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.
grav_ity: (as you wish)
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.
grav_ity: (books)
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.
grav_ity: (books)
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.
grav_ity: (Default)
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 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. :)
grav_ity: (books)
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.



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.
grav_ity: (cake)
This is the first of Stohl's books I've read, and it was bizarre and hilarious and fun. I got to talk to her about it for a while last fall, so I knew a bit about why she'd written it in the first place (basically: it's a passion project. she wrote it for kicks, and having just finished a book like that, it's kinda the best thing). Also, it was cool to learn how reality TV works (kind of).

And, of course, I am ALWAYS here for a mastermind teenage girl who protects everyone and lets absolutely nothing stand in her way.

Fun and funny and LA (apparently...I've only ever been there twice, and once was to Anaheim!). ;)
grav_ity: (books)
This is book one and two in Ally Carter's EMBASSY ROW trilogy, and I really liked it. It's much, much darker than her first two series (the Gallagher Girls and the late, lamented Heist Society, though both of those had their own form of gravity), but it wasn't egregiously "edgy" like some things I could name.

Anyway, it was more or less a straight up political thriller, which I always enjoy, involving Smart Girls and Team Work and Secret Societies and literal gender politics, all of which I basically live for.

There was also a possibly triggering depiction of mental health. Basically, the MC's family gaslight her for, like, international security or whatever, and so she has all of these terrible reactions to her therapist and her meds. Which I gather was problematic for some, but as a person with experience being gaslit(?) by a relative, I have to say: the MC's anger and betrayal and RIGHTEOUS FURY was kind of cathartic. I liked that Carter didn't shy away from the damage that was done.

ALL OF WHICH TO SAY I can't wait for the third book to come out in paperback so I can GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS.
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This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and it was really good. I liked it because it was very nearly a straight-up retelling, but there were a lot of little nooks and crannies that Spooner put into her story, and that made the whole thing feel really fresh and interesting.

Also: sisssssssstersssssss. It was wonderful.

Actually, that leads me to a wider point: this was an excellent love story. Not romance, though it was that too, but love story. The relationships between the sisters, their husbands, their town, their was all just really great. Knowing what I know both of Beauty and the Beast and of Meagan's other writing, I was CONSTANTLY waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did. I enjoyed it immensely.

Also there was a tonne of magic in this book, and also people being very smart, and also valourized kindness, and I am here for it.
grav_ity: (books)
I love Rachel Hawkins you guys. I just do. She's wonderful and funny and morbid, and I had really high hopes for her first Middle Grade book, and then IT WAS SO GOOD.

Journey's End is this delightful mix of friendship and magic and "science" and adventure and GIRLS BEING SO SO BRAVE and it was a riot from start to finish. All of my favourite bits of pieces of Hawkins's "usuals" were in play, and the result was just unendingly delightful.

(I know that's the worst way to describe Middle Grade, but I can't help it. It's the truth.)

Also: Scotland. Gods, I miss Scotland.

Buy it for the kids in your life, but read it together. It's awesome.

(p.s. I am doing book catch up posts, because apparently I haven't done books since March 2, so there will be a few over the next few days.)
grav_ity: (all in)

Today Bustle has the cover reveal for THAT INEVITABLE VICTORIAN THING, and I love it so much it is so purple and gorgeous.


It also has an excerpt, where you get to read one of my fake wikipedia articles (I got to write so much history for this!), and also meet the three MCs, Helena, Victoria-Margaret, and August.

(Three guesses who Helena Marcus is named for, and the first two don't count.) ;)

ANYWAY: link to the stuff!

I'm really, really pleased by how this book came together, and I'm so glad I'm this much closer to sharing the whole thing!
grav_ity: (force)
Such a good day at Toronto ComiCon. It came together kinda last minute, so I was a bit worried, but it turned out so well. I think there were 40 books, and only 8 were left at the end? And a bunch of people had brought their own copies, so I actually saw a lot of people. It was pretty great. The 501st were awesome hosts.

And the costumes! Were so great.



I was just setting up when he walked past, and I think he was surprised by how excitedly I was all "CAN I TAKE YOUR PICTURE?" but then the 501st guys (who are basically professionals) were ALSO really impressed (I had assumed he was one of them, but he wasn't!). Anyway. SUPER impressive.


These Reys were super cute, comparing staffs (the one on the left is the 501st, so she was telling the other woman how she'd done it. They're actually both holding 501st weapons in the shot, which I thought was super nice of them).


I love family cosplays, and I love how smart girls are about coming up with ways to cosplay BB-8.


YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS. (Yes, I was sitting down behind, like, six people when they walked past. Yes, I yelled "WAIT COME BACK" and chased them a little bit. YES, THAT CHILD HAS THE MOST PERFECT HAN POSE OF ALL TIME.)


"Rey!" said the taller one, and then handed over her lightsaber for the picture. I'm not crying, it's raining on my face.


This is my favourite Phasma, I think.


I saw these two on the way in, but was too far away, so I was SUPER glad they came by my booth! They couldn't fit the Sabé headdress in the car, so her new goal is to build one that can be taken off if needed during the day.


Jyn! I asked if she made the coat, because it was REALLY good quality, and she said she bought it online because of the sewing (all my cosplay friends were in FITS after they saw the stills, because of the sleeves), but she made the cowl.


And at last, on the way back into the train station, I saw this family. The little girl dressed as Rex was SUPER into being photographed, and the Ezra was getting the hang of posing (pun intended!). I love the way this Ahsoka uses gold tights for skin coverage. She looked amazing.


And here is me, safely back at The Sister's (I have to do pass pages by tomorrow night, so). The skirt and petticoat are Her Universe. The tank top and blazer are mine, and the scarf is from Think Geek. I got compliments on the skirt all day long (Me: Why did we stop wearing petticoats? Me, trying to pee: Oh. Right. That.), and it was awesome.

An excellent day. Hopefully I can do another con in TO sometime. This one was super fun.
grav_ity: (all things)
I say this with complete sincerity: if you read only one book this year, make it this one.

As a follow up: if you have $20, buy it for a local school or library.

Starr is living two lives, one at her prep school and one in her neighbourhood, never really fitting in at either. When her best friend Khalil is shot by a police officer while she's in the car, her carefully ordered life unspools. Billed as the YA Black Lives Matter book and inspired by Tupac, Angie Thomas's debut (debut!) is stunning and searing and just plain well put together.

The family dynamic is amazing, the neighbourhood is real in all the best and worst ways, the pacing is anxious-making, the ugliness is on the page, but the good things are too. I described in on Twitter as "a series of relentlessly necessary conversations held together by impeccable story-telling", and I think that's what I'm still going with now that I've settled into it a bit.

It sucks that we need books like these, but we need books like these, and this one in particular and outstanding.
grav_ity: (books 2011)
This was a bound MS by the author who got me into writing YA in the first place, so NO NERVES AT ALL INVOLVED LET ME TELL YOU.

*breathes into a paper bag*

Basically, it's a thriller. I'm not always here for thrillers, but Lo's pacing was excellent, and the shift in style for the Before and Afters really worked for me. Also, it was four very complicated girls, and I usually like that. I liked that the viciousness was...real? Like, you know how sometimes you read a Mean Girl, and you're all "A Dude Wrote This"? There was none of that. It was on point without being gratuitous, and I thought it was really good.

The book comes out in October.
Pitched as "Labyrinth, but in the late 1700s, in Germany", WINTERSONG is about Liesl, who is good at music, but a girl and therefore untaught. When she was little, she used to dance with a boy in the forest, but then she had to grow up and be the only responsible sibling, and she locked the music away. With her younger brother, the other half of her soul, getting all of the teaching and all of the love, her middle sister gets everyone except the boy that Liesl forgot.

What follows is a story I really enjoyed, where a girl goes to the Underworld and makes a tonne of choices and gets to be more than one thing, which I really, really loved.

Also: excellent use of music, family dynamics, sex, being-a-girl, and German diminutives. I am not a Labyrinth fan, but I enjoyed this book a lot.


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