I’m starting a new series of Netgalley mini reviews, where I’ll be sharing a batch of several short review for books I’ve read through Netgalley! Today I’m sharing the first batch 🙂
I received all of these books through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Gods of Jade and Shadow
Casiopea lives with her abusive grandfather and the rest of her family, who have her and her mother doing chores for them. She dreams of moving to the city. Upon opening a chest in her grandfather’s bedroom, she unleashes a god of death, and he is bound to her. And then the story ensues.
This started off so well for me, I thought it might end up being a 5 star read. It drew me in right from the very first sentence. And I will say overall, this book is beautifully written, and very atmospheric. But unfortunately, it ended up being too dense for me to fully be able to enjoy the story.
Usually, I only encounter mythology in middlegrade, and it’s hardly ever Mayan mythology. So it’s very refreshing to see this represented in an adult novel, and I thought it was very interestingly done. I also liked Casiopea as a main character: she’s bold and she isn’t easily intimidated, and she takes no shit. But because the story moved so slowly, I found it hard to keep paying attention, and the book lost me about halfway through. On top of that, I found the romance to be quite unnecessary.
All in all, I find it a little hard to rate this book, because I definitely think it’s well written and I did enjoy it for the most part, but at the same time, it was just a little too dense and too slow for me to really love it.
CWs: past death of a parent, abusive grandparent, colorism, misogyny, alcohol consumption
Nic Stone – Jackpot
I really loved Nic Stone’s previous two books, and I actually got to meet her in April this year, which was super lovely. So I was very excited to already be able to read her newest book. And for the most part, I really enjoyed this one too. It’s an important read for sure. I don’t think I’ve read any YA books that handle the topic of class and the impact money problems have on your life this well, since this was the main focus of the book and it usually seems to be more of a side issue. This was very interesting, and, honestly, stressful, to read.
But unfortunately, I couldn’t fully enjoy this novel either. It took me quite a long time to get into it, and even then, I just really didn’t click with the writing style, There were some short chapters from the POVs of inanimate objects, which just really didn’t work for me. And both the plot and the relationships between the characters were often so incredibly messy. To some extent, this worked really well as it breathed life into them and made them feel more realistic, but I would have preferred a more structured character development. I will say, I really loved Rico’s little brother!
Rep: black MC, half Mexican side character
CWs: hospitals, financial problems, mentions of alcoholism, mention of panic attacks
Morgan Parker – Who Put This Song On?
Who Put This Song On? is a memoir of the author’s life, with many fictionalized aspects, according to the author’s note in the back. This authenticity really shines through in the novel, as it deals with a lot of heavy topics in a very real way. Morgan felt like a very realistic and relatable main character.
The book is set around the time Obama was first elected as president, which is exactly the time I went to high school too, so this was a really fun read for me, with a lot of recognizable elements in terms of music, fashion and other pop culture references.
The way Morgan deals with her depression and anxiety were very relatable as well. However, I did think this could have been portrayed more elaborately. The book had so much to focus on that it sometimes seemed to lose track, and it felt a little all over the place at times.
It’s also a book that’s very much focused on topics such as racism, from daily microaggressions to police brutality, and especially on the way this impacts the daily life of one teenage girl. Morgan was a very well-rounded character, but this also meant that the other characters were pretty flat, which was a shame to me. I would have loved to see more of a development of the relationship between Morgan and her parents and brother, for instance.
All in all, this was a very good read, but one that I would have probably enjoyed more if it had been a little more structured.
Rep: black MC, black side characters, gay side character, Afro-Latinx side characters
CWs: racism, police brutality, homophobia, depression, anxiety, mentions of suicide (ideation), alcohol consumption, drug use
Sue Cheung – Chinglish
At first, I quite enjoyed this quirky novel that read like younger YA and reminded me of the Georgia Nicholson books with its lightheartedness and diary entries.
But it quickly became apparent that the book also dealt with some heavy topics, that became more and more prevalent the further the book went on.
Ultimately, I just didn’t know what this book was trying to achieve by portraying such horrible abuse in such a quirky format. The result was that any real emotional depth went missing, and it just seemed like the subject matter wasn’t taken seriously. It really felt like this book was having some sort of identity crisis.
Rep: Chinese MC
CWs: parental abuse & neglect, violence, animal death & abuse, (internalized) racism and racist slurs
Carrie S. Allen – Michigan Vs. The Boys
In this book, our main character Michigan joins the boys’ team when the girls’ hockey team loses its funding. The boys aren’t happy about that, and neither is their coach, so she has to deal with violent misogyny and abuse from them. Which made this book a very anger-inducing read. I especially found myself angry at the coach, who has a daughter himself but is so extremely misogynistic that I hated him even more than Michigan’s team mates.
Beyond anger though, this book really didn’t make me feel much. The main reason for that is that the book isn’t very fleshed out. There’s the main issues, yes, but aside from that, the characters don’t have much depth, and neither does the setting. It’s sometimes hard to follow the story and parts of it feel rushed, like the start and ending of Michigan’s relationship.
CWs: toxic masculinity, misogyny/sexism, assault/violence, rape drugs & attempted rape, bullying, diet talk, homophobic language (“d*ke” used as a slur), ableist language (mostly from the bullies)
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