Friendship to the MAX! | Lumberjanes: An Overview

Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten HolyI recently got into Lumberjanes and it has been amazing! The basic premise is that it’s about a group of girls who are away at a summer camp (Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types). Mal, Molly, Ripley, April, and Jo (and their counselor Jen) are in the Roanoke cabin and they’re getting along swimmingly. They notice some weird stuff happening in the woods around camp, however, and start to realize that this camp isn’t exactly…normal.

I love the friendship that the girls have with each other and the love that they have for Jen as well. I think it would be really easy for Jen to be cast as an antagonist since she’s kind of an authority figure, but the girls just love her! (Especially Ripley). The girls don’t always agree with each other, but they really take the Lumberjane Scout motto (Friendship to the Max!) seriously. Even between cabins (they have a slight rivalry with another cabin) in the end, they’re still supportive. Although this is a camp full of girls and you might expect more drama, there is no girl-hate here. Only love and support.

Each of the girls in Roanoke cabin is such an individual with their own strengths and weaknesses. I love how the format of a graphic novel makes it so much easier and natural to see the diversity of the characters. The author doesn’t have to come out and say that Jo has darker skin or reemphasize that every once in a while. We can just see her there on the page! I also like how there isn’t much emphasis on Molly and Mal’s relationship. They’re just quietly holding hands or next to each other in the corner of the panel. It’s so refreshing to me! Sometimes I feel like I’m getting hit over the head with diversity when an author has to describe things all the time. I like that graphic novels just kind of lay it out there for us and I can observe at my own pace. They don’t have to draw attention to diversity, because we can just see it along with everything else!

Overall, I really love this series. I’d be hardpressed to pick a favorite character, but I might go with April or Jo. I’ve read nine volumes and I’m not tired of the characters or story at all. They keep things fresh and bring back old characters and it’s just overall a lot of fun! Highly recommend.

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A book in which I anticipate a love triangle forming pretty much the whole time | Windwitch by Susan Dennard

Note: This is the second book in the Witchlands series and may contain spoilers for the first book. Click here for my Truthwitch review.

WindwitchSafi and Iseult are now separated. Safi has given herself up to the Empress of Marstok and Iseult is left waiting for word from Mathew and Habim. When word doesn’t come, she finds herself making a tentative truce with Aeduan, the Bloodwitch. If he can help her find Safi, she will tell him where his silver talers ended up. Can the bond between Safi and Iseult withstand the miles and trials between them?

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

TL;DR – A solid follow-up to the first book. Characters are diverse in a natural way and the author does a great job making all of our narrators sympathetic.

This book started off a little bit slow for my taste, but it picks up momentum rather quickly. I think it would have been fine for readers who are reading the series one book at a time, but not so much for those of us who are bingeing the first three books in the series. These books feel really thoughtfully written to me. I really liked how Dennard is able to use things like a storm or an earthquake to help the reader to know when things are happening. Since virtually all of our characters are separated, it helps to know that these two events are happening at the same time and so on. In addition, without giving any kind of spoilers, I knew that Chiseled Cheater was going to play a more prominent role. I waited for him to show up the entire first book and I was thrilled at his appearance.

The dynamic between Merik and Vivia is really interesting throughout. I really enjoyed getting Vivia’s perspective on things because, in the first book, Merik portrays her as this evil, power-hungry person. She’s actually extremely likable, in my opinion, and it’s crazy to me how neither of them can see how manipulative Serafin is. I think Merik said at one point that Serafin wouldn’t waste his time or energy pitting his children against each other, but he very clearly has wasted a LOT of time and energy doing just that. Speaking of Merik… I know this kind of gets explained later in the book, but he’s always talking about how weak his witchery is, but he’s never seemed particularly weak to me. I mean, he can still use his powers to fly so…just how weak can he be?

Another thing that I’ve enjoyed in this book and series is that Dennard has done a great job including diversity without hitting the reader over the head with it. I feel like when diversity is so “present”, it kind of defeats the purpose. I think what we diverse readers are looking for is for diversity to be included in an authentic and organic way. Undue attention does not need to be drawn to it. I feel like Vivia’s sexuality is handled really well, in that regard. She obviously thinks about her relationship with Stix from time to time, but it’s not something that gets brought up in every single paragraph. I also appreciated the vitiligo rep with Cam. I don’t think I’ve EVER read a book that included a character with vitiligo.

The plot got a little more confusing in this book. It clearly feels like this book is being used to set up events in future books. That’s not necessarily bad, but there are some things that just feel like they don’t quite make sense yet.

While I really enjoyed this book overall, there were a few things that I didn’t quite care for. Fairly early on in the book, Iseult calls the Puppeteer by name, Esme. I didn’t remember her learning Esme’s name in the first book, so I did a quick Kindle search. The name “Esme” doesn’t appear ANYWHERE in the first book. So…yeah. All of the sudden Iseult knows her name and just casually drops it in there? The second thing is that I feel like Aeduan’s bloodwitchery should work on blood stains. I mean, he can seize blood, right? Stop it circulating in someone’s body? So why can’t he seize dried blood and lift it out of clothes?

The last thing, to address the title of this post, is that pretty much the whole book I anticipate feelings developing between Safi and one of the characters that she’s with. It kind of seemed like things were heading that way. Nothing comes of it in this book (luckily) but we’ll see what happens in future books. All I’m saying is that if Safi is part of a love triangle, that will completely cheapen the ENTIRE series.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: None

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Windwitch review

Why is it so hard to just pick a genre? | Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand

Sawkill GirlsGirls have been disappearing from Sawkill for decades, but no one seems to find this suspicious. Except for Zoey. Her best friend Thora disappeared last year and everyone seems to have forgotten. Zoey is positive that Val’s family has something to do with it, but nobody believes her. Marion is new to the island after her father had a tragically fatal accident. She and her sister have no idea that girls have been going missing–and that they might be next.

TL;DR – Ultimately disappointing. I felt like the book was trying to fit into too many genres at once. Overall, it felt like it was trying too hard and lost what it was trying to be.

This book started off delightfully mysterious and creepy with a hint of magical realism and I was so into it. Magical realism is a genre that I tend to really enjoy. I like the subtlety and wonder of it. Several things happen that are completely unsettling and I was ready to figure out what the heck was going on. But then the plot took this turn and there were secret organizations and it turned into this weird amalgamation of sci fi and fantasy and horror. It lost all subtlety and I felt like it cheapened the whole plot.

The characters were fine. I didn’t feel particularly connected to any of them. We have three narrators in Marion, Zoey, and Val, but I honestly wouldn’t have been super heartbroken if any of them hadn’t made it. Secondary characters were okay. Nobody was super developed. I thought Grayson was an exceptionally poor character, though. He literally served no purpose except to conveniently move the plot forward. We need someone to decipher a dead language? Conveniently, Grayson can do it! We need a boat? Grayson’s family has one!

I think a lot of readers will appreciate that all three of our main characters are queer. I appreciate the diversity too, but I’m not sure how it really plays into who the characters are and how they act. It felt like it was just kind of thrown in there so the author could claim diversity? I don’t know, maybe other people feel differently about that.

Overall, I was extremely disappointed by this book. I wanted it to be subtly creepy, but instead I feel like it tried to go too far and do too much and it lost me. I think the author should have stuck to a more subtle magical realism (like Bone Gap).

Overall Rating: 2
Language: Heavy
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Heavy

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Sawkill Girls review

MOVIE TRAILER: The Sun is Also a Star

A lot of you may have already seen this, but the trailer for The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon dropped yesterday. You’ll have to tell me what you think since I haven’t actually read the book myself yet…

So….what do you guys think? Does it look like it’s going to be as good as the book (which I’ve only heard good things about)? Do you think they chose the right people to play the main characters? I, personally, love an Asian actor as the romantic male lead–I know that wasn’t really a casting decision since I think the character was written as Asian, but still.

And this is probably your last chance to purchase the book before the movie tie-in version is everywhere.

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

Let me know what your reaction is in the comments!

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TSIAAS Movie Trailer.PNG

14 Best Book Deals for 1/26/19 – TWO FREE BOOKS, Notorious RBG, The Belles, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, and more

There are some great deals this week!

Free

Queen of Someday by Sherry D. Ficklin

Slave, Warrior, Queen by Morgan Rice

How can you turn down free books? Both of these are ones I’ve downloaded and I’m excited to get to them!

Less than $1

Truth or Dare by Madeleine Labitan – This is actually a novella and it sounds like a great love to hate story!

A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier РI absolutely adore retellings (especially Beauty and the Beast). This one looks great!

Less than $2

Stealing Snow¬†by Danielle Paige – Again, with the retellings! I seriously can’t get enough.

Loving vs. Virginia¬†by Patricia Hruby Powell – I loved this book so much! I don’t read many books written in verse, but as part of an interracial couple, this was a must-read for me. It tells this true story in such a delicate and beautiful way. I was literally moved to tears multiple times. (my review)

A Year with C.S. Lewis¬†edited by Patricia S. Klein – This seems like it would be a great way to start every day–with a little bit of C.S. Lewis.

Winterfolk by Janel Kolby – I just heard about this book and it sounds really interesting! I haven’t read a book with contemporary homeless representation before and I grew up near Seattle so it especially hits close to home for me.

Less than $3

A Date with Darcy¬†by Tiffany Schmidt – This is the first book in the Bookish Boyfriends series and it sounds so cute! Who hasn’t fantasized about their bookish crush coming to life?

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee – I have heard so many good things about this book! And I love a strong Asian American protag. Represent!

Less than $4

Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon РWith the RBG movie coming out, this could be a good book to familiarize yourself with her story.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton – This book was hyped SO MUCH last year. If you haven’t read it yet, then where have you been?

About $5

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner РThis sounds like a great book with serious fairy tale vibes and (hopefully) a strong sister relationship.

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer РI really loved this book which features two characters falling in love via letters (swoon). Highly recommend! (my review)

 

Not Six of Crows level, but okay | The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi [ARC]

The Gilded WolvesWhen the Tower of Babel was destroyed, pieces of it were scattered throughout the world. These Babel fragments have given certain humans the power to “forge”. In Paris, four houses were given the responsibility of protecting their Babel fragment, but one of the houses fell and was lost while another house, House Vanth, died without an heir. This left House Kore and House Nox as the only two surviving houses to protect the fragment. Now the houses may be under attack and the only ones who can help them are S√©verin (an orphan) and his group of misfit con-men.

Hardcover | ebook | Audio

TL;DR – An interesting cast, but overall, just not as good as Six of Crows.

I was so in for this book. I love heists. I LOVE heists. But this one just didn’t really do it for me. First, the book starts and it’s confusing. The world seems very complex and not much is explained at first. So the reader is trying to play catch-up, meanwhile, the characters are blazing on full steam ahead. It just made me feel like I was trying to catch up pretty much the whole book.

The overall plot was okay, though not the most original. Group has a history of pulling off elaborate heists, but oh no! this time it doesn’t quite go off as smoothly, now they must pull a heist for their original mark. That part was okay. What I had a REALLY hard time with, though, was the writing. At least four times throughout the book, something was happening and the author was describing it, but for the life of me I could not visualize what the heck was going on. I even reread passages. Several times! Whatever the author had in her head just did not translate to the page. At least, it didn’t for me. Another small thing was a bit of consistency. Sometimes characters acted surprised by information that I thought they already knew. Lastly, the title makes no sense. It literally mentions gilded wolves once in the last 5% of the book.

The thing I think most people will be excited by is the diverse cast. Yes, the cast is diverse ethnically and it seems like a couple characters are probably bi. Also, it seems like one of the characters has autism, though it’s not explicitly stated. With that being said, I didn’t feel like any of the characters were super genuine or dynamic. I can only compare it to Kaz Brekker’s crew in Six of Crows. I believe Kaz and the rest of his group. I don’t really believe S√©verin and his group. Perhaps they didn’t seem quite as believably flawed? Or they were just a little too…much? I’m not really sure what it is, but I just had a hard time connecting to any of them.

Overall, I wanted to like this book so bad, but in the end I just felt kind of confused. There was SO MUCH talk about Goliath the spider and the dead birds, but then nothing really came of either of those things? I’ll probably read the next book, but if you’re looking for a really good fantasy heist book, I’d direct you to Six of Crows instead.

Overall Rating: 3 (really 3.5)
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate

Food and drama and family, oh my | Love √° la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm [ARC]

Love a la ModeRosie and Henry are both on their way to Paris to live at the Ecole. It’s a culinary high school for teens around the world who love to cook. Rosie is from a small town in Ohio and isn’t sure if she really belongs at the Ecole since her passion is baking, not cooking. Henry is from Chicago and just wishes that his mom would get off his back and let him do what he loves–cook. Both Henry and Rosie will need to prove to themselves that they really belong in Paris and along the way, they may find something else as well–it is the city of love after all.

TL;DR – Loved the food aspect, but everything else (characters, drama) felt exaggerated and shallow.

I really, REALLY liked the premise of this book. I’m not an awesome cook or anything, but I can appreciate good food and I love watching Food Network. Honestly, this book read like it was written by somebody who also just enjoys watching Food Network and doesn’t know much about the culture of cooking, etc. The main characters were in awe of a chef who won Chopped four times…I just have a hard time believing that’s actually what Michelin star winning chefs actually care about. I also questioned teenagers being sent to Paris for high school? But I guess people send their kids to boarding schools all the time, so maybe it’s not that weird.

The characters were okay for me. They seemed relatively immature and there was a bit of an instalove component between Henry and Rosie. I thought the friend group had the potential to have a great dynamic, but in the end it fell kind of flat for me. I felt like each secondary character was a stereotype or caricature of their culture…they all just felt so exaggerated.

Plotwise, again, the book was just okay. The drama between Henry, Rosie, and Bodie felt SUPER fabricated. Henry and Rosie are pretty much with each other 24/7 and they can’t find two seconds to talk and clear the air? I also didn’t appreciate how angry Henry would get at Rosie doing things with Bodie. Henry and Rosie weren’t actually dating and Rosie doesn’t owe him ANYTHING. I mean, she does end up liking Henry, but even if she did like Bodie, Henry has NO RIGHT to be upset about that.

The last criticism I have is how the author treated Henry’s “tiger mom”. Henry is Korean and his mom is super involved with his academics–even going as far as to email his teachers in Paris. To me, it feels like an Asian tiger mom can really be portrayed in a bad light and I feel like Henry’s mom was mostly portrayed negatively in this book. I feel like the tiger mom thing was used as a plot device to inject more drama into the story. Henry’s mom felt like just another character exaggeration and I didn’t really appreciate that coming from a white author.

Overall, this book was just okay. I liked the descriptions of food (hard to go wrong there), but the book itself didn’t really have any weight or depth. I’d probably advise a pass on this one.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.