ARC Review of The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets by Gayle E. Pitman

Disclaimer: I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets is a middle grade non-fiction book about the events before, during, and after the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969.

This non-fiction book is designed around artifacts of major events pertaining to the Stonewall Riots. Each document may be something like a newspaper article, a button, an arrest sheet, or pictures. When I first started reading, I was a little hesitant about this style, but I quickly became fascinated by it.

It was extremely well put together, and together, it told a very cohesive recounting of the key events in recent LGBT+ history. At no point did the text seem disjointed. The author also solidly explained some of the terminology that was used as slurs then (and are still used now as slurs), and while I wish that the author had chosen not to include them, I can understand why they would.

Overall, this is a very good introduction to those in the middle-grade category about this historic event and will keep them engaged with the short chapters and pictures.

ARC Review of Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner

Disclaimer: I received an eARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sam Jones hopes that college can be a fresh start for her. But right now, she’s still stuck in high school–the awkward girl who doesn’t quite fit in, even among her friend Will’s group of gamers.

Zoe Miller meanwhile fits in just fine, but her friends have no idea what her home life is like.

When Zoe visits the art room to find a piece for a student led production, she meets Sam. Sam doesn’t want the attention, but she eventually says yes to letting the painting be used.

What neither expected was a friendship to form.

This was such a fantastic book, and it was way heavier than I initially expected it to be. The two create their own world through text messages which they call “Starworld.” It is a way for them to escape the difficulties of their every day lives. For Sam, her mom has OCD, and her mom’s rituals have been escalating for a while. For Zoe, she has a severely disabled brother and a mom in partial remission from cancer. Both keep these parts of their lives hidden because of fear of what others may think and shame over feeling shame.

This is an honest look at intense friendships forged in fire and carried out significantly through text messages (although it’s not done by the characters, this is true for other forms of social media messaging as well). The misunderstandings, the difficulties, the greatness–it’s all there and all so realistic.

The depiction of living with a parent with mental illness was also done so well. This is something that can be so hard to get right for the reader while also allowing for the protagonist to falter along the way. This was written with such grace and sensitivity. The same was done for living with a sibling with severe disabilities. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that quite done before, but this was also handled well.

This was just such a good read, and I definitely recommend it.

Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner releases April 16.




ARC Review of Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.

Claire and Poppy were born into Internet fame. Their mother is a fashion blogger turned mommy blogger, and she has been blogging since before they were born. Once they were born, Twin Tuesdays came along with their mom chronicling their life publicly.

But now that Claire is 17, she wants to be done with this online fame. When she was around 8 years old, someone tried to kidnap her, and she still deals with the effects of that today. She’s tired of the trolls and the mean comments. She just wants to be a normal teen, but her mom insists on continuing the brand, especially now that Poppy and Claire’s YouTube channel has hit 1 million subscribers.

At school, Claire meets Rafael who has just moved to Gilbert, Arizona. She thinks this is her chance to start over with someone who doesn’t know who she is and to become who she wants to be–a normal 17 year old girl. But after Rafael finds out her secret, every aspect of her life becomes more complicated.

This was such an interesting topic for a book. What happens to those kids as the mommy bloggers grow up? Do they embrace their popularity? Do they reject it? When does it become their choice?

While the topic was fascinating, I wish that we had seen a bit more on-page conflict with the reasons why Claire wanted out. We saw a lot of internal conflict from her, but a lot of the reasons for the internal conflict happened off-page.

While I did want more out of this book, if the concept is interesting to you, still pick it up. It’s a very fast read.

ARC Review of Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

Disclaimer: I received an eARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Paris. 1887.

Nathalie has gotten a job as the morgue reporter for a newspaper. Every morning, she finds herself waiting outside of the public morgue waiting waiting to view the bodies for the day. Her job is then to write a brief report about the bodies and submit it.

But things don’t go as planned. After 2 weeks on the job, she views a body who has been so brutally murdered that she touches the glass separating her and the victim. Instantly, she is transported to a scene where the murdered girl is still alive. She views this as if in a dream, and when she is pulled back out of it, she is still in the morgue.

Startled by this response, the detective at the morgue asks to speak with her, but Nathalie finds that her memory has gaps. She continues on with her day, but she is haunted by what she has seen and does not wish to repeat it.

But there’s a problem: there’s a new body of another girl murdered very much in the same way. Soon it becomes clear that there is a serial killer on the loose, and perhaps Nathalie can use her newly discovered ability to find them.

A combination of thriller, historical, and a touch of fantasy. Spectacle is the brilliant debut novel by Jodie Lynn Zdrok.

Normally, if a novel takes place pre-1940s and includes fantasy elements, I avoid it, but I had heard so many good things about this book that I decided to give it a try. Zdrok is able to make both elements deeply fascinating and extremely relevant. It’s also worth noting that the Paris morgue was a real attraction for Parisians during the 1880s.

I was intensely fascinated by this story, and there were moments that took my breath away. There is a sequel coming too, and I must say, I am still highly suspicious about the true intentions for one of the characters.

This is a very solid debut, and you need to check it out.

Spectacle releases February 12.