Camp So-and-So

27242422Title: Camp So-and-So
Author: Mary McCoy
Genre: Contemporary, YA, Thriller, Mystery
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 2.5

The letters went out in mid-February. Each letter invited its recipient to spend a week at Camp So-and-So, a lakeside retreat for girls nestled high in the Starveling Mountains. Each letter came with a glossy brochure with photographs of young women climbing rocks, performing Shakespearean theatre under the stars, and spiking volleyballs. Each letter was signed in ink by the famed and reclusive businessman and philanthropist, Inge F. Yancey IV.

By the end of the month, twenty-five applications had been completed, signed, and mailed to a post office box in an obscure Appalachian town.

Had any of these girls tried to follow the directions in the brochure and visit the camp for themselves on that day in February, they would have discovered that there was no such town and no such mountain and that no one within a fifty-mile radius had ever heard of Camp So-and-So.

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The Female of the Species

y648Title: The Female of the Species
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Contemporary, YA, Thriller
Rating: ★★★★☆ | 3.5

warnings for: rape, murder, attempted rape, violence, body mutilation, animal cruelty, gun violence, drugging

For the record, the book is not textually as racially diverse as the photoset on our Tumblr. But y’all know me; if I can, I will.

That said, this novel is dark as fuck.

There’s Alex, there’s Peekay, and then there’s Jack, and the three of them are high school seniors dissatisfied with the small, rural town they grew up in. Alex, because her mother’s distance, her father’s disappearance, her sister’s rape and murder, and her own vigilante justice have created an incredible mental burden. Peekay, because her identity is tied so closely with her father being the preacher that her name–Claire–isn’t even hers to inhabit. She’s Peekay, for PK, for Preacher’s Kid. And Jack, because he knows he has the drive and the ambition to do more than the town is offering him, but he’s constantly being pulled back by his guilt–on the day they found Alex’s sister’s body, he had been fooling around in the woods smoking pot and having sex instead of helping look.

The three of them grow closer senior year, Peekay because she’s working with Alex at the local animal shelter and Jack because, even though he always slides back into a comfortable relationship with local it-girl Branley, he’s been secretly obsessed with knowing more about Alex for years as some kind of penance for his behaviour. But Alex brings with her a constant reminder of what can happen to a girl, and she’s not willing to let people slide.

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When Dimple Met Rishi

28458598Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, YA
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 3.0

Hi, it’s my favourite trope: arranged marriage, but they end up really falling in love! Dimple Shah is everything her mother doesn’t want out of a daughter: wild, stubborn, refusing to wear makeup. So she should have known when her mother allows her to attend the coding camp of her dreams that something was Up.

Because it’s there that she meets Rishi Patel: the Good Son, the hopeless romantic, and the guy who introduces himself to her as her “future husband.” So she does what any normal girl would do: she throws her coffee in his face and runs away. But then, as fate (or the partner preferences Rishi put on his application letter) would have it, the two are paired up, and much to her own annoyance, Dimple finds herself maybe possibly liking Rishi? Unstoppable object, meet immovable force.

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Hold Me

holdme-smallTitle: Hold Me
Author: Courtney Milan
Genre: romance, contemporary, new adult
Rating: ★★★★★ | 4.5

It seems like every review that I write about Courtney Milan has only good things to say. What can I say? Milan writes diverse characters and she writes them very well. She confronts issues like race, feminism, and sexuality in a way that not a lot of romance authors do. Hold Me is a contemporary romance that features a trans Latinx heroine and a bi Thai hero. It’s an enemies to lovers storyline and a friends to lovers storyline as well. Both of which are some of my favourite tropes in romance so I already knew I was really going to like this book.

The storyline is very balanced and the relationship between Maria and Jay never feels rushed or forced. In fact, there are times when they go weeks and months without talking to one another and considering what has taken place in the story just before it makes perfect sense. I’m glad Milan doesn’t feel the need to rush their interactions, it helps the story to feel more natural. It’s a credit to Milan, especially since some enemies to lovers stories can feel very rushed.

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Something in Between

28688476Title: Between the Lines
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA, Drama
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ | 2.0 of 5.0

I wish I could say I enjoyed this novel. I even wish I say this novel simply “wasn’t for me.” Unfortunately, neither of these are true. I will preface this by saying that I’m neither Filipinx nor undocumented, so my personal impressions should be taken with a grain of salt, and should not take precedent over the opinion of someone who is Filipinx, undocumented, or both. That said, I found the novel to be extremely juvenile for its target demographic, and it was also incredibly microaggressive, especially where it came to respectability politics. I DNF-ed this book at just over 50% of the way through.

Initially, I was excited to read a novel about an undocumented Filipina girl because there are a lot of undocumented Asian Americans, but as a community, we don’t centre their voices nearly enough. Something in Between follows Jasmine de los Santos, who seems to lead a charmed life––pretty, popular, a cheerleader and a contender for valedictorian, she’s surrounded by loving friends and family. She’s fully prepared to live the American Dream. That is, until the day she’s notified that she qualified for a major college scholarship, but her parents tell her there’s no way she can accept, because she lacks documentation. While her world is crashing around her, she becomes increasingly reliant on Royce (…you read that name correctly), whose father is one of the most strident anti-immigrant congressmen on Capitol Hill.

…Alrighty then.

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Certain Dark Things

Certain Dark Things (Silvia Moreno-Garcia)Title: Certain Dark Things
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★☆ | 3.5

After humans discover the existence of vampires in the 1960s, they’ve been pushed out into the open, slowly taking over drug trafficking and fighting over control of territories. After the fighting between her clan and the Godoys leaves Atl’s family dead, she flees to Mexico City, pursued by the scion of the Godoy family. But Mexico City is a vampire-free zone, and they’re both being pursued by veteran cop Ana Aguire, who is sick of dealing with both the bureaucracy and they body count in Nick Godoy’s wake.

Then there’s Domingo, who’s been surviving on his own since his stepdad kicked him out years ago. He’s infatuated with Atl, who, despite not having the time for it, feels strangely attracted to this earnest, naive boy.

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How to Repair a Mechanical Heart

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart (J.C. Lillis)Title: How to Repair a Mechanical Heart
Author: J.C. Lillis
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 3.0

How to Repair a Mechanical Heart has a lot of things to recommend it: a fluffy gay romance, a quirky sensibility, and a knowledge of fandom that speaks to the author being engaged in it. The novel was well-written, and it didn’t condescend to fandom (and in particular, the fangirls)––in fact, it satirises anboys who condescend to girls for being into ships and writing fic. It felt a lot like Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but where Alberti’s book felt at times to me to be trying Too Hard, Lillis’ book felt very naturalistic.

Yet somehow, I wasn’t engaged.

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