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You know how you liked the Wonder Woman movie, but it was super white and didn't really deconstruct anything because it didn't have time? Let me tell you about WARBRINGER, the non-movie related YA novel about Wonder Woman that Leigh Bardugo wrote for DC.

It took me a while to get my hands on this ARC, but enough of my friends read it and said things like "You know how the movie reached? The book landed." that I was very excited. And it totally lived up to my expectations. WARBRINGER was brilliant, insightful, and FUN, and I loved every moment of it.

Pitch: After Diana rescues a human girl from a shipwreck, the island begins to suffer and the girl begins to die. Diana has to choose, and decides to take the girl to safety, even though it will likely mean her exile. Eventually, she learns that she has rescued a Warbringer, a mortal girl who unwillingly channel Nemesis and brings discord to humans, a legacy that has plagued the world since Helen of Troy. They must work together to break the cycle...or die trying.

God, I loved it. I love the whole premise. We put SO MUCH SHIT on teen girls, and then turn around and blame them for it, and I loved how WARBRINGER dug into that. It was really, really good. And Diana had friends who were girls! AND IT WAS THE GREATEST.

WARBRINGER comes out on August 29th.
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The summer I was nine, I read all the wrong books. The Mists of Avalon, The Firebrand, Dragonflight, Pawn of Prophecy, The Black Trillium, Tiger Burning Bright, Elvenborn, The Clan of the Cavebear, The Horsemasters.

My mother tried to fix me, forcing books she deemed appropriate, but it was too late.

Now I am thirty-three, and adult fantasy and I do not always get along. I don't like the rape in the "dark" side of the genre and I don't like the smugness in the satirical side. I'm not super interested in the way "nuanced" heroes are presented (because for dudes it invariably means they're murderers and for women it invariably means they were abused). I don't read fantasy for shades of grey. I know the fantasy of my childhood doesn't hold up well now that I understand more about how misogyny and racism work.

The Queens of Innis Lear is the book I have been training for my whole life. I would have read it at 9. I would have loved it at 9. I would have missed so much of it.

Surface Pitch: an epic fantasy re-imagining of King Lear, but focused on the daughters (a warrior, a witch, and a priest), and set on an island obsessed with star prophecy that has lost touch with the earth magic that served as the other half of the island's power. Without that balance, the island is dying...and the mainland kingdoms are starting to consider military options.

It's so good. IT'S SO GOOD. It's 700 pages of pure wonder and glory and blood, and I loved every moment.

Disclaimer: Tessa Gratton might be my favourite living author (and also one of my favourite people). I love all of her books and I love her, but OMG, THIS BOOK. Tessa writes my favourite love stories and my favourite murder stories and my favourite animal sacrifice stories, and she usually does all of those things at the same time, and QUEENS is no exception. It's wonderful.

QUEENS OF INNIS LEAR comes out in March and you should pre-order it.
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I have previously read one of Steph's books (The Smaller Evil), and I wasn't hugely into it, but I liked this one. Steph is entirely brilliant and tricksy when it comes to writing plots and motivations, so this is more a commentary on my preferences than anything else.

ANYWAY, I really liked this one. I read it in a very nice park in Bayfield and I believe that Ben is telling the truth which, again, probably says more about me than the book itself.
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THIS BOOK IS SO FUNNY.

I haven't read the SG comics, though I understand they are similarly delightful and I probably should, but Shannon and Dean did a FABULOUS job with the novel. It was laugh out loud funny, the stakes were interesting and bizarre, the background characters were great, Doreen was great, and it was so squirrelly I adored it.

Highly recommended for anyone with a 9+yo, or people who enjoy happiness.

(don't drink anything when you get to the pages of squirrel names, though I do highly recommend reading the whole list out loud.)
grav_ity: (caesar)
So this book was deeply off-putting, as it is meant to be. I can't watch Horror on screen, but I really like Steph, and I wanted to give her book a try, and I'm really glad I did. Scary af, but really well done. I didn't set it down the whole time I was reading, and just curled tighter and tighter into a ball every time I turned the page. If it's your thing, I think you'll like it.
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This book comes out next Tuesday, and is the follow up to Danvers' book last year, called DREADNOUGHT, about a trans superhero in a future, but recognizable, world.

OMG, I LOVED IT. It was funny and engaging and heartbreaking and good. It contains possibly my favourite line in any superhero story ever. It manages to pick at the awkward spots in superhero stories without making you feel bad for liking them. I love all of the characters.

Highly, highly recommend this book (and the first one!). They are more hard proof that we don't have Superhero Fatigue, we have Straight White Dude Fatigue.
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(still sick. v. annoyed about it.)

ANYWAY, so Moxie is a book about a girl whose mother used to be a rebel of sorts, until her dad died, and she moved back to her hometown to raise her baby daughter. Now Vivian, 16, keeps her mother's keepsakes to help her through bad days...and there are quite a few bad days, because her high school is something of a disaster.

MOXIE, in this case, is the name of anonymous zine that Viv starts to draw attention to the sexist boys and teachers at the school. It's mostly low-key protesting until someone anonymously submits a poster that says the captain of the football team tried to rape her at a party, and the principal (the captain's dad) covered it up.

This book was really good. It's kind of like a manual, but not boring. It teaches girls how to be smart and brave. It levels up constantly. And, somehow, it's even aware of its own whiteness. All without being precious or preachy. It's just really, really good. I highly recommend it.
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So last year, White's AND I DARKEN, about the early life of a girl-Vlad the Impaler (called Lada Dracul) was WITHOUT CONTEST my favourite read of the year. It's was amazing on, like, every level.

Now I Rise is probably better.

I'm not JUST saying that because my favourite character gets more screen time, or because Kiersten wrote out the entirety of the siege of Constantinople and I LOVE ME A SIEGE, or because Lada was EVEN MORE INCREDIBLE THIS TIME, but obviously the fact that this book was essentially written for me specifically played a large part in why I loved it so much.

IT'S JUST SO GOOD.

I highly, highly, highly recommend both books, and I am super anxious about the third one (but in the good way...not the annoyingly manipulative cliff-hangery kind of way).
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This was so goooooooooood.

I suppose the pitch would be "the Incredibles meets the Office", but with way fewer straight white dudes and a REALLY COOL hero/villain dynamic, and POLITICS.

And, you know, kissing.

Lee's worldbuilding was really, really good, and I loved all of her characters. The "reveals" weren't at all surprising to me, but I believed that the MC was surprised, which is how I like my books, tbh. The pace was excellent and the plotting was excellent and the ideas behind everything were excellent...

Basically I just enjoyed the whole thing immensely, and can't wait for Lee's next book (Not Your Villain).
grav_ity: (no power in the verse can stop me)
I loved this book SO FREAKING MUCH.

Basically: a girl who is distantly related to the king skips out of a banquet early because she gets anxious at social functions, and then EVERYONE IS POISONED and she inherits the throne. Immediately, she has to deal with figuring out who to trust, royal privilege, incredibly complicated politics, new places, new friends, and it's just really really good.

Give me all of the introverted girls who will just get the job done because someone has to.

ANYWAY, so: girls who are smart, girls who are good at a variety of things, girls who learn to cooperate, enemies to lovers, actual literal chemistry, soooooooo much politics, examination of class distinctions, EVERYTHING. Highly recommend.
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Technically this book is the end of the Lois Lane trilogy, but I hope so hard that there are more, because Lois is amazing and Gwenda is amazing and...I am getting ahead of myself.

Okay, so the really important thing about this book is that LOIS AND "SmallvilleGuy" FINALLY MEET AND IT IS INCREDIBLE. They are so dorky and cute, and I love them. We also get to meet Martha and Jonathan, and basically there is REALLY GOOD FAMILY in this book, which I love.

There is also REALLY GOOD FRIEND in this book, with Lois relying on her Scoop team. And another inclusion/reveal that's so cool I don't want to scuttle it for you, but is, uh, definitely something a new series of books could cover, that's for sure.

ANYWAY, this book also has a perfect ending. JUST. PERFECT. My heart.

Highly, highly recommended.
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This is Katie's third book, and every time I read her work I'm reminded how much I love her. She just has such an easy cadence to follow, and her complicated characters are messy and real and compelling, and I love them.

Anyway, FIREWORKS is about a girl who is "the best friend", only she gets thrust into the spotlight...literally. It's 1997 and for every boy band there must be a girl group, and our MC auditions accidentally and gets in, and everything goes off the rails. It's poverty and worrying about the future and friends who don't quite get it and friends who do...and a cute guy, because, you know, we're not made of stone.

I really enjoyed reading it. Katie has another book out this fall (TOP TEN), and I'm super glad because ALL OF KATIE'S WORDS IN MY BRAIN, YES.

or something.
grav_ity: (no power in the verse can stop me)
I re-read all of Ruby McNally's books, her Lights and Sirens trilogy (Crash, Singe, and Bang), and her standalone (Turning Tides) at The Woods last week. I have basically zero knowledge of modern romance novels, but OMG, I love these one's. Ruby has one of the most engaging cadences I've ever read, and the people in her books are so delightfully real.

Her publisher went under and I don't think she has a new deal yet, but I will be ON IT when she does.
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This book has:
- an anti-hero
- a girl who is not like other girls
- a lot of page time devoted to girl-on-girl hate
- a girl who is being manipulated by a power she doesn't fully understand

You know how I feel about those things. Usually. You know how I usually feel about those things.

Because this book? I FREAKING LOVED.

IT WAS JUST SO GOOD. I think it comes down to the simple fact that Dao wrote a character who knows what she's about. And all the women have SO MUCH AGENCY. And all the characters are just so well developed. It was a delight to read. I can't wait for the next one.
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This book was really, really good. Like, it was really good judged in a vacuum, and since there's no such thing as a vacuum in literature, it's also a REALLY good example of what happens when characters are allowed to have their whole culture and not just be stereotyped or tokenized.

Ali's characters are brilliant, her insight into marginalized communities is perfect, and her portrayal of complication within those communities is absolutely wonderful.

It comes out in a week or so, and I highly recommend it.
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This was another book that was just fun. Meagan and Amie are so good at coming up with interesting ways to keep the story moving (in this case it has to do with oxygen). I'm pretty picky when it comes to books about archaeologists, but I felt like they covered both sides of the "Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones...in space!" pitch (though: the Lara Croft character is poor and the Indiana Jones character has never been out in the field before, so, you know, no pitch is perfect).

If there's a downside, it's that one of the trademarks of a Spooner-Kaufman story is very, very tight POV. There are really only two characters in the book (the side characters show up and do stuff, but they don't get a tonne of development). This doesn't bother me at all, but if you're after a good ensemble story, this isn't really it.

ANYWAY. I ended up blurbing it, so obviously my good feelings about it are strong. :)
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I liked this one quite a bit. It was fun, and it was action-packed without being overwhelming. The pitch is "Doctor Who meets Firefly", but I think a more accurate description would be "Doctor Who meets Orphan Black".

Basically, a boy born out of time is breaking everything, and must be stopped. But the how and the where and the when are delightfully complicated. It's a true ensemble piece (I was a little worried we'd spend too much time with Far, but that turned out not to be the case), and the world(s)-building is super fun.

I do really like time travel.
grav_ity: (force)
I finished Guardians of the Whills! I liked it. Chirrut and Baze were on point (and so was Saw Gerrera, tbh), and the new characters were good (though obviously I would have preferred it if a single one of Saw’s partisans were female). The illustrations were excellent, and the story itself, like all good Middle Grade, pulled no punches at all.

There were a couple of philosophical points I disagreed with (at one point, Chirrut tells Baze that there are there are others worse off and when Baze says that doesn’t make him feel better, Chirrut says maybe it should. Which, I mean, no), but at the beginning when Chirrut is describing how Jedha has changed since the Empire showed up, just, my heart. Like, I see a lot of people talking about how great Rae Sloane is and how much they love nuanced, hard-working Imperials, and this book just goes to town on that, and I appreciate it.

It also pulls no punches with regard to Saw, who we already know is kind of a jerk about, like, literally everything. Obviously I am more sympathetic to him and his partisans than I am to the Empire, but I still have zero problems believing that the dude who abandoned 16yo Jyn with a knife and a blaster and NO EXPLANATION because she was cramping his style would do any of the things he did in this book.

Middle Grade is so deliciously complicated. :)
grav_ity: (rey and bb-8)
These books, I tell you.

I've read in several places that Apollo is an underdog hero, but I think that's incorrect. This series is straight up his redemption arc. He acknowledges his privilege, and that his own hardships don't negate his privilege. He sees the shitty system (previously, only demigod got a good look at this, so it's nice to have an actual god experience), and he's learning. It's an incredible way to tell a story, and it manages not to be too heavy or pedantic because Rick Riordan is hilarious.

Also, we're introduced to several more characters who have escaped abusive pasts. In the demigod books, bad/neglectful parenting was pretty common, but this is much, much more serious, and I really appreciate seeing it. Because it's not just one situation (Apollo), it's several different ones (Meg, Lit, Emmie, Jo...), and they all deal with their situations differently.

ALSO MARRIED LESBIANS WHO DON'T DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEE.

*ahems*

Anyway, also watching Calypso adapt to her new life after centuries in prison is heartwrenching. GOD, RIORDAN IS SO GOOD AT THIS.
grav_ity: (no power in the verse can stop me)
This book. THIS BOOK. I loved it so much.

So Danny is a girl who is next to the superhero Dreadnought when he dies, and he passes her the mantle, making her the new Dreadnought. This also makes her a girl, because Danny is trans, and she hadn't told anyone about it yet. So now she has a perfect body...and her life changes rather drastically.

Daniels wrote an excellent superhero story (politics, shades of grey, the usual), but she also wrote an incredible story about identity and change, and it was a delight to read. Danny's family is unsupportive. Her best friend thinks he can date her. Her new colleagues are, shall we say, surprised. And Danny is going to face all of them, because she finally, finally can.

This is a series (yaaaaaaaay!), and I'm super pumped for book 2. I highly, highly recommend it.

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