Author: M.A. Bennett
Published: August 10, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.
It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.
But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…
I’m not sure what is going on with my summer reading! I don’t go searching out controversial fiction . . . in fact, I try to avoid it! But no, summer 2018, Kim unknowingly picks all the political fiction! How many times have I said that I don’t want politics, no matter how subtle, in my fiction. I just want to escape and immerse myself into another world and leave the problems of reality behind! If I wanted to be guilt tripped about my race or economic status, then I’d just turn on CNN!
S.T.A.G.S. started out great. I really liked it and I was whippin’ thru it fast! Sure, I rolled my eyes at some of the “woke” undertones, but I liked Greer, the protagonist, and was enjoying the story, so I kept going. Hey, authors are allowed to have opinions too! But then, I made the mistake of looking at the Acknowledgements, and it was all downhill from there. Someone who has to point out that she’s half Venetian, went to Oxford and the University of Venice, and got married on the Grand Canal, and then starts going after others for having privilege?? The hypocrisy makes all that condemnation, however subtle, ring very hollow. The sad thing is that I was really enjoying the story! I would have even finished it with mild annoyance with the pandering “diversity” talk . . . but the hypocrisy! It ruined it!
And I know, this review is based on my own opinions and political affiliation and my low threshold of annoyance. Someone else can read this book and think it’s awesome . . . I envy that person. But alas, I am not that mature nor patient. Hence, I must stay true to myself and I’ve given it 3 stars. May my next book be filled with innocent whimsy and light-heartedness!
P.S. She specialized in using Shakespeare’s plays as a historical source . . . My heart just died, and not in a good way!
Author: Nic Stone
Published: October 17, 2017
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 21-26, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.
Dear Martin succeeded for me where The Hate U Give failed: It captured the police brutality and racism that sadly does occur on a black teen youth who did everything right.
Dear Martin is a unique novel in the young adult genre: we have a male point of view! This was quite refreshing as male POVs are a rarity. This is a short novel ( just over 200 pages) that would be perfect for all teens. There are other subjects addressed that teens face today.
I really liked Justyce! He really is a good kid who finds himself in a bad situation more than once. You feel all the emotions he experiences. I really enjoyed the letters he writes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, we really get to know Justyce. I found myself wishing that MLK Jr. was still alive to answer and give advice to Justyce. In some ways I felt I got to know MLK Jr. himself.
Dear Martin takes place in Atlanta and I live in Metro Atlanta, which added to my enjoyment. When certain areas were mentioned (“Let’s go hike Stone Mountain”: OMG, I’ve been there MANY times!) Nic Stone lives in the Atlanta area so she is local to me, and I am all about supporting ‘local to me’ authors!
Dear Martin was Stone’s debut novel and I look forward to see what she does next. Her second novel Odd One Out will be released October 9th. Dear Martin is one that everyone should read!
Dear Martin is very highly recommended.
Author: Frances Hardinge
Published: May 10, 2012
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3.5 stars
In Caverna, lies are an art — and everyone’s an artist…
In the underground city of Caverna the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare. They create wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned. Only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear — at a price.
Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell’s emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed…
I have had this book on my shelf for a while. I bought it on BookOutlet for a great price and the synopsis sounded really good! But, y’all know I’m a pretty ADD reader and I got distracted so I only just now picked it up and read it. And I wish I could say that I loved it . . . and I did strongly like the last half, but that’s about it. It was just really slow in the beginning.
Thankfully, the mystery of Neverfell’s identity was firmly established from the beginning and it was that that kept me reading. What I thought would fascinate me most, a group of people who have no facial expressions and must be taught expressions only by facesmiths, actually got really old, really fast. For some reason, it just didn’t capture my imagination like I thought it was going to.
Once Neverfell got involved in the politics and elite of Caverna, things started to finally get interesting. I liked how little mysteries kept creeping in to try to distract from the main story and throw you off. I found the Grand Steward to be the most fascinating character of all! Because he has lived so long, he has trained his body to sleep only one half at a time . . . as in his left side is awake while his right side sleeps. And both sides have different personalities!! I will admit that he saved the story for me. Once the Grand Steward entered, I was good to finish the book. Had it been half the length it was, I think I would have liked it a lot better. Overall, I would say that this book is worth reading once, but I’ll probably never come back to it. It’s also safe for younger teens, at least the detail-oriented ones! I can’t say that I would recommend this to all teens, but you could definitely do a lot worse!