❧ Title: The Last Days of Jack Sparks ❧ Author: Jason Arnopp ❧ Publisher: Orbit ❧ Publication date: 3rd March 2016 ❧ Rating: ✦✦✦✦ Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account… More
Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.
But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?
She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.
Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.
As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.
❝In A Nutshell❞
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.
❝In A Nutshell❞
✎ A Pakistani trans boy who makes moons and hangs them everywhere is best friends (and more!) with a girl who came from a water tower and grows roses from her wrist.
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does…
As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough
❝In A Nutshell❞
❝What I loved❞
❝If you liked this…❞
…then you might also like: Holly Black’s other faerie tale books, particularly her Modern Faerie Tales books, Tithe, Valiant and Ironside, as well as the upcoming The Cruel Prince, which the first of a new series called The Folk of the Air and is also about faeries. This is slated for an early 2018 release.
I’m on the Autistic Spectrum, but was diagnosed late. Generally I was the kind of autistic kid that adults overlook, mostly due to the stereotyped and cliché (mis)conceptions of what autism both is and isn’t. For starters, Autism is a spectrum, meaning that it presents in a variety of different ways. Further, what used to be classed as Asperger’s Syndrome (what I was diagnosed with first) is now considered to simply be part of the spectrum of autism. The terms “high-” and “low-functioning” used to be applied, but this is no longer the case (for the most part) and instead we have the spectrum. The former “levels” of functioning on the spectrum were honestly pretty ableist.
Being on the Autistic spectrum can include other neurodiverse experiences or mental health conditions, including ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), Anxiety, OCD (Obssessive Complusive Disorder) and many more besides. For my part, I experience ADD (Over-focused subtype), OCD and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (as well as Social Anxiety Disorder, but it’s difficult to tell how much of that ties in with my being on the spectrum).
So what does all this mean?
- It means that I’m a strange but generally amazing creature that worries excessively, has an anxiety gremlin rooming with me in my brain, I suffer from constant Intrusive Thoughts and have trouble switching my focus from one thing to another, but good luck getting me to quit once I am focused.
- It means that people and small talk and generally expected social interactions are tantamount to myth and wonder to me and I just do not entertain the notion of a casual conversation because what is this mythical thing of which you speak and how do I participate in it? and I’d really much rather never leave the house than have to say “hello” to a single person I don’t want to greet, ever again.
- It means that I have little-to-zero tone control 90% of the time and if I try to emulate or fake it, yeahhh, we’re both gonna know about it. (This is particularly hard when people do or say something I don’t like or disagree with, because I have no ability to remain civil or not activate You’re A Jerk face. Also awkward when receiving gifts I don’t dig, because my “Yes, thank you for the thought” face needs some work.
- It really needs work.) It means I stress out over even the slightest interaction with anyone who isn’t My People (I have two of those). Yes, even online. Yes, even if I’ve known the person for years. Yes, even if the people are lovely. Yes, no matter what.
- It means I get anxious if my set routine is disrupted and sometimes I will have to go through certain steps before I can happily settle into an activity; like arranging my space just-so at my desk, or making sure that the bed is made before I get in.
- It means that when I’m comfortable with someone and feel safe I can talk forever and ever and ever and sometimes I zone out to what others are saying if it doesn’t interest me and yes this makes me a jerk sometimes, sorry.
- It means I talk in “parentheses”, literally pausing to add in a slightly related sentence before going back to the main topic, by which point I’ve usually moved way too fast and lost everyone because people can’t see parentheses Leo.
Honestly, I could be here all day. Half of the time I forget just what it means. And I could probably have stopped listing things five sentences ago, but I’m not good at not talking about the things that make me neuroatypical. These things are a big part of what makes me, me, and it’s all swings and roundabouts in what they are, do, and how they effect me on a daily basis. But when all is said? I love my neurodivergence. Sure, anxiety sucks and apparently I’m supposed to care that people are hard and socialness is important, but hey–I love my parentheses and how I skip topic five million times a minute and how I’m receptive to sounds and scents that other people might not be.
I intend to talk more openly about each of these things in detail, so look out for the related posts, all of which I will link to my drop down menu at the top of the navigation bar, for sake of convenience and ease. And also because it will be neat and pleasing.
❧ Title: The Girl From Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere #1)
❧ Author: Heidi Heilig
❧ Publisher: Hot Key Books
❧ Publication date: February 16th 2016
❧ Rating: ✦✦✦✦✦
Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question…
Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever
❝In A Nutshell❞
✎Time-travelling pirate ships, magical map Navigation and dysfunctional families visiting real and mythological worlds.
✎#ownvoices biracial (Asian American) teen
✎Diverse ☒ (race, queerness, secondary character with mental health issues)
✎ Nix and her family (her father and the crew of the Temptation ) travel through time and alternate realities by using maps that guide them to a specific place and time (one use per map), collecting treasures both real and mythological/magical, as they search for the one map they’ve been looking for: the one that might undo Nix’s entire existence. It might mean getting her mother back, but is it worth the risk? The captain of The Temptation seems to think so. And he’s willing to do anything to get his hands on the map he needs, no matter the cost.
❝What I loved❞
✎ Everything! The Girl From Everywhere is full of magic, heart and adventure. Between the often heartbreaking relationship between Nix and her father and the interpersonal relationships between the crew, this book takes a hold of you and makes you care. The characters are vivid and layered and the unique method of time travel is every bit as magical and thrilling as it sounds.
✎ Kash is an utter delight; half romantic rogue and half not-quite-gentleman thief.
✎ The seamless inclusion of so many fragments of mythology and magic, all of which come together to weave an intriguing tapestry against which the story of The Girl From Everywhere plays out. It’s almost Urban Fantasy, with the modern setting from which Nix and the ship come and go, passing through as they please, but the time-hopping and seafaring aspects transform the story into something else entirely. Something completely enchanting.
✎ The fact that Heilig goes there with the dysfunction of Nix’s family, including suggestions of mental health issues as well as drug abuse. It’s hard and it hurts but it’s real and it’s written like a pro.
✎The “political bits”!
✎ Everything. I loved everything. This book is so, so long overdue a stellar, praise-singing review (which was why I did it first when beginning to tackle the terrifying backlog!), because it is a genuinely amazing book. A clear five stars with glitter and tasteful sparkles.
✎ Heidi herself is so lovely it’s almost criminal, to be honest. I had the great pleasure of interviewing her for Fantasy Faction, where she was an utter delight.
❝If you liked this…❞
…then you might also like: Into The Dim, by Janet B Taylor.
Because: It’s slightly similar in theme, e.g. unorthodox methods of time travel and a vividly-realised cast. Into The Dim isn’t as diverse (though it features a MC with Anxiety and phobias that aren’t exploited or there for ~drama~ and ~tension~, as well as non-white* secondary characters (a black teen in the modern day and a Jewish teen in the past)) with regards to the main characters, but the mental health and anxiety issues are handled sensitively and accurately. Unsure if it is #ownvoices in this regard.
* Written as “non-white” instead of PoC because whilst many Jewish people consider themselves White, many do not.
Revolutionary, I know. I’m going to get through the backlog with the least amount of pressure possible, and to this end, I’m going to start Friday Flash reviews. (Hopefully) weekly I will post a review of a book that I read anywhere between 2014 to present. So I don’t drown in yet more reviews, anything from now (May 2017) onwards will get reviewed as normal with the intention of blogging more frequently.
Alongside the Friday Flash reviews, I’ll be going through the massive backlog and seeing which books I bought but then didn’t read for months. These will be my Tsundoku Sundays and they’ll add a little variety, as well as being a pretty cool way of seeing which books I jumped on within a month or so of their release and which I–for whatever reason–left to gather a little dust on the shelves first.
I’m not good at writing short reviews, not gonna lie. But given my ever-limited number of spoons for both mental and physical exertion, posting reviews of 1.5k+ for each review very quickly gets tiring: in fact, that’s why, during the rough period that was 2014-2015, I barely managed to keep on top of anything at all. Things in my life were out of control and the first thing to slip was my blog. I want to fix that.