What the junk-Jen is missing?! The Lumberjanes and Gotham Academy crew regroup at camp to figure out how to find their missing friends.
(A bit of a quiWhat the junk-Jen is missing?! The Lumberjanes and Gotham Academy crew regroup at camp to figure out how to find their missing friends.
(A bit of a quick note: I'll be doing brief reviews as the single issues come out, so they might be a little non-standard if you're used to my review layout/format.)
We're getting into the mystery now! Well, a little. There are two groups trying to figure things out. The first is Olive and Jen, who've just woken up to an invitation to dinner in a time capsule of a bedroom supposedly in Greenwood Lodge. The second is everyone else, the Lumberjanes and the rest of the Gotham Academy squad, who've made it back to camp and are currently trying to figure out their next course of action.
There's a bit of a clash between the Lumberjanes and the Academy students, the latter wanting to head back out to save Olive while the former has been in this situation before and knows they need to stock up and plan before leaving. It didn't really appear in the first issue, their different styles when it came to investigation and mystery-hunting, but it definitely does here as the story moves along.
The art is the same as the previous issue, a little cartoonish and fun, with brighter colours that lean more towards the Lumberjanes style. With the mystery moving along, with Olive and Jen now in Greenwood Lodge, slowly learning why they followed Rosie and Professor MacPhearson there, things will definitely get interesting as the series goes on.
Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They've managed to cast a spell over not just theEveryone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They've managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they're rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you're not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She's different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. And what the Graces don't know is that River's presence in town is no accident.
The Graces is a complicated, haunting tale of wanting, mystery, and magic. Of searching for a place to belong and refusing to let go of it.
River, as she now calls herself, sees herself, is searching. She's lonely and lost, looking for friends. Looking for someone to care about her, support her, help her, and she knows the Graces can help her. How fascinating are they, with their auras and their attitudes, with their secrets and their customs. They just have to be witches, right? They just have to understand her, make her feel like she belongs.
I think this book nails a certain aspect some experience while a teen (that can also extend into adulthood), the aspect of being alone, of having no one close to you who you can lean on, and going out and finding that support. River is new to town, new to everything around her. She knows what's in her past, the secrets she keeps locked away deep inside, and when she looks at the Graces she sees people who might understand. People who can help her, who will support her and who she can support in turn. She's looking for a connection, for friendship. For love. And soon she gets what she wanted. But she hasn't taken into account the secrets the Graces are hiding. Or that her own secrets are far more dangerous.
I struggled to get into this. River sounded whiny, sounded childish. Maybe a little stuck-up. Definitely obsessive. Definitely repetitive. As the book went on I was curious as to what was going to happen, what magic there was. If it was real or if River was making it all up in her head. I was certainly surprised as the story progresses, as events unfolded and secrets were revealed, but there were moments when it dragged. It's like a darker version of the movie The Craft, if such a thing is possible, set in a small town somewhere in what I think is Great Britain. Knowing this is book 1 of a duology, I'm intrigued as to what will happen next, but I don't know if I'm desperate to know.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Amulet Books through NetGalley.)...more
It's Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose "afflicted" blood gives them the ability to create illusions through arIt's Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose "afflicted" blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny's crowds, and by day they con Boston's elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron's hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.
Iron Cast is full of mystery and intrigue, anchored by a pair of heroines loyal to each other.
Ada is a cautious young woman. A musician, a songsmith, she works at the Cast Iron in order to provide for her mother. She's kind, supportive, and now scared of what might come next. The asylum wasn't a kind place and she's not about to go back. Back to the screams. Back to the secrets in the basement. Corinne is a wordsmith, able to craft illusions through recitation. She's at the Cast Iron for a number of reasons. To keep her hemopath status hidden from her privileged family. To stick close to Ada, to help keep her safe. To live her dream life of being in the big city with few to answer to. She's somewhat brash, somewhat cunning, and somewhat stubborn. But Ada and Corinne are thick and thieves. They'll always be together.
I was first intrigued by the setting and the world-building of this book, the combination of the time period and the hemopaths. It's a point in time when extravagance was desired but could be cut short with the introduction of Prohibition, when underground clubs were filled with those looking for a chance to reveal themselves instead of hiding in the shadows. Add in the hemopaths and their illusion-crafting abilities, their weakness to iron in a somewhat industrial city, and I was hooked. I wanted to know how it would all play out.
This book is like a mixture of pre-Prohibition era America, the attraction and intrigue of hidden nightclubs, and the X-Men. It starts with a slow reveal of the world, of Ada and Corinne's situation, of their less than legal jobs and their desire to stay free from the authorities, and continues with a race to uncover all the secrets surrounding the Cast Iron. Why was someone shot? What happened to Johnny? Who's chasing them? They're soon desperate to stay alive, stay together. I'd recommend this for those looking for a solid female friendship in a story with historical and urban fantasy elements.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Amulet Books through NetGalley.)...more
Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco's most beloved superheroine. She's greatEvie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco's most beloved superheroine. She's great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss's epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants. Unfortunately, she's not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea. But everything changes when Evie's forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it's up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda's increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right... or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.
Heroine Complex is exciting and dangerous. It's a fast-paced adventure across San Francisco and an honest look at friendships and having the confidence to stand up and fight for those you care about and what you believe in.
Evie is caring and supportive, working as hard as she can to save money for her and her sister. Working as hard as she can to make sure that superheroine boss Aveda Jupiter only has to worry about kicking demon butt and looking awesome while doing it. It's her job to keep all the darker secret stuff hidden away, like the fact that Aveda can fall into tantrums quicker than a toddler, like how she worries all the time about money and her sister's acting out. Like how Evie has her own superpower that she's afraid of. Evie's strong and smart but a total pushover. Her sense of self-worth and confidence in her abilities needs a real shot in the arm, especially if she's going to help save the city from an invasion of demons, but doing that might mean saying the things she's always wanted to say to Aveda to her face.
This is a book about superheroes, about what makes them in terms of mystical superpowers and in terms of personality and drive. It's been a long-running requirement of saving the world from villains and demons that superheroes be physically strong, that they be able to both throw and take a punch. But what about the strength that comes from being confident with yourself and your abilities. Both Evie and Aveda are insecure about a lot of things when it comes to themselves and their abilities, which makes them great at being flawed heroes. The hardest thing for them might be to be completely honest with each other and those around them.
I did find this book fun, this is a fresh look at being a superhero in a modern day setting. There's a lot more interpersonal relationship talk than I was expecting, but the moments of fighting and saving the day do balance it out. I wasn't necessarily a fan of the times Aveda would talk down to Evie, how Aveda would always need to have her way, but all those moments worked with her personality, with her needing to be in the spotlight. I would recommend this to urban fantasy and paranormal fans looking for something new and different.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from DAW through NetGalley.)...more
In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell theIn the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they've arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa's working-class neighborhood. In Vassa's neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa's stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission. But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg's help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch's curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won't be playing fair.
Vassa in the Night is a dangerous tale of magic, cunning, and impossibility. A tale of curses and luck, of clever dolls and captured watchmen, of a lonely girl looking for the missing piece of herself.
Vassa is complicated. Her world is complicated. She's smart, sarcastic, and alone. Her mother dead, her father gone, her stepmother not in the mood to care much about a daughter not biologically hers, and her stepsisters who sometimes like her but mostly bicker at her. All Vassa has is Erg, the wooden doll given to her by her mother, but Erg can only do so much, like eat food in Vassa's pockets and steal trinkets from her stepsisters when no one is looking. Vassa needs to find her strength, her willingness to fight back. Sometimes she has to do it on her own. Sometimes she has to be strong and face her fears, face the things that make her sad.
I love it when authors combine the real world with magic, when it's sort of commonplace and running alongside cars and subway trains and cell phones. Here, the creepy magic of Babs Yagg and her bizarre stores is mixed into Vassa's Brooklyn neighbourhood. Where the locals know that there's magic afoot and know to steer clear of it. You never know what magic is in your neighbourhood. I'm not that familiar with the tale of Vassilisa the Beautiful, the Russian folktale, but there were elements I recognized. This just made me want to revisit the original.
This is one of those impossible to describe books. It has a number of things: impossible magicks, sarcastic heroines, intriguing side characters, inescapable situations, and a cunning villain. I did enjoy reading this, reading about Vassa and her struggle to survive the nights in BY's, reading about the different characters and creatures that would pop up looking for answers. This is definitely a different kind of fairy tale retelling set in the present day. So if you like real life plus the (supposedly, presumably) impossible, then definitely give this a read.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
Tess Aubreyson can't run far enough or fast enough to escape the prophetic dreams that haunt her. Dreams bring nothing but death and grief, and Tess rTess Aubreyson can't run far enough or fast enough to escape the prophetic dreams that haunt her. Dreams bring nothing but death and grief, and Tess refuses to accept that she may be destined for the same madness that destroyed her mother. Until her disturbing dreams become the only means of saving Lord Ravencross, the man she loves, and her fellow students at Stranje House. Tess's old friend, the traitorous Lady Daneska, and Ghost, the ruthless leader of the Iron Crown, have returned to England, intent on paving the way for Napoleon's invasion. Can the young ladies of Stranje House prevail once more? Or is England destined to fall into the hands of the power-mad dictator?
Exile for Dreamers is a tale of mystery and investigation, of searching for answers and preventing invasions. Of a young woman running from a future she fears while protecting those she cares about more than herself.
Tess is afraid of the future, of what it may hold for her, if what happened to her mother is anything to go by. The future, to her, means a descent into madness and darkness. It means becoming overwhelmed by the prophetic visions and dreams that strike her with no warning or reason. She spends her mornings running, both literally and metaphorically. Running from the future. Running from the connection between Lord Ravencross and herself. Running instead of admitting that she needs help, that she needs the support of the other young women of Stranje House. But fear doesn't keep her frozen. It motivates her to protect those she holds dear, like Georgie and Jane, like Miss Stranje herself. Like Lord Ravencross. But she has to be careful if she makes the decision to sacrifice herself for them.
Here's a return to an alternate version of Regency England, to a version where Napoleon is free and plotting to invade England with the help of a group called the Iron Crown. To a place where standing in the way of said possible invasion is a house full of unconventional young women, each with their own secrets and curious abilities. Trained in the art of subterfuge and defense, it's these young women who will uncover secret plans and protect England from its shadowed enemies.
I was looking forward to how this series continued after reading the first book. I like the sound of this house, of these young women cast aside by family members and polite society only to end up in a place where they'll be taught, where their skills will be strengthened and utilized. Respected instead of feared or avoided. This is a house of secrets, of skeletons in closets and hearts left bruised. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book, to see how far the plots and plans stretch out towards England and what is invented next.
(I borrowed a copy of this title from the library.)...more
England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents andEngland, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they're not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.
These Vicious Masks is a combination of the mysterious, the paranormal, and the adventurous, carried along by a quick-witted heroine with a clever tongue.
Evelyn is intelligent, opinionated, and head-strong. When her sister disappears and heads off to London, she refuses to sweep it under the rug. Refuses to not know the truth, to not be able to help and possibly rescue Rose. Which means a quick trip to London. Which means having to uncover secrets with the assistance of two rather different young men who annoy her for different reasons. But if she didn't work with them, find them irritating, begrudgingly accept their help when she needed it, she wouldn't have discovered the truth about them. About Rose. About herself.
The premise intrigued me, a mixture of Victorian sentiments and social movements mixed with a bit of the unexpected. It sounded like something I would read. The spirited heroine and the men who confound her, the search through the good streets and the bad, the shine of polite society and the harsh reality of the side streets and the docks. I had fun reading about Evelyn's moving between the two parts, struggling to keep them separate.
There were a number of times when I chuckled at the witty banter between Evelyn and Mr. Kent and Evelyn and Mr. Braddock. Both push her, annoy her, infuriate her, and she's able to do battle with them quite expertly. Considering I've recently read The Dark Days Club, I could say that there's a similarity or two, for those looking for something comparable to read, but this had much more humour and clever banter. I felt both amused and excited as I read on, curious as to what Evelyn would discover next on her search for Rose. I would recommend this to those looking for a race through Victorian London with some intelligent characters with some intriguing abilities. I'll be happily waiting for the next book.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more