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Review: We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

May 31, 2018
We Are The Ants, Shaun David Hutchinson, InToriLex, Book Review
Published By: Simon Pulse on January 19, 2016
Format Read: Kindle Edition (464 pages)
Genre: Young Adult / LGBTQ/ Fantasy
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Purchased
Rating: FIVE STARS
We Are The Ants
~Amazon~ 
Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button.

Only he isn’t sure he wants to.

After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year.

Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him.

But Henry is a scientist first, and facing the question thoroughly and logically, he begins to look for pros and cons: in the bully who is his perpetual one-night stand, in the best friend who betrayed him, in the brilliant and mysterious boy who walked into the wrong class. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever. 

VERDICT:

Content Warning: Suicide, Depression, Bullying, Abandonment

REVIEW:

I'm still in awe after reading such a wonderful, well thought out and memorable book. Henry is a charismatic protagonist who is trying to figure out if our planet is worth saving. The depression he's grappling with while dealing with his boyfriend's suicide and the complicated dynamics of having a romance with his bully is making it all seem futile. However he slowly realizes the complexity of his relationships with family and friends and starts to feel a little less conflicted about saving humanity.The aliens he encounters as well as the other fantasy elements in this book gave enough for the reader to be transported right along with Henry.
“Your entire sense of self-worth is predicated upon your belief that you matter, that you matter to the universe. But you don't. Because we are the ants.” 
The story and character development flowed together seamlessly. I cheered for and got frustrated with all of the characters at different points in the book. Books that address  bullying, mental illness and have diverse representation of race and sexual orientation are crucial. Teens can be ostracized for just existing as they are. This was a wonderful representation of exactly how hard it can be growing up. Everyone is less flawed and deserving of empathy when you look at them up close. This book was a great representation of this.
“Sometimes I think gravity may be death in disguise. Other times I think gravity is love, which is why love's only demand is that we fall." 
I would recommend this book to everyone who can deal with the serious topics it covers. I was emotionally moved and intellectually challenged by the perspectives of these characters. It took me too long  to read this book but I look forward to reading other books by this author.  


Recommended for Readers Who
- enjoy reading about serious topics and LGTBQ three dimensional characters
- want to think deeply about how they approach and go through life
- enjoy coming of age stories with relatable issues and family relationships

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaun is a major geek and all about nerdy shenanigans. He is the author of We Are the Ants, The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, The Deathday Letter, fml, and the editor of the anthology Violent Ends. Find out more information at shaundavidhutchinson.com. He currently lives in South Florida with his dog and watches way too much Doctor Who.
WEBSITE
TWITTER
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Review: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

May 29, 2018
The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), Maggie Stiefvater, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Scholastic Audio on September 12, 2012
Format Read: Audiobook (Timestamp 11hr 8 mins)
Genre: Young Adult/ Paranormal/ Romance
Series: Book One of The Raven Cycle
Source: Library via Hoopla
Rating: THREE  STARS
The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)
~Amazon~ 
 "There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve," Neeve said. "Either you're his true love . . . or you killed him."

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them-not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He has it all-family money, good looks, devoted friends-but he's looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we've never been before.

VERDICT:


Content Warning: Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Suicide Attempt, Murder, Mental Illness, Gore

REVIEW:

This book has been on my TBR list for years. I was really excited to dive in because its part of a well loved series in the book community. However the slow moving plot and flow of the story did not pan out the way I hoped. Blue is a head strong protagonist trying to to grow up while grappling with the paranormal through her family of psychics. She befriends the Raven Boys who attend a private boys school and are intent on finding the mythical Raven King. Their journeys together and apart were really engaging and well thought out. However the suspense of the mystery and paranormal elements fell flat for me.
"My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them."
Blue is a character you want to cheer for but the Raven Boys didn't have many redeeming characteristics except for Adam. Adam who attends school on scholarship was stubbornly self reliant in a frustrating but not enduring way. The underlying mystery of where the Raven King is took a backseat to introducing the characters and side conflicts of the books. There was a lot of teenage angst described well but it didn't amount to much for the plot. The story and characters were unique but I wasn't expecting such a character driven book for this paranormal series.
"She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness."
There were memorable scenes and twists that surprised me, so in no way is this a bad book. The huge fandom surrounding the series caused me to create high expectations. The romance was believable and seemed naturally developing, but was left to be continued in the next book. The author was able to realistically and empathetically describe serious topics. However Blue's family of psychics held my interest more than any of the main characters of the book. This read like a great set up for what's next but didn't stand well on its own. I won't be continuing the series but will be reading more from this author in the future.

Recommended for Readers Who
- enjoy romance with paranormal elements
- interested in a multi-book historically based mystery
- enjoy character driven stories

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader.

All of Maggie Stiefvater's life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you're a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she's tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She's made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.

WEBSITE
TWITTER
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Sunday Post #7 May 29, 2018

May 27, 2018
Sunday Post, InToriLex
Sunday Post is a Book Blog Meme hosted at the Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a post used to summarize what has happened on your blog for the past week, and preview what's next. 

LAST WEEK

Review: Habibi by Craig Thompson

Book Scoop May 18- May 25, 2018

COMING SOON

Mental Health Awareness Month Book Recommendations 

Review: LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff

Audio Book Review: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Review: We Are The Ants by

May Wrap Up/ June TBR

AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE

Avalinah Shares Tools to Be A Organized Blogger

What the Log Reviews Her Body and Other Parties

Paper Wanderer Reviews Frankenstein in Bagdad 

BOOKS HAULED

Some Trick, Helen Dewitt, InToriLex
Some Trick by Helen DeWitt (Won from Publisher New Directions)

Library Haul, InToriLex
Hauled From My Local Library 
Black Hole by Charles Burns
Lucille (Lucille #1) by Ludovic Debeurme, Edward Gauvin (Translator)
Renée (Lucille #2) by Ludovic Debeurme
 Watchmen by Alan Moore

LIFE LATELY 

I have been really behind on reading and blogging these past few weeks. Part of it has been because of work stress and I'm also dealing with some anxiety which comes and goes. I'm hoping to catch up on comments and get back on track with reading for June. I haven't read a five star read in a while, so I'm hoping my next reads will be awesome. I'm currently listening to Home (Binti, #2) by Nnedi Okorafor on AudioBook and reading LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff (almost done) and Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl (just started and excited.
 
How did your reading go this week?
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Book Scoop May 18- May 25, 2018

May 25, 2018
InToriLex, Book Scoop, Book News
Book Industry News, Links & New Book Releases
Anger Is a Gift, Mark Oshiro, InToriLex
Anger Is a Gift
~Amazon~
Six years ago, Moss Jefferies' father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media's vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.
The Outsider by Stephen King 
The Outsider, Stephen King, InToriLex
The Outsider
~Amazon~
An eleven-year-old boy is found in a town park, hideously assaulted and murdered. The fingerprints (and later DNA) are unmistakably those of the town’s most popular baseball coach, Terry Maitland, a man of impeccable reputation, with a wife and two daughters. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland coached, orders an immediate and public arrest. Maitland is taken to jail, his claim to innocence scorned. Maitland has a foolproof alibi, with footage to prove that he was in another city when the crime was committed. But that doesn't save him either.

King constructs a propulsive plot, and a race against time to uncover the identity of a terrifying and diabolical killer who has left victims—and “perpetrators”—across the country, and who is on his way to his next horrific act.

King’s psychological suspense is at its most riveting in this extraordinarily dramatic and eerie story. He is devastatingly vivid on the experience of being falsely blamed—the effect on the accused, the spouse, the children; the suspicion of friends, even the most loyal; the impossibility of ever being innocent again (if you are lucky enough to live). He is also masterful at showing us that supernatural monsters are startlingly like human beings who do monstrous things.
Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Monday's Not Coming,Tiffany D. Jackson, InToriLex
Monday's Not Coming
A gripping, relentless, and timely new novel from critically acclaimed author of Allegedly, Tiffany D. Jackson, about the complex mystery of one teenage girl’s disappearance and the traumatic effects of the truth.

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?

Star of the North by D.B. John
Star of the North, D.B. John, InToriLex
Star of the North
 Star of the North opens in 1998, when a Korean American teenager is kidnapped from a South Korean beach by North Korean operatives. Twelve years later, her brilliant twin sister, Jenna, is still searching for her, and ends up on the radar of the CIA. When evidence that her sister may still be alive in North Korea comes to light, Jenna will do anything possible to rescue her--including undertaking a daring mission into the heart of the regime. Her story is masterfully braided together with two other narrative threads. In one, a North Korean peasant woman finds a forbidden international aid balloon and uses the valuables inside to launch a dangerously lucrative black-market business. In the other, a high-ranking North Korean official discovers, to his horror, that he may be descended from a traitor, a fact that could mean his death if it is revealed. As the novel progresses, these narrative strands converge and connect in surprising ways, ultimately building to an explosive and unforgettable climax. 
Did I miss anything in the book world? Let me know in the comments below
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Review: Habibi by Craig Thompson

May 21, 2018
Habibi, Craig Thompson, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Pantheon on September 20, 2011
Format Read: Hardcover Edition (672 pages)
Genre: Comic/ Middle Eastern Inspired/ Adult
Series: Standalone
Source: Library
Rating: TWO STARS
Habibi
~Amazon~ 
Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth—and frailty—of their connection.

At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.

VERDICT:

Content Warning: Rape, Drug Use, Poverty, Sexual Abuse, Genital Mutilation, Prostitution, Violence, Racist

REVIEW:

This book broke my heart and stomped on the pieces multiple times. It was engaging and unique but also extremely problematic. Habibi means Beloved in Arabic, and the story follows Dodola and Zam through horrific hardships and pain. The journey is interspersed with stories from Christianity and Islam, using the commonalities between the two to create a hybrid story. The artwork was masterfully done but the portrayals of the people and culture of Wantolia included caricature and stereotypes of the Middle Eastern cultures this drew inspiration from. The author has acknowledged he was inspired by Orientalist artist who interpret the Middle East through a western lens which is often racist. I didn't know this book before reading it. I did enjoy the characters and story telling but wish I knew this before I decided to read it.
Habibi, InToriLex, Craig Thompson
Dodola had to endure sexual violence over and over throughout her life. The portrayals of rape was sexualized at times and woman were usually powerless to the authority around them. The use of magical realism through images helped the author capture powerful feelings and inspire empathy. The religiously based stories bridge connections between Islam and Christianity highlighting their commonalities. However I was hoping that the stories would lead to a interconnected place. I found myself invested in the characters but was shocked by the extreme sexual violence and sterotypes that were portrayed. I did manage to finish the book and it did make me think deeply at times. But I wouldn't have read this book if I knew the author was inspired by racist views, and used inspiration from a culture to further degrade it to western readers. The only reason I gave it two stars is because I managed to finish it and enjoyed the characters.
Habibi, InToriLex, Book Review

Not Recommended for Readers who
- want to  learn about middle eastern culture
- enjoy feminists portrayals and themes
- want to support authors who approach serious topics thoughtfully

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Craig Ringwalt Thompson (b. September 21, 1975 in Traverse City, Michigan) is a graphic novelist best known for his 2003 work Blankets. Thompson has received four Harvey Awards, two Eisner Awards, and two Ignatz Awards. In 2007, his cover design for the Menomena album Friend and Foe received a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package.
WEBSITE 
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Sunday Post #6 May 20, 2018

May 20, 2018
Sunday Post, InToriLex
Sunday Post is a Book Blog Meme hosted at the Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a post used to summarize what has happened on your blog for the past week, and preview what's next. 

LAST WEEK



COMING SOON

Mental Health Awareness Month Book Recommendations 

Review: Habibi by Craig Thompson 

Audio Book Review: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Review: We Are The Ants by

Review: Persepolis by

AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE



BOOKS HAULED


The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert (Sent to by Gallery Books)
 Every Watering Word by Tanya Manning-Yarde (Sent by Author)

LIFE LATELY 

This has been a rough week for me reading and posting wise. I've taken on more responsibilities at work and have been exhausted most weeknights this past week. I'm not beating myself up over it but I am hoping to read more this week. I'm happy the book mail has slowed down, so I can focus on what I have. I'm currently listening to Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor on AudioBook and reading Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li and LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff


How did your reading go this week?
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Book Scoop May 11- May 18, 2018

May 18, 2018
InToriLex, Book Scoop, Book News Book Industry News, Links & New Book Releases

HEADLINES

Ursula K Le. Guin Documentary Trailer Released

May 16th is Tracy K Smith Day in Minnesota

Stan Lee Sues Pow Entertainment for 1 Billion  

Writers Urge China To Release Nobel Laureate's Wife from House Arrest

LINKS TO CLICK

Cary Davie's Top Ten Wilderness Books 

Suspenseful Thrillers to Listen to on Audio  

Genre Bookshops From Around the World

BOOK RELEASES 

All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
All of This Is True, Lygia Day Peñaflor, InToriLex

~Amazon~
Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now.

As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault. Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .
What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee What I Leave Behind, Alison McGhee, InToriLex

What I Leave Behind
~Amazon~
The Memory of Forgotten Things by Kat Zhang
The Memory of Forgotten Things, Kat Zhang, InToriLex
The Memory of Forgotten Things
~Amazon~ 
One of the happiest memories twelve-year-old Sophia Wallace has is of her tenth birthday. Her mother made her a cake that year—and not a cake from a box-mix, but from scratch. She remembers the way the frosting tasted, the way the pink sugar roses dissolved on her tongue.

This memory, and a scant few others like it, is all Sophia has of her mother, so she keeps them close. She keeps them secret, too. Because as paltry as these memories are, she shouldn’t have them at all.

The truth is, Sophia Wallace’s mother died when she was six years old. But that isn’t how she remembers it. Not always.

Sophia has never told anyone about her unusual memories—snapshots of a past that never happened. But everything changes when Sophia gets assigned a school research project on solar eclipses. She becomes convinced that the upcoming solar eclipse will grant her the opportunity to make her alternate life come true, to enter a world where her mother never died.

With the help of two misfit boys, she must figure out a way to bring her mother back to her—before the opportunity is lost forever.
The Favorite Sister, Jessica Knoll, InToriLexThe Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll
The Favorite Sister
~Amazon~
When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story.

And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.
Did I miss anything in the book world? Let me know in the comments below
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