Posted in Monthly Reads

Slip-A Graphic Novel Review

Introduction of Slip

I was recently invited on a blog tour for this book by one of the Publicity Mangers at Algonquin Young Readers. SLIP is a new graphic novel by Marika McCoola and Aatmaja Pandya. SLIP deals with the have crafted a nuanced story about the many ways art can change us forever.

SLIP brings to life both the excitement and heartbreak of being a teenager and the fleeting and beautiful feeling that one summer can hold dozens of exhilarating possibilities. The perfect read for fans of heartfelt stories about personal identity and first love like Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero O’Connell and Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Kevin Ganucheau, SLIP captures both the magic and anguish of growing older and the catharsis that creating art can bring.

Summary

Jade is excited to go to an exclusive summer art intensive, but right before she is about to leave, her best friend Phoebe attempts suicide. How will Jade be able to focus on her artwork during this dream opportunity? But at the Art Farm, Jade discovers artistic possibilities she has been longing to experience her whole life. And as she gets to know her classmates, she begins to fall for whimsical, upbeat, comfortable-in-her-own-skin Mary. Jade knows she needs to keep her focus on her art, but her worry about Phoebe and her budding crush on Mary leave her overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. She channels her stress and insecurities into making ceramic monsters, but when she puts her creatures in the kiln, something unreal happens – they come to life. And they’re taking a stand: if Jade won’t confront her problems, her problems are going to confront her.  Including the one she is desperately trying to avoid: If Jade grows, prospers, and even falls in love this summer, is she abandoning her best friend? Can she discover who she really is without losing Phoebe in the process?

Review of Slip

Jade has problems finding her theme in her art because she won’t face her emotions. I think her main problem though is her codependency with Phoebe. It holds her back nearly the whole piece from embracing her pieces or embracing her relationship with Mary. I think this is a good piece about finding yourself beyond people you may love but who may not be good for you. I love the final pages when Jade makes the piece of Phoebe I think that’s her most interesting piece in the book. This is a great read for Pride Month as Mary really supports Jade through all her issues.

I would give it a CW as there is artistic showing of female genitalia

Check it out on Amazon

About the Author and Illustrator

About Marika McCoola:
Marika McCoola is a writer, illustrator, educator, and the New York Times bestselling author of Baba Yaga’s Assistant. She has spent over a decade working to connect books with readers. She studied illustration, art history, creative writing, and ceramics at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and received her BFA in illustration in 2009.  She lives in Somerville, MA. 

About Aatmaja Pandya
Aatmaja Pandya is a cartoonist and illustrator born and raised in New York. She graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2014 and has been illustrating professionally ever since. Slip is her first graphic novel. She lives in New York City.

Posted in Desert A Thon, Medieval a Thon

Sorcery of Thorns Review

So I’ve been absent. I’ve been dealing with some trauma plus a case of seasonal affective disorder, aka a summer slump. Finally, my hand is recovering from hitting it while skating. I’ll try to be better, I’m doing several read-alongs and while I won’t get all the books done, I’ve gotten a lot of the long ones out of the way on my TBR. The latest one I finished was Sorcery of Thorns.

Summary

Sorcery of Thorns is focused on the Great Libraries and specifically Elisabeth, she’s lived her whole life in the great library at Summershall. She’s grown up with the knowledge that all sorcerers are evil. This knowledge is about to be flipped on its head when everything she’s known is suddenly wrong. She’s facing down monsters and the ones she thought knew everything are now dead. But she’s not only facing down monsters, but she’s also winning?!

Clearly, something is amiss and the Great Libraries send Magister Nathaniel Thorn to check on it. He is of course a sorcerer. But soon he and his demon servant seem to be the only people Elisabeth is able to trust. As the three of them learn of a larger conspiracy will they have the power to bring this evil that is older than they imagined down or can nothing including sorcery and smarts stop this ancient evil?

Review of Sorcery of Thorns

This was a great book it was wonderful to go on an adventure with Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas, not to mention the great libraries there were some triggering scenes for potential assault towards women at several points but the girl always got the upper hand it was just threatened, and the perpetrators were in most cases killed or maimed.

Elisabeth is a great protagonist she’s got spunk and keeps Nathaniel and Silas both on their toes throughout the book.

My one issue is that ending man this book needs a sequel. Oh and Silas, fave character ever.

Amazon: Sorcery of Thorns

Posted in Recommendations

Shielded

I bought Shielded for the cover because I was doing a challenge with that needed a blue cover but I’m glad I picked it up. It was a great action-adventure, military fantasy.

Shielded

Summary

The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.

As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.

Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.

Review

I really enjoyed this book for several reasons one was a smart female protagonist, sure she has a couple of encounters where she survives on luck, but she’s been trained as a fighter and uses that training to help herself and others when needed. Jenna is also eager to Turian ways once she arrives, something that helps her throughout the novel. I will admit I can appreciate how much time she spends in the library trying to solve the problem.

Her betrothed is also no slouch he’s not some wooden cut out character, and he trains, unknowingly with Jenna and tries to help her solve the problem of the mages that Jenna is spending so much time in the library with. What’s more he trusts Jenna with protecting his sisters, which turns out to be very important, and ends up figuring out just who Jenna is before she reveals it.

Their romance isn’t overly mushy which I respect in a novel, they both consider duty before their love for each other and eventually they come to a sweet conclusion. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Amazon: Shielded

Posted in backlog reviews

Air Review

So for my one of the tropes I love is disabled badasses. This book has one of my favorite in awhile. Air is a great piece of fiction about a girl in the country with big dreams of WCMX in a wheelchair.

Summary

Twelve-year-old Emmie is working to raise money for a tricked-out wheelchair to get serious about WCMX, when a mishap on a poorly designed ramp at school throws her plans into a tailspin. Instead of replacing the ramp, her school provides her with a kind but unwelcome aide—and, seeing a golden media opportunity, launches a public fundraiser for her new wheels. Emmie loves her close-knit rural town, but she can’t shake the feeling that her goals—and her choices—suddenly aren’t hers anymore. With the help of her best friends, Emmie makes a plan to get her dreams off the ground—and show her community what she wants, what she has to give, and how ready she is to do it on her own terms.

Review

This book had me up in the air emotionally at several point especially with the relationship between Emmie and her father. They are both suffering from the loss of her mother to a drunk driver and her father is holding her too close, or so Emmie believes. But she actually has a surprise in store. Another favorite moment of mine is when Emmie receives the check at the show, and how she shows the town exactly what she can do.

Also the sweet middle grade romance between her and a local horse farmer’s son, add to the cute factor. This novel deals with a little bit of everything, from grief, to freedom, to responsibility. It was an A+ with me and a great read for anyone who is feeling like people are pinning them in because of their disability.

Amazon: Air: A Novel

Posted in Recommendations, Reviews

Fire Becomes Her

I’ve been meaning to read Fire Becomes Her for awhile but I finally got the hardback copy and I’m glad I did. This is one book I want to have a hard copy of the author has said inspirations were drawn from the 2016 Presidential Election, but as much as this is a story about politics and power, it is ultimately a story about love.

Summary

Ingrid Ellis thinks she know what she wants knows who she loves. She wants power and she’s going to find it on the arm of Linden Holt, the man she love, or does she, but she has no background monetary or magical and Linden’s father won’t acknowledge her and will never approve of her hoped for marriage to Linden

Unless she agrees to spy for the other side.

Gwendolyn Meyers, Holt’s opponent is everything Ingrid wishes she could be, independent. She speaks her mind shares her love with another woman. Gwendolyn and her staffers show Ingrid a different kind of love and family than she could have ever imagined. Then there is Alex, a friend at first until Ingrid could see him as something more.

But there is fire on the horizon, and it’s coming for the Meyers campaign when a fire rocks the Presidential Ball and soon after Ingrid’s secret is revealed. She soon finds herself going back where it all started and working with someone who could make things equal for everyone if only they can make things work.

With a lot of hope and a chance for forgiveness Ingrid is about to face down one of the most powerful men in the country by herself? Will the truth prevail?

Review of Fire Becomes Her

This book was engaging from the first page because at first you don’t want to like Ingrid. But that’s because Ingrid doesn’t want to like Ingrid, as the book goes on and Ingrid sees more of love and learn more about what love can be and the many ways it can be expressed she becomes happier and more comfortable especially when it comes to her relationships with Linden and Alex.

I love the different identities represented in this book this is great and I really want to read more of Rosiee Thor’s work.

Amazon: Fire Becomes Her

Posted in Monthly Reads, new releases, Orillium Readathon, Readathons

You Truly Assumed Review

And we’re back online faster, with more power, and better than ever. I’m now producing content off Lavender the Laptop. She has 90’s retro vibe, and I’ve got the feminist and witchy stickers coming in tomorrow. So I’ll probably get sticker happy but I’m happy to have a machine to work from again, and happy to be reviewing this wonderful book You Truly Assumed by Black author Laila Sabreen.

This is also helping me complete one of my Pondathon II challenges,. In addition it’s helping me complete one of my Trope-ical readathon prompts Finally this book is also helping with my Orillium Gear Challenge.

Summary

In this compelling and thought-provoking debut novel, after a terrorist attack rocks the country and anti-Islamic sentiment stirs, three Black Muslim girls create a space where they can shatter assumptions and share truths.

Sabriya has her whole summer planned out in color-coded glory, but those plans go out the window after a terrorist attack near her home. When the terrorist is assumed to be Muslim and Islamophobia grows, Sabriya turns to her online journal for comfort. You Truly Assumed was never meant to be anything more than an outlet, but the blog goes viral as fellow Muslim teens around the country flock to it and find solace and a sense of community.

Soon two more teens, Zakat and Farah, join Bri to run You Truly Assumed and the three quickly form a strong friendship. But as the blog’s popularity grows, so do the pushback and hateful comments. When one of them is threatened, the search to find out who is behind it all begins, and their friendship is put to the test when all three must decide whether to shut down the blog and lose what they’ve worked for…or take a stand and risk everything to make their voices heard.

Review of You Truly Assumed

I really liked this book for several reason; one the three points of view, two the way this book was centered around blogging and the different ways the girls celebrated their faith through their communities and the blog. For me this book brought up what is great about the blogging community, the family aspect, as well as the negatives and how to deal with them.

I think it did a good job portraying what minority bloggers have to deal with, any minority bloggers can of course correct me if I’m wrong but it seems to match up with the discourse I’ve heard from different bloggers of color about their thoughts not being heard. I think this is a must read for all white bloggers. Oh and just a personal favorite I especially I the scene where the piece of cookware is thrown on the floor after seeing the website. Just a personal favorite of mine also I’m a huge fan of the ship that happens in the book. It’s so cute. Those are my two personal opinions. Also, I couldn’t pick a favorite out of the three since I love them all. So don’t ask me to!

Amazon: You Truly Assumed

Posted in Chopped Readathon

Chopped Readathon:Barakah Beats Review

If you’ve been following me for very long you know I like books featuring Muslim characters. Barakah Beats was a short and sweet middle grade story which also brought up important issues about music in Islam. This also fits the Chopped Readathon prompt for Spaghetti a book featuring good friends.

Barakah Beats by [Maleeha Siddiqui]

Summary

12-year-old Nimra Sharif has spent her whole life in Islamic school, but is about to embark on middlel school and is feeling nervous.

Nimra is desperate to fit in but finds the popular kids avoid her because of her hijab, and her best-friend Jenna isn’t the same at school. So when she is invited to join the school’s popular band, Barakah Beats Nimra is unsure what to do. She has been taught that music isn’t allowed in Islam, but it is an opportunity to make new friends and win back the graces of her best-friend Jenna.

What will Nimra do?

Review

I really liked this story because it showed another side of how Muslims deal with music. Nimra is the first character I’ve seen in fiction who has actually not done music because of her faith. And while I’m not Muslim and understand it is a widely debated issue within Islam it is interesting to see a character with another perspective. As for the rest of the band, they are so wholesome you can’t help but love them. It’s also nice to see characters praying during school. My favorite scene though had to be the basement scene and them re-enacting something, I won’t spoil it for people who haven’t read it but it was just hilarious.

As for Nimra trying to impress Jenna, the plot is perfectly understandable, she doesn’t see the prejudice until someone else points it out because she’s been friends with Jenna so long, even though Jenna is toxic, she wants to save the friendship, but it’s only when she lets go of Jenna does she fully begin to thrive.

Another great scene was the solo at the concert, I won’t go into too much detail about that either but I think it was a very powerful scene.

Overall this was another great book about a Muslim pre-teen.

Amazon: Barakah Beats

Posted in Monthly Reads, new releases

Cleo Porter Review

Reading a book about the effects of a plague during an actual plague is kind of surreal, and the author noted the dissidence when introducing the piece. Other than this Cleo Porter vs the the Body Electric was a wonderful piece about pandemics, the dangers of relying on technology and the force of the human spirit.

Summary

A woman is dying. Cleo Porter has her medicine. And no way to deliver it.

Like everyone else, twelve-year-old Cleo and her parents are sealed in an apartment without windows or doors. They never leave. They never get visitors. Their food is dropped off by drones. So they’re safe. Safe from the disease that nearly wiped humans from the earth. Safe from everything. The trade-off?

They’re alone. Thus, when they receive a package clearly meant for someone else–a package containing a substance critical for a stranger’s survival–Cleo is stuck. As a surgeon-in-training, she knows the clock is ticking. But people don’t leave their units.

Not ever. Until now. In a race to treat her patient she will go on the adventure of a lifetime and learn things she never imagined.

Review of Cleo Porter and the Body Electric

The solution to this book, is one you can easily see coming about, and that’s what makes the book hit a note of realism that is almost scary. I also love the two people living outside the cubes, Agnes teaches our protagonist a lot of things she would have never learned in the cube, and the outside world grow on her because of it. I think it’s also important to point out how hard it was to get out of the cube, and the failure of Paige’s cube, and how that could be important in the future. Like Agnes said they may be locking themselves in for trouble if something bad happens.

Amazon: Cleo Porter and the Body Electric

Posted in Chopped Readathon, Monthly Reads, new releases

Bone Spindle Review

The Bone Spindle was a great adventure novel. Billed as Sleeping Beauty meets Indiana Jones the personal relationship and bonds between the characters make it so much more. Yes, there is romance, but this is also an ode to female friendship, not giving up, and not running away from your past.

Summary

The Bone Spindle by [Leslie Vedder]

Fi is a bookish treasure hunter with a knack for ruins and riddles, who definitely doesn’t believe in true love.

Shane is a tough-as-dirt girl warrior from the north who likes cracking skulls, pretty girls, and doing things her own way.

Briar Rose is a prince under a sleeping curse, who’s been waiting a hundred years for the kiss that will wake him.

Cursed princes are nothing but ancient history to Fi—until she pricks her finger on a bone spindle while exploring a long-lost ruin. Now she’s stuck with the spirit of Briar Rose until she and Shane can break the century-old curse on his kingdom.

Dark magic, Witch Hunters, and bad exes all stand in her way—not to mention a mysterious witch who might wind up stealing Shane’s heart, along with whatever else she’s after. But nothing scares Fi more than the possibility of falling in love with Briar Rose.

Set in a lush world inspired by beloved fairytales, The Bone Spindle is a fast-paced young adult fantasy full of adventure, romance, found family, and snark.

Review of the Bone Spindle

This book was an absolutely lovely read. I didn’t mind the three perspectives at all as they made sense shifting when the situation did. Everyone must have been a blast to write due to the level of snark they all possessed. Oh an Red, poor Red. I can’t wait to see her again in later books, and hope she comes around. I’m also worried about the link between Briar and the Spindle Witch. But let me not forget a to give a shoutout to the Paper Witch, who even before I knew his history was still awesome. What I’m trying to say is this is a great introduction to a series of book and I can’t wait to read more, sequels as fast as possible please!

Amazon: The Bone Spindle

Posted in ARCs

Dear Student ARC Review

This was moved up a day because I couldn’t make my friend @ellyswartz wait any longer.

Dear Student is Elly Swartz’s newest book, it’s going to be released on February 15th. It’s a perfect gift for any middle grader in your life. I was offered a this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary

The first year of middle school is hard for Autumn her best friend has moved away. Now she’s trying to connect with her new classmates and deal with her home life where her dad joined the Peace Corps and left their family behind. Autumn has lots of feelings about her dad leaving especially when he tells her to try one new thing on the first day of middle school. The first day is even more complicated when a random boy runs over an iguana in the middle of the road while Autumn is walking to school. Luckily she takes it to her mom, the town vet, and Autumn tries to talk to the boy but he just leaves leaving Autumn with questions.

The boy, Cooper ends up being new in town and he and Autumn end up getting along , especially through his love of animals, especially his dog. But Cooper isn’t the only new potential friend Autumn ends up with there is also outgoing Logan who is popular and also has an animal, a pregnant snake named Sleeping Beauty. (She’s in the running for favorite character, so cute) that Autumn’s mom ends up treating. Logan becomes fast friends with Autumn, there is only one problem. She can’t stand Cooper.

As if her life with new friends isn’t complicated enough she’s picked for a program she applied for but never thought she’d get, Dear Student, she gets to be the anonymous voice of advice for the school paper, a role which she grows to love, and things finally settle with her two friends, but when a new company that tests on animals comes to town Autumn must take a side between her friends, also when her anonymity for Dear Student is threatened she must decide where she stands and if she is willing to stand up for what she says when it’s really her speaking.

Review for Dear Student

This was a great book about finding your voice among different opinions. Throughout the book Autumn becomes a more confident person. She’s willing to stand up to her friends when she doesn’t things are right even at the potential cost of her friendship with those people. And she is willing to stand up for a cause she believes in even though there might be consequences. I also like her letter when she’s exposed as Dear Student, I think that shows particular bravery. All and all she grows throughout the book and shows more courage than most adults when it comes to standing up to her beliefs to her friends and for her causes. It’s a great book with an engaging protagonist and interesting side characters including the animals. Another hit for Elly Swartz!

Amazon: Dear Student