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.
Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #1 is a fun and mystery-filled matchup of mystery seekers and monster finders.
It's a quick jump into the story, into GothamLumberjanes/Gotham Academy #1 is a fun and mystery-filled matchup of mystery seekers and monster finders.
It's a quick jump into the story, into Gotham Academy's Olive Silverlock and Maps Mizoguchi, along with their friends, looking into the sudden disappearance of Professor MacPherson while the Lumberjanes head out into the woods to search for camp leader Rosie. And it's a quick jump into the action because soon they all fall into something a bit mysterious, as evidenced by the mysterious things they find in the forest. Story-wise, I think this crossover series will be good. Both series on their own have a fair number of similarities. Lots of things to investigate, lots of questions to ask and answers to find. Lots of clever, diverse, complicated characters. But because it's a limited series, I imagine it'll focus so much more on the plot than the characters themselves.
The artwork is bright and reminiscent of Lumberjanes, maybe not so much Gotham Academy. The latter is often serious and somber, the former more about friendship and support and fun. What appeals to me about Gotham Academy is mostly the art, is Karl Kerschl and Mingjue Helen Chen's different art styles. The art here by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell is still great, still clear and expressive and bright, thanks to the colours done by Whitney Cogar. It just makes me think more of the hijinks of Lumberjanes than the mysterys of Gotham Academy.
As a reader of Gotham Academy and an occasional reader of Lumberjanes (I've fallen behind, waiting for the trade volumes in order to catch up), I was excited when I heard about this six issue crossover. It's the coming together of two groups of clever teens who spend their days investigating the occult and the bizarre, of falling into trouble and rescuing their friends. If you're a fan of either series, I would suggest giving this a read, either now while the single issues are releasing (in print or online) or in March 2017 when the trade volume comes out. I'd recommend this to fans of both series, to hijinks and mystery fans, and to tweens and teens looking for something fun to read over the summer break. I would also suggest a read of at least the first trade volume of each series to new readers, just so you know who everyone is.
People have always treated seventeen-year-old Mana as someone in need of protection. She's used to being coddled, being an only child, but it's hard tPeople have always treated seventeen-year-old Mana as someone in need of protection. She's used to being coddled, being an only child, but it's hard to imagine anything could ever happen in her small-town, normal life. As her mother's babying gets more stifling than ever, she's looking forward to cheering at the big game and getting out of the house for a while. But that night, Mana's life goes haywire. First, the hot guy she's been crushing on at school randomly flips out and starts spitting acid during the game. Then they get into a knockdown, drag-out fight in the locker room, during which Mana finds herself leaping around like a kangaroo on steroids. As a flyer on the cheerleading squad, she's always been a good jumper, but this is a bit much. By the time she gets home and finds her house trashed and an alien in the garage, Mana starts to wonder if her mother had her reasons for being overprotective. It turns out, Mana's frumpy, timid mom is actually an alien hunter, and now she's missing--taking a piece of technology with her that everyone wants their hands on, both human and alien. Now her supposed partner, a guy that Mana has never met or heard of (and who seems way too young and way too arrogant to be hunting aliens), has shown up, ordering Mana to come with him. Now, on her own for the first time, Mana will have to find a way to save her mother--and maybe the world--and hope she's up to the challenge.
Flying is an exciting and dangerous race to find the missing, to find the answers to Mana's sudden questions. Like where her mom is. Like why the guy she was crushing on can suddenly spit acid. Like what's happening to her.
Mana is snarky and quirky, a great friend and a great daughter. A little coddled by her over-protective but also supportive mom. Being kept from a number of things as she grew up, she's curious. Inquisitive. Maybe a little nosy. She refuses to back down when it comes to finding her mother, when it comes to finding out the truth. And when it turns out her mom is an alien hunter, that she works with this abrasive guy named China who's been sent to take Mana to their people in order to help them out? Mana's all in. Anything to save her mom. Which pushes her head-first into a fair amount of danger.
I would agree that this does read like Buffy meet Men in Black, a plucky, snarky cheerleader somehow falling in with aliens and alien hunters and plots to kill all humans. There were parts I found interesting, like the beginning when we're introduced to Mana, to her friends Lyle and Seppie. The moments of banter between Mana and China. It definitely felt a bit different than other books I've read recently. The stakes are high, the tension is building, but the repeated moments of adult characters refusing to explain anything to Mana near the beginning of the book slowed things down. The silence and runarounds only made Mana annoyed and angry and made me annoyed for her.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Macmillan thought Raincoast Books.)...more
Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. TGideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend and next door neighbor, Kyle. It's a distraction. It's pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn't know what to do. Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can't quite figure out what he did wrong.
Been Here All Along is a sweet, fast-paced story about friendships, relationships, changes, and being willing to trust those close to you with the truth, even when it descended into cliché and shallowness.
Gideon is the over-achiever, the super smart and super dedicated teen boy ready to take on the world and lead his peers as class president. He's a little awkward, he's a little short, and after some serious pondering and being honest with himself, he's nursing a major crush on his next-door neighbour and best friend. Now, how to hide it from everyone when he's a little obvious whenever he looks at him. Kyle is the sociable athlete with the cheerleader girlfriend, the sort of openly bisexual athlete. He's happy with Gideon at his side, with Ruby as his girlfriend, with basketball. But when there's a change in English teachers, things aren't as easy as they used to be. He's trying his hardest, putting in all the extra hours he can, but he's still not getting it. He needs Gideon to help him more than ever now, if things weren't a little awkward between them.
A fair amount of this book takes place in the high school both boys and Ruby attend, but it might as well be an empty building full of people. Days pass, time moves on, and there is character development, but I got nothing, felt nothing, from the setting. There was talk of classwork and teachers, a lot of Kyle's struggles center around school, but it was like a non-entity. Kyle is captain of the basketball team, but the important game was barely mentioned. Gideon wants to be class president, but where's all the planning and the campaigning?
This is a good book to pick up if you're looking for something quick, sweet, and a little silly. Gideon and Kyle are characters that are complicated when they're alone, supportive when they're together. There were some other characters, like Ruby, that felt like stereotypes and clichés, that felt flat and only there to serve a purpose as a vague nemesis/misunderstood character. A cute and fluffy book about two teen boys realizing they like each other more than friends, yes, but I was lost looking for something deeper.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
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
Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books stoTrixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four. Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all. The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on--and they might not pick the same side.
The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You is full of snark, sci-fi pop culture references, clever banter, and a silly reason to hold a grudge for a decade. It's fun, clever, and has some great female friendships.
Trixie is all brains and sass and snark and attitude. She's sharp and determined, will support and defend best friends Harper and Meg with everything she has (because she knows they also have her back, even when they're acting weird), and she won't let anything go. Like getting her revenge on Ben West, even if the reason, which dates back to their elementary school days, seems childish. But Trixie can't let it go. They always clash, battling with quips and snide remarks. Because she can't let go of anything, like her revenge, like her friends, like her comics and her fandoms, she can come off as harsh and unfair. As too stubborn. But every character has flaws. It's her confronting them, coming face to face with them and learning from them, that makes her interesting as a character.
The sci-fi nerd in me loves the idea of this book, of teens reading comics and loving science fiction. There are lots of references to shows and comics like Doctor Who, Firefly, Buffy, Spider-Man, and Battlestar Galactica. I do wonder if some of these are a bit dated, some of these shows were on when I was in high school, but the internet doesn't like letting things fall into the ether of the forgotten. Some shows, like Doctor Who or Buffy, are timeless. I also love that this is a modern retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Knowing the play means knowing how the characters will progress so I knew how it would all end, but it was still fun to read. Fun to see how everything would happen in a modern setting.
I had so much fun reading this. Every time a TV or comic reference came up that I knew I would chuckle and keep on reading, waiting for the next one. As a fan of certain sci-fi shows and certain comics (like Saga), this was the book for me. This is the book I wish I could hand to teenage me to have fun with. This is all kinds of geek fun and supportive female friendships. A must-read for self-proclaimed geeks.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...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
Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band. We didn'tOkay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band. We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group. We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts. How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.
Kill the Boy Band is outrageous, full of four teen girls, their current obsession, and the lengths they'll go to to meet them. Only things go a bit weird and nothing goes according to plan.
This book is all kind of insane. I knew going it that it was going to satirize fandom, that it was going to highlight the dark dark DARK side of fandom. The obsessive side, the oblivious side, the nasty side. Everyone seemed like they'd lost their minds. That for the four teen girls, consequences didn't matter. Than they could kidnap a member of a boy band. That they could tie him up. That they could ransack his hotel room.
There's always going to be a dark side to being a fan, unfortunately. To be part of a fandom. There will always be people who spend all their time on their fandom. Who go to every concert or event. Who try to get backstage. Who follow them. Who send them creepy-sounding messages. It's not healthy. This book shows how unhealthy it is, what it does to people. It makes them vicious, like Isabel, or in denial, like Apple, or regretful, like Erin. Or thoughtful, like the narrator. The narrator, by whatever name she goes by, seems to be the most sensible. She's shocked at every turn when her friends do something crazy. Like kidnap Rupert P. Like go through his pockets. Like go up to the band's hotel room. But she still goes along with it. She wants to know. She wants to see.
I can see where many will find this book funny. It's outrageous, both in plot and in the different characters. In the beginning, I thought it was fun. But I kept waiting for common sense to kick in with someone, anyone, and it didn't. I think that's where I went wrong with this book, that I had to suspend my common sense, and I couldn't fully do that. This book just wasn't it for me. BUT. But. If you were already interested in reading this, if the summary grabs you, if you're looking for a dark comedy about being a crazed fan, then by all means give this a read.
(I received an advance copy of this title from Scholastic Canada.)...more
Perpetually shy, Quinn Mathers is content to remain in the shadow of his brash best friend Jess Hartman. But before their college graduation, he and JPerpetually shy, Quinn Mathers is content to remain in the shadow of his brash best friend Jess Hartman. But before their college graduation, he and Jess have planned one last hurrah: a spring break Caribbean cruise. And it won't be just any cruise. On board are members of the reality show Trip League, which follows young twenty-somethings on adventures around the world. Since the show's beginning, Quinn has been fascinated by J. R. Butler, with his amazing body, warm eyes, and killer grin. Unfortunately, he's straight—or so the world thinks. At nineteen, J. R. signed a contract to play straight for the show, and there's no way to get out of it now. Yet with each passing day, Quinn and J. R. find it harder to keep their hands off each other and to keep out of the camera's frame. But when the lens finally focuses on them, J. R. must decide if he's willing to risk his career by admitting his bisexuality, and Quinn must determine if he's bold enough to stand in the spotlight with the man of his dreams...
Out of Focus is about two people trying to figure each other out, trying to figure themselves out, together while trying to keep things secret. Which is hard when you're on a cruise ship full of cameramen and drunk college students. These are the struggles of two men who want to be honest with themselves, with those around them, but for some reason or another keep getting held back.
Quinn is sweet, kind, and often slightly worried, which is just how he is. Growing up an only child with nervous parents, some of it was bound to wear off. But he doesn't want to be worried so much anymore. He wants to live after the last few years of constant college, constant saving and working, and a not-so-healthy relationship. He wants be alive, he wants to be wanted, but he doesn't want it to hurt.
J.R. is essentially living two lives. The public life, the one shown on camera, has him being tough, harsh, sneering, and straight. In his private life, the one he lives when he's alone or talking to his parents and brother on the phone, he's none of those things. He's been caught by circumstance and his own failed trust in his agent, stuck playing the role of the slightly tough straight black guy on a 'reality show.' It's wearing on him, weighing him down, and he wants nothing more than the show to end and for him to finally life honestly and openly as bisexual.
This book certainly shows, especially from J.R.'s point of view, the struggles of occupying a space where you can't be truthful, where you can't be your honest self. Of erasure, of being bisexual when everyone else thinks he's straight. He's been typecast in Trip League, crammed into a stereotype that those in charge of the show wanted, and it hurts him. He's constantly in a space full of people telling him to be quiet, to keep pretending, to not rock the boat and be different. Because it doesn't matter, right? He can just date women. Because he would've already dated women so he's basically straight, right? No. And all the while every piece of him is screaming to stop hiding. During the cruise he has Quinn to lean on, to be honest with, but it's not enough.
What I like about this series is how honest and realistic everyone's problems are. This could happen to anyone, everyone, and does happen so often in real life. So many hide their sexuality, their personality, their mental health status, because of family reasons, other personal reasons, work-related reasons. It's sad that, as open and progressive as many parts of the world claim to be, people still can't be honest and open about who they are. What they're anxious or worried about. Who they're attracted to, romantically and/or sexually. It's easy to look at what sets us apart, from differentiates us from each other, while forgetting that we're all human beings that deserve equal respect. A great addition to the series.
Quick note that as with most new adult titles out there, there is some explicit sexual content.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Penguin through NetGalley.)...more
Eleven-year-old Quinn has had some bad experiences lately. She was caught cheating in school, and then one day, her little sister Emma disappeared whiEleven-year-old Quinn has had some bad experiences lately. She was caught cheating in school, and then one day, her little sister Emma disappeared while walking home from school. She never returned. When Quinn's best friend Kara has to move away, she goes on one last trip with Kara and her family. They stop over at the first hotel they see, a Victorian inn that instantly gives Quinn the creeps, and she begins to notice strange things happening around them. When Kara's parents and then brother disappear without a trace, the girls are stranded in a hotel full of strange guests, hallways that twist back in on themselves, and a particularly nasty surprise lurking beneath the floorboards. Will the girls be able to solve the mystery of what happened to Kara's family before it's too late?
The Inn Between is a clever, mysterious journey through a hotel full of secrets. At the heart is Quinn, a girl with regrets in her heart, and as time passes she knows that something is going on. But will they be able to escape with everyone?
Quinn's looking for some time to herself. After the disappearance of her younger sister, she needs to get away from her parents. Parents who see her as a disappointment. Parents she feels that she's let down. She doesn't want things to change, and with Kara moving over the summer, she won't have anyone close that she can share things with any more. But then Kara's parents drive their van up to the Inn Between, a sudden paradise in the middle of the desert, and Quinn wonders if it's too good to be true.
There's a haunting, mysterious tone to the book that doesn't let up. Even at the beginning, Quinn is a bit absentminded, her thoughts somewhere else. Thinking about Emma. Then her thoughts turn to the people in the hotel. The suspiciously friendly woman behind the front desk. The couple with the little girl in the restaurant who think it's far too hot. The sad man in the baseball cap. They're only seen in glimpses, pieces, as Quinn and Kara try to uncover the truth about the Inn Between, about the reason why Kara's family was suddenly gone the next morning.
This definitely edges towards the creepier side of middle grade, which in its own way was refreshing to read. Sometimes there are ghost stories, stories like this and Holly Black's Doll Bones, and they can delight as much as others. I was intrigued as I read this, following Quinn and Kara along as they searched for answers, as they wondered where they were and what was going to happen to them. I would definitely recommend this to those looking for some haunted middle grade....more
All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she's always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means shAll Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she's always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she's trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she's not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth—that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she'll have to man up.
Girl Mans Up is an eye-opening look at gender, sexuality, relationships, and family. Those moments when we're trying to figure ourselves out, struggling to find all the answers, and trying to understand when people want impossible things from us.
Pen is smart and kind, she's great at video games, but she's struggling to come to terms with a number of things. With the things Colby asks of her, how he uses her to pick of girls and also to keep them away after he breaks up with them. With the things her mother demands of her, like learning how to cook Portuguese dishes and wearing nice dresses instead of jeans and baggy shirts like her brother wears. She sort of knows who she is, who she wants to be. She likes girls, wants to date girls, and she wants the freedom to dress comfortably. As she does this, as she starts to be the Pen she's always wanted to be, she bumps up against the walls of expectation.
The idea of family and loyalty runs strong in this book. The different things, the different people, we give our time to, that we believe in and give our trust to. But what about when giving that time and respect hurts you? What about when you find that it's not worth it anymore? When you're being crushed under the weight of loyalty and respect, physically and mentally? Pen is grasping for solutions, wanting everyone to stop yelling, her mother to stop crying, her friends to stop teasing. She she wants the chance to be who she is. A girl who likes girls, who wants to date girls. A girl who wants to wear jeans and baggy clothes and have short hair. As time goes on, Pen finds it harder to respect those who demand it from her. And why should she, when they don't respect her in return?
This book was a little hard to take, but still necessary. Sometimes friendships are toxic but they're hard to escape. Sometimes familial relationships cause us pain and stress but we can't leave. Sometimes people try to change us, try to force us into being someone we don't want to be, but we're still not sure who we want to be. This story is a harsh one, a rough and honest one. A look at identity and accepting that being honest with ourselves, with who we want to be, isn't always the same as what others want from us. Which is perfectly fine. We don't exist to serve the whims of others, to bow down to their demands and hide our true selves. Our identities are our own, and no one can tell us who we should be.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from HarperCollins Canada.)...more
Swashbuckling space pirates, legendary dragon slayers, death-defying astronauts, and monster queen royalty. All this (and more!) in Beyond, the queerSwashbuckling space pirates, legendary dragon slayers, death-defying astronauts, and monster queen royalty. All this (and more!) in Beyond, the queer sci-fi and fantasy comic anthology. Featuring 18 stories by 26 incredible contributors, the Beyond anthology celebrates unquestionably queer characters hailing from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, from and centre as the heroes of their own stories; exploring the galaxy, mixing magic, having renegade adventures, and saving the day!
Beyond is a comic anthology full of emotion, honesty, and hopes for more visible representation in science fiction and fantasy. Each story hammers home the idea that queer characters, meaning gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or non-binary or genderfluid or however the character defines themself, are present in sci-fi and fantasy. That they have their stories to tell. They they can be the hero or the heroine, the saviour or the rescuer. That they don't have to be the villain, immoral or evil or horrifying. That they are people, even when they're aliens, creatures, or androids.
All 18 stories are wonderful in their own way, each with amazing art, but here are some highlights.
"Optimal" by Blue Delliquanti. Sort of a prequel story to her ongoing webcomic O Human Star, this tells the story of Sulla, the young android made by Brendan Pinsky in order to keep the consciousness of his research partner Alistair Sterling alive, and her figuring out how to navigate in a new body. A female-gendered body. Because, according to Sulla, there's always room for improvement.
"O-Type Hypergiant" by Jon Cairns is intriguing, a sort of pure impossible science fiction story rooted in science and possibility (if such a description could ever make sense). The Instamen are artificial humanoids, sent off by humans to catalogue stars and live on time-bending satellites. It's a rather poetic story with some wonderfully detailed artwork.
"Twin-Souled" by Bevan Thomas & Kate Ebensteiner shows a tribe of aboriginal people using their magicks to combine with totems to protect their village. These people fight for love, for the ability to love whomever they wish, no matter their gender, and to be whomever they wish, no matter their gender. Even when the spirit of the totem they are bound to is a different gender than they are. To me, this story is one of the saddest, but it's filled with so much hope and love.
"The Next Day" by A. Stiffler & K. Copeland. In a world where the sun had gone dark, where the shadows stretch across the land and light is rare, a man wanders. He claims that without light, man is without hope. But one day he meets another wanderer, and as the two of them travel, as they fight against thieves, as they grow closer, the man discovers that when they are together, he needn't fear the dark. Because his light is close to him.
I love the idea of this anthology. Too often queer characters are pushed to the side in genre fiction, in prose, comics, and film, but now there's this continues wave of webcomics and crowdfunded anthologies with a huge variety of queer characters. If the modern world as we know it is full of people of different genders and sexualities, why can't science fiction and fantasy be the same way? Why can't there be more escapist genre fiction for queer people in print, on TV screens and movie screens? There's already tons of it for straight people. These stories drive home the fact that queer characters can have hopes and dreams, that they can have fun and laugh. That they can have pasts shrouded in mystery. That they can make mistakes, have regrets. That they can be in love, and be willing to fight for that love with every inch of themselves.
It makes my heart happy that this anthology exists, that there are people out there working so hard and creating amazing stories filled with diversity. If you've been looking for a collection like this, full of aliens and magic and hard journeys and honest emotion, full of representation, then check it out. I think an anthology like this is perfect for teen readers.
(I backed this anthology on Kickstarter and received a PDF and a physical copy. Those interested in Beyond can head over to the Beyond Press website.)...more
Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should bEighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident... wasn't an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.
With Malice is tense, a book of hidden memories, of stories and rumour. Of assuming the worst and hoping for the best. Of never being sure what's true and what isn't.
Jill wakes up lost, confused, in pain. She's wondering why she's in the hospital, where her memories of the last six weeks have gone,where her best friend is. If she's the reason why Simone is dead. Jill is floundering is a sea of doctors, headaches, amnesia, and a number of people who think they know better. People like Jill's dad, like Jill's lawyer, like the hundreds of faceless Internet trolls who think Jillhad something to do with Simone's death. All Jill wants are answers and for someone to tell her what happened, what's going on, but they can't. No one really knows what happened.
There are many sides to a story, to an event, shown by the snippits of police interviews and revealed text messages. It's hard to know if Jill and Simone were still close friends, if they were fighting, if they were friendly, if they were cold and aloof. If Jill was excited about university in the fall, if she wanted to run away. If Simone was excited for Jill, if she was jealous, if Jill was the jealous one. Everyone saw something different. Only two people know the truth. One of them is dead and the other can't remember what happened.
I think this book says a fair amount about how we judge people when we don't know all the facts, about how we assume the worst and them proceed to smear them with even more dirt and mud. How we assume the worst when the accused is a woman, how the media is quick to pain women as treacherous and plotting while men are expected to screw up every now and then. Because of the change in how most get their news and the rise of social media, more and more people are tried in the court of public opinion. In the court of the Internet, where anyone can give an opinion on something they no nothing about. It also reminded me of the Amanda Knox trial (which I do suggest you look up if you don't know much about it/haven't heard of it). I think thriller fans and mystery fans will love this.
(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