Thursday, March 30, 2017

Timely and Important: Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

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Timely and Important: Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick
Saint Death
Marcus Sedgwick
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: April 25th, 2017
by Roaring Brook Press

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A propulsive, compelling, and unsparing novel set in the grimly violent world of the human and drug trade on the US-Mexican border.

On the outskirts of Juarez, Arturo scrapes together a living working odd jobs and staying out of sight. But his friend Faustino is in trouble: he's stolen money from the narcos to smuggle his girlfriend and her baby into the US, and needs Arturo's help to get it back. To help his friend, Arturo must face the remorseless world of drug and human traffickers that surrounds him, and contend with a murky past.

Hovering over his story is the unsparing divinity Santa Muerte, Saint Death--and the relentless economic and social inequalities that haunt the border between Mexico and its rich northern neighbor. Crafted with poetry and cinematic pace and narrated with cold fury, Saint Death is a provocative tour de force from three-time Printz Award honoree Marcus Sedgwick.
-A copy was provided by Roaring Brook Press for review-

Saint Death is one of those books you are going to want to hurl across the room, not because you hate it but because its too painful. Or you could do what Joey does and put scary books in the freezer for another day. The release of the book is so timely and I hope that it will reach the hands of many because it is such an important book. Right now, the conversation surrounding immigration is one of the most politically charged ones. People feel like immigrants are ruining their lives and that the answer is to throw up metaphorical and literal walls between countries. To this I respond with:

I am going slightly off topic and that’s fine because Saint Death is a book that is going to start conversations (and it actually does go into the idea of first world countries creating immigrants.) In fact, it’s probably going to win some awards and that’s cool because teens need to be having these conversations just as much as any other demographic. They themselves or people they know are going to be impacted by the changes happening in the world right now.

Anyway, Saint Death is a book about immigration. It is set in Mexico and tells the story of Arturo, who has agreed to help his friend earn money he stole to pay for someone to help his family cross the border back (I AM SORRY ABOUT THAT LONG SENTENCE.) What follows is a complicated journey into human minds and egos but also the world. The world, as we know (or if you don’t know, SPOILER ALERT), is a terrible place and the book explores that to a large extent. It explores the complicated relationships between Mexico and its much richer, northern neighbor. We get to see how the American capitalism dream has ruined lives in Mexico and we get to see how the American government has had a hand in ruining lives as well. Sedgwick has clearly put a lot of research into this novel which I am glad for because this is a story that needs to be told and while its unfortunate we cannot have more #ownvoices stories doing it, I am glad that Sedgwick treats the subject with respect.

I also love that he incorporated how he incorporated Spanish into the book. Its done so seamlessly and beautifully. There are no italicized bits that make the Spanish stand apart from the English. The two languages in the novel blend together to create something beautiful and magical.

Sedgwick’s incorporation of religion within the novel is important but also done really well. I never felt like I was being preached at and I loved that he simultaneously respected these religious beliefs while also keeping in mind the parts of his audience who might not share those same beliefs.

Sedgwick is a master of this craft and his words bounce off the pages of this book. Saint Death is a thought-provoking book and one I hope everyone will take the time to read. If you also want to read an #ownvoices immigration story, The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu would be a good place to start.

4 Stars
4 Hot Espressos

Not really memorable: Freya by Matthew Laurence

Not really memorable: Freya by Matthew Laurence

Posted by on 03/29/2017 • 1 Comment

I feel pretty let down by Freya? The question mark is there because I am not even entirely sure how I feel, just that Freya wasn’t what I wanted it to be when I was looking for a book with norse myth in it. I love books that are set in the modern world and feature heavy doses of mythology and yet, while Freya-the book-was absolutely adorable at times, Freya as a character was kind of annoying. She was obnoxious and while it sometimes made sense since she was a goddess, it could also get really annoying.

I like the contrast the author attempts with her being badass and feminine at the same time, but I also feel like he wasn’t entirely successful with crafting Freya’s character as a blend of those characteristics. She…

The Infinite Variants of YA: The One Where Caleb Roehrig Chooses b/w an Alpaca and a Pony

The Infinite Variants of YA: The One Where Caleb Roehrig Chooses b/w an Alpaca and a Pony

Posted by on 03/28/2017 • 0 Comments

HELLO and welcome back to this fancy feature that Nick (Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist) and I are collaborating on! This month I have a really fun interview to share with the famously amazing Caleb Roehrig to share with you. He is hilarious and just as much fun to talk to as his book is to read! If you haven’t already read Last Seen Leaving, get on it because its a YA mystery you don’t want to miss. NOW. PLEASE PUT YOUR HANDS UP (or flail around, I don’t have a preference) for Caleb Roehrig!!!

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1. You’ve travelled A LOT. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you want to live and why?

Oh, man. I have definitely done a lot of travel, and I’ve…

The Universe Thanks Whitney Gardner for Writing…: You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

The Universe Thanks Whitney Gardner for Writing…: You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

Posted by on 03/27/2017 • 2 Comments

You’re Welcome, Universe is an incredibly special book and one I count myself lucky to have had the opportunity to read. It’s eye-opening, heartwarming, angsty and just a whole lot of fun. Julia is a main character YA has been waiting for and will be made all the more better by her presence.

Julia is a deaf, Indian graffiti artist. She is incredibly talented but also just tired of graffiti not being taken seriously as an art form. She is tired of all the people who give graffiti a bad name and she is tired of it being seen as vandalism instead of ART that has the ability to make a point and to make people think. She gets kicked out of her school when she covers a slur about her…

Fresh Batch (March 26th-April 1st)

Fresh Batch (March 26th-April 1st)

Posted by on 03/25/2017 • 2 Comments

Fresh Batch, posted weekly, keeps you up to date on the hottest releases of the upcoming week.

Flavor of the week:

Strange the Dreamer Laini Taylor Series: Strange the Dreamer #1 Publication date: March 28th 2017by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the…

Arthurian Myth Meets World War II: The Metropolitans by Carol Goodman

Arthurian Myth Meets World War II: The Metropolitans by Carol Goodman

Posted by on 03/24/2017 • 1 Comment

If you’ve been following along with discussions surrounding World War II books in the community, you will already know this but there aren’t many World War II books out there with Jewish main characters. Not only does The Metropolitans have a (German-American) Jewish main character, it also has Japanese-American, first nations & Irish-American main characters. The page space is split up b/w the four characters and while I cannot accurately speak for any of the rep since I am not from any of those groups, I did feel that it was done pretty well. (If you are from any of those groups and feel differently, I’d be eternally grateful if you choose to let me know so I may edit this review to reflect that!)

One of my favorite childhood books…

One of the Most Important Books: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

One of the Most Important Books: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Posted by on 03/23/2017 • 2 Comments

It’s in the title of this review post but I am going to repeat it anyway: Amina’s Voice is one of the most important books published this year and has clearly not gotten the hype it deserves. It’s a middle grade book and I know a lot of people shy away from reading those because reading tastes vary but please don’t overlook this book. Amina’s Voice is such a wonderful, heartfelt book and deserves and infinite amount of love from everybody.

I should take a moment to say I am neither Muslim-American or Pakistani-American but Amina’s Voice still resonated with and I found myself nodding along and feeling Amina’s struggle with her cultural identity on a spiritual level. I grew up feeling similar struggles and even though it wasn’t ~my story~, it felt really…

5 Books Carrie Mac Wishes Were Around When She Was Growing Up

5 Books Carrie Mac Wishes Were Around When She Was Growing Up

Posted by on 03/21/2017 • 1 Comment

Hello and welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for 10 Things I Can See From Here. Today, author Carrie Mac shares 5 books she wishes were around when she was growing up! Her list is full of many wonderful recs (and some new to me titles) so I am definitely piling up on those books! I hope you’ll check the books and 10 Things I Can See From Here!

PLEASE GIVE IT UP FOR, Carrie Mac!

I’ve picked books aimed at younger readers, say 8-12-years-old or so because that’s when kids need to see the people they are, or will become, represented in books. When they don’t—because the book hasn’t been written or they’re not allowed to read it—that’s when feelings of isolation really set in, just…