Chanina’s reviews of Paper Girls 1 & 2 by Brian K Vaughan

papergirls_vol01-1papergirls_vol02-1Four preteen girls meet in the early-morning hours the day after Halloween. All four of them are distributors for their local newspaper, and all four of them are about to witness things more astonishing and unbelievable than any story that has ever been printed in the papers they toss onto people’s driveways. Vanishing civilians and strange futuristic technologies are just the beginning of their troubles, and as timelines and realities warp, they must rely on each other to survive.

Paper Girls is absolutely for those who enjoy strong visual imagery. Through Cliff Chiang’s illustrations and Matt Wilson’s colour-work, Vaughan’s story is brought vividly, eye-catchingly, to life. Fans of science fiction and mystery novels alike may also be interested in this series. It should be noted as well that Paper Girls has been rather groundbreaking in its portrayal of female camaraderie in such a male-dominated medium. My only criticism of the series is that it sometimes feels as if certain outrageous and weird things are added into the story for the sole purpose of making things a little more outrageous and weird. This is only a small judgement I’ve made however, and as a person who otherwise fully endorses all things outrageous and weird, I believe that more people should definitely check this series out.

Chanina rates these volumes 4.5/5

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Cassandra’s Review of We are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

we-are-the-ants-9781481449632_hr“Remember the past, live in the present, and write the future.” We Are the Ants is a wonderful story consisting of journal entries written by Henry Denton. Henry describes the personal struggles that his family members are going through: his mom is struggling to keep the family together, his older brother is struggling to be the best father for his incoming baby, and his grandmother is struggling with Alzheimer’s. Henry also has plenty of his own struggles: his boyfriend committed suicide last year, he is bullied at school, and he is constantly abducted by aliens. As Henry faces all of the problems in his life, the aliens offer him the opportunity to prevent the end of the world by pressing a big red button. But he only has 144 days to make up his mind. Should Henry press the button to save the world or should he allow the world’s destruction to erase his problems? It is up to Henry to decide whether the world is worth saving. Henry pretty much makes up his mind until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past, who makes Henry question his choices, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. With Henry’s humorous and sharp journal entries, a story of choices is slowly unraveled.

I really enjoyed We Are the Ants! Henry is an interesting main character. Even in the worst
circumstances imaginable, Henry adds an element of cynical humor into the story. Henry definitely has his flaws, and I did not agree with some of his choices, but overall, I liked to hear his opinions on everything that was happening. I found it interesting how Hutchinson scattered different disasters that could hit the world throughout the novel. They were super creative and helped build momentum towards the awesome ending, which was my favorite part of the book. (I don’t mean it in a “I’m so glad to be done” kind of way.) The ending felt wonderfully complete, and the last few sentences nicely summarized Henry’s conclusions about the world. Additionally, there were so many good quotes in this book! I bookmarked around 30 quotes. If you like realistic fiction, then read We Are the Ants!!!

Cassandra rates this book 5/5

Surya’s review of Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

618s2b7m1ipl-_sx351_bo1204203200_This book is about how two runaways, Delilah Dirk and Mr. Selim, work together to plot the downfall of the evil pirate, Zakul. Delilah is caught trying to steal Constantinople’s king’s ancient scrolls, and ends up in the royal prison. She meets Mr. Selim here when he is sent to serve her tea, and when she escapes, he is framed for assisting her. So they both run away, and travel to distant towns on her flying boat, stealing loot from various places and giving it to the poor. Mr. Selim is unaccustomed to her life of being on the run, and decides to stay behind in one of the towns they run to, Kardaki. However, after a few months, he decides to go after her, and finds her as she is in the process of running from security guards. The book ends with them running away, once again partners in crime.

I would recommend this graphic novel to middle schoolers and above. It is very intriguing, and I especially enjoyed how the female is the “heroine”, or the main cause of action, and how the male is portrayed as more humble and obedient, as a contrast to a lot of the action filled books out there. Also, I liked how though the main characters were a man and a woman, there was never any romance between them. The whole message of the book was about how loyalty and friendship are more important, which confirms the platonic relationship between them. The pictures speak more than the words, which is mainly what makes it appropriate for the younger crowd. Nevertheless, it is still a gripping read, and is great for all ages.

Surya rates this book 4.5/5 stars.

Mehek’s Review of This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

this is where it endsThis Is Where It Ends is about a student who opened fire in a locked auditorium, and is told from four different perspectives. It’s told over the time frame of fifty-four minutes of terror for the students, all of whom recall their relationship to the shooter or the people he shot, and hope for it all to end, while not knowing what’ll come next.

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read in general, because despite only being realistic fiction, this book opened my eyes, and was a compelling read- full of heroism and terror, hope and lack thereof that made it amazing to the very end.

I would definitely give this book a five star rating.

Renee’s review of The Diviners by Libba Bray

7728889As Wikipedia so nicely stated, “The plot follows seventeen-year-old Evie O’Neill as she helps her uncle Will – curator of the fictional ‘Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult’ – uncover the killer behind a mysterious series of murders.”

The story is well written, following several plots. The murder mystery case is thrilling and scary and intense. Evie is incredibly charming and likeable– I love her. The Diviners is captivating; I couldn’t put it down. The only thing I find a little annoying (just a little) is that I expected Bray to close up all of the stories she followed, especially because the book is so fat (400+ pages). There were so many storylines, and I thought she would tie them together, but instead the strands stayed separate. Some met, but the stories never fully merged and came together. I guess she’s saving it for the sequel. I spent the entire novel super excited to see the characters finally meet, the puzzle finally pieced together, and have all of their knowledge shared, but that never happened, so looking back at that lack of climax is a little disappointing. But it’s not a big deal, because this book is amazing, and I know the strands will all be tied together in the sequel. It’s really such a small flaw (not even a flaw really), and the novel is so enchanting and immersive, that it doesn’t change how much I enjoyed the Diviners. The Diviners is exciting, keeping you completely invested until the very end. There were parts where I was on the edge of my seat, barely breathing, waiting to see what would happen. It’s a thrilling read, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys fun, realistic characters and intense mysteries (and also a few history lessons thrown in!). I will definitely, definitely be reading the next one.

Renee rates this book 4.5 out of 5 stars

Cassandra’s review of Steelheart and Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson revolves around a boy named David who tries to take revenge on a powerful epic named Steelheart, who killed his father. The story takes place in Chicago after Calamity comes and bestows ordinary people with amazing superpowers. Those people are proclaimed epics. David is trying to take down one of the strongest epics the world has ever known, and he has a strategy. David is the only survivor who has seen Steelheart bleed, and he is eager to see him bleed once more. With the help of the secretive Reckoners, the only force that strikes against the epics, David seeks his revenge.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy and stories that have a lot of action. Steelheart is filled with plot twists and suspenseful moments. The Reckoner’s plans make logical sense and the specifics involving weaponry are discussed. Additionally, David is a very smart and funny character. (He always comes up with the most hilarious metaphors.) I especially like the interactions between David and Megan, a fellow-member of the Reckoners. Steelheart would be enjoyed by anyone.

Cassandra rates Steelheart 4.75/5 stars.

Firefight is the second book of the awesome Reckoners series. The story continues after David avenges his father. David leaves Newcago in pursuit of the high Epic Regalia who rules Manhattan. Manhattan is completely different from Newcago. There is a Venice quality to it and the inhabitants live life in a very carefree manner, indifferent to the powerful Epics who from time to time demolish whole regions of the city. In Manhattan, David must make use of his enormous improvising and strategizing skills in order to take down Regalia and her Epic underlings. As David tries to uncover the Epics’ weaknesses, he finds things about Epics that can bring an end to Calamity.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes action and comedy. Firefight takes place after Steelheart, and it continues its suspenseful and fun tone. I liked Firefight better than Steelheart since David is less revenge-driven and becomes even more likable. New characters are introduced and a lot of team development occurs. (Not to mention the wonderful relationship between Megan and David.) The Reckoners are clearly a force not to be reckoned with.

Cassandra rates Firefight 5/5 stars.

Renee’s review of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

the-coincidence-of-coconut-cake-9781501100710_hrLou is pursuing her dream of running her own restaurant, Luella’s. They’re new, but they’re growing. Al Waters is a food critic under the pen name A.W. Wodyski who is notorious for the harsh reviews he writes. Things are going alright until Lou catches her fiancee with another girl (gasp!) and completely screws up in the kitchen that night, the night Wodyski chooses to visit Luella’s. He absolutely demolishes Luella’s in his review, effectively killing Lou’s business. Of course, Lou and Al meet. Neither has any idea who the other is, and as they grow closer bits of the truth are revealed…what’s going to happen?????

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a love story and nothing more. I had thought it would be more focused on Lou working hard for her restaurant, but it wasn’t. I also thought the whole love at first sight, “she’s the most beautiful creature in the whole universe and absolutely leaves me breathless” thing going on from Al’s point of view was very….cliche, dull, unrealistic, etc. I usually read more sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian kind of thing, novels with more action and intensity, so when I look at this book from that point of view it was rather boring. But when I judge it for what it is (a chick lit love story) it was pretty good. It had romantic moments, although the novel did call to mind the manic pixie dream girl trope. It also had good characters and development. They were understandable and relatable and made me care. There was also a very jaw-dropping reveal toward the end which I really loved, because it spiced things up. For all of these reasons I couldn’t put the book down and finished it in one sitting. It’s definitely lacking the action aspect that I need in a book, but…it did what it did well. It was a cute love story, so I would recommend it to those who like that kind of thing. I don’t particularly, but I still enjoyed the novel!

Renee rates this book 2.5/5 stars.