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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Poisoned Blade

pkbc_poisonedbladehqTitle: The Poisoned Blade
Author: Kate Elliott
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 3.5

Poisoned Blade follows the Fives champion Jessamy in the immediate aftermath of the victory that has embroiled herself and Prince Kal in the deadly games of the palace. Though she’s won glory and fame, Jes stands on treacherous ground—her family is in constant danger from Lord Gargaron, she’s being jerked around as a tool and expected to keep up her winning streak, Kal won’t speak to her, and the kingdom is on the verge of war—a war Jes is sure involves Menoë, Kal’s sister and her father’s new wife.

I don’t know if you guys remember my review of The Court of Fives last August, but I really, really enjoyed it, I might have even given it a 5/5. But I talked with Admin R after to dish the #hotgoss about the novel, and she liked it significantly less than I did, even though she’s arguably the bigger Kate Elliott fan. At the time, I think she’d mentioned something about the lack of subtlety. I disagreed then, but now, I fully see it.

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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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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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Prom Queen Perfect

29331371-_uy1600_ss1600_Title: Prom Queen Perfect
Author: Clarisse David
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 2.5

Alexandra de la Cruz is perfect: perfect family, perfect older sister, perfect clothing, perfect life. She’s the most popular girl in school, and she’s on track to become prom queen––just like her sister. Just like her mother’s favourite. And if she becomes prom queen, maybe her mother will stop finding fault with her at every turn.

So when childhood friend-turned brother-in-law turned nuisance Adam Cordero tells her she’s selfish, she’s determined to prove him wrong by taking Christy Marquez on as a project, turning her from social reject to social butterfly. Her plan works, but it works too well, and suddenly the title of prom queen, which was so within her grasp, is slipping away, and she has to contend with the true nature of friendship.

This was a cute pick-me-up during finals week––it’s short, utterly predictable, and its characters were bland and vacuous enough that I didn’t feel so caught up in their struggles that I neglected my studying, which is good. For finals week. Not really so good for when I need a substantial story to keep me occupied.

But I’ve mentioned this multiple times across multiple reviews and I am always going to be the first to say: fluff entertainment has value, too, and I’m not going to dismiss the novel because it doesn’t have substance. Books are entertainment, and English minor I may be, but I will meet you behind the gym at 3:00 pm with my fists ready if you entertain the notion that all books have to meet some arbitrary standard of Literary Value to have Worth™.

That being said, while I enjoyed the novel for what it is––the written version of, say, She’s All That––it wasn’t much beyond that. I don’t really know what else to say. It was cute, it was okay, it’s the equivalent of watching a teen movie with a tub of ice cream and some popcorn on a lazy Saturday when you should be doing other things. I don’t regret purchasing it, but I’m also probably not going to reread it. The characterisation was jerky––who becomes a best friend mere hours after meeting?––but overall it was inoffensive enough that it went down like jello. It didn’t stir up any strong emotions or attachment, but I was also not really expecting it to.

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