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2017-07-20 06:19 pm
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Book #47: Sovereign, by April Danvers

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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2017-07-19 09:17 pm
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Book #46: Moxie, by Jen Mathieu

(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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2017-07-11 10:13 pm
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Book #45: Now I Rise, by Kiersten White

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.


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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2017-07-05 02:31 pm
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Book #44: Not Your Sidekick, by C.B. Lee

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).
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2017-06-23 01:40 pm
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Book #41: Long May She Reign, by Rhiannon Thomas

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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2017-06-22 09:54 pm
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Book #40: Triple Threat, by Gwenda Bond

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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2017-06-20 05:19 pm
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Book #39: Fireworks, by Katie Cotugno

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.
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2017-06-16 11:25 am

Book #35-38: The Ruby McNally Collection

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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2017-06-08 06:48 pm

Book #35: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, by Julie. C. Dao

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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2017-06-06 05:32 pm

Book #34: Saints and Misfits, by S.K. Ali

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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2017-05-31 10:06 pm

Book #32: Unearthed, by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman

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. :)
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2017-05-30 03:59 pm

Book #31: Invictus, by Ryan Graudin

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.
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2017-05-05 10:25 am

Book #29: Guardians of the Whills, by Greg Rucka

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. :)
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2017-05-03 10:01 pm

Book #28: The Dark Prophecy, by Rick Riordan

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)
2017-05-02 06:50 pm

Book #27: Dreadnought, by April Daniels

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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2017-05-01 09:37 pm

Book #26: Royce Rolls, by Margaret Stohl

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!). ;)
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2017-04-27 08:46 pm

Book #22 and #23: All Fall Down and See How They Run, by Ally Carter

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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2017-04-26 08:39 pm

Book #21: Hunted, by Meagan Spooner

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)
2017-04-18 10:36 am

Book #20: Journey's End, by Rachel Hawkins

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.)
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2017-03-02 08:56 pm
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Book #19: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

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.