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.
In twelve-year-old Giacomo's Renaissance-inspired world, art is powerful, dangerous, and outlawed. Every artist possesses a Genius, a birdlike creaturIn twelve-year-old Giacomo's Renaissance-inspired world, art is powerful, dangerous, and outlawed. Every artist possesses a Genius, a birdlike creature that is the living embodiment of an artist's creative spirit. Those caught with one face a punished akin to death, so when Giacomo discovers he has a Genius, he knows he's in serious trouble. Luckily, he finds safety in a secret studio where young artists and their Geniuses train in sacred geometry to channel their creative energies as weapons. But when a murderous artist goes after the three Sacred Tools--objects that would allow him to destroy the world and everyone in his path--Giacomo and his friends must risk their lives to stop him.
Rebel Genius is tense and mysterious, seeping with artistic flair. It's a dangerous race against time to find the Sacred Tools, and Giacomo will have to make some impossible decisions if he wants to keep everyone safe.
Giacomo is a lonely boy, left homeless and without any kind of help or support after the death of his parents. Hiding in the sewers with his sketchbook, he struggles to eke out a living, stealing old bread so he can eat. When his Genius appears, he's worried. He's panicking. Having a Genius means capture, means being found and locked away, as per the laws of the tyrannical ruler Nerezza. But someone else finds him first, a secret group of artists and their Geniuses training to use art and their creative energy as a weapon. This is the start of something, the start of potential hope in Giacomo, and the start of a deadly journey to find things powerful and lost.
The world-building is intriguing. There's a a massive sense that the author drew from Renaissance Europe, especially Italy, when it comes to Giacomo's world and the reverence given to art. Here art is something magical, something vital. Something living. Something that can be harnessed, used for good or evil.
This is a tense adventure. There's a lot for Giacomo to learn, to overcome, to discover both about the world around him and about himself. Secrets abound, danger lurks. Perhaps it's a little dense at times, but there are so many characters, so many things happening that almost everything needs to be described. The illustrations were a great addition to the story. With it being so visual, being about art and shapes, the charcoal-esque drawings come in at perfect times. I would recommend this to readers looking for a new middle grade adventure series.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)...more
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
They've left the cage—but they're not free yet. After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of humaThey've left the cage—but they're not free yet. After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok's pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black-market traders. The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt's Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she'll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.
The Hunt is a dangerous game, a dangerous mission of survival. The tension is still high, their chances of getting caught or killed is still high, and the thought of escaping and returning to Earth is drifting further away.
Cora knows more of what's true now, now that they're outside of the cage. Now that she knows who Cassian really is. Now that she knows she can't funny trust him. But to be able to leave, to be set free, she has to work with him, let him teach her how to use her growing abilities. She needs him, and she's willing to lie to him. But is that really for the best? Out of the cage, Lucky and Mali are now part of the Hunt, part of the meager workforce of a safari-type area. Where the animals are the least dangerous creatures. Leon is off running packages for a dangerous alien, learning who he can really trust, who he can call family. And Nok and Rolf are being watched because of their unborn baby, because a scientist is extremely interested in their baby. Because they want the baby. Out of the cage, no one is safe.
As with the last book, no one can really be trusted. Certain people can, certain humans, but that's about it. How can you trust those who imprisoned you, who tested you, who put you in danger over and over again? The betrayal, the lies, all the moments of doublespeak, are fresh in Cora's mind, in Mali's and Lucky's, in everyone's. They just want to go home, to leave the station and go back to Earth. And as with the last book, it's all about staying alive. Being quick and clever. Being strong.
I was never sure on what would happen because I could never predict the choices of the Kindred. Aliens with a moral code. They would do what they thought was best, but it wasn't always the human choice. I'm curious as to what the last book will bring, what will happen and how it will all end.
(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)...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