Sunday, July 30, 2017

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys edited by April Genevieve Tucholke

"Darkness grew where it would and took what it wanted. It staked its claim and never let go.
And no one else could pry you free of it..."

This collection of short stories features so many amazing authors (April Genevieve Tucholke, A.G. Howard, Marie Lu, Megan Sheperd, Cat Winters, Carrie Ryan...and that's just the ones I've read) that I HAD to read it. I was a teensy bit nervous that they would scare me too much, but there wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Basically just the right amount of scare for me. It's also really cool how every story lists inspirations at the end, such as other stories or books, movies, or songs.

Among my favorite stories was Carrie Ryan's "In the Forest Dark and Deep." It's about a girl named Cassidy who used to have tea parties in a clearing in the woods with the March Hare, who is not a harmless little rabbit. I also really loved Megan Sheperd's "Hide-and-Seek," about a girl playing a game with Death. I really wished that Jonathan Maberry's zombie story, "Fat Girl with a Knife," had been longer. I'd probably even read it as a full length book. Finally, A.G. Howard's "Stitches" was full-on weird and also full-on amazing.

On the other hand, I wasn't a fan of Tucholke's own story, "The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh." It's a little predictable, and one of the several stories that feature boys who suck. Though you have to admit that boys do often suck, they suck especially hard when they're being murdery and rapey and the spawn of Satan. Guess that's why they call them "Monster Boys."

This was definitely a good collection. My biggest complaint is that I wished most of the stories were longer. For a decent dose of horror and chills, I definitely recommend Slasher Girls and Monster Boys.

100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen

"Of course she's right; I am pathetic. But it's not like I want to be this way- the heaviest 120-pound girl in the entire state of Florida..."
Molly hasn't been okay since her meltdown at her swim team's regionals. She had been suffering from depression before then, and is still struggling. Because of it, she doesn't want to get her driver's license or think about what she will do after high school. All she enjoys is working at the tropical fish store, FishTopia, with her friend Alex. They watch Golden Girls and eat lo mein, and Alex is the only person who treats her like she's normal.

In order to help her daughter, Molly's mother is trying a self help book called A Baker's Journey: 100 Days of Cake. She has been making a new cake every day. Most of the time, Molly pretends to like the cakes, but she really never does. 

Other than Alex, Molly's other bright spot is her therapist, Dr. Brooks. She has a huge crush on him, and he seems to like her as well. She talks with him about Alex, and he's sort of dismissive, almost jealous. What made me uncomfortable with this book is how Molly and Dr. Brooks cross the line between patient and doctor. We also never see him receive consequences for his misconduct, which is upsetting.

The big turning point comes when we learn FishTopia has been sold. Molly is devastated. She works really hard to get new customers, even throws a big benefit party to save the only good things in her life: FishTopia and her relationship with Alex.

100 Days of Cake sounded really good, and I love contemporary teen books that deal with mental illness. Molly was cool, but I was a bit frustrated with her at times. The therapist plot was pretty icky. What I liked about the book was how even though things get somewhat better at the end, Molly still has her mental illness. Just like in real life, it's not going to be miraculously cured. Yet we can still have a happily ever after. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

"Look to the stars. Aim. Ignite."

Geekerella, to no one's surprise, is an adaptation of the beloved fairy tale Puss in Boots. I kid, I kid, it's Cinderella. Oh, we have such fun at my blog!* Anyways, in all seriousness, this is such a fun book. I love how nerd culture has become more mainstream, and I love how there are so many great YA books celebrating it. And I really loved Geekerella, even though the name is silly.**

 Our Cinderella is named Danielle, or Elle. She is forced to deal with a bitchy stepmother, Catherine, and two evil stepsisters, Calliope and Chloe, after her father's death. Elle works at the Magic Pumpkin, a vegan food truck, with green-haired Sage. Her life is somewhat awful, between being forced to do chores at home, being mocked by the twins' country club friends at school, and basically ignored by Sage at work. Her one safe place is Starfield.

Starfield was a television show Elle used to watch with her father. She is so involved in the show that she runs a blog called Rebelgunner. Starfield is set for a movie reboot, and Elle tunes in for a big announcement on a morning talk show. To her disappointment, the lead role of Prince Carmindor goes to teen heartthrob Darien Freeman. She writes a fairly scathing review of the casting, and it even gets picked up by national publications.

Meanwhile, Darien is a famous actor, but also a giant nerd at heart. Prince Carmindor is his dream role, he has loved Starfield long before he was famous. His manager/father Mark, schedules him for an appearance at ExcelsiCon, thinking that he will enjoy it. Darien hasn't enjoyed cons since his ex-best friend betrayed him, so he decides to text someone from the con to cancel.

 Elle's dad actually created ExcelsiCon. His number is still listed on the website, and Elle has his phone because Catherine refuses to get her a new one. When Darien texts her, she gives him a hard time about cancelling, and he decides to attend after all. The two end up texting back and forth about Starfield and life and stuff. They start to fall in like, maybe even love. The only issue is that they don't actually know who they're texting. She has no idea he is Darien, and he has no idea she is the critic from Rebelgunner.

ExcelsiCon has a cosplay contest where first prize is a trip to the premier of Starfield in Los Angeles, and Elle has her eye on it. Her dream is to pack up the neighbor's neglected dachshund and drive far away from Catherine. While cleaning the attic, she finds a trunk with her parents' old cosplay costumes, and she decides to alter her father's old Carmindor uniform to fit her. Sage is an aspiring fashion designer, and agrees to serve as fairy godmother by altering the costume. The girls also start to become friends, and Elle introduces her to Starfield.

Everything comes together at ExcelsiCon. It's pretty amazing, actually. The book isn't perfect, but it's pretty darn adorable. Elle and Darien were pretty squee-inducing. What can I say, I'm a sucker for nerd love. My only problem is that I really wish that Starfield was a real show, because I kinda want to watch it.

* Please don't judge me too harshly. I know, it's kind of obnoxious and dumb, I'm sorry. Pretend it never happened.
** Seriously, this is one of those titles where I dreaded someone asking what I was reading. I would just cringe. I loved the book, but would rather die than have to say that title out loud.