Mini-Reviews: Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, Little Moments of Love, & Nimona

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Source: Borrowed

Sweet, funny, and quietly poignant, Debbie Tung’s comics reveal the ups and downs of coming of age as an introvert.

This illustrated gift book of short comics illuminates author Debbie Tung’s experience as an introvert in an extrovert’s world. Presented in a loose narrative style that can be read front to back or dipped into at one’s leisure, the book spans three years of Debbie’s life, from the end of college to the present day. In these early years of adulthood, Debbie slowly but finally discovers there is a name for her lifelong need to be alone: she’s an introvert.

The first half of the book traces Debbie’s final year in college: socializing with peers, dating, falling in love (with an extrovert!), moving in, getting married, meeting new people, and simply trying to fit in. The second half looks at her life after graduation: finding a job, learning to live with her new husband, trying to understand social obligations when it comes to the in-laws, and navigating office life. Ultimately, Quiet Girl sends a positive, pro-introvert message: our heroine learns to embrace her introversion and finds ways to thrive in the world while fulfilling her need for quiet.

I previously really enjoyed Debbie Tung’s Book Love, and it’s predecessor definitely did not disappoint. These little vignettes of Debbie’s life as she deals with anxiety and a world that always expects her to be “on” were so relatable. So many of the comics in this book were things that have happened to me over the years.

Panel from Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: Debbie is crying surrounded by negative comments. You need to make more friends. Why are you so shy? What's wrong with you? Are you all right? You seem really sad. You should talk more. It's not normal to not say anything.

The only real complaint that I have about this is that the themes are very repetitive. This is a book about Debbie being an introvert, and that’s it. There are only so many ways you can say you’re an introvert before you start to repeat yourself. But I, as an introvert, enjoyed seeing my life illustrated like this and I’d definitely recommend this book.

#wian: an antonym


Little Moments of Love by Catana Chetwynd
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 19, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Soppy meets Sarah’s Scribbles in this sweet collection of comics about the simple, precious, silly, everyday moments that make up a relationship.

What began as stray doodles on scraps of paper became an internet sensation when Catana Chetwynd’s boyfriend shared her drawings online. Now, Catana Comics touches millions of readers with its sweet, relatable humor. Little Moments of Love collects just that – the little moments that are the best parts of being with the person you love.

I love Catana’s comics so much, and after reading (and loving) my ARC of Snug, I knew I had to get to Little Moments of Love next. It was just as cute as Snug, and I enjoyed it just as much… if not more. I’d already seen most of the comics included in Snug, but since Little Moments of Love was published two years ago, I had either not seen (or forgotten about) most of these.

Catana comic: Catana has a low battery indicator over her head and hugs her boyfriend. The battery indicator raises until it shows that it's fully charged.

I always think that Catana’s comics are really relatable to anybody who’s been truly in love. Her comics never fail to make me smile, and I’ll happily read her next collection (while also checking out her comics on Instagram daily).


Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Source: Borrowed

The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.”

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

I previously read and really enjoyed Stevenson’s Lumberjanes series, and knowing that Nimona was pretty beloved in the book blogging community, I was excited to dive right in. Right away, I loved both Nimona and Ballister. I loved the way they interacted with each other, and we all know I love a good morally gray villain.

The only thing I could have hoped for was a little more backstory on Nimona. I would have loved a little bit more resolution on where she got her abilities and what exactly she’s capable of. Still, this was an excellent graphic novel that I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a good fantasy/adventure storyline.


Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini-Reviews: The Vanishing Stair, 19 Love Songs, & The Wicked King

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Source: Borrowed

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.

The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

Much like with Truly Devious, I wasn’t really fully convinced by The Vanishing Stair until partway through. I was worried that this was going to be a filler book, one where the characters sort of just wander around looking for clues until we hit the final book in the trilogy, where everything finally happens. That worry ended up being unwarranted, because a ton of stuff happens in this book!

With any mystery, I’m kind of hesitant to get into details because I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything. I just want to say that Maureen Johnson has clearly thought everything through in this series and planned out every detail in depth. I can’t wait to find out what will happen next!


19 Love Songs by David Levithan
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Source: Borrowed

The New York Times bestselling author of Every DaySomeday, and Two Boys Kissing is back with a short story collection about love–perfect for Valentine’s Day or year-round reading!

A resentful member of a high school Quiz Bowl team with an unrequited crush.

A Valentine’s Day in the life of Every Day‘s protagonist “A.”

A return to the characters of Two Boys Kissing.

19 Love Songs, from New York Times bestselling author David Levithan, delivers all of these stories and more. Born from Levithan’s tradition of writing a story for his friends each Valentine’s Day, this collection brings all of them to his readers for the first time. With fiction, nonfiction, and a story in verse, there’s something for every reader here.

Witty, romantic, and honest, teens (and adults) will come to this collection not only on Valentine’s Day, but all year round. 

I’ve been reading David Levithan’s books since I was a teenager myself, so when I saw that he had a new collection of short stories out, I had to read it. Levithan has written some of my all-time favorite books (The Lover’s Dictionary, You Know Me Well) as well as some books that I’ve really disliked (Every Day, the Dash & Lily books). He’s also written a ton of books that I’ve felt indifferent about, and I won’t link all of those reviews here, but they’re all on my “all reviews” page.

The point is, I can go either way on Levithan’s writing, and I went both ways on the stories in this collection. When they were good, they were really good. I loved the story about Taylor Swift fanfiction, the story about being snowed in, the quiz bowl story, and the Santa story. I also loved all of the music references. The stories I didn’t love mostly left me bored. This isn’t really Levithan’s fault, because I’m sure there are plenty of people who connect more with those stories than I did.

Overall, I think this evens out to a three-star read for me. If you’re into Levithan’s writing, a lot characters from his previous books make appearances in these stories, so you might be pleasantly surprised.


The Wicked King by Holly Black
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Source: Borrowed

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.


After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Well, 89% of people on Goodreads have given this book either 4 or 5 stars, and I am not one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this series or anything. I gave the first book four stars, mostly because it really grabbed me toward the end, but I definitely thought it had a rough start.

In The Wicked King, I had many of the same problems as I had in The Cruel Prince. Jude is less annoying than she was in the first book, but she’s equally dumb. Cardan is still mostly mean to Jude (that’s the point, I know) and I didn’t buy their “romance” at all. I found much of the plot boring, and the big plot twist at the end seemed so in-character for everyone that I wasn’t really surprised at all. In 336 pages, very little happens that actually advances the plot.

And yet. For however much I disliked this book, I still want to read The Queen of Nothing to find out how everything ends.


Have you read any of these books? Have you read any good YA recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox by Christina Dalcher
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Set in a United States in which half the population has been silenced, Vox is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than one hundred words per day, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. This can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words each day, but now women have only one hundred to make themselves heard.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

This is just the beginning…not the end.

I burned myself out on dystopian novels a few years ago, so now I like to wait until I’m really in the mood before I pick one up. I’d seen Vox just about everywhere when it was originally published. It was all over book blogs, all over bookstagram, in magazines and on TV and just… everywhere. I was a little nervous, honestly. I don’t always do well with hype. But eventually, I decided to read it.

What’s happened in Vox is that women have lost their voice. They get 100 words per day and are punished if they go over their limit. This has effectively banned them from employment and made them entirely dependent on their husbands. In addition to the ban on speaking, there are bans on homosexuality and premarital or extramarital sex. Women that were once at the top of their field, like Jean, the main character, are now limited to cooking and raising children, never really leaving the house because they can’t communicate if they do.

What’s terrifying about this book is that it’s not that unbelievable. I mean, do I think the government is going to strap a device to my wrist that electrocutes me if I talk too much? No. (But neither did the characters in this book, I guess.) But given the current political climate and attitudes toward women that we see from some politicians, this book hit pretty close to home.

I think that Dalcher did a great job of showing how out of control the constant regulations on women’s health could get, given the right circumstances. I just think she went about it in a very heavy-handed way. I was never 100% on board with the premise — after all, would an entire world just sit idly by while the U.S. government effectively silenced half of its population? — but I was going with it. Then we hit the second half of the book.

I don’t want to spoil what happens, so I’m not going to get into details. But the entire second half of this book was one over-the-top plot twist after another. Any plot twist you could think of probably happens. To the main character. To her family. To minor characters. In the government. Everything. And the ending really disappointed me. I can understand how it made sense, but it seemed to contradict the entire point of the book.

Regardless of how I felt about the second half, though, this book was an overall good read. If you’re in the mood for some feminism and some dystopian themes, you could definitely do worse than Vox.


#wian20: 4 letters or less


Have you read Vox? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini-Reviews: Pet, Symptoms of Being Human, and With the Fire on High

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Pet is here to hunt a monster.
Are you brave enough to look?

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question-How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

I’m not sure the last time I finished a book feeling so confused as when finishing Pet, but at least I knew that I liked it. The thing about this book is that the writing style feels very middle grade, but the subject matter is very much not.

My favorite thing about this book was the representation. Jam is a trans black girl, and it’s not the focus of the story or really relevant to the plot in any way, it’s just who Jam is. I think this is the best kind of representation to have.

The book has an important, if maybe heavy-handed message, that just because we don’t expect people to be evil doesn’t mean that they’re not. In Jam’s world, evil has supposedly been eradicated, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not lurking where we’d least expect it. Her journey, along with her best friend Redemption and the monstrous-looking (but not actually monstrous) Pet, to find out what’s been going on with someone they both care about, is absolutely heartbreaking.

In the end, I would recommend this book as long as you’re okay with the fairly obvious way the message is delivered.

Content warnings
  • child abuse/molestation
  • fairly graphic vigilante justice
  • (accidental) self harm with razor blades

#wian20: 4 letters or less


Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Source: Borrowed

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

We’re all taught from a young age that there are only two choices: pink or blue, Bratz or Power Rangers, cheerleading or football. We see gender in two dimensions because that’s what society has taught us from birth. But, are you ready for a shocking revelation? SOCIETY NEEDS TO CHANGE.

I’d had Symptoms of Being Human on my TBR for a while, but I still went in with no expectations. The reviews are pretty mixed, with most people agreeing that it has great genderqueer representation but very little plot. I guess I can see that.

The story revolves around Riley, who identifies as genderqueer. Riley’s parents don’t really understand. Riley’s classmates don’t really understand. So Riley starts a blog and finds some people to talk to about life. That’s really about it, and I’ll agree that it’s not much of a plot to go on, but it did hold my interest.

I will say that this book made me angry, though. I don’t have any children, but I hope to never make my future child feel like they’re not good enough the way they are, like they have to stuff themselves into a suffocating box to make me happy. I hope it made other people angry too.

Overall, I think the characters really carry the story here, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.


With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Borrowed

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free. 

After really loving The Poet X, I decided to give another of Acevedo’s books a try and read With the Fire on High. I didn’t love it quite as much but it was still really, really good.

I loved Emoni. She was such a strong character and she was truly just trying to do her best with the circumstances in her life. I loved the relationship she had with her abuela. I loved her cooking and just wish that I could taste some of those recipes! There’s even a little touch of magical realism, which I thought was great.

As for why four stars and not five, I felt like, though the overall writing was very good, it did have some awkward parts. (I rolled my eyes every time Emoni let out a breath she didn’t even know she was holding.) I also didn’t understand what purpose there was to all of the drama with Pretty Leslie, though it does get resolved nicely in the end.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. But if you have to pick one of Acevedo’s books to start with, I’d recommend The Poet X.


Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Series: The Heroes of Olympus #1
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
Source: Borrowed

Jason has a problem.
He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper, and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?

Piper has a secret.
Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare about his being in trouble. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits during the school trip, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.

Leo has a way with tools.
When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about, and some camper who’s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god. Does this have anything to do with Jason’s amnesia, or the fact that Leo keeps seeing ghosts?

I checked out The Lost Hero shortly after finishing The Lightning Thief, mostly because I’d heard this was a more interesting series that I might like a little more. And I did like it a little more, but did I love it? No.

To start, I was just confused at the beginning of this book. I knew it was a new series with new characters, but then Annabeth showed up! And she started referencing all these things that I assume are spoilers for the Percy Jackson series! Everyone’s worried about Percy and where he went! I thought this was a new series. It was a little unexpected, but I adjusted my expectations.

I think that the biggest problem I had with this book was that it’s 557 pages and hardly anything happens. Jason, Piper, and Leo run around on their quest, encountering all of these gods and characters from various myths, but I don’t really feel like I got 557 pages of plot. And that’s not to say that it’s a bad book or anything. Riordan is setting up three brand new characters, all with their own backstories and problems and goals, but yikes, I hope the rest of the series is more interesting than this book.

I really want to love Rick Riordan’s books, but I just don’t so far. I might give Son of Neptune a try, but I’m going to get through some more of my TBR first.

#mm20: winter wonderland


Have you read The Lost Hero? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini-Reviews: Shiver & All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 1, 2009
Source: Borrowed

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Shiver was the first book I ever added to my TBR on Goodreads, way, way back in the day. Since The Raven Cycle ended up being my favorite series of 2018, I figured I should finally read some of Maggie’s other stuff. Shiver is, um… very different. It’s basically your standard late-2000s YA paranormal romance, much like Twilight if Twilight just featured werewolves.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, I loved Twilight when I was a teenager. But does it hold up in 2019 (and now 2020)? Not really. In this day and age, we’re much more skeptical of teenage boy (actually grown men) paranormal creatures who spy on unsuspecting teenage girls and those girls whose lives basically cease to exist while they’re in a relationship. There’s a lot of iffy stuff in this book. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a problem, but do I think it would be nearly as popular now? No.

As usual, the writing is good. Maggie’s created a really interesting backstory for the wolves complete with some present-day wolf conflict. It’s just very, very heavy on the insta-love and it uses a lot of the tropes that were common for the time it was written.

If you’re going to read one of Maggie’s books, I’d recommend The Raven Boys over this.


All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Source: Borrowed
From bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater, a gripping tale of darkness, miracles, and family. Saints. Miracles. Family. Romance. Death. Redemption.

Here is a thing everyone wants: A miracle.

Here is a thing everyone fears:
What it takes to get one.

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.

I read Shiver and All the Crooked Saints back to back, because why not. I ended up feeling pretty conflicted about this book, hence the three stars, because it goes from really boring to really interesting and right back again.

I think the main problem I had with this one was that I spent more of the book bored than interested. There are a lot of characters and there’s a lot going on, but it also seems, a lot of the time, that absolutely nothing is happening. The most vivid part of this book wasn’t the plot or the characters, it was the setting.

I usually love Maggie’s writing, and I can admit that it was beautiful in this book. But instead of being beautiful in that magical way I’m used to, it was beautiful in a very over-the-top way. It reminded me a lot of the writing in Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. (If you liked that book, you’ll probably love this one.)

I can see why a lot of people enjoyed this, but it just wasn’t my kind of book.


Have you read either of these books? Do you like Maggie Stiefvater’s writing?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini-Reviews: Norse Mythology, We’ll Fly Away, and I Capture the Castle

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Source: Borrowed

Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

Way back in 2012, I DNFed American Gods about three times. I tried really hard to like that book, but it just wasn’t happening. After that, I avoided Gaiman even though I’ve consistently heard that his writing is amazing. Well, I needed a book set in Scandinavia for a reading challenge, so what better than some Norse mythology?

This book was so good! I don’t really have any background in Norse mythology — I think the extent of my knowledge comes from the Thor movies — but you don’t really need any prior knowledge to enjoy this book. Gaiman writes a funny, engaging story of all the Norse gods interacting with each other and getting into shenanigans.

Norse Mythology gave me hope for other books by Gaiman, so I went out and got The Ocean at the End of the Lane for myself and added a bunch of his other books to my library wishlist.

#ps19: a book set in Scandinavia


We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Uniquely told through letters from death row and third-person narrative, Bryan Bliss’s hard-hitting third novel expertly unravels the string of events that landed a teenager in jail. Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back.

But during their senior year, they begin to drift apart. Luke is dealing with his unreliable mother and her new boyfriend. And Toby unwittingly begins to get drawn into his father’s world, and falls for an older woman. All their long-held dreams seem to be unraveling. Tense and emotional, this heartbreaking novel explores family, abuse, sex, love, friendship, and the lengths a person will go to protect the people they love.

I actually DNFed We’ll Fly Away last summer, not because it was bad, but just because it was a much heavier book than I was in the mood for. I ended up picking it back up (audio this time) and connecting with it a lot more.

Still, it was a lot heavier of a book than I normally read. In general, I’m not a big fan of stories that pack a big emotional punch, and this one, a book about a teenage boy on death row, his neglectful mother, and the physical abuse his best friend endures, definitely fits that description. I really felt for both Luke and Toby, and, though I knew it was impossible, I just wanted everything to turn out okay for them in the end.

I saw the ending coming, but I don’t really think it’s supposed to be a surprise. I mean, the whole book builds up to the climax of what exactly landed Luke in prison. So, I don’t love the theme, I saw the ending coming, it’s no wonder I didn’t love this book. But the characters really made it worth the read. I loved reading about their friendship. It’s so rare in YA to find a supportive friendship like this between two boys, and it was so nice to read about.

If you’re in the mood for heartbreak and strong friendships, I’d highly recommend this one.


I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: 1948
Source: Borrowed

Through six turbulent months of 1934, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries about her home, a ruined Suffolk castle, and her eccentric and penniless family. By the time the last diary shuts, there have been great changes in the Mortmain household, not the least of which is that Cassandra is deeply, hopelessly, in love.

I checked out I Capture the Castle solely because I needed a classic romance for one of my 2019 reading challenges. It’s not something that I would have checked out otherwise, but I ended up really enjoying it!

Cassandra was such an upbeat, fun narrator. The whole book is told through her journal entries, and despite everything going on around her, she keeps a positive attitude. For being written in journal entries, the book does a surprisingly good job of setting the scene. I felt like I was in that crumbling castle with the Mortmains, watching everything unfold right along with them.

I didn’t really expect to enjoy this book, but it was a lot of fun.

#romanceopoly: austen row


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