This was my first Kate Elliott book and what an introduction it was. I loved Jes's spark and stubbornness, and Kal was a lovely match for her. Super sThis was my first Kate Elliott book and what an introduction it was. I loved Jes's spark and stubbornness, and Kal was a lovely match for her. Super super glad to have the sequel in my hands to read now!...more
Kameron Hurley's collection of essays isn't just an incredible set of arguments fighting for the inclusion and celebration of women in geek spaces--itKameron Hurley's collection of essays isn't just an incredible set of arguments fighting for the inclusion and celebration of women in geek spaces--it's also a comforting and empowering reflection on the life experiences that make up women's stories, both on and off the shelves.
Definitely pick this one up.
Longform review to come on Women Write About Comics....more
THIS BOOK. It was a delight from start to finish. I loved Evie's adventures and her relationships with Aveda, her sister, and Nate, and Scott. BasicalTHIS BOOK. It was a delight from start to finish. I loved Evie's adventures and her relationships with Aveda, her sister, and Nate, and Scott. Basically this book was the superhero story I wanted to read, and more.
A more coherent review to come closer to pub date!...more
When I read The Girl from Everywhere last year, I was astonished by what Heidi Heilig had crafted. Nix's story resonated with me in ways both beautifuWhen I read The Girl from Everywhere last year, I was astonished by what Heidi Heilig had crafted. Nix's story resonated with me in ways both beautiful and hard, as all the best stories do. With The Ship Beyond Time, Heilig has pressed Nix and her journey further, deeper, creating a narrative of loss and devotion and belief that I know I will revisit for the rest of my life. Heilig's writing is as clever and honest as it is creative and daring. There are things I can't explain about my connection to Nix--they are very personal and unique to me--but I can say that I feel heard. I feel understood, in all my foibles and weaknesses and strengths. I'll always be grateful for that....more
I love this book. I love all of it, every awkward conversation and poignant email. I love the ways it intersects with my own best friendships, and theI love this book. I love all of it, every awkward conversation and poignant email. I love the ways it intersects with my own best friendships, and the ways it diverges, and how both of those things make what's real and what's fictional so much more powerful....more
This book made me cry, multiple times, in the middle of a food court. Also, Lucille and I both feel the same way about dudes, and it was kinda scary sThis book made me cry, multiple times, in the middle of a food court. Also, Lucille and I both feel the same way about dudes, and it was kinda scary seeing all my thoughts laid out like that on the page from a fictional character....more
Tell Me More: Female friendship is a staple in my life, but I don't feel I see nearly as much of it as I would like inI LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT
Tell Me More: Female friendship is a staple in my life, but I don't feel I see nearly as much of it as I would like in YA fiction or comics. Enter the Lumberjanes, five best friends at a summer camp that promises not just outdoor fun, but thrilling adventures that challenge their wit and ingenuity. And by the kitten holy was it an absolute blast to read!
via Comic Book Resources
Volume 1 opens with the girls on a nighttime trek, and any reader would be hard-pressed not to be charmed by them and their interactions with each other. The Lumberjanes look out for and protect their fellow girl, even when they come face-to-face with foxes howling to "Beware the kitten holy." Tiny red-headed April says it herself when Camp Director Rosie asks them how they ended up in the woods: "So Jo and I woke up all of our friends because 'FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX,' obviously and we went after it..." These girls value each other tremendously, and they pride themselves on being able to rely on each other no matter what.
Yes, Lumberjanes is a feminist comic, with characters that have a variety of body types and facial features, and zero slut-shaming/fat-shaming/anykindof-shaming. April might be more stereotypically feminine than Ripley or Molly, but it's never an issue. All five of them are stubborn and confident and happy with who they are, and their friendship only ever reinforces that. There's also a hint of romance between two of the girls, and its slow development through the first four issues is a joy to notice.
Noelle Stevenson and Brooke Allen's art reflects the vibrancy of each girl's personality. The colours are always warm, and the girls, as previously mentioned, are of all different shapes, sizes and skin tones. When the colours go into cooler shades, they remain just as rich:
I love April so much.
via Comic Book Resources
Lumberjanes rewards rereads, and my second time around was even better than the first, because I could spend more time noticing the smaller details and seemingly throwaway jokes. There's a cleverness to the dialogue that is never condescending. Stevenson and Grace Ellis invite the reader to laugh with the girls, and even when there were references to people or places that I didn't understand, it only made me want to learn about them, and why the Lumberjanes might have mentioned them.
The adventures they go on are similarly engaging, and they give the girls ample opportunities to share their knowledge and skills. I was especially delighted by one particular challenge in a cave, where the girls need to figure out how to safely cross between cliffs. Each girl brings something to the table, and are never made to feel less because of what they don't know and can't do.
The Final Say: I'm a newcomer to comics, and I won't lie about feeling extremely by the thousands of stories I could choose from. Picking up Lumberjanes on the strength of some trusted friends' recommendations is a decision I could never regret, and isn't that the Lumberjanes way? #FriendshipToTheMax
I loved "His Face All Red" when I read it online, and the rest of the stories don't disappoint. "My Friend Janna" was particularly creepy, and I probaI loved "His Face All Red" when I read it online, and the rest of the stories don't disappoint. "My Friend Janna" was particularly creepy, and I probably should not have read it just before going to sleep.
Tell Me More: When I first found Emily Carroll's webcomic "His Face All Red" on a quiet summer afternoon, I had no idea what I had stumbled upon. The comic takes up your entire screen, surrounded by black space, and drawing your eye to the horrifying revelations that come in later panels. Through the Woods cradles this story in the middle of its pages, and its familiarity is surprisingly comforting as the rest of the short stories work their unsettling magic.
"An Introduction" does a superb job at setting the tone of this collection: who hasn't spent nights reading by the light of a single lamp? Who hasn't felt like there was something in the darkness, waiting to draw us down, and curled up closer to the light? It only takes three pages for the chill to settle against the back of your neck, a testament to the strength of Carroll's writing style and art.
All six of the stories involve travel through the woods, easily a metaphor for change and transformation. Death itself is just a transition, not a permanent shift, coming back to pick at the bones of what is left behind. "Our Neighbor's House" starts out with white space, playing at the security we feel in the daylight. The pages never grow completely dark, just shadowed as the story builds to its climax. It may be a polarizing and confusing ending for some, but the various implications of that ending were enough for me to be thoroughly creeped out.
Carroll's use of colour is superb, building the suspense just as deftly as the melody of her words. In "A Lady's Hands Are Cold," our protagonist comes to live in a blue house, blue walls, blue tones. It is cold, deathlike, sterile. But as the story goes on, the colours shift to oranges and red, raising alarm in the reader. There is something coming for her, even as she begins to take control of her own story. "His Face All Red" is similarly enhanced by Carroll's use of colour: the pages are already singed red at the start, only growing darker.
"My Friend Janna" is a strong cautionary tale about playing with forces you can't see, and the greys and dull browns do a fantastic job of drawing a haze around the characters and the reader. It leads perfectly into the final story, "The Nesting Place," which I must admit still makes me uneasy months after reading. It is viscerally frightening, and I do feel that readers should be warned for some body horror that will live with you past the final page.
The scariest thing about all of Carroll's stories are what the characters don't say. It's a reflection of real life, and how we are made uneasy when we aren't sure what people are thinking or doing. The father in "Our Neighbor's House" doesn't explain why they should go to the neighbor if he doesn't come back, just that they should. In "A Lady's Hands," our protagonist's curiousity is stoked by the mystery of the singing voice, something her husband never mentioned. We aren't sure what happens to "Janna," but our imaginations happily take on that challenge. Carroll doesn't have to give us straight, clear-cut explanations, because horror can always be found in what we don't know.
The Final Say: Through the Woods is a stellar collection of beautifully drawn tales, best read as the winter sun begins to set, and the curtains ripple with the wind you're sure can't be coming from outside. Because that window is closed. Right?
Tell Me More:The length of Fairest will surprise readers: it sets out to illuminate Queen Levana’s past in less than 250 pages, and not only does it aTell Me More: The length of Fairest will surprise readers: it sets out to illuminate Queen Levana’s past in less than 250 pages, and not only does it accomplish this goal with ease, it also initiates several of the Lunar Chronicles’ complicated plotlines. Because before Levana was a queen feared by millions of people, she was a princess. She was a girl, and every girl has a story.
Levana’s story begins when her parents’ lives end, and Luna prepares to welcome a new queen. Channary is dismissive of anything that is not fun and interesting to her, and the things that fulfill those qualifications tend to involve cruelty and malice. While Channary could care less about the actual logistics of ruling a nation, Levana is clever and focused. She knows what it would mean to rule Luna, and her ambition is matched by her willingness to do what it takes to succeed. Like the previous novels in the series, Fairest is driven by the female characters first and foremost, and the events in this book have consequences that stretch on for years and across both Luna and Earth.
And like many emotionally cataclysmic events, it’s all to do with love, or at least, what Levana believes to be love. She genuinely sees her infatuation with royal guard Sir Evret Hayle as true love, regardless of the fact that Hayle is happily married. Her desire to be loved doesn't justify her actions, however, and she does consciously make some decisions that are truly horrifying.
Meyer paces these revelations with a steady hand, allowing the reader to see the full reflection that Levana has created for herself in the mirror. Levana is a talented and highly intelligent girl, but those qualities don't guarantee that she would be a good queen. She asks too much of the people around her, and of herself, and when she doesn't like what she sees, she rejects it summarily. Even in those moments when Levana is able to get what she wants, there is a burning need for more control, one that ultimately consumes her. Her hatred for mirrors highlights the tight grasp she has learned to hold over her public image, and with the backstory that Meyer provides in this novella, it completes the full picture of a woman lost in her own ambition.
The Final Say: Fairest is a chilling addition to the Lunar Chronicles canon, setting up for the inevitable final stand against a queen who has everything, including herself, to lose.
If I had three wishes from a genie, I still don't think I'd be able to wish for Laini Taylor's writing ability. This is now my favourite series of allIf I had three wishes from a genie, I still don't think I'd be able to wish for Laini Taylor's writing ability. This is now my favourite series of all time. I need to reread it immediately. I probably won't have time. BUT I WILL MAKE TIME.
Tell Me More: If I had three wishes from a genie, I still don't think I'd be able to wish for Laini Taylor's writing ability. When I first read Daughter of Smoke and Bone three years ago, I was prepared to be disappointed. The sheer scale of this story was overwhelming to realize, and nothing was predictable. Fast-forward to Days of Blood and Starlight a year later, and not only had Taylor expanded Karou's worlds, but she had also laid out some truly excruciating choices for her characters. Dreams of Gods and Monsters brings it all to a close, and that close is as horrifying as it is exquisite, as painful as it is filled with hope.
As things stand at the end of Blood and Starlight, Karou and Akiva both make the same choice, just articulated and executed differently. Karou chooses to hold onto a hope for her people, helping them in the only way she knows. Akiva chooses hope in the form of quiet revolution. Taylor doesn't pit them against each other for the reader to choose the better character, but she does let their actions speak for themselves, because neither are perfect choices. The fire that drove Madrigal and Akiva all those years ago is still there, and it continues to drive the story forward, even when the characters don't realize it. Their love isn't perfect, and it takes so much of who they are, but they are and have always been stronger together.
Like most final books in a trilogy, Gods and Monsters contains the most expansive world yet, and the story is spread throughout several settings and points-of-view. While most of the book is still told through Karou and Akiva's eyes, Taylor also introduces several new characters. Eliza is my favourite among them, her backstory intriguing and unique enough to rival the seraphim for my interest. Through her, the reader sees the chimaera-seraphim struggle the way humans would, with the added dimension of religion versus science. It all boils down to belief and the awe-inspiring, terrible things done in the name of belief, whether that belief is in power or religion or hope.
In this series, Taylor gives readers characters to believe in. They might be in shapes not easily imagined or seen, but they represent the potential for their respective worlds. Karou follows her heart, even in the face of terror, even when her life is threatened. Akiva doesn't accept defeat, but charges forward to take action, even when it seems hopeless. They're inspiring not because they are powerful, but because they recognize their limitations and press forward anyway. Parallels could be drawn between them and the Faerers, who did not recognize limitations and things better left unseen. Zuzana and Mik may not be fearsome creatures like the chimaera or seraphim, but they are resourceful and clever and honourable. Hazael and Liraz make some truly difficult choices, but their belief in each other and Akiva empowers them through those choices.
The Final Say: Dreams of Gods and Monsters is the kind of story readers dream about, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of tale. The emotion and wonder of Karou and Akiva's worlds are laid out in gorgeously rendered prose that will live in your dreams long after you close the covers. Laini Taylor has made me an admirer for life.
Tell Me More:The quality that has always drawn me into any sort of fantastical, supernYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Tell Me More: The quality that has always drawn me into any sort of fantastical, supernatural story is the tenuous balance between life and death. Creatures such as vampires, werewolves, mermaids--they are Other, and yet their existence and the human belief in them reflect on humanity itself. They represent, among other things, what we like to think of as our baser instincts and their coiled violence is both the most appealing and revolting thing about them. In Monstrous Beauty, Elizabeth Fama draws on the connection between human nature and the otherworldly creatures that fascinate us to write a story of grief and hope in the midst of death.
Fama's prose may not be the familiar, easy first-person narrative that YA readers are used to, but it is the kind of writing that rewards patience and subsequent rereadings. In the last six months, I have reread Monstrous Beauty twice and each time, I find myself surprised by the depth of the sentences. The best stories have an unmistakable melody about them, one that flows naturally between the words, and this story absolutely achieves that. The third-person POV also provides distance, which helps to keep the reader from being swayed one way or the other between the characters. Alternating chapters keep the reader on their toes, and the pacing worked with the mood of the story to keep it interesting. Objectivity is important, because the story never goes where you think it will, and it never loses that element of surprise.
Likewise, the characters aren't flashy, but they are rich in nuances. I never knew if I was making a good decision to side with Syrenka, appropriately enough--after all, she is a dangerous mermaid. You will feel afraid of her, and I loved that I couldn't predict what she would do next. I never knew if Ezra was truly who he said he was, and that intrigued me far more than if he had been the usual charming YA hero. The only character I thought might have been "safe" was Hester, and even then, it was only because she and I were both trying to find answers to our questions. The relationships never dive into insta-love territory, which was a welcome change. Monstrous Beauty makes you think while you read, which may not make it a popular book, but certainly an excellent one.
Part of that excellence stems from the themes. This is not a paranormal story so much as a tale based solidly in history and family. Hester's job in a historical reenactment village ties her to both the community and her own family history. She isn't a lost soul looking for where she belongs, and there is a whole host of people that help ground her in the town. The ambiance is brilliantly set with little insights into the history and character of Hester's home, and it shifts the focus from mermaids to humanity. There is a warmth to the story that comforts the reader during the horrifying revelations that later occur, and I loved that Fama was willing to take a chance writing this kind of story.
Love-as-sacrifice also comes into play, and while I won't be talking about this particular theme as much for fear of spoiling it, suffice to say that the way Hester grows into that idea is absolutely stunning. Because there is a real growth, a change that comes over the characters as they move through the story, and I loved being able to reread the book and pinpoint where that growth began. The foreshadowing is present, but never overt, and it gives readers a puzzle to unlock. As the reader is led towards the shocking climax, Fama never lets the story threads fall to pieces, and holding such a tightly woven plot together is a challenge. Hester's fear of falling in love never feels contrived to fit the story, and the reasons behind that fear are revealed in a masterfully written denouement which may bring tears to readers' eyes.
The Final Say: Elizabeth Fama achieves an outstanding feat in Monstrous Beauty, with characters that never feel worn in and a plot that will surprise and startle even the most worldly readers.
Tell Me More:In the year or so since I've been bloggYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Source: ARC received from publisher
Tell Me More: In the year or so since I've been blogging, I've read and reviewed more novels about mermaids than I've read in my entire life. They've always fascinated me, but I've only been able to really savour the richness of their mythology in the last few months. Ethereal and mysterious as they are, it can be difficult to push through the haze and find a story worth telling. Sarah Porter did it once with Lost Voices, and she succeeds again, brilliantly, with Waking Storms.
For quite a while, I caught myself referring to this book as Waking Voices, which was a great connection that my brain drew on its own. Luce is certainly waking up to the loneliness of her existence, and she begins to own her voice and her actions. Despite losing the chance to grow up physically, she learns to grow emotionally--she takes the risk of loving someone besides herself, and she learns to deal with the consequences of her actions in the previous book.
Curiously enough, many readers are bothered by how quickly the relationship between Luce and Dorian develops, but I believe this is one instance where the "insta-love" can be pardoned, at least for this book. It's important to remember that Luce is 14 years old, and will never have the chance to grow up. She certainly makes leaps and strides in emotional growth, but at heart, she is still a child. She encounters emotions and situations that even adults would be hesitant to experience, and she does her best with what she knows. Those of us past adolescence know how heightened everything becomes, from the slightest insult to the greatest joys. I never excused Luce for her actions, but I can very much understand where they come from, and I appreciated Sarah Porter's dedication to letting Luce's characterization expand even as it remains realistic.
... I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves Combing the white hair of the waves blown back When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
Likewise, the plot is one that unfolds slowly and steadily. Luce's decision to split from her tribe of mermaids was a brave one, and her journey is just as compelling. Early in the story, a beautiful poem by T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is mentioned, and unconscious or not, the story runs parallel to the poem. The last line is particularly chilling to consider in reference to Waking Storms: Luce is surrounded at all sides by human beings who are cruel, reckless and selfish. The very race with whom she wishes to co-exist wants to destroy her. Her tribe has morphed into something she cannot fathom. Sarah Porter's prose is gut-wrenchingly beautiful, even when it is heavy with sadness.
There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate; Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea.
Time and the loss of it is a theme that lies quite heavily on the story. The mermaids' time seems to be ending, and Luce and Dorian's relationship is slave to lost time as well. There are mistakes and risks in looking back at the past, and Luce and the mermaids are trapped by their instinct to seek revenge for those experiences. It's a time for change for each and every character in this book, and that is a truly powerful and creative dynamic to add to the story.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
Luce is the eye of the storm in this trilogy, despite her wish to live a quiet and peaceful life. Like J. Alfred Prufrock, Luce is searching for something she can't quite name, because of fear and anger and loss. After reading Waking Storms, it's very obvious that she will have to make some awful choices to get her wish, and she will have to face the things she can't forgive herself for doing. The Luce that readers will find at the end of this installment is vastly different from the damaged young girl inLost Voices. She grows into a girl who will be worthy of the battles she has to fight in the next book, whether it's against her tribe, Dorian or herself. Her inner strength will carry her through, despite the temptation to take the easy road. I look forward to seeing her grow into a formidable and truly beautiful person.
The Final Say: While Lost Voices is captivating and enthralling, Waking Storms is powerful in the raw pain and uncertainty it displays. Sarah Porter raises the stakes, not only for Luce, but for every single character, with writing that is more melodic than a song.