Emerjas

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy - Chynna Clugston-Flores, Rosemary Valero-O'Connell, Maddi Gonzalez, Whitney Cogar

As a fan of both Lumberjanes and Gotham Academy, this was a crossover I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a letdown. It was still an enjoyable read, just not quite as much as I'd hoped.

 

The cover of the book is beautiful. I was hoping it would be representative of the art inside, but it definitely is not. The story's art isn't bad, but it's much simpler. That style suits the Lumberjane girls, but not the Gotham Academy kids. A good chunk of the story takes place in a cabin where a group of people are being kept. When all the kids went there to rescue them, I had a hard time telling the Gotham Academy kids apart from the people they were rescuing. Except Olive. She was very easy because no one else had white hair. But there were several times when someone was talking and it took me a bit to figure out if it was a character from Gotham Academy or a new character. Pom and Maps gave me the most problems with this after everyone was forced into new outfits. I didn't have any problems recognizing any of the Lumberjanes though.

 

Since this was a crossover between two series featuring groups, the book had a lot of characters to juggle. While they made sure everyone contributed in some way, there really wasn't enough space for everyone to get some focus, leaving a number of the main cast feeling like secondary characters. It was just too many characters for so short of a book once you throw in all the new characters in the cabin.

 

The story felt more like a Lumberjanes story than a Gotham Academy one with it being set in the woods and featuring mystical creatures, but that's not a bad thing for me since I love their adventures. It was a fun story, and the cast was pretty adorable together. It just wasn't everything I hoped for.

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories - Stephanie Perkins

The cover of this book is a lie. It makes you think this is a collection of cute, lighthearted, contemporary summer romances. And while some of the stories fall under that, most of them do not. I was surprised to find a number of the stories were more sad or dark than lighthearted. The cover just doesn't fit for most of the stories here. I still enjoyed most of them, but this anthology was not at all what I expected.

 

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo - This story starts off very strange with the main character's favorite story of why a side character came to her town involving magic. The story then switches to our main character spotting what she thinks is a sea creature in the lake and joining forces with a boy who comes to town every summer to research all sightings of the sea creature. She slowly falls for him over the summers, and it's fairly cute. Then the story takes a sudden turn when

she sacrifices her humanity to save the boy after discovering he's actually a sea serpent who can take on a human form for 3 months every year and they live out their days as sea serpents, turning human for 3 months every year.

(show spoiler)

 I wasn't surprised by the reveal about the guy which was hinted at throughout the story. It was the girl's actions that were very sudden. It was a weird end. Which goes with the strange start, I suppose. 3/5

 

The End of Love by Nina LaCour - This one was more on the sad side, not because of the romance, but because of the main character's situation when the story starts. Her parents are divorcing, and she is not taking it well. To get out of the house, she signs up for a geometry class to audit and finds that the girl she's had a crush on for years is taking it with her friends. They all end up on a camping trip where the girls confess their feelings. Overall, it's a rather cute romance. I liked the relationship between the friends. 4/5

 

Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray - This story ended up being a horror story which I was not expecting because of that cover. The main character works at a horror movie theater where the girl he has liked for a while also works. On the last night of the theater before it is shut down, a movie that is rumored to be cursed is played. When it turns out those rumors were true, the theater's staff must try to escape before the possessed movie goers kill them all. The guy finds the courage to admit his feelings as they're all fighting for their lives. It was a funny story despite some creepy moments. 4/5

 

Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block - This was another one that was more on the sad side of things. The main character only refers to herself and all the characters in the story by their first initial. She tells the story of the summer before college where she fell for a guy, but ultimately pushed him away out of fear. The story was okay, but it was hard to connect to any of the characters. 2.5/5

 

In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins - Another one tinged with sadness, although it takes a turn for the happy ultimately. The main character is returning to convince her ex-boyfriend to move in with her. She initially just sees it as wanting to rescue him from a life he didn't want, but eventually realizes she still loves him. The two were a cute couple and had nice chemistry. I enjoyed their romance. 4/5

 

Souvenirs by Tim Federle - This one is really more of a break-up story. Two boys who are working at a theme park over the summer got together, but decided on a break-up day early into their relationship. The story happens on that break-up day. I liked the main character, but wasn't too sad about them breaking up because the other guy really wasn't right for him at all. Naturally, this is one of the sad ones since it's all about a break-up, but it ends on the hopeful side. 3.5/5

 

Inertia by Veronica Roth - This story had a sci-fi element to it with a world where science has developed a way for people who are about to die to spend their final moments sharing minds with loved ones to talk and experience memories together, even if that person is unconscious. The main character finds out she was listed as one of the final visitors of her ex-best friend when he gets in a car accident and isn't expected to survive. The two reconnect as they share memories of their relationship and talk about their favorite moments and why they stopped talking. It was a nice story with several sweet moments between the two characters, but I didn't quite connect with the characters. 3/5

 

Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron - A guy and girl working at a resort scheme to get some of the guests who have been pining over one another for years together with a ridiculous, but fun scheme, only to discover at the end of it that another coworker was scheming to get them together. I enjoyed the plot to this one, but the dialogue was just too awkward and unnatural for me. It was like everyone was speaking in flowery poetry at one point. That's just not a style I like. 2.5/5

 

Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert - The main character is upset that her cousin is moving across the country with her girlfriend. At their goodbye party, she lashes out at the girlfriend. The girlfriend's brother is upset at that, but the two are forced to spend time together that night and ending up bonding over the upcoming loss of the person they're closest to, as well as losses in the past. I liked the main characters and their relationships with their family. 3.5/5

 

Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare - When the main character's dad runs away, she is forced to turn to her uncle and his stepson to help keep their dark carnival running. This was another story where the dialogue felt unnatural. I didn't feel any chemistry between the girl and her step cousin. And the plot felt rushed with a number of convenient coincidences all falling into place for the main character. I just didn't like the story at all. 1/5

 

A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith - This was my favorite story of the bunch. A girl working at a summer camp finally gets the chance to go on a date with her longtime crush. He reveals that he's autistic near the end of the date and pushes her away because he doesn't think they could work, but eventually comes back in a very sweet way. I loved the couple in this and their chemistry with each other. They had a nice relationship and were just ridiculously cute. 5/5

 

The Map of Perfect Things by Lev Grossman - A boy finds himself stuck in a day that keep repeating. Eventually he finds a girl who is also aware of this endless loop. The two decide to find perfect moments throughout the city that happened that day and create little challenges to help ease the boredom. It was a cute story that ended on an abrupt and bittersweet note after a revelation on why the time loop was created. 4/5

 

While I mostly liked the stories in this anthology, I really did go into it wanting a bunch of cute and lighthearted summer romances, so I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed that the cover was so misleading.

Last Seen Leaving

Last Seen Leaving - Caleb Roehrig

Flynn's girlfriend, January, has gone missing, and Flynn is searching for answers to what happened. The two had been growing apart shortly before her disappearance after she was forced to transfer to a private school by her mother and new politician step-father. January started to withdraw from Flynn. Not helping with this is the fact that Flynn is struggling with the knowledge that, while he loves January, he is not sexually attracted to her due to the fact that he is gay.

 

I really think this book would have benefited from aging Flynn and January up to 17. As more of what happened to January is revealed

specifically an adult revealing he raped her because what they had was special and she was an old soul, so it's totally fine (in his messed up opinion)

(show spoiler)

Flynn says that January was just a child. What the book doesn't seem to get is that, at the same exact age of 15, Flynn is also just a child. Which makes the decision to give him an adult love interest seem off, particularly when details of what happened to January come to light. Now there's only a 3-5 year age difference between Flynn and his love interest, but when one is 15 and the other is in college, those couple years mean a lot more than if they were both a mere decade older. This was especially strange when the idea of that same love interest trying to get with January was treated as creepy. But apparently no one, including Flynn's parents, see anything even slightly off about a college guy dating a 15 year old kid who they just met. Then again, I was also questioning the parents giving a 15 year old a curfew of midnight. Basically, what happened to January would have been equally as awful at the age of 17, but Flynn's love life would have been considerably less creepy to me. Which is a shame because other than the age thing, I liked the love interest.

 

I also really liked January, despite only seeing her in flashbacks. She was a mess of contradictions, showing moments of great kindness and great cruelty as she struggled to deal with situations beyond her control. I felt for her, even when her crueler actions were revealed. I liked her relationship with Flynn and could see why he loved her and wanted to be in love with her.

 

Flynn, too, was a good character, although harder for me to connect with which is surprising since he was the point of view character and January was only seen in flashbacks. He was at his most engaging when dealing with his sexuality and his conflicting feelings for January. His relationship with his love interest wasn't particularly interesting. I just didn't feel a real connection between them. They were both nice as individuals, but just lacking in chemistry as a couple for me.

 

The mystery was interesting and appropriately creepy at times. I figured out the gist of it fairly early on, but not all the details. There were a few bits I questioned

(I don't think a 15 year old volunteering at the Red Cross would be taught how to draw blood properly)

(show spoiler)

but I liked it for the most part.

 

The story kept me reading, which is what I look for in a book. I just wish Flynn had been a bit older to make it more enjoyable for me.

The Flash, Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice

The Flash, Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice - Joshua Williamson, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Ivan Plascencia, Steve Wands, Karl Kerschl

I think if I didn't watch The Flash I would have enjoyed this a bit more. Unfortunately for the book, I do watch the show. And that show has thrown speedster villains and allies out there a bit too often for me. Flash has such a fun set of villains with a diverse set of powers, but the show keeps focusing more on the speedster villains. So having the first story of Flash's Rebirth series have a ton of people in the city suddenly becoming speedsters and the big bad of the arc being one of the speedsters did not thrill me.

But I will give them credit for getting rid of most of the speedsters by the end of the book.

(show spoiler)

 

My personal feelings about an abundance of speedsters aside, I did enjoy some of the new characters introduced, particularly Flash's new speedster love interest who decided to start helping all new speedsters in the city. She was a sweetheart, and I liked her budding relationship with Flash.

 

I also really liked the new Wally here. He rubbed me the wrong way when he was initially introduced in New 52, but I grew to really like him after he went through quite a bit of character development, so I was happy that he hadn't lost that development. Wally struggles with his new powers here, and I very much look forward to seeing him continue to learn and grow as a superhero.

 

Flash's Rebirth series didn't have the best start for me, but I'm more hopeful for the next arc.

Difficult Women

Difficult Women - Roxane Gay

I discovered Roxane Gay through her essays about feminism, pop culture, and her life. Her voice immediately captivated me with her thoughtful reflections on a wide variety of topics, so I was excited to read a collection of her short stories. Unfortunately, I didn't find them as captivating as her essays.

 

There's no question for me that Roxane Gay is a talented writer. All her short stories were unique and focused on women from different backgrounds. However, short stories tend to be fairly hit or miss for me. More often than not with the stories I appreciated the story she was telling, but didn't connect emotionally with it. There were a handful that where I was drawn in to the story, but that was sadly just not the case for most of them. I wish I loved her fiction writing as much as I love her non-fiction. Sadly, I seem to merely like it.

The Fill-In Boyfriend

The Fill-In Boyfriend - Kasie West

I absolutely love stories where two people pretend to be in a relationship and then fall for each other later, so I was set to love this before I even began, and it did not disappoint. When Gia is dumped in the parking lot on prom night just before she was finally about to introduce her boyfriend to her friends, she panics and convinces a guy in the parking lot to pretend to be her boyfriend for the night. Gia plans on never seeing him again, but that doesn't quite work out.

 

The two of them are adorable together. Their banter had me smiling whenever they started up. Watching them go from complete strangers who were pretending to be in love to actually falling for one another was fun. There's just something about two people faking intimacy until it becomes real that never gets old for me.

 

Gia does a lot of growing during the course of the story as she realizes that she can be pretty shallow at times with the help of her brother and the fake boyfriend's sister. She cares too much at times about what people think about her and keeps people at a bit of a distance. Of course, it's not hard to see where she learned that behavior from when we see her family. Her parents are not the best at communicating and seem to care more about appearing to be perfect.

 

In comparison, the fake boyfriend's family is great. I loved Gia's interactions with the fake boyfriend's mom and sister. They were all just so sweet and had some excellent banter.

 

The weak element of the book for me was Gia's relationship with her friends. One of the girls, Jules, is not so subtly trying to steal Gia's friends from her by continually insisting Gia is lying about things or lying herself about Gia. It was just a bit over the top for me. And one of the lies Jules told was so easy to prove that I was surprised Gia didn't think of it. Jules tells her friends that Gia didn't call her to invite her over when Gia had done exactly that. If I had been Gia, I would have pulled up my phone's call history which would show that Gia made the call and that she and Jules had spoken. And since Jules lie was that Gia didn't call at all, that would have solved that problem. Jules gets some develop later on to give some insight into why she's doing this, but I just didn't like that particular plot too much. Even though it is the whole reason the fake relationship got started in the first place. So it wasn't useless. Just not my favorite part of the book.

 

Books with fake relationship plots are generally a bit ridiculous in premise, but that doesn't stop me from adoring them anyways. This one was a ton of fun with a cute relationship, funny banter, and some great side characters.

Batman Vol. 10: Epilogue

Batman (2011-2016) Vol. 10: Epilogue - Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki

The final volume of the New 52 run of Batman is a disappointing collection of unrelated issues. It feels like all the leftover Batman issues were thrown together to get one more book to sell. This includes the Futures End Batman issue that takes place in a possible dark future and an annual that goes back a bit to when Bruce had amnesia still.

 

The saving grace for this volume is issue 51. Following Batman on a quiet night in Gotham as he tries to discover the cause of a blackout in the city, this issue was a beautiful celebration of Batman's legacy. Sometimes it can feel like Batman is fighting a losing battle in Gotham and is failing to change anything. But this issue highlights how the people of Gotham have been inspired by him and have hope for the future that they didn't have only years before. It is easily my favorite issue from this run of Batman.

 

The other issues in this book weren't bad. They just didn't do much for me. Without issue 51, this volume would only have been a 2 star read.

The Chemist

The Chemist - Stephenie Meyer

The Chemist is one of those books that's just silly fun, despite the main character being an expert at torturing people and utilizing her skills in the book. I wasn't particularly interested in the romance part of the story since it was another case of insta love. And I just wasn't impressed by Daniel, the love interest, who kept making stupid move after stupid move throughout the story. Luckily for him, the other characters were there to save him from himself. And I liked all of them.

 

But my favorite part of the story happened right in the middle of it. There was a dog army that just had me laughing as they proved themselves more competent than the rest of the cast. I would have enjoyed the story even more if they had been in it longer. The epilogue also made me laugh when it switched to a new character who has a strange conversation with some of the main characters some time after the events of the book. It's one last perfect look at them that shows that

Daniel is just as useless at self-preservation as ever as his brother and Alex try to save him from himself.

(show spoiler)

 

The book's a quick read, kept my interest the whole time, and amused me until the last page.

Wonder Woman: The True Amazon

Wonder Woman: The True Amazon - Jill Thompson, Jill Thompson

In this version of Wonder Woman's origin story, Diana is spoiled as a child causing her to grow up to be a spoiled jerk who only learns to change her ways after a horrible incident caused by her selfish ways. In all the retellings of Wonder Woman's origins, I don't believe I've ever seen the story go this route. While the story was told well, I can't say I particularly liked it as a Wonder Woman story.

 

One of the things I like about Wonder Woman is that she doesn't have a traumatic event in her past that led her to taking on the mantle of Wonder Woman. She's just a really good person who believes in justice for everyone and is willing to fight for that. I never felt she needed some horrible thing in her past that explained why she did what she did, so this origin story just doesn't feel right to me. The book's not bad. The art is nice. The plot and character arc makes sense. The story is entertaining. It just feels like it takes something away from Wonder Woman if she has to be given a reason for being a superhero beyond just simply being a good person.

 

It's an interesting alternative take on Wonder Woman's origin story. This will never be a favorite of mine, but it did keep me entertained with a well-written story and lovely art.

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies (Rebirth) - Greg Rucka, Liam Sharpe

Wonder Woman begins her DC Universe: Rebirth run by discovering that someone has been messing with her, leaving her unsure which parts of her life are real and which aren't. She seeks out Cheetah to help her find Themyscira and, hopefully, the truth.

 

I find myself ambivalent about the start of Wonder Woman's new run. On one hand, I am delighted about the premise. The New 52 was not kind to Wonder Woman or the characters related to her, so having the run start off by saying everything that happened was a lie was wonderful. I am on board with anything that undoes the Amazons being turned into rapists. And with the number of differing Wonder Woman origin stories that have come into play, having Wonder Woman realize all these stories don't fit together is an interesting premise that leaves me wanting to know where this leads and what the ultimate truth will turn out to be.

 

On the other hand, this first book is a rather boring start. There are hints of more interesting things to come later, but that doesn't help the main plot of this arc. The villain is forgettable despite his connection to Cheetah.

 

I have hope for where this run is going, but I just don't think this was a strong start to it.

Goldie Vance, Vol. 1

Goldie Vance Vol. 1 - Hope Larson, Brittney Williams

I grew up on Nancy Drew, so when this book kept getting comparisons to that, I knew I had to read it. It did not disappoint.

 

Goldie loves solving mysteries and has decided to assist the detective at the hotel she works with his cases. She's just adorable and determined to help people in need. And her love of cars, particularly when it comes to racing them, had me smiling several times.

The books got a fun cast of characters. I especially liked Goldie's best friend whose scientific knowledge helped Goldie crack a case and Goldie's crush, Diane, who has a very cute budding romance with Goldie. I want to see more of all of them.

 

The only part of the book that I didn't love was the resolution to the mystery.

A couple of mysterious people from an organization no one has heard of appear to tell the scientist in trouble that he should come with them to live on Mars if he wants to be free. And the scientist just goes with them. He's just escaped from being held against his will for some time. But a group a people he's never met before appear and say he should come with them and he just trusts them immediately and goes? If I were in his shoes, I don't think I'd be so quick to go with them. It just struck me as a weird move for someone in his situation. Then again, I probably wouldn't have thought twice about that resolution when I was a kid.

(show spoiler)

 

Despite the minor issue I had with how the mystery ended, I still loved the book. It was fun, and the characters were great. I will definitely be reading more of the series.

Justice League, Vol. 1: The Extinction Machines

Justice League, Volume 1: The Extinction Machines - Bryan Hitch, Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, Tomey Morey, Richard Starkings, Sean Parsons, Jesús Merino, Matthew Clark

I was looking forward to a Justice League that had the two newest Green Lanterns on it and seeing them work with the more experienced members, but this was just disappointing. There wasn't much of getting to see the team all interacting with each other. Instead, the focus was more on the villains destroying the world. Which is a shame since they weren't particularly interesting. And neither was watching the Justice League go up against them. The book was mostly boring.

 

I'm hoping the series will start focusing on the team's dynamics more because they've got some great material to work with like the Justice League's uncertainty of the new Superman after the death of the Superman they were friends with and the new Green Lanterns learning from the veteran members. And it'd be nice to see Flash stop being a jerk to Baz.

 

Not the worst Justice League story I've read, but certainly not one I'd ever want to read again. Although the art was nice. It just went with a boring story.

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II - G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona

I was a bit leery going into this despite loving the Ms. Marvel series. And that's because this volume is the Civil War II tie-in. I just don't particularly like big crossovers that have heroes fighting other heroes usually for an incredibly ridiculous reason. Which is basically what Civil War II has sounded like. And this book did nothing to convince me otherwise.

 

The first issue was fine. Kamala and friends face off against Spider-Man (Miles) and friends when their schools compete in an academic competition. This kind of hero vs. hero battle I enjoy. They weren't trying to harm each other over something ridiculous. It was just a bunch of kids competing over science in the hopes of scholarships. With a bit of superhero saving the day at the end.

 

Then the Civil War II crossover began. When Kamala first gets with Captain Marvel about the Inhuman, Ulysses, who has visions of future catastrophes, she likes the idea of being able to prevent tragedies from happening. The first mission was fine when Kamala led her newly assigned team of teen heroes against a villain who had stolen a tank and was destroying a bunch of cars as he drove it through the streets. Ulysses had a vision that the guy would accidentally activate a self-destruct sequence on the tank and destroy a good portion of the city. It was a pretty straightforward mission. The guy had already committed a crime and done quite a bit of damage, but they were able to stop him from killing anyone.

 

But then things got a bit confusing to me. When a news report came on about it, Kamala's sister-in-law speaks out against the man being arrested for a crime he didn't commit. I didn't understand that because he absolutely did commit a crime. Several, in fact. He stole a tank and then destroyed a lot of cars driving it through the city. When he was first shown driving the tank, the street behind him was filled with crushed cars. Tyesha had a great speech about profiling and I agreed with what she was saying. I just didn't understand why that particular criminal prompted it because he definitely had committed crimes. And then he appeared again in the next issue and I understood why he prompted that speech, but didn't understand what Kamala and her team were doing. He was being detained in a prison run by Kamala's team, not for the crimes he did commit, but for the potential crime of blowing up part of the city. I don't get why they didn't send him to a real jail since he no longer had the tank to blow up the city, but definitely did commit crimes with the tank. But everyone kept acting like he hadn't actually committed a crime yet and was only being held for the potential one. It just made no sense to me.

 

Then the next vision leads to someone Kamala knows getting thrown in their prison. This made more sense for the story they were trying to tell since the guy hadn't committed a crime yet when he was detained. Kamala's friends had some great arguments against what was happening, and it was nice to see Kamala struggle with the morality of what they were doing. But it was also frustrating because her team was awful with what they were doing. They would just grab anyone who was supposed to commit a crime and lock them up in a building they controlled and treat them all horribly. It hard to believe that all the superheroes would just let them do what they were doing. Based on this little bit, I have a feeling I'm not going to enjoy any other Civil War II material I read.

 

And these issues also left me wondering where in the world Bruno's girlfriend had gone. She was in the academic competition one and that's it. Which was weird with what Bruno was doing during all the tie-in issues. Her absence really stood out to me.

 

Things got better with the final issue of the book though. Kamala left the US to visit family in Pakistan and regroup. It was a nice break from the rest of the book and gives me hope the next volume will be better now that it's past Civil War II.

What Light - Jay Asher

Sierra's family owns a Christmas tree farm which they go to every year for the Christmas season to live and work for a month. This move brings mixed feelings for Sierra. She loves the tree farm and has a close friend who lives there, but she also misses her friends in her other home while she's away. But then she meets Caleb, a boy with a bad reputation, while living at the tree farm for the month.

 

Prior to meeting Caleb, Sierra wasn't interested in starting a relationship with someone she'd just be leaving in a month's time. Then Caleb shows up and he's got dimples (they are mentioned quite a bit) and is cute. Sierra pretty much falls for him right away. Their whole relationship was a bit too insta-love for me. They had their cute moments, but they just weren't developed enough for me.

 

Then there was the matter of Caleb's big mistake that led to his bad reputation in town.

A couple years ago, Caleb's parents were going through a divorce. His sister blamed him for it and repeatedly told him that. One day when he was at home with his sister and his best friend, Caleb snapped on his sister, picking up a knife and chasing her through the house and repeatedly stabbing her door after she shut herself in her room while sobbing in terror. Caleb's sister left town to live with her father, Caleb's best friend was kept away from him by his friend's family, and the people of the town have kept their distance ever since.

(show spoiler)

I just felt like the book wanted to have a big incident, but also wanted to downplay the severity of it. One of the themes of the book was clearly forgiveness, and I'm not saying one mistake, particularly when you're young, makes you an irredeemably bad person who everyone should shun forever. But forgiveness also doesn't magically solve all problems either. I was left wondering how much help Caleb got after the incident. It sounded like there was some family counseling, but did he get therapy for himself to learn ways to cope to prevent that from ever happening again? Because therapy would also help with learning to forgive himself too, which was a big problem he faced in the book. And if he didn't get the help he needed to learn how to deal with stress, that one-time incident could easily be repeated. His story would have gone over much better with me with a more straight-forward "This is what I did. It was awful and here's what I'm doing to make sure it never happens again" approach to it. He's working to atone for his mistake in a way that's very sweet and awesome, but again, that doesn't address whether he's getting help, which is a bit more important to me since that would be the thing that helps ensure it truly is a one-off incident.

 

I felt like Sierra accepted everything once she heard the story a bit quickly, immediately taking Caleb's side without hearing anything from either of the other two people involved.

When she speaks to the friend about the incident, instead of asking about what he witnessed, Sierra insists that Caleb's friend knows that Caleb never meant to hurt his sister. The friend says that he doesn't know that and that he was there while Sierra wasn't. Sierra has a moment's reflection that she really doesn't know since she wasn't there, but instead of asking for the friend's take (since he actually was there for it), the story just moves on with Sierra still firmly on Caleb's side. It felt like the story was trying to give the incident more depth by acknowledging that Caleb's friend was a victim as well, but then just stopped and went for the friend eventually making up with Caleb without us getting to see them talk. Outside of that one moment of reflection, it didn't feel like Caleb's friend was considered a victim of the incident, even though witnessing your friend going after his sister with a knife would be pretty traumatizing.

(show spoiler)

 

We do eventually meet Caleb's sister and hear from her a bit, but Sierra and the book had already taken its stance on the situation before we get to see the sister's interactions with Caleb. Caleb had said he and his sister were fine, but that's the kind of thing I'd really want to judge on my own rather than take his word for it. The book probably wanted to have Sierra taking a leap of faith by believing Caleb and giving him the benefit of the doubt, but that's something I'd want to see for myself. I wish the sister had shown up sooner in the story and been given more of a chance to talk about the incident.

 

Outside of the main relationship, the other characters were too bland for me to really say much about them. They had various sub-plots in the book, but the story didn't give them a lot of focus. This is one of those books where I think it was too short to do all its plot lines justice. There were interesting themes, particularly with how one's mistakes doesn't make one a terrible person forever, but I just felt like the book didn't have enough time to really explore anything meaningfully. Everything just felt brushed over instead.

Rat Queens, Vol. 3: Demons

Rat Queens Volume 3: Demons - Kurtis J. Wiebe

Volume 3 of Rat Queens lacked the charm of the previous two books. It was by no means a bad book. It just was a letdown after the first two. I think part of that was the change in art. This book seemed to have an increased focus on the boobs and butts of the female characters. I don't remember that being the case with the first two books. Several of the characters were drastically different in physical design from the first two books to the point where if I had been shown panels from this book prior to reading it, I don't think I would have recognized some of them.

 

Of the four main characters, only Betty remained as lovable as ever. Violet had plenty of great moments that made me laugh, but I didn't quite connect with her as I had before. Hannah and Dee were the hardest to enjoy though. I adored the two of them in the first book, but I just felt distant from them in this book, which shouldn't be the case when they both had some emotional events going on for them, particularly Hannah.

 

At the end of the book was a quick story about Braga's past and why she left her family. It was a nice story that gave some depth to her and made me miss her presence in the main tale.

 

I still like Rat Queens. I just can't say I love it like I could before. But I'm hoping I can get back there.

The Conspiracy of Us

The Conspiracy of Us - Maggie  Hall

Avery's never known her father. But when a mysterious transfer student, Jack, shows up at her school, Avery learns all about his employers, her father's side of the family. They're one of the families of the Circle, a group that secretly runs the world. And Avery may be the answer to an old prophecy. She's taken to Paris by Stellan, a boy who works for one of the families in the Circle. With the interest of some of the most powerful people in the world suddenly on her, Avery finds herself in a dangerous position. To have a chance at freedom, she must solve the prophecy with the help of Jack and Stellan.

 

Despite liking romance, it's often the very thing that ruins books for me. Like here. We get a healthy dose of Jack falling for Avery because she's not like other girls because she does stuff like read during lunch rather than talk with friends. He basically fell for her right away because of that. Because no other girl in the history of the world has ever read during lunch. And of course he was sent to watch her and get close to her for his job meaning he's been lying to her from the start. But we can just ignore all that. He's cute. All good.

 

So yeah, no to the romance between Jack and Avery for me.

 

The plot was much more fun. All the conspiracies and plots the Circle were behind was a bit ridiculous, but in a fun and silly way. Some of the twists were a bit obvious to me, but that never took away my enjoyment of the prophecy and secret organizations mystery.

 

We didn't see much of the side characters, but the little we did was fairly nice. I'd like to see Avery get closer with the other kids in the families because they had a good start on friendships between them. There wasn't as much of Stellan as I expected since he was one of the names mentioned in the synopsis, but it looks like the next book in the series will feature a lot more of him based on how this one ended. I liked him much more than Jack. A lot of that is because he wasn't part of an insta love couple that was declaring Avery to not be like other girls.

 

I'll probably check out the next book because the ending intrigued me enough to want to see where they're going.

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