Posted in new releases

Challenges at Hand : New Releases

This week’s group of new releases is a diverse bunch, from facing magic, tradition or your own personal challenges theses heroes and heroines face it all and come out on top!

Etta Invincible

Etta Invincible by [Reese Eschmann]

Twelve-year-old Etta Johnson has Loud Days where she can hear just fine and Quiet Days where sounds come from far away and she gets to retreat into her thoughts. Etta spends most of her time alone, working on her comic book about Invisible Girl, the superhero who takes down super villain Petra Fide and does all the things Etta thinks she can’t.

But when Louisa May Alcott, a friendly Goldendoodle from across the street, disappears, Etta and the dog’s boy, Eleazar, must find their inner heroes to save her. The catch? LMA has run onto a magical train that mysteriously arrived at the station near Etta and Eleazar’s houses. On-board, they discover each train car is its own magical world with individual riddles and challenges that must be solved before they can reach the engine room and rescue LMA.

Only, the stakes are even higher than they thought. The train’s magic is malfunctioning and spreading a purple smoke called The Fear through the streets of Chicago. Etta and Eleazar are the only ones who can save the city, save Louisa May Alcott—and save each other.

Amazon: Etta Invincible

Margie Kelly Breaks the Dress Code

Margie Kelly’s perfect skirt was dress coded on her very first day of middle school. Upset and embarrassed, Margie spends the whole day wearing oversized gym shorts. So much for starting sixth grade with confidence!

But when Margie realizes that the dress code is only applied to the female students and not the boys, Margie gets mad. Really mad.

The dress code is keeping girls stuck in detention all day and away from learning. The boys act like they own the school. And the teachers turn a blind eye to the hypocrisies taking place in the halls, classrooms, and clubs. Something has to change! And Margie knows just how to do it. She’ll plan a school-wide protest that challenges the dress code with her best friend, Daniela, and fellow classmates Jamiya and Gloria.

But as Margie moves forward with her plans, she comes to realize some hard truths about herself. Will Margie recognize her own privilege and make meaningful change for all students?

Amazon: Margie Kelly Breaks the Dress Code

Ten Thousand Tries

Ten Thousand Tries by [Amy Makechnie]

Twelve-year-old Golden Maroni is determined to channel his hero, soccer superstar Lionel Messi, and become captain of his soccer team and master of his eighth grade universe…especially since his home universe is spiraling out of orbit. Off the field, Golden’s dad, once a pro soccer player himself, is now battling ALS, a disease that attacks his muscles, leaving him less and less physically able to control his body every day. And while Mom says there’s no cure, Golden is convinced that his dad can beat these challenges , just like any opponent, they just have to try.

Golden knows that if you want to perfect a skill you have to put ten thousand tries in, so he’s convinced if he can put that much effort in, on and off the field, he can stop everything from changing. But when his dad continues to decline and his constant pushing starts to alienate his friends and team, Golden is forced to confront the idea that being master of your universe might not mean being in control of everything. What if it means letting go of the things you can’t control so you can do the most good for the things you can?

Amazon: Ten Thousand Tries

Posted in Reviews

Allergic: A Graphic Novel Review

Allergic: A Graphic Novel

Allergic: A Graphic Novel by [Megan Wagner Lloyd, Michelle Mee Nutter]

Summary

A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel featuring a girl who is allergic to most pets, but still wants to find her perfect friend.

At home, Maggie is the odd one out. Her parents are preoccupied with getting ready for a new baby, and her younger brothers are twins and always in their own world. Maggie loves animals and thinks a new puppy to call her own is the answer, but when she goes to select one on her birthday, she breaks out in hives and rashes. She’s severely allergic to anything with fur!

Can Maggie outsmart her allergies and find the perfect pet?

Allergic Author/Illustrator

With illustrations by Michelle Mee Nutter, Megan Wagner Lloyd uses inspiration from her own experiences with allergies to tell a heartfelt story of family, friendship, and finding a place to belong.

Review

The idea of being allergic-like Maggie would be so hard, but the allergies are just masking her larger problem which is the loneliness she feels in her family. But as she tries and fails at having different pets and her mom progresses in her pregnancy, she realizes she maybe has a place after all and that her role as a big sister is important, and that she doesn’t need a pet to fill the void, that her family is already there.

Amazon: Allergic

Posted in Reviews

Awkward

Awkward (Berrybrook Middle School Book 1) by [Svetlana Chmakova]

Summary

I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite awhile. I thought the concept was interesting and it definitely didn’t dissapoint. Penelope–Peppi–Tores has some basic rules for surving at a new school. The first is not to get noticed by the mean kids, but when she drops her backpack on the first day and quiet boy Jamie helps her up the mean kids start calling her ‘nerder girlfriend’. She’s already broken the first rule! How does she handle it? By pushing Jamie and running away. Her second rule is to seek out groups with similar interests and join them, so she ends up in art club with new friends, but she still can’t help feeling bad about the way she treated Jamie. She agonizes over apolizing to him, but the timing never seems to be right.

Things get even more awkward when he becomes her science tutor and she learns more about Jamie. However art club and science club which Jamie is a part of are archrivals. When the two clubs go to war will it cut off any chance at a friendship between Peppi and Jamie. Or will the two be able to show there isn’t that much difference between science and art and that the two clubs might just get along if they are willing to drop their rivalry and work together.

Review

This was cute, loved the friendship between Peppi and Jamie but I also loved the positive portrayal of disability with Jamie’s mom. I liked the diverse students in both clubs. The author did a good job of making everyone in a large ensemble cast seem unique something that isn’t oftentimes easy to do. I also loved Miss T, and her making Peppi diagram the mermaid drawing. It’s just such a teacher move. Anywany very cute and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Amazon: Awkward

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized

Crystal Cadets Review

So I’ve been on a bit of a Katie O’Neil kick. So when I found out she illustrated a comic I had to give it a read. Her art start style is a bit different here but still recognizeable.

Crystal Cadets

Summary

Zoe has always felt out of place. Not that her foster parents aren’t nice enough, but all her life she’s felt like something was missing. Its only on her birthday when she recieves some things from her birth mother that the universe gets flipped on it’s head.

Her mother has left her a mysterious gem along with a letter talking about powers and protection? What was she talking about? The crystal grant her the power of light but she doesn’t use it much trying not to think about it.

It’s not until she meets other girls who can shoot flames and one who can shoot glowing green arrows that she learns that she’s not the only one with these powers and they are fighting against something called the Darkness. The leader is trying to find all the cadets so they’ll have a chance against this enemy.

At first Zoe isn’t intrested, until her parents are overtaken by the Darkness leaving her to go adventuring with this group of intreped heroines, as they try to find all the cadets, stop the Darkness, and try and find the true meaning to an old prophecy.

Review

I feel like this comic was meant to be longer and got canceled. Of course there are some Sailor Moon tropes that anything with magical girls can’t avoid. But I appricate the more diverse cast and the fact that by the end there is a boy cadet. I feel like had it been given some more time it would have really evolved into something unique.

I love the magical creatures they can summon, its super helpful for the plot, and also the creatures are just generally cool. Even the unicorn, which the cadet who has it doesn’t care for.

So yes, in some ways it’s sticks to a formula, but I think it gives it a little twists.

That’s why I’m giving it 4 stars.

Amazon: Crystal Cadets

Posted in Reviews

Review: Séance Tea Party

Okay after this week I needed a cute book. This book is dang adorable. The art style between the art style and content the only word I can use to describe it is cozy.

Séance Tea Party

Summary

Lora thinks that growing up sounds terrible. No one has time to do anything fun, play outside, or use their imagination. Once you are considered grown everything is so serious. People are just interested in looks and what others thinks about them, rather than having fun adventures.

When her circle of friends suddenly shrinks as growing up happens Lora is determined to have fun on her own and not bow to the social pressures and be like everyone else. So one day Lora has a tea party with a supernatural twist that leads to her rediscovering Alexa, the ghost that haunts her house and her old imaginary friend!

They are thrilled to see each other again, and find that they are kindred spirits (pun totally intended). Alexa helps Lora be more independent and find some new friends who share her spooky interests.

Meanwhile Alexa starts to remember things about the past and an encounter with an old friend leads her to wonder if now that she knows her full story is it time for her to let go.

Over the course of the course of the story both Lora and Alexa learn not everything can last forever.

Review

I’m not sure if it was meant to read as gay or just sweet female friendship but either way. There were freaking tears. That last dance, tears! I’m not sure exactly what freed Alexa in the end though, knowing her whole story, her old friend, Lora, or a mixture of the three. I think she stuck around in the first place because she was cut off so quickly in her youth. But I think her friends help her finally realize the value of letting go.

Same thing with Lora, who was a total goth in training, she slowly found people, outside the mainstream who fit her and by the end she was more like herself.

Also it’s so beautiful, a feast for the eyes! Reimena Yee is a fantastic illustrator!

Author/Illustrator

Reimena Yee is a strange and fancy Eisner-nom’d graphic novelist/illustrator who can be found on Twitter at @reimenayee or their blog at https://blog.reimenayee.com/

Amazon: Séance Tea Party.

Posted in Challenges, YARC, Year of the Asian Reading Challenge

Measuring Up Review

Measuring Up

Summary

Twelve year old Cici loved her life back in Taiwan, especially the time she spent with her grandmother, or A-má. But when her family moves to Seattle so she can have better opportunities she has to leave her grandmother and friend behind.

It’s difficult and she has the usual problems fitting in at school, she quickly makes friends. Though she’s not sure how much of her Taiwanese life to show them.

Now she only needs one thing to make her happy being with her A-má on her seventieth birthday. It doesn’t seem possible. It’s too much money for them all to visit her, but Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket! There is just one problem Cici only knows how to cook the Taiwanese food she learned with her grandmother.

But after her pickled cucumber is mocked at lunch she is determinted to learn to cook the American way by channeling her inner Juila Child? Through cooking can Cici find a winning recipe to reunite A-má, while also showing both sides of her new self.

This is Lily LaMotte’s debut graphic novel.

Illustrator An Xu an Ignatz-nominated cartoonist and illustrator working in Baltimore. 

Review

Because I’m a very amature baker I love books about food and this one brought the recipes to life. I also loved the friendship Cici has with someone in the competition and how food was used as bridge between her old life in Taiwan and her new life in American.

I also loved the result when the judges mocked Cici’s final meal then tasted it. Another favorite scene of mine is when she finally brought her friends to her house.

Overall this is just a sweet book with an important message about culture. Whether it’s the fact that American often lump cultures together or the struggle of immigrants to find to right mix of being their home culture and “American” this book covers it with a deft hand while still making a sweet story.

Posted in Blogtober, new releases, Reviews

BSC: Logan Likes Mary Anne!

Logan Likes Mary Anne!

So I’ve enjoyed every graphic novel adaptation of The Babysitters Club that Graphix books has put out. They have kept the heart of the story while making the characters relevant for today’s readers. And don’t think I don’t love the added diversity.

Summary

In this latest volume Mary Anne has a crush on a boy at school, Logan. He reminds her of a pop star she likes, he seems to like her too, but she’s too busy being nervous to notice. But after advertising at a PTA meeting the Babysitter’s Club is up to their ears in calls and they have to come through on them all or risk the club’s reputation. So they advertise for more babysitters and Logan is one of the applicants, along with a friend of their Junior Officer Mallory.

The Club agrees to give both of their new candidates trial runs, with one of the club members watching over them while they babysit, the schedule works out so that it’s Logan and Mary Anne babysitting together. Cue Mary Anne’s nerves but as they start to babysit she forgets to be nervous much in part to a very rambunctious kid. The kid loves both Logan and Mary Anne so he ask for them again, and they have a chance to get to know each other better.

Mary Anne begins to feel more confident and even ask Logan to the dance where they have a great time, but there is a suprise lurking around the corner, one Mary Anne might not like? Will she make it through and will things be okay with her friends and with Logan afterwards?

Review

Maybe it’s because I’m partial to Mary Anne, but this is one of my favorite books in the series especially since you can see the growth of her character since the beginning of the series. She’s come a long way since Book 1 and I can’t wait to see where the series takes her and the other girls.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Image by DearlyReloved from Pixabay

Posted in Author Recommendations, Blogtober, Reviews

Babysitter’s Club: Boy Crazy Stacy

Now I’m going to go back and review the series from the beginning but I thought I’d review the two I read recently while they were still fresh in my mind.

Summary

While the rest of the club have other commitments for the summer, Stacey and Mary Anne are baby sitting for the large Pike family, with the help of their junior officer Mallory who is the oldest sibling in the family.

The family will be spending two weeks on the New Jersey shore, in Sea City. Things seem like they are going to be wonderful, the Pikes are renting a gorgeous house right by the beach, there is a boardwalk to explore and plenty of sun and sand. Along with something Stacey didn’t expect, the cutest boy she’s ever seen

But he’s older and a lifeguard, and Mary Anne thinks Stacey should just let her crush go and focus on the job at hand. But Stacey’s in love. While Stacey is busy pining for her crush Mary Anne has to do the job of two babysitters! How can she get Stacey to figure out Scott isn’t interested without ruining their friendship and breaking Stacey’s heart?

Review

A pretty typical first crush on someone older story. Mary Anne see’s all the ways this could go wrong, and Stacey doesn’t right until her heart is crushed. But there are some other character that make things better, and start to show Mary Anne’s more outgoing side which comes out more in the next book.

After Stacey breaks her heart she helps one of the Pike kids deal with his fears and its one of the best moments in the book. I also enjoy the postcards interspersed throughout the book which are a mark of these graphic novels.

I’d say it’s a 4, cute but not my favorite of the series.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Posted in Reviews

Karen’s Roller Skates (Baby-sitters Little Sister)

These graphic novels are targeted at a somewhat younger audience than the main reboot of graphic novels for the Babysitter’s Club. These are more lower elementary school issues while the Baby Sitters Club main graphic novels deal with middle school problems, still both sets of books have engaging plots that even adults can appreciate.

Karen’s Roller Skates (Baby-sitters Little Sister)

Summary

Karen is Kristy from the Babysitter’s Club’s stepsister. Sometimes she lives with her mother and sometimes she lives with her father where Kristy and her family also live, she and her brother go back and forth. On the weekend the story occurs the two siblings are at their father (Watson’s) house.

Karen is excited for the weekend, she has new roller skates and she’s a great skater. She’s also looking forward to trying some new tricks. But, oh no! Karen falls down and breaks her wrist, she has to go the hospital. Its scary, and she doesn’t like all the new things she has to deal with like getting a cast.

However once she gets home she does like being taken care of, however this doesn’t last long and the annoyances of broken wrist out way the perks. She has to go back to the hospital every two weeks to get a cast and she can’t roller skate while her wrist is broken.

What’s more she meets one of her classmates at a visit to the hospital who has the same doctor. He claims he’s going to get a famous sports stars signature on his cast. Now Karen has a mission, she’s going to get every one she knows plus someone famous and beat out classmate and she wont stop until the job is done.

Summary

This a cute graphic novel great for kids and middle grade readers. Karen is a smart and funny protagonist and the adventure she goes on is relatable to something kids might go through. I also love how Karen’s story of how she broke her arm gets more elaborate throughout the book.

Amazon: Karen’s Roller Skates

Photo by Lewis Keegan – Skillscouter.com on Unsplash

Posted in Reviews

She Ra: The Legend of the Fire Princess

Now I’m a huge She-Ra fan I love the creators work as well as her work with the Lumberjane comics, I’m not as familiar with the person who wrote this comic, but they did a great job keeping true to the universe and the different characters personalities.

The Legend of the Fire Princess

Summary

I’d say this book is set in late season 1 or early season 2. Even after being with the Rebellion for awhile life outside the Horde is still strange to Adora. She’s having to learn about the Rebellion’s customs and her powers as She-Ra, including abilities that just keep growing.

She learns she has the ability to heal corrupted runestones. Gems which help power the planet and the princesses of Etheria. Mermista, Frosta, and Perfuma each draw power from their runestones but Glimmer knows of another one with a dark past.

Long ago a princess with fire powers ruled the land to the west until a thirst for power corrupted her and lead to the ruin of her kingdom. Glimmer thinks the lost fire runestone could give them an advantage against the Horde, but Adora is unsure. And claiming the ancient power won’t be as easy as they thought especially when the Horde has their eyes on the exact same prize.

Don’t miss this original graphic novel based on stories by She-Ra showrunner and New York Times bestselling author Noelle Stevenson, with script by Gigi D.G. and art by Paulina Ganucheau!

Review

This was a very cute story nice self contained adventure, nice touch of mythology about Etheria, and especially a nice touch of foreshadowing for events in future seasons. It’s not so obvious if you haven’t seen future seasons however it’s a great Easter egg if you have. Overall I can’t wait to read more of the She-Ra graphic novels.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Amazon: She-Ra and the Legend of the Fire Princess

Photo by raquel raclette on Unsplash