Saturday, December 30, 2017

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie Vol. 1 by Anthony Del Col and Werther Dell'Edera

In the same fashion as Riverdale comes The Big Lie. Here, Joe and Frank Hardy are suspects in the murder of their father, Fenton Hardy. He had been a cop under trial for corruption, and the shame seems to have led him to shoot himself. The comic opens with Joe and Frank under interrogation. They had been at the Bobbsey twins' party during the murder, but there was an hour of time where nobody could place them.

The whole thing is actually a plan masterminded by Nancy Drew. They are trying to make the police suspect the Hardy boys and meanwhile they are trying to find the real killer, who they suspect is another cop. The three teen detectives have to get their hands dirty to catch the real murderer. They cheat in an underground poker game in order to get on the radar of the Rovers, major drug dealers. It becomes even more complicated when it seems like Nancy's father, Carson Drew, was involved in the corruption and may even be the one who killed Fenton Hardy.

It's all incredibly gritty detective stuff. Plus, they all have smart phones now. There are references to other retro children's book characters, the Rover Boys, Tom Swift, and the Bobbsey Twins. The whole thing ends with the Hardy Boys and Nancy catching the killer, but hints at even bigger corruption and darker forces orchestrating the murder. Which leads to the second volume of the series.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

"He was tired of everyone believing they knew everything there was to know about him, as if a person never grew, a person never changed, a person was born a weird and dreamy little kid with too-red lips and stayed that way forever just to keep things simple for everyone else..."

Bone Gap is the typical small rural town. The people all know each other, and they know everything going on. They know all the rumors, such as the one about the ghost who eats leftovers at the house it haunts. Most of the rumors in Bone Gap involve the fields of corn. They say that the corn talks. Some even say that the corn walks around on its own.

Brothers Finn and Sean have lived in Bone Gap their entire lives. Their father is dead and their mother ran off to marry an orthodontist. Sean had been planning to go away to medical school and become a doctor. He gave up his dreams to take care of Finn and make sure that his younger brother graduates high school. Where Sean is responsible and serious, Finn is dreamy. He never meets anyone's eye. Everyone talks about how handsome Finn is, but also how strange he is.

Things shifted when the boys found a girl in their barn. Rosa showed up out of the blue...and disappeared the same way. During her brief stay, Sean lightened up, even laughed. Finn also had a bond with Rosa, as did everyone else in Bone Gap. It was a great blow when she left. Finn adamantly insists that she was abducted. Nobody believes him, especially because he can't describe the kidnapper's face. All he can say is that the man looked like a scarecrow. The man who kidnapped Rosa keeps confronting poor Finn, threatening to hurt him and everyone he loves if he doesn't stop looking for Rosa. Unfortunately, no one else ever sees the man.

It turns out that Rosa was abducted. A strange man took her and has been holding her in a series of strange places. Every day, the man asks the same question, "Do you love me yet?" Rosa tries to escape, to break out, find a weapon, even stabs the man. In spite of her efforts, she keeps waking up in a new place, still captive.

Meanwhile, Finn starts to spend time with a girl named Petey, the beekeeper's daughter. She is known for her bad attitude and her unusual face. Finn and Petey have lots of late night adventures riding Finn's mysterious horse (It's a very fancy horse that just showed up in their barn) through cracks and into alternate dimensions, or something equally odd. Because Finn is really pretty and Petey isn't traditionally attractive, the rest of the town thinks that he is using her. She starts to agree, but not in the same way as everyone else.

Bone Gap was such a weirdo of a book, and I was there for it. It's got that whole magical realism thing going for it. It's been a while since I've actually read it, but believe me, it was good.  

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

"One great fear to rule your life. One great fear to take it. There was no escaping her fate and no way to save the members of her family from theirs; this Esther's grandfather had told her since she was a child..."
The center of A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares is the Solar family. They have been cursed by Death himself. Reginald Solar met a man during the Vietnam War who he believed was an apprentice to Death. Since then, every Solar has been cursed with one great fear. That fear will consume them and eventually be what kills them.

Esther doesn't know what her fear is yet. Her twin brother Eugene is afraid of the dark. Their house is full of lamps and candles, and every light switch is taped on at all times. Shadowy creatures come from the dark trying to take him away. The twins' father developed agoraphobia. One day he went into the basement and just never left. He stays down there, all alone, surrounded by Christmas decorations. Despite suffering multiple strokes, he refuses to leave. Their mother is afraid of being unlucky, something that started after her husband went into the basement. She spends all her time and all the family's money at the casino. She also spent a thousand dollars on a rooster that is supposed to be a goblin.

Because of this somewhat interesting family life, Esther dreams of moving out on her own after high school. To fund this dream, she sells secret underground baked goods to her classmates. Sugar and junk food are banned, so she makes a decent profit. One day after selling her wares at her grandfather's nursing home, she encounters a boy she once knew: Jonah Smallwood. She loved him in Kindergarten and they were really close, but he moved away suddenly. Now, he is crying and bruised at the bus stop. He proceeds to con her out of her newly earned $55, her grandmother's bracelet, and even her fruit roll up. It's a non-traditional way to start a romance, that's for sure.

Jonah is the one who convinces Esther to face her fears. He had also taken her notebook with her list of fears. She decided to write down anything that seemed mildly frightening. Then she could avoid said thing and it would never become her great fear. Jonah has the idea to conquer each of the fears. Esther figures that if she takes enough risks, Death will start to pay attention and she can make him reverse the curse. With Jonah's help, she conquers one fear every Sunday, starting with #50: lobsters.

This book was terribly charming. I LOVED Esther and Jonah. They were adorable. Jonah rescues a little kitten he ran over with his moped, and he names the disabled baby Fleayonce Knowles. Esther constantly wears costumes, dressing like Wednesday Adams, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Indiana Jones. The interactions between Jonah and Esther's father are also really sweet. Jonah is incredibly kind to him, promises to eat dinner with him. She tells him that he doesn't have to do it, but Jonah likes her dad. You can tell that her dad appreciates the company, which kind of breaks my heart.

There was also a lot of dark stuff. I didn't expect so much darkness, including a very upsetting suicide scene. The ending is also kind of ambiguous about whether the Solar curse was real or not. Was it a curse placed by Death himself or a family history of mental illness, self-fulfilling prophecies, and coincidences? There isn't a definitive answer, and it kind of feels like the book is trying to have it both ways. I didn't really mind, though. I enjoy the openendedness.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Diviners by Libba Bray

“Oh, Evie, you’re too much,” people said, and it wasn’t complimentary. Yes, she was too much. She felt like too much inside all the time. So why wasn’t she ever enough?”

After causing a scandal in her small Ohio town, Evie is sent to stay with her Uncle Will in New York City. This "punishment" actually suits her just fine, as Evie is one of those young flappers. She imagines that her stay will be nothing but parties, time with her old pal Mabel, and her name in the papers. What she didn't count on was murder.

Bodies have been found around the city. Certain body parts are missing and there are strange symbols at the crime scenes. The police enlist Will's help. Will runs a supernatural museum, known locally as the Museum of Creepy Crawlies. He is aided by Evie, who has a supernatural gift. When she touches someone's belongings, Evie gets visions. This gift got her in trouble back in Ohio, but it will help her catch the killer in New York.

There are several other characters with powers in The Diviners. Evie encounters Sam leaving the train station after first arriving in the city. He can make himself invisible at will. She holds a grudge against him because he steals twenty dollars from her, but he gets a job at Will's museum and they have a cordial animosity. Memphis used to heal people when he was a child, but he lost the power. Now he's involved with a speakeasy, running receipts. His younger brother has a powerful gift that Memphis wants to hide from his very religious aunt.

The Diviners is a very long book, but also very entertaining. Evie can be a little frivolous at times, but you can tell her heart is in the right place. The story switches between her and several different characters, including the killer. Separate storylines end up intersecting and coming together, which I always like. I look forward to reading the next books in this series to find out what happens to Evie and the rest of the Diviners.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Things I'm Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni

"Find out what you want. Find out what you don't want. Screw up some more. Get your heart broken again. Try to be decent along the way. That's how you make a life..."

Tess is not okay. Her online boyfriend Jonah just committed suicide. Out of grief, she drops out of high school and moves in with her estranged father. One of her first actions upon arriving is to symbolically purge herself of Jonah by literally dumping her laptop in the lake, after which she jumps in the lake herself. So, yeah, the poor girl has some issues to work through.

Tess' dad used her college fund to pursue his latest career path: funeral planning. He has mixed results. There was a dog funeral that ended with wasn't great. Tess ends up helping him plan a funeral for a prized race horse, and it's a massive success.

Tess partners with her dad with the agreement that he will pay back her college fund. Their newest venture: planning a life celebration for a former burlesque dancer before she succumbs to Alzheimer's. They grow closer, and things start looking up for her. Then she gets a Facebook message from Jonah. Impossible, right? Not so much. I'm going to spoil the plot twist, so look away if you don't want to know...

It turn out that part of the time that Tess had been chatting with Jonah online, she had actually been talking to his roommate Daniel. Obviously, this is deceptive and all kinds of messed up. Tess starts to talk to actual Daniel and together they work through feelings about Jonah and his sudden death, and it's kind of nice.

 It was nice to be able to see Tess' journey as she went through the process of grieving Jonah. I also liked seeing her bonding with her father. Things I'm Seeing Without You definitely seemed to try its hardest to be quirky and unique. I wasn't always feeling it, but it was still a pretty good story. There was a lot of hope in the ending, and I liked that a lot.  

I received my copy of Things I'm Seeing Without You from the Goodreads Firstreads Program, courtesy of Dial Books. It's available for purchase now.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

"LadyConstellation is the hero who defeats Eliza Mirk once a week and celebrates with her many admiring fans. She is beloved by all, even the villain, because without her the villain wouldn't exist.
I am LadyConstellation.
I am also Eliza Mirk.
This is the paradox that can never be solved..."

Francesca Zappia's first book, Made You Up was a beautiful, funny, and weird. I absolutely loved it. Therefore, I was beyond excited to read her follow up, Eliza and Her Monsters.

Eliza Mirk is the Weird Girl. She used to be normal, but now she is either ignored or ridiculed. To be honest, she doesn't really mind. High school is just something to get through until college. Besides, Eliza doesn't need friends in real life...she has plenty online.

She is the creator of the incredibly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Under the username LadyConstellation, Eliza publishes the comics, sells merchandise, and chats about teen soap Dog Days. Only her closest friends, Emmy, a 14-year-old college student, and Max, a twenty-something Canadian, know her true identity. Her parents and brothers also know about the comic, but not how big it is, or how important it is to her fans.

One day Eliza uncharacteristically defends the new boy in school against some bullies. He was writing fanfiction about Monstrous Sea, so Eliza considers it her responsibility to help. The bullies grab some of her rough drawings, and she ends up bonding with the new boy, Wallace, over the comic. Wallace is tall and big like a football player, but he never talks. He prefers to write notes back and forth. It turns out that he is also a major player in the online fandom as rainmaker.

Eliza doesn't want to tell Wallace who she is, but they continue to grow closer. He is writing a novelization of Monstrous Sea, and asks Eliza to read it and offer critique. She doesn't want to, but it turns out that his writing is amazing. She urges him to share it online. Wallace invites her to a Halloween party at a bookstore where she meets his friends, who are all very active on the Monstrous Sea forums. They get so close that they hold hands, he even talks about kissing her...which makes it so much harder that she still hasn't told him she is LadyConstellation.

I definitely related with Eliza, especially her view of high school. My teenage years were spent alone, although I didn't create any massive online universe. Unfortunately, I also didn't bond with the new boy in school and start an adorable, nerdy relationship. Eliza and Her Monsters was another fantastic novel from Francesca Zappia, and I highly recommend it. It's got funny moments and moments that made me cry when I read them on my break at work (Awkward). I must confess that I couldn't quite understand what we were shown of Monstrous Sea, but it sounded pretty cool. And, as always, I love me some nerds in love.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Meant to Be by Julie Halpern

"Fuck fate. Screw destiny. I'm team free will..."

Meant to Be offers an interesting future. A worldwide event known as the Naming resulted in every adult having a name suddenly appear on their chest. Now, the Names appear at some point after everyone turns 18. The Names, also known as Meant to Be's, or MTB's, belong to your soul mate. The Naming brings up lots of questions. Where did the Names come from? What if they leave as suddenly as they came? Most importantly of all, what about free will?

Agatha, better known as Aggie, is incredibly cynical about the Names, which she refers to as MTs (Empties). This is largely because her father ran off to be with his Empty, leaving Aggie and her mother alone. Thankfully, Uncle Jim moves in and helps with money and housework. He's a delightful man who writes romance novels under the name Savannah Merlot, none of which involve MTBs. Aggie's best friend Lish, however, is all about MTB's. She paid a lot of money to have her name scanned to find her MTB, Travis. He is coming to stay with her family for the summer, and she sees their relationship as leading to marriage, children, etc.

When the name Hendrix Cutter appears on Aggie's chest, she has every intention of ignoring it. Her goals are to hook up with her hot co-worker, Luke, at Haunted Hollow, the Halloween-themed amusement park where she works, and to visit Australia after graduation so she can pursue a job at their famous amusement parks. Everything seems to be going according to her plans, not destiny. She hooks up with Luke, and they start a semi-casual relationship. Still, Aggie finds that she can't stop thinking about one Hendrix Cutter. Who, as it turns out, lives in Australia...

This was a pretty fun story. Aggie was delightfully snarky. If I had to complain, I might say that there's a little too much focus on her large breasts. Also, there are a couple of fairly detailed sex scenes. So, proceed with caution on that front. In spite of those small quibbles, I really loved Meant to Be and its imaginative what-if scenario.

I received my copy of Meant to Be from Edelweiss, courtesy of Feiwel & Friends. It's available October 24th.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis

"Every book warns us at the beginning: All Rights Reserved. But I don't believe it. Every right will not be reserved. Our rights will not be reserved. We will be free..."

I used to love dystopian novels, but at some point over the last couple of years, I have grown tired of the genre. The bleak, futuristic visions of what could be inspired eyerolls instead of a desire to read the story. All Rights Reserved has an interesting premise, so I figured that I could give it a shot and see if dystopian novels have any future with me*.

The story is set in a future where new ideas are prohibited. Lawyers control the world, and everything is held under strict trademark and copyright laws. This includes all words and almost every gesture. People are free to use them until they turn fifteen. After that, they are fitted with a cuff that charges them accordingly. If for some reason their cuff fails, mandatory contact lenses shock their eyes if they try to speak.

Speth (It's a highly discounted name) is just about to turn fifteen and give her speech, a tradition for those coming of age. Right before the speech, her sort-of boyfriend Beeker kills himself by jumping off a bridge into traffic. In a moment fueled by grief, Speth decides that she will never say another word. Instead of a speech, she zips her lips, a gesture that is meant to belittle those in serious debt.

Now, Speth is known as the Silent Girl. That split second decision sparks a movement. Other young people follow her, and they start to be known as the Silents. Of course, there are consequences to revolution, even accidental revolution. Speth's sister, Saretha, is sued by a famous actress that she resembles. Because of the lawsuit, she can no longer leave the house for her job. The family is in debt because of an illegally downloaded song from a distant aunt. Their parents were taken into collection to pollinate crops with an eyedropper because almost all of the bees died. Speth could put an end to her family's troubles- her parents could come home, their debt would be erased, and Saretha could get her job back- if she would just give her speech. But she's gone too far to give up, and she realizes that it's about something bigger than her and her family.

All Rights Reserved ended up being a pretty good dystopian story. Like the best of its genre, it's all the scarier because it seems like it could happen some day soon. It made me think about having to communicate without speaking or making gestures. The idea seems mind-boggling. What is really interesting is how most heroines fight by actually fighting, giving speeches, doing things, but Speth starts a revolution by saying nothing. Young people follow her, and she is painted as their leader, but she never asked for it. She literally can't ask for it. (Part of me is amused at what the book might have looked like if it was narrated by a different character or outside narrator. "Speth says nothing. Speth still says nothing. Speth looks at me and says nothing...still.") This is the first book of a series, and while I like it, I'm still unsure whether I want to continue the series. Time will tell.

I received my copy of All Rights Reserved from Edelweiss, courtesy of Harlequin Teen. It's available for purchase now.

*I'm incredibly proud of this pun. So proud. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

"We're all messy. What kind of friends would we be if we demanded you only show us your prettiness? This isn't Instagram- it's real life. And real life is messy..."

Queens of Geek is a story about three friends from Australia visiting California for SupaCon, a comic books convention. It's narrated by the two girls, Charlie and Taylor. Charlie is a YouTube star who is gaining popularity for starring in a major horror movie. She is going to SupaCon for publicity, and also in the personal hopes that she can show she is over her ex (and co-star) Reese. Her fans still love "Chase," as they called them. They don't realize that Reese cheated on her and broke her heart.

Charlie brings her best friends Jamie and Taylor. Taylor has Aspberger's and anxiety issues. She is also head over heels in love with Jamie, who obviously likes her back. He is very sweet and sensitive towards her at all times. She is also very nervous about the future. They all plan to move to Los Angeles after graduating high school. Charlie will continue with her movie career, while Taylor and Jamie attend college. This makes Taylor anxious to no end. Leaving home freaks her out, plus she isn't even sure that she will get accepted to college.

SupaCon is meant to be their big celebration before graduation, but it also holds special meaning for Taylor. She is the number one fan of a series called Queen Firestone. She even made her own jacket so that she could cosplay it. Secretly, Taylor hopes that by meeting the creator of Queen Firestone, Skyler Atkins, it will mean that the future will be okay. Understandably, she is heartbroken when the plans fall through. Her friends urge her to enter the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, where the winner gets to attend the movie premiere and meet Skyler, but Taylor has her doubts. The thought of entering a cosplay contest and then being onstage for the trivia round with everyone watching is a bit overwhelming.

Meanwhile, Charlie is excited to meet one of her YouTube heroes, Alyssa. The girls share mutual appreciation for each others' work- and mutual attraction. It's exciting, but slightly dampened when Reese arrives. The production company wants them to play nice, but it's hard for Charlie. She has to balance her hurt from that heartbreak, plus anger towards Reese with her new feelings towards Alyssa and apprehension towards having another relationship in the public eye.

It's a really cute story. I know I've said it before, but I will repeat: I love geeks in love. So this book was basically perfect for me. I really like that there's a lot of inclusive elements to the story. We get characters with various ethnic backgrounds, various sexual preferences, and characters with mental illnesses/disorders. It could seem a little "After School Special," but the book handles it well. It doesn't clobber you over the head with it, it's just that some people are multi-racial/bisexual/have anxiety...and they are also people. It's a pretty cool message, and a pretty cool book over all.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Scooby Apocalypse, Volume 1 by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, Illustrated by Jim Lee and Howard Porter

I loved Scooby-Doo when I was younger, absolutely loved. Come on, there was a talking dog, and a bunch of teens who chased after monsters and ghosts in their multi-colored van. I always loved guessing who the "monster" was at the end of the episode. There were many versions of Scooby-Doo, and I think I watched all of them. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, that weirdly 1980s A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo movies where they met the Harlem Globetrotters and other guests, even the Laff-A-Lympics. I was fairly obsessed with the character*, and I never even smoked any drugs whatsoever.

 The Scooby Apocalypse series seemed pretty intriguing, and my library's website had the first volume. It's sort of a grittier story. Velma works at a secret underground facility, the Complex. She and the other scientists have developed nanites and secretly slipped them into all of the people everywhere. It was supposed to make the population more peaceful, but she found out that they really are meant to control their minds.

Velma decides to inform the general public. She contacts a journalist to get the new out, one Daphne Blake of Daphne Blake's Mysterious Mysteries, a show that airs late at night on the Knitting Channel. Daphne and her cameraman Fred meet with Velma, who takes them back to the Complex to show them her evidence. On the way, they run into her fellow employee, Norville "Shaggy" Rogers. He's a dog trainer who is very close to Scooby, one of the dogs whose brain was enhanced for the smart dog program. All four of them, plus the dog, are in the facility's Safe Zone when the alarm goes off. The nanites have somehow been activated.

 What greets them outside the Safe Zone is terrifying. People have been transformed into monsters. The monsters have been killing and eating those who haven't transformed, and killing and eating other monsters. The gang ends up escaping the Complex in an experimental vehicle known as the Mystery Machine. They travel around, encountering more monsters, gathering supplies, and trying to contact other Complex locations to figure out a plan of action. In the meantime, they are being hunted by the monsters and a group of smart dogs looking for Velma to fix their implants and for revenge against Scooby, led by a dog named...Scrappy-Doo. That made me laugh. 

Scooby Apocalypse was definitely a unique take on the series. There's a pretty interesting mystery behind what is going on with the monsters. I'm not sure if I will keep up with the series, but I'll definitely consider if/when the next volume is on the library's website.

* My first ever compact disc** purchase was a compilation of Scooby-Doo themes called Scooby-Doo's Snack Tracks. It included a remix of the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? theme, which I thought was awesome at the time. It probably wasn't.  (Never mind, it's amazing: #sarcasm...kinda)
** I am an old :(

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys edited by April Genevieve Tucholke

"Darkness grew where it would and took what it wanted. It staked its claim and never let go.
And no one else could pry you free of it..."

This collection of short stories features so many amazing authors (April Genevieve Tucholke, A.G. Howard, Marie Lu, Megan Sheperd, Cat Winters, Carrie Ryan...and that's just the ones I've read) that I HAD to read it. I was a teensy bit nervous that they would scare me too much, but there wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Basically just the right amount of scare for me. It's also really cool how every story lists inspirations at the end, such as other stories or books, movies, or songs.

Among my favorite stories was Carrie Ryan's "In the Forest Dark and Deep." It's about a girl named Cassidy who used to have tea parties in a clearing in the woods with the March Hare, who is not a harmless little rabbit. I also really loved Megan Sheperd's "Hide-and-Seek," about a girl playing a game with Death. I really wished that Jonathan Maberry's zombie story, "Fat Girl with a Knife," had been longer. I'd probably even read it as a full length book. Finally, A.G. Howard's "Stitches" was full-on weird and also full-on amazing.

On the other hand, I wasn't a fan of Tucholke's own story, "The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh." It's a little predictable, and one of the several stories that feature boys who suck. Though you have to admit that boys do often suck, they suck especially hard when they're being murdery and rapey and the spawn of Satan. Guess that's why they call them "Monster Boys."

This was definitely a good collection. My biggest complaint is that I wished most of the stories were longer. For a decent dose of horror and chills, I definitely recommend Slasher Girls and Monster Boys.

100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen

"Of course she's right; I am pathetic. But it's not like I want to be this way- the heaviest 120-pound girl in the entire state of Florida..."
Molly hasn't been okay since her meltdown at her swim team's regionals. She had been suffering from depression before then, and is still struggling. Because of it, she doesn't want to get her driver's license or think about what she will do after high school. All she enjoys is working at the tropical fish store, FishTopia, with her friend Alex. They watch Golden Girls and eat lo mein, and Alex is the only person who treats her like she's normal.

In order to help her daughter, Molly's mother is trying a self help book called A Baker's Journey: 100 Days of Cake. She has been making a new cake every day. Most of the time, Molly pretends to like the cakes, but she really never does. 

Other than Alex, Molly's other bright spot is her therapist, Dr. Brooks. She has a huge crush on him, and he seems to like her as well. She talks with him about Alex, and he's sort of dismissive, almost jealous. What made me uncomfortable with this book is how Molly and Dr. Brooks cross the line between patient and doctor. We also never see him receive consequences for his misconduct, which is upsetting.

The big turning point comes when we learn FishTopia has been sold. Molly is devastated. She works really hard to get new customers, even throws a big benefit party to save the only good things in her life: FishTopia and her relationship with Alex.

100 Days of Cake sounded really good, and I love contemporary teen books that deal with mental illness. Molly was cool, but I was a bit frustrated with her at times. The therapist plot was pretty icky. What I liked about the book was how even though things get somewhat better at the end, Molly still has her mental illness. Just like in real life, it's not going to be miraculously cured. Yet we can still have a happily ever after. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

"Look to the stars. Aim. Ignite."

Geekerella, to no one's surprise, is an adaptation of the beloved fairy tale Puss in Boots. I kid, I kid, it's Cinderella. Oh, we have such fun at my blog!* Anyways, in all seriousness, this is such a fun book. I love how nerd culture has become more mainstream, and I love how there are so many great YA books celebrating it. And I really loved Geekerella, even though the name is silly.**

 Our Cinderella is named Danielle, or Elle. She is forced to deal with a bitchy stepmother, Catherine, and two evil stepsisters, Calliope and Chloe, after her father's death. Elle works at the Magic Pumpkin, a vegan food truck, with green-haired Sage. Her life is somewhat awful, between being forced to do chores at home, being mocked by the twins' country club friends at school, and basically ignored by Sage at work. Her one safe place is Starfield.

Starfield was a television show Elle used to watch with her father. She is so involved in the show that she runs a blog called Rebelgunner. Starfield is set for a movie reboot, and Elle tunes in for a big announcement on a morning talk show. To her disappointment, the lead role of Prince Carmindor goes to teen heartthrob Darien Freeman. She writes a fairly scathing review of the casting, and it even gets picked up by national publications.

Meanwhile, Darien is a famous actor, but also a giant nerd at heart. Prince Carmindor is his dream role, he has loved Starfield long before he was famous. His manager/father Mark, schedules him for an appearance at ExcelsiCon, thinking that he will enjoy it. Darien hasn't enjoyed cons since his ex-best friend betrayed him, so he decides to text someone from the con to cancel.

 Elle's dad actually created ExcelsiCon. His number is still listed on the website, and Elle has his phone because Catherine refuses to get her a new one. When Darien texts her, she gives him a hard time about cancelling, and he decides to attend after all. The two end up texting back and forth about Starfield and life and stuff. They start to fall in like, maybe even love. The only issue is that they don't actually know who they're texting. She has no idea he is Darien, and he has no idea she is the critic from Rebelgunner.

ExcelsiCon has a cosplay contest where first prize is a trip to the premier of Starfield in Los Angeles, and Elle has her eye on it. Her dream is to pack up the neighbor's neglected dachshund and drive far away from Catherine. While cleaning the attic, she finds a trunk with her parents' old cosplay costumes, and she decides to alter her father's old Carmindor uniform to fit her. Sage is an aspiring fashion designer, and agrees to serve as fairy godmother by altering the costume. The girls also start to become friends, and Elle introduces her to Starfield.

Everything comes together at ExcelsiCon. It's pretty amazing, actually. The book isn't perfect, but it's pretty darn adorable. Elle and Darien were pretty squee-inducing. What can I say, I'm a sucker for nerd love. My only problem is that I really wish that Starfield was a real show, because I kinda want to watch it.

* Please don't judge me too harshly. I know, it's kind of obnoxious and dumb, I'm sorry. Pretend it never happened.
** Seriously, this is one of those titles where I dreaded someone asking what I was reading. I would just cringe. I loved the book, but would rather die than have to say that title out loud.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar

"But I figure, hey, it's magic. It's a magic cliff. It can do what it wants, I guess..."

When we first meet Aspen Quick, he has just stolen the feelings that the girl of his dreams had for his best friend. They break up, which leaves her free to date Aspen. Any time she misses her ex, Aspen steals those feelings. He has absolutely no remorse for this. He's a real gem, obviously.

The Quicks have the ability to steal from people, things like feelings, emotions, even physical characteristics. They perform a ritual where they take something from someone who leaves an item under an ancient tree. Sometimes they take minor things, like a scar or beauty mark, and sometimes big things, such as the ability to see. The ritual is to preserve the giant cliff outside of town. If they don't perform the ritual, the cliff will collapse. Rocks fall, everyone dies. The one rule is that the Quicks don't steal from family.

Aspen encounters a girl, Leah, who used to be friends with his cousin Heather, who died recently. Leah has no idea that Heather died, but she knows about the Quicks' powers. For some reason, Aspen can't steal from her. Soon, Aspen uncovers secrets and lies that make it hard for him to know who to trust.

I was excited to read Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, and it did not disappoint. Aspen was a giant jerk, but so were the other Quicks. I think it might be a side effect of their magic. There were some pretty good twists to the book, and I liked the unique storyline.

I received my copy of Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies from Edelweiss, courtesy of Kathy Dawson Books. It's available for purchase now.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

"Life isn't always written in the stars. Fate is mine to pen. I choose guys. I choose girls. I choose people. But most of all: I choose..."

Ramona is tall. Ramona has blue hair. Ramona likes girls. These are the truths that make up Ramona Leroux's life.

The Leroux family lives in a trailer after Hurricane Katrina messed up their lives. Their mom left shortly afterwards. Their dad works too hard as a handyman at a fancy hotel. Sister Hattie is pregnant and desperately trying to create a family with boyfriend Tyler. Ramona works a paper route in the mornings and shifts at a restaurant with her sister. She can't even think about a future for herself after her senior year. Her main concern is being there for her sister and future niece, because she is so certain that Tyler won't be.

While working her route one morning, Ramona runs into Agnes. Agnes had been a family friend from years earlier, and Ramona and Hattie had played with her grandson Freddie. Ramona and Freddie start to hang out again with her group of friends. Ramona is still hung up on a girl she was seeing over the summer, Grace, and Freddie is still focused on his long distance girlfriend.

Freddie decides to visit his girlfriend for her birthday. She's having a party, and he brings along Ramona for the long trip. Ramona brings along Grace. The entire trip is a disaster. Freddie's girlfriend hadn't wanted him to come, and they end up breaking up. Grace feels pressured by Ramona to come out and break up with her boyfriend, she gets drunk, and they also break up. Both Freddie and Ramona decide to swear off girls for the rest of senior year.

The pair start to grow closer. Freddie used to be on the swim team, but gave it up because he wasn't as good as the others and wasn't receiving any scholarships. He goes to the Y with Agnes and swims laps in the mornings, and he invites Ramona along. She isn't great, but she enjoys the activity (This makes me jealous, because I miss swimming laps in our pool). Every day, she encounters an older woman who critiques her form but is impressed by her speed and strength.

The woman finally introduces herself as Prudence Whitmire, a former coach at Delgado Community College. She thinks that she can use her ties to get Ramona on the swim team, that she could even earn a scholarship. At first, Ramona dismisses the entire concept. After a while, it starts to seem possible that she could do something only for herself. Then something happens with Hattie and she realizes how stupid she was being.

Meanwhile, as Ramona and Freddie spend more time together, Ramona starts to like him as more than a friend. One of the truths was that Ramona liked girls, but she starts to realize that it might be more complicated than that. They start dating, which culminates in a perfect night in New Orleans. After Hattie's setback, Ramona also breaks things off with Freddie to focus on work and taking care of Hattie.

I liked Murphy's Dumplin', but had a couple issues with the book that kept me from loving it. I loved this book. Ramona Blue was absolutely fantastic. It's a beautifully written story on a complicated subject, or rather two complicated subjects. First, Ramona's family is very poor, despite the fact that they all work constantly. They show through Ramona how hopeless poverty can make you feel. Second, the book shows how fluid sexuality can be. Ramona herself eventually realizes that she might not just like girls. She didn't automatically become straight even though she liked Freddie, she just wasn't completely gay. I like seeing books deal with more realistic, complicated issues, and I definitely recommend that you read Ramona Blue

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

I will admit that I wasn't quite sure what to expect with The Walled City. I guess I didn't read the description very well because I was expecting some sort of Maze Runner situation. You know, monsters and dystopia and all that newfangled mishmash. As much as I like a good dystopia, part of me does tire of the multitudes of similar stories. This book contains no supernatural monsters, just real ones.

The Walled City was originally a military fort, but years later the lack of police made it a haven of gambling, drugs, and prostitution. Three characters narrate the story, and eventually interact with each other.

Jin is a young girl who is searching for her older sister, who has been sold into prostitution by their father. She disguises herself as a boy for protection. Her plan is to become a drug runner and search the brothels for her sister.

Dai is a young man who encounters Jin. They team up after Dai realizes how fast Jin is. He is in the city to amend for some crime he committed. Now he works for the police, finding evidence to convict the drug dealers before the Walled City is demolished. He gets a beautiful girl in the brothel to help him and ends up falling in love with her.

Mei Yee is that girl, and also Jin's sister. She is lucky, or so she is told. Her rich client pays extra for exclusive rights to her, and he will likely end up buying her way out of the brothel. Still, Mei is unsatisfied with her life, with the possibility of leaving the brothel for a hotel room, one prison for another. She wants to be free, wants to see the ocean with Dai.

The Walled City was an exciting and action-packed book. It stands out from most action books I've seen, which are more supernatural/dystopian. Actually, it's based on a real place called Kowloon Walled City. It's a very good book full of sympathetic, brave characters, and I very much recommend it.  

I received my copy of The Walled City from the Goodreads First Reads program, as well as from Edelweiss, courtesy of Little, Brown. It's available for purchase now.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer

Pride and Prejudice is one of those stories that I know backwards and forwards by now. I've read the book, seen the movies, even read/seen some of the updates with zombies/Hugh Grants.

The Season is loosely based on P&P, set in present day Texas. Our Lizzie Bennett is now Megan. She aspires to be a professional soccer player. Soccer is the center of her life, but she doesn't have much time left to earn a spot on a professional team. Of course, Megan is surprised, in a bad way, to find out that her mother signed her up for the Bluebonnet Debutante Season. This is something that her girly twin sister Julia would be good at, not Megan. Because their family is a legacy, they both made it into the season's debs.

At the very first Bluebonnet meeting, Megan makes a terrible impression by arriving 20 minutes late. Their debutante coach basically tells her to throw in the towel. There is no way she will make it as a Bluebonnet. As much as Megan didn't want to participate, she asks to stay because her father asked her to do it for her mother. She is allowed to stay, but she only has a month to improve.

The Bluebonnets are a very wealthy group. The girls must each throw a party with a theme and sell tables to said party. The tables cost thousands of dollars, and the money goes to an organization that each girl will choose. Between designer outfits, party preparations, and tickets to each party, the debs have to spend a large amount of money. It's a burden on Megan and Julia's parents, who have been struggling at their ranch, even after factoring in the money that their grandma left for their debut.

At the first party, thrown by their cousin Abby, Megan makes yet another bad impression. She was punched at a soccer game right before the party, and must attend with a black eye. In jest, she tells her escort that she was mugged. This ends up being all everyone talks about, even though Megan eventually sets the record straight. The coach eventually talks with her about how improper that was, taking attention on Abby's big night, and she makes a lot of sense.

In a sudden death move, Megan decides to sign up for a class on manners taught by the coach. She soon discovers that the course is for elementary school students. In spite of this, she sees it through and gains a bit of respect. Julia ends up falling for the brother of the witchiest deb, the Charles Bingley, or Zach, as he is called here. The sister is dating, practically engaged to the Mr. Darcy, Andrew Gage. Megan strikes up a romance with the charming Hank Waterhouse, our dangerous George Wickham facsimile. Hank not only romances Megan, he also convinces her father to sell their ranch to his obviously Big Evil Corporation.

Julia ends up having trouble with an ex-boyfriend, trouble that ends with a police chase. She resigns from the Bluebonnets, so it's up to Megan to uphold the family legacy. Unfortunately, Zach breaks it off with Julia, on advice from Andrew! After all the terrible things that Hank has said as well, Megan has quite a bone to pick with him.

Of course, it will not surprise anyone who has read the original that it's mostly a big misunderstanding. He's got pride, and she's got prejudices, and vice versa. They eventually come to a mutual understanding. It's all happily ever after.

I received my copy of The Season through the Goodreads First Reads program. It's available for purchase now.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Literally by Lucy Keating

"Without realizing it, I break into a run. My life is filled with TKs, because my life does not belong to me.
My life belongs to Lucy Keating..."

Annabelle is a normal, if somewhat type-A, teenage girl. She lives in a beautiful home with her parents, older brother, and their somewhat evil dog Napoleon. Her brother's best friend Elliot is always around and tormenting her. Annabelle meticulously schedules every part of her life, color-coding each event in her planner. Naturally, she is startled when her parents announce that they will be selling the family home...and living separately. The truly world-shattering news is yet to come.

An author named Lucy Keating visits Annabelle's fiction writing class. Ms. Keating announces the plot of her newest book: a girl with everything under control who learns just how messy life can be when her parents sell her childhood home and separate. The character even has a weird little dog! Obviously, Annabelle sees parallels with her own life. She asks Lucy if her new book is based on her, and the answer is...yes. She created Annabelle and is writing her story.

Thankfully, Ms. Keating plans to shake up her newest book. While past stories tended to end tragically, she is now dedicated to happy endings. Annabelle ends up meeting a new boy at school, Will. He is absolutely perfect for her, another type-A rule follower. Another Lucy Keating staple is the love triangle, which seems crazy-cakes because things are so great with Will.

Then Annabelle starts to feel romantically about, of all people, Elliot. Lucy lets her know that her destiny is with Will, but she can't stop her feelings. Annabelle and Will decide to take charge of their own stories. They decide to demand that Lucy stop writing about them. The author agrees, but their lives don't return to normal. Because they aren't being written about, Annabelle, Will, and their families and friends start to fade away.

Literally was a fun and unique story. I'm a fan of meta stories, so I was there for this. Annabelle could be a bit too perfect, but I liked her. She watched The Great British Bake Off, so we're cool. It sort of blows my mind that Lucy Keating wrote a book that involves Lucy Keating writing a book about Annabelle. What even is reality, y'all?

I received my copy of Literally from Edelweiss, courtesy of HarperTeen. It's available for purchase now.

We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash

What was the point of all this shit happening if when you died it just got erased, like it hadn't meant anything at all?

It seemed like a normal football game...until the mascot jumped off a bridge into the river. Everyone is shocked that popular and sweet cheerleader Brittany would kill herself, most of all her twin sister Angie. The worst part is that they can't even hold a funeral because the body hasn't been recovered from the rushing water.

The entire situation seems suspicious to Benny. He's the president of Winship Academy's Mystery Club. The only other member is Virginia, because she is the only one who wanted to join. She used to run a gossip website about her classmates that made her very unpopular. Now, Virginia hopes that joining the Mystery Club will change her reputation, though it really just makes her as invisible as Benny.

They were both there when Brittany jumped off the bridge. Someone else was standing nearby, someone who scared her into jumping. The plot thickens when Benny and Virginia discover that Brittany is still alive. So, who jumped off the bridge?

I'm a sucker for a mystery, as in the mystery intrigues me so much that I have to find out who dunnit. The mystery was pretty good, and I almost liked the book. There were just weird little things that kept putting me off, like a really gross scene where a dude pleasures himself in a car while holding a gun. I just don't know what that added to the plot? There was also a Nice Guy who basically stalked all the cheerleaders. Blech. I can't really recommend this book, but it wasn't the worst thing ever.

I received my copy of We Know It Was You from Edelweiss, courtesy of Simon Pulse. It's available for purchase now.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

"There's just something terrifying about admitting you like someone. In a way, it's actually easier when there's no chance of anything happening. But there's this threshold where things suddenly become possible. And then your cards are on the table. And there you are, wanting, right out in the open..."

The Upside of Unrequited is set in the same universe as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but it's not technically a sequel. The main characters, Molly and her twin sister Cassie, are cousins of Abby from the previous book. Abby makes a couple appearances here, along with Simon and Nick. It's nice to see the characters again, but also nice not to have to remember a lot of details about the previous book to enjoy this one.

Our main character is Molly. She's seventeen and has had lots of crushes, but no boyfriend. Molly meets a girl named Mia and introduces her to her twin sister Cassie. Cassie and Mia start a relationship, which is different for Cassie. Molly's twin has had casual flings, but never anything serious. Unfortunately, the sisters start to drift apart a bit. Cassie urges Molly to get together with Mia's friend Will. Will also seems to like Molly. Yet Molly can't stop thinking about Reid, the geeky guy she works with.

Molly was so easy to relate to, both for teenage and current Caitlin. Seriously, there were so many lines for me to write down afterwards. I'm also a big fan of how LGBTQ friendly the book was. Molly is straight, Cassie is gay, and they were raised by two moms. Mia is pansexual (I think?). None of this is treated as a big deal, which I loved.

Honestly, The Upside of Unrequited is completely delightful. It made me laugh and cry, and make little squealing noises. You should totally read this, and read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda if you haven't. Hopefully, Becky Albertalli will write even more awesome books for me to love and recommend in the near future (Please and thank you!).

I received my copy of The Upside of Unrequited from Edelweiss, courtesy of Balzer & Bray/Harperteen. It's available for purchase now.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

"But I'm tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again..."

All it takes is one little mistake. Simon forgot to log out of his gmail at the school library. This wasn't just some ordinary email account, it was the secret account that Simon uses to talk with Blue. Simon and Blue both go to the same school, they don't know each others' real identities, and they are both secretly gay.

Class clown Martin reads the emails and uses them to blackmail Simon. He wants Simon to help him get together with Simon's friend, new girl Abby. Simon isn't ready to come out, and he definitely doesn't want to expose Blue, so he makes a few lackluster attempts to help Martin. Abby isn't very receptive to Martin and she eventually starts to date mutual friend Nick. Their other friend, Leah, has secretly liked Nick for a long time, so it's very complicated.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was such a good story. Simon is funny and awesome, and I liked reading his point of view. It feels like the teenagers are authentic, but not as scary as real teens. Becky Albertalli's book was so fantastic that I absolutely had to read her follow-up, The Upside of Unrequited, as soon as possible. Actually, that's my next review.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari

I first encountered this book at my job at the bookstore. It had a fun cover! It sounded sort of cute and fun!!! Years later, I spotted a copy for sale at the Dollar Tree ("Where everything's a dollar, but people are priceless!") and grabbed it. It was a decision I would come to regret.

The Makedown is completely vile. It's a book that I threw across the room while reading, demoted to a "bathroom book," and still couldn't bring myself to finish it. What I wonder is if it's actually meant to be a straightforward story or if it's some sort of parable or parody or something...?

It's the story of a girl named Anna. She starts the book fat and ugly. Like all fat girls (Insert sarcastic eyeroll), she binges constantly. After her parents divorce, she moves away to New York where she gets a job with a caterer. Her boss, who she secretly refers to as "MFG," or My Fairy Godmother, takes a special interest in her, forces her to walk long distances to lose weight. She also gets the restaurants in her neighborhood to stop selling her food. Eventually, Anna becomes skinny and gets a makeover.

Everything is far from perfect, however. She keeps a "Dear Fatty" journal where she writes horrible letters to herself. MFG should have gotten Anna some counseling. Eventually, she meets an extremely attractive man who is interested in her...but he's maybe a little too attractive? That's when she starts the makeunder, and basically ruins the poor guy's life.

Ben seemed perfectly nice and is into her, but she is riddled with insecurity. She lies to him constantly. He's a vegetarian and she claims to be one as well. (She's not.) She lies to cover up her dysfunctional family, the divorced parents and weirdo brother who still lives at home. Anna ruins him, getting him addicted to junk food (Though a major point is how she switches his granola bars with Heath bars, which...granola bars aren't great for ya anyways), taking away his motivation, and basically making him so unattractive that even she doesn't want him. Then she tries to change him back but can't and it's all. The. Worst.

Usually I don't read bad books. I like to like things, but I said, this book was gross. The characters were awful, especially Anna. As a fat girl myself, I was offended. Still, I have no doubt that this book would also disgust you no matter your size or shape. So, my advice is that you don't read it, a lot, right now and forever.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

“Do you believe in love at first sight?"

He made himself look at her face, at her wide-open eyes and earnest forehead. At her unbearably sweet mouth.

"I don't know," he said. "Do you believe in love before that?”

Attachments was Rainbow Rowell's first book and the last book of hers that I haven't read. Thankfully, I received a copy through Cannonball Read Secret Santa three (?) years ago. Recently I decided to dust it off and give it a go after I killed yet another ereader*.

The story is set in a newspaper office. Lincoln is our main character. He spent a long time in college getting a degree in computers. Now he has graduated and works nights in the IT department. His main task is to read emails that get caught in the filters. Lincoln doesn't like his job, except when he gets to read the emails between Jennifer and Beth. They unashamedly banter with each other through their work emails, and Lincoln keeps reading when they get caught in the filter. For some reason, he doesn't send them a warning like he should. After a while, he starts to feel like he knows them. Soon he finds himself falling in love with Beth.

Of course, it's a complicated situation because he hasn't actually met Beth. He doesn't even know what she looks like. Also, she has a cool rock guitar-playing boyfriend. Finally, there's the tiny matter of how he invaded her and her best friend's privacy. That one is tricky. It gets even cuter/more awkward when Beth starts mentioning Lincoln in her emails, referring to him as "my cute guy."

Overall, Attachments was a good read. I liked all the characters, and the structure of the book was interesting. Beth and Jennifer mostly appear in email form between chapters from Lincoln's perspective. Overall I think Rowell's YA titles are better, but she is an amazing writer and I love all her books. Thank you to my Secret Santa and sorry it took me so long to appreciate your gift.

*Technically I didn't kill my first ereader. It has a crack in the bottom corner that 1. I can't explain but 2. makes reading on it a pain in the arse. The second died after I dropped it from my locker at the bookstore. The third, and latest, met an untimely end after I dropped it in the parking lot at work. Somehow this drop caused the little chargey thing to break off, and the thing was already having enough trouble charging as is. I'm considering a new one, but the expense is a bit much and I'm nervous because they don't seem to hold up very well and I seem to be a klutz.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

"Both love and hate are mirror versions of the same game- and you have to win. Why? Your heart and your ego. Trust me, I should know..."

Romance isn't my first choice of book genres, but I saw how much my fellow Cannonballers liked this book and decided it was worth a try. I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the book. There were a lot more adult sexy times than I usually encounter in my mostly YA reading, but I sort of enjoyed reading those as well.

The Hating Game is set in a publishing house that is the product of a merger between two companies. As a result, there are two CEOs who both have separate executive assistants. Lucy and Joshua share an office and a mutual loathing for each other. They face off in psychological warfare every day. Lucy calls them games, such as the HR Game, the Staring Game. We only see everything from her point of view, but Lucy truly believes that Joshua hates her.

Their feud comes to a climax when they are both in consideration for a promotion. It's very likely that one of them will get it, and whoever doesn't get the job will answer to the one who does. Lucy plans to quit rather than work under Joshua, and they make an agreement that whoever doesn't get the job will quit.

In the meantime, Lucy starts to date a coworker named Danny. Joshua is hostile about the relationship, even implying that she is making up dates. We all know that it's because Joshua has the hots for Lucy. She is clueless until he kisses her in the elevator at work. Lucy's feelings are all mixed up. Lucy and Joshua obviously have chemistry between them, but there is so much history with their games and their work relationship.

After the kiss, Lucy finds herself drawn to Joshua. She thinks it's just physical. They kiss and get really steamy, but he refuses to take it all the way. Joshua likes the anticipation. Soon, the former enemies start to relate to each other. Joshua takes care of her when she is sick. Lucy agrees to attend his brother's wedding. It's all actually really nice and made me sort of schmoopy and wistful.

Overall, I enjoyed The Hating Game a lot. Cannonballers know their books. My biggest, and pretty much only, issue was how Lucy tended to blow things out of proportion. I wish that she would talk things out instead of jumping to the worst conclusions (The Wedding Conflict springs to mind, not to be too spoilery). I might call out the "they hate each other but secretly love each other deep down" trope, but honestly I love that one anyways. It's a classic for a reason. I ended up liking this book so much that I'm actually excited to read Thorne's new book when it comes out in July. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Unbelieveable Gwenpool Volume 1: Believe It by Christopher Hastings, Danilo Beyruth, and Gurihiru

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this comic. Gwenpool seemed like an alternate version of Deadpool, obviously gender-swapped and possibly originally Gwen Stacey, like Spider-Gwen? The cutesy cover really drew me in, so I decided to give it a chance.

It's actually the story of a girl named Gwen Poole (So, not Gwen Stacey...except maybe? I don't think she is, but I really don't know...according to Wikipedia, she is Gwen Stacey. Actually, it's based on a drawing of Gwen Stacey dressed as a version of Deadpool, and fans liked it so much that they created this series). She is from an alternate universe that is basically the real world. Gwen has an encyclopedic knowledge of comic books and the powers of being meta and sort of a scary weapons- and bomb-wielding psychopath.

Gwenpool spends the first part of the book flipping between fighting crime and committing crime as a mercenary. Later, she ends up in MODOK's gang and ends up (kind of) a villain. Another member sees the obvious, that Gwen has no powers and can barely shoot a gun. After a brief encounter with Doctor Strange, she gets identification to open a bank account in her new universe. Unfortunately, MODOK discovers that she doesn't have powers, and that's when the real fun starts...and the book ends.

At first, Gwen seemed really off-putting. She's a little bit of a psychopath. I don't know when it happened, but eventually I started to like her. She's still psycho, but she has some heart and conscience, much like the other Pool who shares her name. I snickered at the meta stuff about Gwen's costume.
Though, honestly, they could just give her pants if they're going to mention it. Her costume doesn't bother me too much, though, and I do like the pink.

Bonus: The Unbelievable Gwenpool 2016 Holiday Special: Merry Mix-Up
I bought it, so I may as well review it! Unfortunately, I'm not sure where this issue fits in the timeline, but onward I go. This issue sees Gwen and the (former) MODOK gang getting ready for Christmas. In this universe, however, Christmas is not the arrival of Santa and his reindeer. No, my friend, presents are delivered by Galactus and his Silver Surfers. There's also a tradition known as Pantsgiving, where you buy your loved ones the gift of hot pants, as seen here:
Gwen realizes that the holidays are mixed up, and it's up to her to fix them by heading to the source of the problem: the North Pole! The issue also features issues starring Miles Morales (the new Spiderman), the Punisher, and Deadpool. I particularly liked the Deadpool story because it featured my favorite character, Squirrel Girl.

In conclusion, I thought that Gwenpool was a fun new character. She's not on my regular rotation, but I'd like to read the second volume in the series once it comes out.