Book Review: Faith by Julie Murphy

Faith by Julie Murphy
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Source: Borrowed

From Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’, comes the first in a two-book origin story of Faith, a groundbreaking, plus-sized superhero from the Valiant Entertainment comics.

Faith Herbert is a pretty regular teen. When she’s not hanging out with her two best friends, Matt and Ches, she’s volunteering at the local animal shelter or obsessing over the long-running teen drama The Grove.

So far, her senior year has been spent trying to sort out her feelings for her maybe-crush Johnny and making plans to stay close to Grandma Lou after graduation. Of course, there’s also that small matter of recently discovering she can fly….

When the fictional world of The Grove crashes into Faith’s reality as the show relocates to her town, she can’t believe it when TV heroine Dakota Ash takes a romantic interest in her.

But her fandom-fueled daydreams aren’t enough to distract Faith from the fact that first animals, then people, have begun to vanish from the town. Only Faith seems able to connect the dots to a new designer drug infiltrating her high school.

But when her investigation puts the people she loves in danger, she will have to confront her hidden past and use her newfound gifts—risking everything to save her friends and beloved town.

I was surprised that after all of the hype that Julie Murphy’s previous books had gotten, I really heard nothing about Faith until it showed up at my library. I’ll read anything this woman writes, so of course I immediately placed a hold on it and waited for my copy to come in.

Like always, Murphy’s writing is really engaging and accessible. I always enjoy reading her books because they’re so comforting to read. I always like her characters and nothing happens in her books that stresses me out too much. Faith was no different.

There was a lot about this book that I really enjoyed, but there were also things that didn’t sit quite right with me. It almost seemed like Faith was deliberately sabotaging her relationships because she was so intent on not telling anyone what was going on in her life. So much drama would have been avoided!

But overall, I did really like this book and I’m curious to learn where this series is going.


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

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Mini-Reviews: On a Sunbeam, Goldie Vance Vol. 1, & The Tea Dragon Society

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Source: Borrowed

An epic graphic novel about a girl who travels to the ends of the universe to find a long lost love, from acclaimed author Tillie Walden.

Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As Mia, the newest member, gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student. When Mia grows close to her new friends, she reveals her true purpose for joining their ship—to track down her long-lost love.

An inventive world, a breathtaking love story, and stunning art come together in this new work by award-winning artist Tillie Walden.

As I’ve come to expect with Tillie Walden, the art in On a Sunbeam is absolutely stunning. She has such a way with color palettes and using color to highlight emotion. Unfortunately, the art really stole the show, because the plot and characters left a lot to be desired.

The book really felt like 544 pages of really beautiful art with some words added in as an afterthought. Maybe that’s not a completely fair assessment, but I really felt like something was missing from this story. This was still a nice book, but at almost 550 pages, it’s pretty large to be missing a strong story.


Goldie Vance, Vol. 1 by Hope Larson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Source: Borrowed

GOLDIE VANCE IS ON THE CASE

Sixteen-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance has an insatiable curiosity. She lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place, and it’s her dream to one day be the hotel’s in-house detective. When Walter, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, together they utilize her smarts, skills, and connections to solve the mystery…even if it means getting into a drag race, solving puzzles, or chasing a helicopter to do it!
 

Goldie Vance was the super cute detective story that I never knew I needed! I picked this one up from Hoopla on a whim and I’m so glad I did. Everything from the setting to the characters to the art was really well-done. My only criticism would be that everything that happened felt really convenient.

I’ve already borrowed the next volume and I’m hoping to read it soon!


The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Source: Borrowed

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

I’d heard a lot about how cute The Tea Dragon Society was, and I have to say, it lived up to the hype. It was just so… nice. It’s very cute and full of casual diversity and characters who accept others just the way they are. And the dragons! These are the cutest little dragons I’ve ever seen in my life and I want one so badly.

This book was great, I just wish that it had been longer and more developed.


Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR?
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ALC Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Source: ALC via Netgalley

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

I finished Girl, Serpent, Thorn almost a week ago and I’m still not entirely sure what I think. The premise was good. It was interesting, engaging, and just dark enough to keep me reading but not make me overwhelmed. The writing is also good. Bashardoust clearly knows her way around words, and the writing was never clunky and the dialogue was never forced.

The problem I had with this book mainly boils down to one thing. This book did not work for me as a standalone. Let’s get one thing straight: there is a lot going on in this book, and it’s only 336 pages. There was not nearly enough room for Bashardoust to develop both the characters and the plot, so events seem to jump around pretty quickly (and often conveniently), and aside from Soraya, very few of the characters feel like real people.

Another issue I had with this book was the romance. This was hyped up to be a great f/f romance, and while, yes, I suppose there is technically a f/f romance to be found here, it’s so minimal that you could blink and miss it. I loved the chemistry between Soraya and her female love interest and just wish it would have been fleshed out a little more. While it’s nice to finally have a YA fantasy novel that doesn’t prioritize romance over action, this romance was such a tiny part of the book that I almost wondered why it was included at all.

As for the audio, I thought the narrator did a great job. I did, as usual, have to listen on 1.75x speed to not fall asleep, but that probably says more about me than about the book.

In the end, if you’re really into YA fantasy and retellings, you might enjoy this.


Have you read Girl, Serpent, Thorn? Is it on your TBR?
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ARC Review: The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune

The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
Source: ARC via Netgalley

Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Marissa Meyer’s Renegades in TJ Klune’s YA debut.

 

I have this really bad habit of requesting books on Netgalley without fully reading the synopsis. I just knew that this book had a fun cover, had something to do with superheroes, and was written by T.J. Klune, who I’ve only ever heard good things about. As I was reading, I wrote in my little reading journal “It’s like Renegades meets Fangirl!” and wow… that’s literally in the synopsis. For once, the comparison worked!

First things first, this book was a ton of fun. This was the fun, quirky, nerdy superhero book I never knew I needed. Nick and his friends were great and I absolutely believed in this world where superheroes are real and the police are just exasperated with them. This book almost felt like a movie because it was so descriptive! I could almost see everything playing out in front of me.

I loved how Nick kept trying anything he could think of to make himself an Extraordinary and he never gave up regardless of how many times he failed or how many people told him he was crazy. Also, I thought I knew what was going on with the various superheroes (and villains?) but I did not.

There are at least two major plot points that are hinted at and left open at the end of the book. This was a little bit frustrating for me because I really wanted answers, but now I see that this is going to be a trilogy and things make a little more sense. The next book has no title or cover yet, but it’s set to come out at some point next year. (Do what you will with that information.)

All in all, this was a super fun book and I would definitely recommend it as long as you’re okay with waiting for answers. I would also recommend not taking it seriously, because it’s meant to be a little bit silly.


Have you read The Extraordinaries? Is it on your TBR?
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Blog tour (+ interview!): More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn

More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads 
Publication Date: July 21, 2020

Growing up under his punk rocker dad’s spotlight, eighteen-year-old Luke Greenly knows fame and wants nothing to do with it. His real love isn’t in front of a crowd, it’s on the page. Hiding his gift and secretly hoarding songs in his bedroom at night, he prefers the anonymous comfort of the locally popular podcast he co-hosts with his outgoing and meddling, far-too-jealousy-inspiringly-happy-with-his-long-term-boyfriend twin brother, Cullen. But that’s not Luke’s only secret. He also has a major un-requited crush on music blogger, Vada Carsewell.

Vada’s got a five year plan: secure a job at the Loud Lizard to learn from local legend (and her mom’s boyfriend) Phil Josephs (check), take over Phil’s music blog (double check), get accepted into Berkeley’s prestigious music journalism program (check, check, check), manage Ann Arbor’s summer concert series and secure a Rolling Stone internship. Luke Greenly is most definitely NOT on the list. So what if his self-deprecating charm and out-of-this-world music knowledge makes her dizzy? Or his brother just released a bootleg recording of Luke singing about some mystery girl on their podcast and she really, really wishes it was her?

I loved Erin Hahn’s debut, You’d Be Mine, so imagine my excitement when I was invited to participate in a blog tour for More Than Maybe! (Imagine my excitement growing even more when I got the chance to interview her!) I loved this book just as much as her debut (and already posted my review here) and now I’m thrilled to be able to share an interview!

Thank you so much to Wednesday Books and Erin Hahn for making this post possible!


I absolutely loved this book! It was so much fun to read about Vada, a music blogger, and Luke, a podcast host. What was your inspiration?

Well there are a few. Firstly, as a (young) teen, I was obsessed with the 90s cult classic EMPIRE RECORDS. If you haven’t seen it, you should… but it’s basically built around a day in the life of a record store complete with a misfit cast of employees and a mentor-like rock-and-roll boss, Joe. Working at Empire Records was a dream of mine. I wanted to be the one to save the record store and as an author, I wanted a way to make that idea contemporary. I, like so many others, started working at 14 and had multiple part-time jobs throughout high school and college. First jobs are where you often first stretch your wings and are exposed to a more eclectic population of people. For some kids, they don’t find their people in high school, but rather at their first jobs. For Vada, and later, Luke, the dive bar known as the Loud Lizard becomes a sort of surrogate home for them—filled with interesting characters who challenge and support them. And where you find an eclectic array of strangers of different ages and backgrounds working at a dive bar, you’re bound to find music. I didn’t get to save the record store, but I did get to save the dive bar. ☺

Vada and Luke both reference a ton of great music throughout this book. I was so happy to see some of my favorite bands show up! How did you choose the songs you wanted to use?

Playlists are my superpower. These songs have been waiting years for this moment to shine. I did work super hard on balance in this story. I wanted to make sure I featured an equal number of older, more classic songs and brand new, up and coming artists. Since Vada is a music critique blogger with big ambitions of Rolling Stone, it was important that she knew about all kind of music, not just what is on the radio today. She needed to have educated opinions about music of all genres. Luke, being the son of a former British punk rocker from the 80s and 90s was a good match for that. He’s also well-versed in the classics. I tested it out on several beta readers and my goal was to have EVERYONE hitting up their Google app while reading. I knew it would be impossible to expect everyone (particularly non-music lovers) to know all of the songs and artists, but I hoped to tease the songs enough that people would want to check them out for themselves after reading a conversation between Luke and Vada. I hope I’ve achieved that. I think I have! Nothing makes me happier than when an early reader has reached out to say they’ve been following along with the music in the story and or creating their own playlists. I’ve got my official playlist set up on Spotify, but when readers create their own? Amazing. I love it.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

I wrote “More Than Maybe” before my debut “You’d Be Mine” released and that made it especially difficult to give myself permission to be creative. I felt on the edge, waiting for readers’ reactions to my first book while trying to convince myself I could write another, and that people would want to read that too! It took a lot of faking it. ☺ But eventually, “You’d Be Mine” released and found its audience and I was able to breathe easy and really focus on making “More Than Maybe” the best it could be. 

Which scene was your favorite to write?

I have a few, to be honest. I loved writing the relationship between Phil and Vada, and basically cried my way through all their interactions. The silent disco “not-date” was fun because Luke and Vada are so overflowing with chemistry around each other but happen to also be completely adorkable and awkward. So that’s a riot for an author to portray. I knew the ending before the rest of the book came together, and I don’t want to spoil it except to say that the day I sat down to write it, my heart was racing, and I wanted to puke, I was so excited for it. It’s definitely my favorite ending I’ve ever written!

What are some of your favorite songs right now?

I’m creating a new playlist for a whole new, totally unrelated story so my current faves come from that… 

Top three are:

Every Heartbeat by Grace Potter

Bluebird by Miranda Lambert 

I Hope by Gabby Barrett

Are there any books that you’ve read recently that you’d recommend checking out?

In the next year, three authors are debuting with magical YA books: Syed Masood wrote the hilarious and heartfelt “More Than Just A Pretty Face”, Laura Zimmerman’s charming “My Eyes Are Up Here” and all the yearning in “Amelia Unabridged” by Ashley Schumaker. 


About the Author

 

Erin Hahn is the author of You’d Be Mine and More Than Maybe. She teaches elementary, would rather be outside and makes a lot of playlists. So many playlists in fact, that she decided to write books to match them! She married her very own YA love interest who she met on her first day of college and has two kids who are much, much cooler than she ever was at their age. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, aka the greenest place on earth and has a cat named Gus who plays fetch and a dog named June who doesn’t.

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Have you read More Than Maybe? Is it on your TBR?
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