Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world's greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in frDanny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world's greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she's transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she's always thought it should be. Now there's no hiding that she's a girl. It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father's dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he's entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny's first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. She doesn't have much time to adjust. Dreadnought's murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can't sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.
Dreadnought is powerful and explosive. It's about identity and power, about good and evil, about safety and danger. It's about hope and fear, about sacrifice and strength, about making the difficult decisions that we think come easily and naturally for those we call heroes.
Danny is kind and caring, but afraid of what should be the safest place in her life: her home. Her father constantly berates her and criticizes her, refusing to listen to Danny's point of view. Refusing to understand that Danny is a girl, that Danny is transgender. After Danny's transition, after Dreadnought gave her his powers and her body changed, the excitement and the joy in her voice is unmistakable. She's finally in a body that she wants to be in. She looks and sounds the way she wants to. Danny is finally happy, but it doesn't last. Her father is still furious, derisive and emotionally abusive towards her. And while the local superheroes are happy that Dreadnought's powers are still available, some aren't so interested in a lesbian transgender superhero.
I found the superhero aspect to be interesting. There's this new trend of superhero stories where authors look at the grey areas of being a protector and saving cities. The moral aspects, the financial aspects. The human aspects. For all their powers, they're still people. They still have loved ones, hopes and dreams, personal lives. Seeing the other side of superheroes lives, the 'home from work' side, is great. But I also appreciated the awesome fight scenes.
The start of Danny's story as a superhero certainly has some highs and some lows. There were times when I was so happy for Danny, going shopping for girls' clothes, flying around New Port City. Hanging out with an actual girl friend. And the times when Danny was beaten down and depressed, all the times her father would hurl insult after insult at her, I was so upset during those moments. I would definitely recommend this to those who enjoyed Heroine Complex or Superior, to those looking for some powerful diverse YA.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Diversion Books through NetGalley.)...more
Teenage witch Cam isn't crazy about the idea of learning magic. She'd rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother's wicked witchTeenage witch Cam isn't crazy about the idea of learning magic. She'd rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother's wicked witch friends decide to wreak havoc in her high school, Cam has no choice but to try to stop them. Now Cam's learning invisibility spells, dodging exploding cars, and pondering the ethics of love potions. All while trying to keep her grades up and go on a first date with her crush. If the witches don't get him first, that is. Can't a good witch ever catch a break?
Seriously Shifted is clever and magical, an entertaining continuation from the first book but able to stand on its own.
Cam's back, ready to try and be as normal as possible. She still sees herself as suffering but not as much as before. Before Sarmine turned out to be her real mother, before she vaguely accepted her magical leanings. But only when it's ethical, which means no evil things and no killing creatures for ingredients. The thing is Sarmine isn't the only wicked witch out there, especially when some of her old school friends show up looking to cause some mayhem. Now Cam's on the case, trying to figure out who their targets are and saving the day while being a good witch about it.
It was interesting when Cam brought ethics into spellcasting and ingredient-gathering. She's surrounded by wicked witches, scrambling to get all her minion chores done before Sarmine tries to take over the world, and she's sure she can find a plant-based ingredient that works just as well as newt eyes or powdered pixie bone.
I think this is a great read for those looking for a mixture of magical troubles and contemporary teenage problems. Cam has to juggle a lot of things, like working spells and friendships and classmates and a boyfriend. It's a good combination of the fantastical and the realistic. And Cam and Jenah's friendship is still great, still supportive and solid but willing to give when one screws up. Sarmine is still evil, but she's trying to teach Cam about being a witch as best as she can. There are hints of a tenuous truce between the two of them. If you enjoyed the first, then make sure you pick this up.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
The first day of senior year: Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay fatherThe first day of senior year: Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events fore him and his best friend Samantha to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief. Sal discovers that he no longer knows who he really is-but if Sal's not who he thought he was, who is he?
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is deep and heartfelt, emotional, and honest. How do we define ourselves? Is it the people around us, the company we keep, or the choices we make? And when we feel that identity crumble around us, how do we piece it back together?
Sal is thoughtful and introspective. He knows who he is, surrounded by his loving family and his best friend. But life isn't stagnant. Things change. And when a number of losses hit Sal and those close to him, one after another, he feels like something's now missing. Like it's been broken away and he has to fill it with something else. And then he's got this letter from his mom, written before she died, and now he's even less sure of who he is.
So much of this book is about the ways we define ourselves, the things we use and take in order to create our identities. The things we like or don't like. The people we keep close, call friends or family, the places we're from, be that where we live or where we were born, or where our family was born. The choices we make. For Sal, he's always defined who he is by his family, his adopted father and his extended Mexican-American family. But this letter from his deceased mother? These spurts of anger that appear just as he punches someone in the face? Is this him, too? What makes us who we are, nature or nurture? Or is it more of a combination of the two?
The writing style is perfect for this story, for Sal's story. Sparse but meaningful. Moments of talking and moments of thought, glimpses of people, of happiness and sorrow. Life isn't easy, and it rams into Sal and Sam hard, but they're not alone in their sadness and their confusion. They don't have to have all the answers all the time. I would definitely recommend this book, to those looking for something sweet and bittersweet, something simple and complex.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neiIt's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X. X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.
The Edge of Everything is dark, deadly, and dangerous. Monsters and bounty hunters, souls and blizzards. An intriguing story, yes, but the romance fell flat for me.
Zoe is a sad girl who's just existing after the sudden death of her father. I kept looking for something that set Zoe apart, but I struggled to find it. She seems so bland, a stereotypical teenage girl who sees an inhuman bounty hunter and his bounty on a frozen lake and immediately takes a picture to post to Instagram. Later on she shows her personality, her spirit, but at the beginning I found her rather boring. X is an unknown, a bounty hunter from the Lowlands, sent to hunt down evil human beings in order to claim their souls. He's clueless about the human world, he talks like he's from Victorian era England, and he's very powerful. He was interesting, somehow a stand out among all the others in the Lowlands. There are secrets in his past he doesn't know, secrets he wants to know, but knowing could change things for those who rule the Lowlands.
I'm torn with this book. The idea behind X and his mission, the Lowlands and the beings there, I was intrigued. It was different enough that I wanted to know more. But things felt flat to me. I think it's Zoe and X's relationship, how their romance seemed shallow to me. He's dangerous and mysterious to her, she's gorgeous and empathetic to him. It felt easy and clichéd, and me finding Zoe rather boring didn't help. I also wasn't a big fan of the third person point of view this was told in. It felt like I was being told a story, but not in a way that worked with what I was expecting from this book.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Raincoast Books through NetGalley.)...more
In a single night, Isaak's life changed forever. His adoptive parents were killed, a mysterious girl saved him from a team of soldiers, and he learnedIn a single night, Isaak's life changed forever. His adoptive parents were killed, a mysterious girl saved him from a team of soldiers, and he learned of his own dark and destructive origin. An origin he doesn't want to believe, but one he cannot deny. Isaak is a Robot: a government-made synthetic human, produced as a weapon and now hunted, marked for termination. He and the Robots can only find asylum with the Underground—a secret network of Robots and humans working together to ensure a coexistent future. To be protected by the Underground, Isaak will have to make it there first. But with a deadly military force tasked to find him at any cost, his odds are less than favorable. Now Isaak must decide whether to hold on to his humanity and face possible death... or to embrace his true nature in order to survive, at the risk of becoming the weapon he was made to be.
Boy Robot is fast-paced, full of danger, discovery, and near-death encounters. It's a question between embracing humanity or embracing purpose. But to me, something was missing.
(Warning for readers that this book does contain scenes/memories of rape and child abuse.)
Issak, a kind, introspective young man. When his story begins he wonders if there's more to life, if he'll ever get to leave his small town and see the world. But then the headache comes, then his awakening comes, and he learns that he's not exactly human. He's a Robot, created by a secret government project looking to craft highly intelligent weapons. And now he's on the run. But he's not the only one. And soon enough, he's not alone.
With Issak and the others like him, their different abilities and powers, there's a big X-Men vibe. Teens with unimaginable powers being hunted down and eliminated, hoping to meet up and rise up so they can fight back on their own terms. Stripped down, this is a very familiar struggle. For survival, for humanity. For respect and acceptance.
I was intrigued by the premise, even though it sounded so familiar: teen with sudden and unexplained powers on the run towards a resistance group and from a military-type elimination team. The idea of the synthetic human, the real life person mixed with the futuristic technology, hooked me. Something that very vaguely reminded me of Margaret Stohl's Icons. But then a number of things occurred. The flashback scenes, the interludes in different points of view, were interesting, but they were all origin stories of pain, intense abuse, and death. During the race across the country, Issak is trying to figure out what he is and what his new abilities are, but no one really bothers to teach him what it is he can do. There's a lot of running and hiding. Issak's a kind, caring guy, but no one seems to want him for himself. Because of who he is as a person. It's all about what he can do, what he can be used for. How he can help other people run or hide or fight back. Yes, he's a Robot, but what was the point in giving him a personality if almost everyone was going to treat him like a tool? I wanted to like this book, but in the end it just wasn't for me.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)...more
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
To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel's wrist, and rumors say that sheTo everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel's wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel's skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they're willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.
When the Moon Was Ours is haunting and magical, a look at identity and secrets, at wanting to keep the things we love close so no one can steal them away.
This is one of those impossible to describe books for me. Reading this book hurt. Like my heart was instantly tied to Sam's, to Miel's, and I was helpless against their pull. Against their struggles, against their joy and fear and sorrow. Against their love, against their secrets that tear them apart. This book hurts in so many ways, in exquisite ways. Like roses and thorns, the scent lush and heady and the pricks sharp and painful. It was so easy for me to feel for Sam and Miel, to want their secrets kept secret, to want them to just be. But it's never that easy. They have to face the things that hurt them, that scare them.
At the end, when I finished, this book hurt so much I wanted to cry. Cry for boys like Sam, for girls like Miel, for girls like Ivy Bonner. This story is a lyrical and mesmerizing gathering of identity, cultural practices and customs, family, magic and impossibility, and love. Because they love, they want. Because they love, they protect. A glorious, heart-breaking fairy tale of a story. A must-read....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
At school, Kyouko Hori is known for being smart, attractive, and popular. On the other hand, her classmate, the boring, gloomy Izumi Miyamura tends toAt school, Kyouko Hori is known for being smart, attractive, and popular. On the other hand, her classmate, the boring, gloomy Izumi Miyamura tends to get painted as a "loser fanboy." But when a liberally pierced and tattooed (not to mention downright gorgeous) Miyamura appears unexpectedly on the doorstep of secretly plain-Jane homebody Hori, these two similarly dissimilar teenagers discover that there are multiple sides to every story... and person!
Horimiya Volume 1 is the start of something honest and fresh. It's all about perception and honesty, about friendship and loneliness, about the good things unexpected friends can bring.
Hori-san is popular and stylish, but that's only when she's at school. At home, she's a homebody who takes care for her younger brother and does all the housework and grocery shopping. Miyamura looks boring in class, his hair falling over glasses that make him look far more intelligent that everyone else. But when he takes off his uniform jacket and styles his hair, he looks far more carefree, cool, and pierced than most would expect. Both have parts of themselves that they've hidden, through one reason or another, and they've been happy enough. Until they each see the secrets the other hides during school hours. Until they start talking, start hanging out. Start realizing that maybe it's okay to let other people see those secret things.
I love how the friendship between Hori-san and Miyamura develops. It's a bit sudden, spurred on by the demands of Hori-san's brother Souta, but it works. And it doesn't take long for them to be comfortable with each other. For some time now, they've both had to hide the honest parts of themselves, revealing them only when they're alone. Now, having someone there to see those parts, having Miyamura there when Hori-san makes dinner for her and Souta, having Hori-san see his piercings and see that he's actually not the best student, they're not alone anymore. Sure, maybe at the beginning they didn't want anyone to know, but neither of them seemed happy. Just going through the motions, day after day. They needed each other.
The art style fits so well with the story and the characters. At school, Hori-san looks so stylish, and at home she's right down to business in plain clothes and her hair pinned up. At school, Miyamura looks so gloomy and depressed, surrounded by black, and away all his piercings are on display. There are also the little touches, they way they look at people around them, at each other. The blushes on their faces, the worried looks.
Horimiya is definitely something I'd recommend. To new manga readers looking for something contemporary and modern to ease them in. To regular manga readers looking for something funny and quirky, with unique characters and, because of Miyamura's tattoos, some complicated situations. This story is smart and fun, a great beginning to the series.
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
To the eyes of classmate Chiyo Sakura, high school student Umetarou Nozaki--brawny of build and brusque of tongue--is a dreamboat! When Chiyo finallyTo the eyes of classmate Chiyo Sakura, high school student Umetarou Nozaki--brawny of build and brusque of tongue--is a dreamboat! When Chiyo finally works up the courage to tell Nozaki how she feels about him, she knows rejection is on the table... but getting recruited as a mangaka's assistant?! Never in a million years! As Chiyo quickly discovers, Nozaki-kun, the boy of Chiyo's dreams, is a manga artist... a hugely popular shoujo manga artist, that is! But for someone who makes a living drawing sweet girly romances, Nozaki-kun is a little slow on the uptake when it comes to matters of the heart in reality. And so Chiyo's daily life of manga making and heartache begins!
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun Volume 1 is hysterically funny, full of interesting and unlikely characters. It's all about Chiyo falling into Nozaki-kun's world and looking at the friends and classmates around them as potential manga characters. But sometimes, Chiyo's real life is far more unbelievable than the events of a shoujo manga.
Chiyo is sweet and kind, crushing hard on Nozaki-kun. She figures she just has to tell him, but when she fumbles it up and instead says she's a big fan, she was expecting a rejection. Not an autograph, not an offer to go to his apartment to help fill in as an assistant. She wasn't expecting Nozaki-kun to be a mangaka, to see that he works on super girly and fluffy romance stories. But she agrees to help him, because she likes him and wants to know what he's interested in. But it's a bit hard when their conversations
While Nozaki-kun is a shoujo manga artist, the overall story is anything but. It's funny and awkward, it's full of characters that smash up against conventional gender roles. Nozaki-kun is rather tall and has a serious face, but he writes super girly manga. There's Mikoshiba who talks like a playboy but gets super embarassed afterwards. There's Chiyo's friend Seo, someone who's extremely blunt and oblivious but called the Lorelai of the Glee Club. And there's Kashima who's a bit of an oblivious prince. Each character is different, some are difficult, and a few are absolutely infuriating. But it all works. And then there are the glimpses of Nozaki-kun's characters, Mamiko and Suzuki-kun, who are just far too cutesy and fluffy. They totally fit in shoujo manga.
I like the artwork. At times it's simple, well-drawn characters and backgrounds, and others it's full to the brim with shoujo manga sparkles and flowers. The faces are expressive, maybe not so much for Nozaki-kun, but everyone else. Chiyo's surprise, Mikoshiba's embarrassment, Hori-senpai's acting.
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is less about Chiyo's crush on Nozaki-kun and more about story and characters, their friends and classmates and the bizarre things they do. It's about coming up with ideas for Nozaki-kun's manga, trying to make sense of what shoujo manga readers want in terms of fluffy romance, and navigating their day-to-day high school life. This manga is great at fooling around with perception, how we assume people will act a certain way because of how they look. Looking at these characters, you'd never expect their actual personalities. A great read for new manga readers, for those looking for something with lots of humour. (Also, it pairs well with the anime, which is available online.)