else , Janey finds herself fascinated by the Captain and wanting to unravel the mystery, but never guessing how much the girl who always seems to be there to help will change Janey's life.

The entirety of this novel is just fantastic. Not only does it deal with Jane's life at school and the larger, more general anxieties and pressures that are part of being a seventh grader, but there is also Janey's relationship with her father and how her mother's death affected them. The author does a truly great job with the friendships in this book - both the current ones of different characters and the varying forms they take, but also those from the past . . . and ones that could be.

The relationships in this story are unique and complex and show us much about the characters - often often more than we, at first, realize. It's not just those eternal relationships that re handled so well: it is also about characters' self identity: their 'thing' and being true to your self, being happy, not being named Bob.

Captain Superlative is all of these great things pulled into a smart  and touching story. It has a good message but never feels like an adult telling middle school aged readers what's right or how to be (even the character of Janey's day, who could do that, lets her figure things out herself). The character are authentic and real and readers both in middle school and not should enjoy this one.

J.S. Puller's debut middle grade novel is funny, it's sweet, it's memorable. Melissa de la Cruz is not exaggerating when she says (as per the quote on the book's back cover), "This beautiful debut novel will make you laugh and cry and want to be a better person."

finished copy received for possible review, from publisher
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