Friday, October 20, 2017

Me on Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!

Title: Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!
Author: Mariko Tamaki
Illustrator: Brooke A. Allen
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. The five scouts of Roanoke cabin—Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley—love their summers at camp. They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counselor Jen... and go on supernatural adventures. That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella's, where the woods contain endless mysteries. Today is no exception. When challenge-loving April leads the girls on a hike up the TALLEST mountain they've ever seen, things don't go quite as planned. For one, they didn't expect to trespass into the lands of the ancient Cloud People, and did anyone happen to read those ominous signs some unknown person posted at the bottom of the mountain? Also, unicorns.

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! is an adventure of epic proportions, because when can you have more fun if not at camp with your best friends wandering through the woods, investigating mysteries, and finding supernatural creatures grazing in fields?

This book is about everyone of cabin Roanoke. Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley. Even Jen and her near-constant worrying if the girls are really paying attention to what she wants them to do. But in little ways it's a bit more about April. It's April who often leads them on adventures, plotting and planning beforehand. It's April who doesn't stop, won't stop, and keeps moving. And it's April who leads them here, first looking for different types of plants and then up a mountain. It's all well and good to lead, to plot and plan, but sometimes you have to stop and think. You have to stop and ask your friends if they're all okay with climbing up a strange mountain.

Having read some of the comics, I think this is a great companion for young readers. It's quick and fun and messy like their comic adventures with a little more character insight and background than you'll get from a character's conflicted expression. Here in book form, the girls' thoughts and feelings are more accessible. And I fell in love with new character Barney, the genderqueer/non-binary camper who's new to the Lumberjanes. The illustrations by Brooke A. Allen were great, a wonderful reminder of the comic art and a great break in the prose. I would certainly recommend this to middle grade readers of the Lumberjanes comics.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Amulet Books through NetGalley.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (351)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Obsidio
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)

From Goodreads:

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion? 

Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. 

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Yesssssssss. I've been vocal in how much I love this series. It's different and weird and complicated and epic and deadly and I want to know how it all ends while having it not end. Because it's so good.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Me on Cucumber Quest 1: The Doughnut Kingdom

Title: Cucumber Quest Volume 1: The Doughnut Kingdom
Author: Gigi D.G.
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: First Second (Macmillan imprint)

What happens when an evil queen gets her hands on an ancient force of destruction? World domination, obviously. The seven kingdoms of Dreamside need a legendary hero. Instead, they'll have to settle for Cucumber, a nerdy magician who just wants to go to school. As destiny would have it, he and his way more heroic sister, Almond, must now seek the Dream Sword, the only weapon powerful enough to defeat Queen Cordelia's Nightmare Knight. Can these bunny siblings really save the world in its darkest hour? Sure, why not?

Cucumber Quest Volume 1: The Doughnut Kingdom is the beginning of a fun but dangerous adventure to save the seven kingdoms of the world from an evil plot.

Cucumber is kind and quiet, ready to head off to school to learn as much as he can. But then he gets dragged into a plan to save the land from an evil queen. Why? Just because he's a boy? Why can't his sister Almond, who's desperate to become a knight righting wrongs and defeating evil, do it? Because she's a girl? Unfortunately, they're surrounded by adults who don't listen, and so both of them end up on a mission to save the world from an evil queen and her dreams of destruction.

The artwork is rather cute and fun, lots of bright colours. And lots of food puns with everyone's colouring and clothing being related to the food that makes up their name. Cucumber in green, Almond in brown, Sir Carrot in orange, and so forth. With everyone being some kind of bunny person, it makes it all rather fun and sweet to look at.

This certainly feels like the beginning of a journey for Cucumber and Almond, the start of a standard epic quest. And there are also jabs made at standard epic quests, like Cucumber being told to 'be a man' and him questioning why and Almond being told she has to be protected because she's the little sister, to show how those standard epic quests were often sexist and utterly ridiculous. It takes those clichés and flips them, tosses them aside. Little sisters can be knights. Knights can be afraid and run when they're desperately needed. It asks questions about why things are done in certain ways, why it has to be older brothers that protect, and goes about in different directions. But it feels very much like a beginning. There's a lot of establishing going on. I would definitely recommend this to middle grade readers, to kids looking for a new epic quest graphic novel with fun characters and without a lot of violence.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from First Second Books through NetGalley.)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (280)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hi! The cold I had last week is still lingering, it's been a while since I've been so sick and it stuck around for a couple of weeks. I'll be resting a bit more and hopefully catching up on my reading over the weekend.

Reviews going up this week will feature Cucumber Quest Volume 1: The Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G. (Tuesday) and Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki & Brooke Allen (Friday). :)
Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (e-book borrowed from the library)
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Me on All the Crooked Saints

Title: All the Crooked Saints
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars. At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo. They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

All the Crooked Saints is a heavy book, full of the weight of all the characters and what makes them up. Their wants and their fears. Their secrets. The important things left unspoken.

It's hard to describe this book, like it is whenever I read a Maggie Stiefvater book. This seems so much like a book about people and their interpersonal relationships as opposed to a magical realism story about people and their interpersonal relationships. The magical realism is still there, the priest with a coyote's head and the twins tied together by a large snake, but to me it felt weighted down by the characters and their decisions. After The Raven Cycle, a series I found to be full of magic coursing through winds and whispers and trees, this felt far different. Slow. Heavy with shadow. Unfortunately for me, for my reading tastes, I didn't enjoy it as much as her previous books, but I imagine others might feel different.

(I received an advance copy of this title from Scholastic Canada.)