Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Radical Element, an anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood // Book review

Hello, beautiful people!

In 2016, I discovered my favourite YA anthology, A Tyranny of Petticoats, a historical fiction and fantasy anthology, which focused on telling the stories of a diverse array of heroines. When I heard that a follow-up project was in the works, I couldn't be more excited about that and had to get my hands on it as soon as possible. Lucky for all of you, The Radical Element is coming out today, and I'm sharing my review with you all to (maybe) convince you to read it. While I'm at it, I have to say that you do not need to read A Tyranny of Petticoats first, it's an amazing anthology, but the two of them are independent (and complementary) and different authors contributed to them.

The Radical Element, an anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood

Authors included: Dahlia Adler, Erin Bowman, Dhonielle Clayton, Sarah Farizan, Mackenzi Lee, Stacey Lee, Anna-Marie McLemore, Meg Medina, Marieke Nijkamp, Megan Sheperd, Jessica Spotswood, Sarvena Tash
Published: March 13th 2018 by Candlewick Press
Genres: short stories, young adult, historical fiction
Number of pages: 320

Goodreads summary: In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.

To respect yourself, to love yourself—should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It's a decision that must be faced whether you're balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it's the only decision when you've weighed society's expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of the girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs—whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they're asking you to join them.


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

Reviewing and rating anthologies is usually tricky, because you can't always love all of the short stories they are made of; yet, for The Radical Element, I can say that I enjoyed all of them and that the messages the anthology was trying to get through were executed well.The Radical Element is an empowering read that focuses on young women who didn't fit within the norms of society, who were marginalized and learnt to respect and step up for themselves. 

The short stories manage to make you learn historical details you might not have suspected, especially since the stories of those young women would be stories erased from the records of history. In a way, it puts the stress that history was made as much by women than by men, even though so many of them had to work in the shadows (for that, I'm considering Lady Firebrand, which was one of my favourite stories) and thanks to some of the authors' notes, you might even get recommendations for non-fiction history books on women. 

As I'm more interested in the 19th century than in the 20th century, I have to confess that I loved the short stories set from 1838 to 1927 more, because those are set in time periods that compel me, but that's personal preference and they all were pretty good. My personal favourites were Lady Firebrand by Megan Sheperd, Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore and Better for all the world by Marieke Nijkamp. Some of them include fantasy elements, which I really loved, considering mixing history and fantasy is one of my favourite things. I discovered several new authors through this anthology and will make sure to check some of their novels out. 

Another thing I loved was that it didn't have a lot of romance, it was sometimes hinted, it was sometimes shown, but it wasn't the focus of the story, it was more about growing on your own. I would have liked to see more f/f romances though, it was hinted once in Step Right Upand there was a f/f romance between secondary characters in Take Me With U, but I wanted a bit more. 

Now, I have to say that if you read the stories one after the other without reading anything else on the side, the endings of most of them must feel a bit repetitive, but it goes along with the main message of this anthology: it's about getting through obstacles that prevent you to be who you are and embracing your difference and that's such an important idea. I believe that this anthology should be read by as many young women as possible, to show them that they got this and that they can dare dreaming and fighting for what they want. 

The representation in this book is fantastic – or that's what I felt, but for that, it's important to check out what #ownvoices reviewers have to say – and quite a few of those short stories were #ownvoices. This anthology is an accurate representation of what it is to be American when you feel like you're not wanted, when you're different from what the norm wants you to be: it tells the stories of women of colour, disabled women, women from different religions. It is an amazing example of the diversity young adult literature has been getting and what it deserves. 

OverallThe Radical Element is one of the best YA anthologies I got to read, alongside A Tyranny of Petticoats which is its close second (it makes sense, considering A Tyranny of Petticoats was edited by Jessica Spotswood and focused on similar themes). It delivers such important messages and might have a lasting impact on young adults who will read it, as its heroines were relatable and might make you want to fight harder to defend what you believe in. 

Individual ratings of the stories: 
  • 1838, Savannah, Georgia – Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler 4/5 stars 
  • 1844, Nauvoo, Illinois – You're a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee 3/5 stars 
  • 1858, Colorado River, New Mexico Territory – The Magician by Erin Bowman 3.5/5 stars 
  • 1863, Charleston, South Caroline – Lady Firebrand by Megan Sheperd5/5 stars 
  • 1905, Tulsa, Indian Territory – Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood 4/5 stars 
  • 1923, Los Angeles and the Central Valley, California – Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore 5/5 stars 
  • 1927, Washington, D.C. - Better for all the world by Marieke Nijkamp5/5 stars 
  • 1943, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts – When the moonlight isn't enough by Dhonielle Clayton 3/5 stars 
  • 1952, Brooklyn, New York – The Belle of the Ball by Sarvena Tash3.5/5 stars 
  • 1955, Oakland, California – Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee 3/5 stars 
  • 1972, Queens, New York – The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina3.5/5 stars 
  • 1984, Boston, Massachusetts – Take Me With U by Sarah Farizan 3.5/5 stars

Are you planning on picking up The Radical Element
Which anthologies are your favourites?

Thank you for reading,
Lots of love,

Friday, 9 March 2018

My most anticipated releases of 2018 (part 2) // Grabby Hands #10

Hello, beautiful people!

Back in December, I decided to revive my Grabby Hands feature where I talk about all of my most anticipated book releases. I am now doing those posts every three months, which is why today, I'm going to talk to you about my most anticipated releases from April to June; it's the Spring edition, I guess. This isn't the list of all the books I'm anticipating, because it would be too long, but the ones I really need to get my hands on like... Now.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland - April 3rd
Genres: young adult, historical fiction, fantasy

Dread Nation is an alternate history novel set after the American Civil War... Except there are zombies. Because of the new laws, Afro-American and Native-American children are forced to attend combat schools to put down the dead and it follows a girl who attended one of those schools, returning home when she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy. I know many people don't like books with zombies and I thought it would be my case until I read Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard (btw, READ IT), that was also historical fiction. I've always wanted to read more novels set during the American Civil War, so the time period interests me, even though it's alternate history, and it seems to focus a lot on oppression as well. I've seen great things about this one, I cannot wait to read it.

Circe by Madeline Miller - April 10th
Genres: fantasy, historical fiction, retelling

Okay, I have to admit that I have yet to read The Song of Achilles, even though I've seen people on bookstagram raving about it. My only excuse is that I need to get the Bloomsbury Modern Classics edition and well... I'm not ready for this book to destroy me, like it did for everyone else. Anyway, I'm quite curious about Circe, which follows the Greek mythology character of the same name, a witch who was banished by Zeus to an island, where her path is intertwined with many important characters: Hermes, Daedalus or even Odysseus. I've heard so many great things about Madeline Miller's writing, I'm so ready to jump into this one!

Last Shot: A Han and Lando Novel by Daniel José Older - April 17th
Genres: science-fiction

It's no secret that I've been completely obsessed with Star Wars ever since Episode VIII came out last December (I already loved Star Wars, but it got so much worse). Last Shot is coming out right before Solo: A Star Wars story and I have to say that I'm really not excited about that movie*, but I added Last Shot on my TBR because I really want to read more Star Wars novels. Apparently, it follows different timelines and as I've always been curious about Han's character, I knew that I wanted to read it, but I didn't need it right this instant, you know? AND THEN. We got an excerpt involving a two years old Ben Solo. BEN SOLO. I adore him so much, he's my ultimate weakness, I need every single piece of information on him. I need to know everything. I'm so obsessed. Maybe it'll help me keep faith until Episode IX is released, but let's be real, I'll just cry every time they talk about him**.

*maybe it will not be as bad as I think? Maybe I'll end up enjoying it? One shall live in hope.
** I'm so sorry, but I'm emotional about him 24/7, I can't be calm when I talk about him, oops.

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli - April 24th
Genres: young adult, contemporary

A new book by Becky Albertalli is always something to rejoice about. I really enjoyed Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda, her debut, but my personal favourite is The Upside of Unrequited. This one follows Leah, Simon's best friend that we met in his novel and as a matter of fact, I don't really know much about it, except that Leah is bisexual. Now that I think about it, if it has Becky's name on the cover, it will most likely be amazing. I know she has sensitivity readers who loved this one, which means the representation must be good.

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young - April 24th
Genres: young adult, fantasy

Sky in the Deep is Adrienne Young's debut novel and the premise sounds so exciting. It follows Eelyn, who was raised to be a warrior and fights alongside her clansmen in an ancient rivalry against another clan, until they face her brother who was supposed to have died on the battlefield. She is then forced to flee into the mountains, her clan is raided by a ruthless clan supposed to be a legend and to ally herself with someone she doesn't think she can trust. This is a Viking-inspired fantasy novel, I've been looking for Vikings books my entire like. 

The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer - May 15th
Genres: young adult, fantasy

So anyway, this one is set in Scotland. This is the main reason I need it. I always need books set in Scotland. It involves dark secrets, faeries, royalty, brothers and from the summary, it says that it "explores the darkness of the human heart as well as its unceasing capacity for love", honestly it sounds so good? Now that I've read The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, I know that I need more ruthless faeries in my life (hopefully it'll be like that). Nancy Springer also wrote the Enola Holmes series that I adored as a child, it followed Sherlock Holmes' younger sister, she was one of my heroines, so I'm curious to read another of her novels.

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas - June 5th
Genres: young adult, contemporary

This is another case where seeing Angie Thomas' name is more than enough to make me want to read this book. On The Come Up follows Bri, a young woman who wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time, which comes with a lot of pressure considering her father was an underground rap legend who died before getting his big hit. When her mother unexpectedly loses her job and her family might become homeless, Bri no longer wants to make it, she has to make it. I cannot wait to read another book by Angie Thomas.

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir - June 12th 2018

The wait is almost over. Finally. The Ember series has been one of my favourite YA fantasy series for such a long time and I can't believe we almost waited two years for the third book. It was for the best, I'm sure of that, but oh, it was excruciating. It's my fault for reading A Torch Against the Night on its release week, because I have no restraint, but oh well. I can't say much considering it's the third book in a series, but I cannot wait to reunite with all the characters and see what will happen next.

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, anthology edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman - June 26th 2018

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is an anthology focusing on reimagining the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia. It has star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, it involves fairy tales, myths and folklore. I don't know all the authors who are contributing to this anthology, but reading an anthology is also about discovering new authors, right? I'm quite looking forward to reading stories by new-to-me authors, as well as to get some more out of the authors I already know, such as Renee Ahdieh or Julie Kagawa. I've come to really enjoy anthologies, so I hope I'll love this one as well.

Are you excited for any of these books? 
What are your most anticipated releases for April, May and June?

Lots of love,

Monday, 5 March 2018

Reading wrap-up + favourites // February 2018

Hello, beautiful people!

I realised I haven't posted in a while, but February was such a busy and amazing month, so sadly, I didn't have a lot of time to dedicate to my blog. February was the month I turned 22, saw The Last Jedi in theaters for the last time, saw Imagine Dragons live once again and went to England on my own. It was the month I truly let the past die, because I had to*. Some of my painful past came to haunt me a lot in February, yet I finally turned back to face it and I'm feeling so much better because of that (it only took me two and a half years, after all). February was such a great month for me, I did my best to make the most of it and I hope March will be equally as good.

*Me vs mentioning Kylo Ren or Adam Driver in almost every post. 

W H A T  I  R E A D

February was quite a good reading month. While I still read as much as usual - or almost - I feel like I took my time with books; sometimes it took me a week to finish one, sometimes I finished two in the same day (the perks of traveling). My reading month was equally made of young adult novels and classics, I'm quite happy about that, it's all I need. I haven't read any non-fiction, though, I'll have to fix it next month!

  • The Radical Element, anthology edited by Jessica Spotswood (e-ARC), 3.83/5 stars
  • All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor (ARC), 4/5 stars
  • The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 3/5 stars
  • Crooked House by Agatha Christie, 5/5 stars
  • Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes, 3/5 stars
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, 5/5 stars
  • Shirley by Charlotte Brontë, 4/5 stars
  • The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton, 3/5 stars

As you can see, I finally did rate books 5 stars, that's it! The Mayor of Casterbridge was my favourite book of the month for sure, but Crooked House came quite close. I knew Thomas Hardy wouldn't disappoint me and fix my 5 stars ratings.

F A V O U R I T E  B L O G  P O S T S


MOVIE // Black Panther (2018)

Just like with every single Marvel movie, I was so excited for Black Panther and had to watch it in theaters the week it was released. What I hadn't expected was to love it as much as I did, to the point that it is one of my favourite Marvel movies for sure, it will probably make my list of favourite movies of the year and I need to rewatch it as soon as possible. I tried long and hard to find any flaws, but I couldn't. I simply adored everything about Black Panther: the characters, the world, the plot, the soundtrack, the photography. From what I've heard everywhere, the representation is amazing as well (but check the Internet and #ownvoices reviewers for that ;) ). I understood and liked the villain a little too much because while what he was doing was wrong, there were quite a few of his ideas I was agreeing with. I particularly loved the female characters, they were so strong and saved the day so many times. Shuri was my favourite, like most people, but I loved so many characters in the end. If you haven't watched Black Panther, I would definitely recommend you to watch it, even if you're not up-to-date with Marvel movies or not a Marvel fan.

TV SHOW // Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine a few months ago, a night I wasn't feeling great, and from the start, it made me laugh. It is set in the 99th precinct of the New York Police Department and follows a team of detectives, led by the newly appointed Captain Raymond Holt. I don't watch a lot of sitcoms and that's even worse for shows involving investigations (most of the time, I find them so repetitive and end up being bored), but this one more than won me over, as it's so much more than that. It has such a diverse cast of characters, tackles down so many important and topical issues, while staying hilarious, providing me with characters I can consider as role models. I've been watching it since December I think, but I binge-watched seasons 4 and 5 in February and I couldn't stop. I'm so glad we'll get new episodes in March, because I need more.

MUSIC // Imagine Dragons

One of the highlights of February was seeing Imagine Dragons live for the second time. They are my best friend's favourite band, so when tickets went on sale last September, we jumped on the chance to get ours and the concert was absolutely amazing. I had already seen them in 2014, which feels like ages ago, so I don't remember everything about that one, but they did such an amazing job on their tour. I cried several times, even if I didn't show it, because of what they talked about, and even more when they did Demons (this song will always get me). Needless to say, I mostly listened to their albums for the past month or so, especially Evolve, as they were touring for that album. I had missed going to concerts so much.

My friends

It sounds very cheesy, but February was a month full of my friends and I'm so grateful for that. Whether it was about having many outings in Paris, going to the movies all the time, my best friend surprising me on my birthday by coming for the evening, not being alone at uni anymore or reconnecting with the first friend I made when I moved to Paris, my heart was full (of love*). I'm not overly fond of celebrating my birthday, to be completely honest, but this year, it was amazing, because I felt surrounded by the people who matter the most to me. Moreover, I'm terrified to let people in, I didn't do it for two years until January 2017, but I'm really doing better on that front and I felt it, in February.

*that was a Les Misérables reference, you're welcome.

MOVIE // Coco (2017)

Another movie I (finally!) watched in theaters was the latest Disney animated movie, Coco. For some reason, I didn't have time to watch it before, but I was seriously missing out, because it deserves all the hype it is getting. It was such a beautiful and heart-wrenching movie, visually stunning, with a great soundtrack on top of it all. It's one of those animated movies I know I will show to my little brothers when I get my hands on the DVD, and if I ever have children, they will have no choice but to watch it as well.

Going to England on my own

Last but not least, and that's why this post didn't go up before, I went to Leeds on my own last week. I do live on my own, but going to another country for a few days, when English isn't my first language, with no one to rely on but myself was such an enlightening experience. It gave me time to think about where I was going with my life, it pushed me to ask for people's help there (I don't even do that in my own country), to speak English and not actually making a fool of myself. As a matter of fact, I had plenty of problems with travelling (thanks to the cold and the snow), yet, I stayed calm the entire time and wasn't stressed out. I was pretty much the best part of myself in the UK, I dealt with everything. I am so proud of myself and I'm quite motivated for March now.

I hope you had an amazing month,

Lots of love,