1. The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for review consideration.
What would you do if you could literally rewrite your fate—on Facebook? This heartwarming and hilarious new novel from the authors of The Perfect Life follows a woman who discovers she can change her life through online status updates.
Kate is a thirty-five-year-old woman who is obsessed with social media. So when her fiancé, Max, breaks things off at their rehearsal dinner—to be with Kate’s close friend and coworker, no less—she goes straight to Facebook to share it with the world. But something’s changed. Suddenly, Kate’s real life starts to mirror whatever she writes in her Facebook status. With all the power at her fingertips, and heartbroken and confused over why Max left her, Kate goes back in time to rewrite their history.
Kate’s two best friends, Jules and Liam, are the only ones who know the truth. In order to convince them she’s really time traveled, Kate offers to use her Facebook status to help improve their lives. But her attempts to help them don’t go exactly as planned, and every effort to get Max back seems to only backfire, causing Kate to wonder if it’s really possible to change her fate.
In The Status of All Things, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke combine the humor and heart of Sarah Pekkanen and Jennifer Weiner while exploring the pitfalls of posting your entire life on the Internet. They raise the questions: What if you could create your picture-perfect life? Would you be happy? Would you still be you? For anyone who’s ever attempted—or failed—to be their perfect self online, this is a story of wisdom and wit that will leave you with new appreciation for the true status of your life.
I had my hopes for a fun, light, read with this book, but what I got instead was apparently a script ripped from the Hallmark Movie Channel, complete with the magical women of color who’s only role in the book is to spout a bunch of thinly-veiled wisdom about being careful what you wish for to a privileged, self-absorbed 30-something white woman. When Kate’s fiance, Max, leaves her the day before their wedding, Kate understandably breaks down. As her friends console her, she stumbles upon the fact that she can wish for anything via her Facebook status. . . and it’ll come true. She goes back in time to a few months before her wedding, and she’s determined to fix her relationship. Of course, the plans go awry and cause havoc for Kate’s friends, family, and career. For the most part, The Status of All Things was a readable and somewhat enjoyable ride, problems notwithstanding. I rolled my eye at Ruby, the of-course one character of color in a cast full of privileged white women, but I was having fun with this book for what it was. However, without spoiling anything, the ending took a turn that made the book go from “ridiculous yet fun” to truly ridiculous for me. 2/5 stars.
2. Furyborn by Claire Legrand
I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in advanced for consideration of an honest review.
When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.
A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.
As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.
Furyborn seems to be the new YA fantasy this season to get the big marketing push and buzz. I was incredibly happy to hear so many good things about it because I absolutely love Claire Legrand’s Some Kind of Happiness. Furyborn is definitely much more mature than my previous Legrand read, but it lacked the same magic spark for me. While so many people seemed to love this one, I struggled. I did come around to enjoy it in the end, but I’m not sure I’ll want to continue with the series, though it’s still a possibility at this point. I had two main issues: the pacing and the point of view split. Furyborn follows Eliana and Rielle, two young woman at two different points in time who are interconnected. The narrative bounces between the two, and I found myself loving Rielle’s section and having to push myself to get through Rielle’s sections. On top of that, I felt the book was incredibly slowly paced, even for a longer fantasy novel. There are some pretty interesting themes that are explored and I do have to say the world-building is very cool, but in the end it took me weeks to read this book and I don’t feel I would have missed out on much had I decided to skip it. 3/5 stars.
3. How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation edited by Maureen Johnson
I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for consideration of an honest review.
An all-star collection of essays about activism and hope, edited by bestselling YA author Maureen Johnson.
Now, more than ever, young people are motivated to make a difference in a world they’re bound to inherit. They’re ready to stand up and be heard – but with much to shout about, where they do they begin? What can I do? How can I help?
How I Resist is the response, and a way to start the conversation. To show readers that they are not helpless, and that anyone can be the change. A collection of essays, songs, illustrations, and interviews about activism and hope, How I Resist features an all-star group of contributors, including, John Paul Brammer, Libba Bray, Lauren Duca, Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his husband Justin Mikita, Alex Gino, Hebh Jamal, Malinda Lo, Dylan Marron, Hamilton star Javier Muñoz, Rosie O’Donnell, Junauda Petrus, Jodi Picoult, Jason Reynolds, Karuna Riazi, Maya Rupert, Dana Schwartz, Dan Sinker, Ali Stroker, Jonny Sun (aka @jonnysun), Sabaa Tahir, Daniel Watts, Jennifer Weiner, Jacqueline Woodson, and more, all edited and compiled by New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.
In How I Resist, readers will find hope and support through voices that are at turns personal, funny, irreverent, and instructive. Not just for a young adult audience, this incredibly impactful collection will appeal to readers of all ages who are feeling adrift and looking for guidance.
How I Resist is the kind of book people will be discussing for years to come and a staple on bookshelves for generations.
So, first off, I feel I need to address the fact that I read an advanced reader’s copy of this book and thus my copy still listed Tim Federle as a co-editor. Since this is an anthology, I’m assuming little has changed about the book except the introduction, so I’m going to review what I read. How I Resist is an interesting compilations of essays, poetry, reprints, and art that all deals with the theme of political engagement and activism. I find it funny that I’ve read some reviews of the book that mention being turned off by the word “resist” in the title, because How I Resist has very little overt political opinion. It’s more of a guidebook and care book for those who want to get involved. It’s also very 101-level, which I think some teens might find a little lacking, but those who are just starting out on a journey of political engagement will feel welcomed. There’s not much here that can’t be found elsewhere, but it’s still an excellent collection. 4/5 stars.