Posts By: Layla

The Invasion of the Tearling: Review

The Invasion of the Tearling: Review

The Invasion of the Tearling is not the book The Queen of the Tearling was for me. (This is to say that I was not excitedly texting everyone I knew at 4 a.m. telling them to GO READ THIS BOOK.) In part, this is because The Invasion of the Tearling is a much more ambitious, a much darker, and a much harder book to read than its predecessor. One of the criticisms I remember seeing quite a bit around the interwebz for The Queen of the Tearling was the lack of clarity around The Tearling’s backstory. “What is this crazy dystopian medieval fantasy land and why are we given very little information about how it came into being?” For those of you who had those feels, let me tell you that a good 50% of this book is dedicated to answering precisely those questions. The Invasion of the Tearling alternates… Read more »

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Challenger Deep: Review

Challenger Deep: Review

Challenger Deep is a difficult book to read, but it’s worth it. I’ve been excited about Challenger Deep since I heard Neal Shusterman and his son, Brendan, speak about it at NCTE and ALAN. They both spoke pretty openly about the family’s experience with mental illness, and also mentioned that some of the artwork Brendan had created during his illness had been incorporated into the final novel. I’ve been really interested in seeing what the book would look like since then. More complex representations of mental illness can only be a good thing when it comes to YA lit, and I’m happy to say that Challenger Deep absolutely satisfies on that count. Challenger Deep takes the form of two alternating narratives: Caden Bosch’s day-to-day life with his friends and family, which is becoming increasingly disrupted by his mental illness, and his other life as the artist-in-residence aboard a ship. The ship is headed… Read more »

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Devoted: Review

Devoted: Review

I don’t know how to convince you to read Devoted, but I think you should. It’s not the sort of thing I usually pick up – I do read broadly, but my favorite books are more likely to be sci-fi or fantasy than contemporaries – but I’m glad that I did, in this case. Devoted hasn’t seemed to receive much attention so far and I’m not sure why? Because this book is an excellent, though very quiet, character study. And in addition to this, it’s beautifully written and it engages with many issues that are central to young adult literature. It’s a good one, you all. (And I don’t think you need to be religious or Christian to read it; do not be scared off by the title or the synopsis. I grew up in an interfaith household that was super different from this, and liked it anyway.) The central premise is as follows:… Read more »

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Top Ten Tuesday (2): Ten Authors I REALLY Want to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday (2): Ten Authors I REALLY Want to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, the theme is “Ten Authors I REALLY Want to Meet” and we’re happy to be participating. A favor before we begin! For the purposes of this post, assume that “meet” means something like … “I see them and listen to them talk about things.” Because I was rendered speechless by, for example, meeting Sarah J. Maas last year, I don’t necessarily have a lot of faith in my ability to meet my most favorite authors and not freak out. So let’s try to imagine these as scenarios where I am dignified and never, ever lose my cool. Thank you.          1. Naomi Novik Naomi Novik is at the tippity-top of my list right now because I just finished Uprooted at Kim’s suggestion a few days ago (because Kim is the best) and, you all, I… Read more »

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An Ember in the Ashes: Review

An Ember in the Ashes: Review

I couldn’t put Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes down. This is a statement of fact: I picked it up late at night when I couldn’t sleep, started reading, and had to force myself to go to bed approximately 300 pages later. (Wendy can vouch for me here as the lucky recipient of some early morning “OH MY GOD THIS IS SO GOOD” texts. Hopefully she didn’t mind too much because she liked it, too!) I can’t remember the last time this happened and it was excellent. It reminded me of how I felt about reading as a teenager, which is to say that I was engrossed in Sabaa Tahir’s imaginary world. And that is basically what I want to reiterate, now that An Ember in the Ashes is out and ready and waiting to keep you up at night. Oh my God, you guys. This book is so good. It’s… Read more »

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The Wrath and the Dawn: Review

The Wrath and the Dawn: Review

My subtitle for The Wrath and the Dawn: A (Whole New) World of No. This book seemed chock-full of things I love: a good enemies-to-friends romance! something inspired by One Thousand and One Nights! and, last but not least, as an Arab-American, a story with a kickass Middle Eastern protagonist. So you can see why I fully expected to enjoy this one. I kept on seeing rave reviews for this on GoodReads and Twitter, so my hopes were way up. But in truth? I was not the biggest fan of this book, you all, and I’m still sad about it. (Though I am not alone in my black sheep pen: Wendy was mostly underwhelmed by this, too.) I want to begin, though, by making mention of the things I did like: Shazi is pretty excellent. She is brave, she knows how to use a bow and arrow, she’s mouthy, and she’s out for revenge. These… Read more »

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Denton Little’s Deathdate: Review

Denton Little’s Deathdate: Review

The premise for Denton Little’s Deathdate: Denton Little lives in a world where everyone knows the day they will die. When you’re born, your guardians send in some hair and blood, and bam! Deathdate revealed. Denton is an Early – a person whose deathdate falls before their 21st birthday – and he just wants to be a normal teenager who *isn’t* fated to die during his senior year of high school. Denton’s deathdate also happens to fall on the same day of his senior prom. So the book takes us through Denton’s final days on this earth: a brutal hangover, his own funeral, sex with his girlfriend, sex he can’t remember with his best friend’s sister, a strange cop who keeps following him around, a strange man who promises he knows mysterious things about his dead mother – all culminating in prom night, the day Denton is supposed to die. (Whether this… Read more »

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