The Girl From Everywhere (Heidi Heilig) | Goodreads | 4 stars
I really, really liked this debut – the only reason it doesn’t get a full review is because I wasn’t in a review-writing mood back when I read it and have forgotten some bits – but that’s not a problem on the book’s part, just mine.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book. It was more of a historical caper than anything, thanks to the protagonist’s father’s ability to go anywhere and anytime as long as he has a map there. As a result, most of the book takes place in 1860s (or 1880s? I think 1860s) Hawaii. The characters all mostly come from other times, but they spend time fitting in with the current people, so it can definitely feel like historical instead. It was interesting to get some insight into Hawaiian history, especially its royal history, so I appreciated the historical aspect, but the main object was trying to steal money, which makes for the caper aspect.
There was romance as well, and I could have seen some people getting fed up with some romantic angst, but I liked it, as well as the protagonist (but her name escapes me – why?!). Overall, I thought this was a fun and fairly quick debut that instantly had me excited for the sequel, so that’s good enough for me.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear (E.K. Johnston) | Goodreads | 4.5 stars
Well, this was painful, but wonderfully so, luckily.
I know nothing about The Winter’s Tale, but I read its summary after reading this, and I must say that this is a much better retelling that gives the female characters, especially protagonist Hermione, way more power and agency. Shakespeare may be the great bard, but he’s definitely a product of his time, which means female characters can get screwed over in favor of the male characters.
Obviously, you don’t have to read or even know that this book has anything to do with Shakespeare, though – I barely did, and I decided to wait and see what happened in The Winter’s Tale after I read this one. This is its own painful and powerful story. Hermione is a cheerleader (an awesome one who does her best to deal with the fact that cheerleaders are often underestimated, although it’s obviously not the main point), and while she’s at her last cheerleading camp for the summer, she’s sexually assaulted. She has to deal with the fallout, both the fact that someone at the camp did it to her – possibly even one of the boys on her team – and the way everyone has trouble dealing with her. Hermione has to make some hard choices while dealing with the fact that she feels out of touch with the attack itself because she was unconscious and doesn’t remember it – like it happened to someone else, not her.
This was a short book, but it packed so much emotion and sadness and strength into it. I haven’t read anything else from E.K. Johnston, but I’m definitely interested to see what else she does.
Buzzkill (Beth Fantaskey) | Goodreads | 3.5 stars
I’ve enjoyed all of Beth’s books for the most part, so that mixed with a murder mystery definitely caught my attention, but it took me a while to actually pick this book up from the library. It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely fun and I’m glad I finally read it.
This is definitely a comedy first and a mystery second. The protagonist is quite smart but a definite under-achiever, which makes for plenty of funny moments as well as times you can’t help but wonder why no one has slapped her yet. There’s a mean girl who’s mostly mean for no reason, but there’s a little bit of a background that helps gives her a little reason for being jealous of Millie, the protagonist. There’s also a bit of an angsty romance, which can be a little annoying when you just want to know who the killer is.
There are some twists that I saw coming as well as some that I didn’t, and I’m happy to say that I didn’t guess the killer so it was a bit of a surprise as well. I hope Fantaskey keeps on writing enjoyable and quick reads like this.
The Naturals (Jennifer Lynn Barnes) | Goodreads | 4 stars
Seriously, after enjoying Barnes’s Raised by Wolves trilogy, why did I wait so long to check out her other books? This book isn’t quite on par with her Fixer/Long Game series, but that simply means it gets a lowly 4 stars instead of 4.5 – poor little book, huh?
This book is compared to Criminal Minds, and even though I tend to stay away from that show because it terrifies me, I think it’s a pretty good comparison. To be honest, when I was coming in, I wasn’t quite sure what this book was – the summary kind of made me think that it could involve teenagers with actual paranormal powers, not just great powers of deduction and such. Almost right away, I knew for sure that this wasn’t paranormal, but it would have been nice to know ahead of time for sure – but that was on me.
The mystery had some great twists and turns, keeping me guessing while also leaving me with some strong hunches. I read it all in about one day, and as soon as I finished it, I immediately added the rest of the series to my Goodreads, so this book gets thumbs up from me for sure.
Archie: Volume One (Mark Waid & Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, Veronica Fish) | Goodreads | 3.5 stars
I’m in a bit of a grey space when it comes to the world of Archie – I know a bit about it, but not in the traditional sense. When my sister and I were younger, mid-2000s or so, we watched a show called Archie’s Weird Mysteries, which was a supernatural twist on the original or something. So, I know some of the main characters and the general story, but I never had any experience with the original itself.
So, coming into this reboot or whatever it is, I was still a bit of a newbie. I was meeting Archie and his friends for the first time (at least in a realistic world), so it kept me relatively interested. The story was heavy on the romantic drama and angst, though, so it was only entertaining when it wasn’t making me roll my eyes over teenage antics that seemed made-for-TV (or comics, I suppose) rather than realistic.
I’m not sure if I’ll check out the second volume whenever it comes out, but I still enjoyed this for the most part, despite unnecessary drama. The art, which changes in the second half of the six issues included in this, was great and solidifies Fiona Staples as an awesome illustrator, so I was a bit thrown when the artist changed, but it was still all good overall. Come for the great art and possible nostalgia, perhaps stay for the story, if you’re so inclined.