It’s the end of the world as we know it- at least, that’s what government officials are telling people. Aliens created Earth as an experiment- one that the people of Earth have failed. They have one week before the aliens decide to keep Earth or destroy it forever.
The three teenage main characters all set out to complete their lives with whatever is most important to them. This is a heavy book in many ways, but so good. It’s worth the emotional upheaval that you pretty much can’t avoid with this one.
Righting your wrongs in one week would be hard for anyone, but these kids have already seen their share of bad times.
Despite the Welcome to Night Vale vibes, the heaviness of this story does not stop. There is hope, but mostly I felt sad for these teens. (and the rest of humanity)
Here is my main takeaway, and it may or may not be a lesson the author was trying to place.
We, humans, want to believe. We want to think things are okay, even in the face of genuine evidence that they are not okay. In this scenario, there was no doubt that this was real and happening.
People still did everything they could to prove it wrong. Hope is necessary in dark times, but since this story is about teens and is from their POV, the characters made a ton of choices based on their feelings.
I feel like it is a great book to read in a group and discuss. There is a lot to dig into with this one, and I can’t wait to see what Ms. Rishi comes up with next.
Editing to add: Now that I have the book in my hands, it is even more amazing. I removed the dust jacket and found this:
Who’s ready for some ghost hunting Halloween vibes?
From the publisher:
When someone burns down the home of the school janitor and he dies in the blaze, everyone in Addamsville, Indiana, points a finger at Zora. Never mind that Zora has been on the straight and narrow since her father was thrown in jail. With everyone looking for evidence against her, her only choice is to uncover the identity of the real killer. There’s one big problem—Zora has no leads. No one does. Addamsville has a history of tragedy, and thirty years ago a similar string of fires left several townspeople dead. The arsonist was never caught.
Now, Zora must team up with her cousin Artemis—an annoying self-proclaimed Addamsville historian—to clear her name. But with a popular ghost-hunting television show riling up the townspeople, almost no support from her family and friends, and rumors spinning out of control, things aren’t looking good. Zora will have to read between the lines of Addamsville’s ghost stories before she becomes one herself.
I read this one in a single sitting. I found the small town Indiana setting charming and realistic. The characters are all full of snark and the story simply never lagged. It has more than a little overlap with both Stranger Things and Riverdale. I don’t watch Supernatural but, I know enough of the plot to say that it compares to that too.
If you are looking for scary “light” this one’s for you. Paranormal yes, horror, no.
Ok, usually I’m not one for a YA fantasy. I can honestly say that this book, although for sure a fantasy, is also a well-done (gay!) romance. The Sci-Fi elements are like the cherry on top for me.
What else did I love? Political Intrigue and the fact that in this world, you are either mortal or made.
It all began when human Queen Thea – who cannot bear children – commissions her people to build her a child. One who can replicate every aspect of human life. In this world, individuals are Made, with Four Pillars: Reason, Calculation, Organics, and Intellect.
Crier (automade) and Ayla (human) make a great couple. The dual point of view is so intriguing; the reader gets a little piece of the puzzle from one perspective or the other a little bit at a time leading up to a cliffhanger ending.
Finally, a book for all the teens of a specific size out there. Big ones. An anthology, but more importantly a primer of sorts of how to navigate this fat-phobic world. For too long life as an overweight teen was very don’t ask, don’t tell:
Don’t talk about finding stylish clothes, because it’s your fault you aren’t thinner.
Don’t eat sweets in front of anyone, because that’s how you gain weight.
Don’t accept the body you have. Being thin is the only good size.
Fat or thin, everyone deserves to feel comfortable in the body they own. These essays go a long way towards normalizing what actually already is normal. We have a weird twisted society sometimes. Can you imagine if suddenly it was shameful to have blonde hair? You’d be at the Doctor for a sore throat, and they’d wonder aloud, What are you doing to prevent your hair from getting lighter? When really you just want some antibiotics. This anthology is essential reading for fat teens and the people who love them just the way they are.
My favorite essays included are:
“For the Love of Ursula’s Revenge Body” by Julie Murphy
“Chubby City Indian” by Jana Schmeiding
“How To Be the Star of Your Own Fat Rom-Com” by Lily Anderson
“Elephant, Hippo, and Other Nicknames I Love” by Jes Baker
“Losing My Religion” by Jess Walton
All that said, I’m not sure if I’d hand this book to the lower end of the YA crowd. In many ways, it seems more like Adult non-fiction, although even young teens already know all of what is included with being fat. Maybe I’m just being a protective helicopter Mom, but with my own 14-year-old, I’m marking only specific essays for him to read. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)
I have one copy to give away!
Find my review on Twitter and re-tweet it.
I’ll draw a winner on Sunday, September 29, 2019.
You’ll have to wait until October 1, 2019 to get your hand on this one. Go ahead and feel free to pre-order it now.
I knew I’d enjoy this book for 9-13 year old kids from this line on page 2:
Clementine Morcerous knew that if the Dark Lord Elithor had three gifts in this world, they were:
The invention and implementation of magical Dastardly Deeds.
Not Talking About Anything
I was hooked from that point on. It’s a little bit like a Neil Gaiman book mixed with well, a female dark lord written for middle grade readers and me. I loved the opposite theming where Clementine has to grapple with feeling that although she’s always told that she needs to be as evil as possible, that doesn’t seem like the right path for her.
I know lots of kids who will love Clementine! She is dark (of course, as an evil warlord) but also caring. She cares about keeping her Dad in the evil Lord business and does it her own way after learning to ask for help from her new friends.
I wish this book weren’t so “out of the ordinary.” If all middle-grade authors handled the complicated business of growing up with the skill that Barbara Dee does, we’d all be better off. It’s not an “another book about bullying” as the issues of consent, and sexual harassment is much bigger and more complex. I wish there were more books for this age group that could capture and openly discusses all the feelings involved with being a middle school student. Not only does it have a positive outcome, but it models what confronting your harasser might look and feel like. As readers see Mila struggle and emerge stronger and happier, they might have the courage to follow in her footsteps.
From the publisher:
For seventh grader Mila, it starts with an unwanted hug on the school blacktop.
The next day, it’s another hug. A smirk. Comments. It all feels…weird. According to her friend Zara, Mila is being immature, overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?
But it keeps happening, despite Mila’s protests. On the bus, in the halls. Even during band practice-the one time Mila could always escape to her “blue-sky” feeling. It seems like the boys are EVERYWHERE. And it doesn’t feel like flirting–so what is it?
Mila starts to gain confidence when she enrolls in karate class. But her friends still don’t understand why Mila is making such a big deal about the boys’ attention. When Mila is finally pushed too far, she realizes she can’t battle this on her own–and finds help in some unexpected places.
I’m an unabashed Barbara Dee fan. I also enjoyed her previous books: Star-Crossed and Halfway Normal. This book will be available on October 1, 2019
I’m hoping to get Self-Published Books up here at least once a week. They may not have easily clickable purchase buttons, but I promise to search out some titles that you may never find on your own.
If you or your kids are chess players this book is like nothing else I’ve seen. Erik has taken the winning moves for over a thousand historic chess games recorded from 1938-2005 and recorded them within the pages of this book.
Part puzzle book, part logic puzzle and all chess history, you can play with a partner or use a chess clock and beat your own time.
Erik has thoughtfully included an answer key in the back and all the chess board layouts are easy to decipher. They also include the details about the game so if you have a favorite player you can look up all their games.
It’s pretty cool.
To purchase this book contact the author at: Erik@owan.org