Review 32: Making Friends

It’s been a little while, guys. I have just been so busy! I’ve published an ebook of my collection of short stories, got swamped with homework, read like 12 books in a week, and started watching My Hero Academia. So yeah. Anyway, this book is a gem. c:

36127435STORY:

“How do you weaponize friendship?” (pg 234)

In Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk (272 pages), Dany is bummed to find herself split up from her usual friend group. Now in the 7th grade, she finds herself lonely and unable to befriend anyone. Through luck, she discovers her aunt’s old sketchbook has some serious magical capabilities. She brings to life Prince Neptune (from a Tokyo Mew Mew/Sailor Moon/magical girl mash-up of an anime) and her ideal best friend, Madison from New York. Only thing is when imaginary beings become sentient, free-thinking beings, everything doesn’t go as planned.

Existential crisis in juvenile fiction? The best friend is the ultra special, pink-haired character from anime(s) with actual depth? Magical girl shoujo references!?! Let’s go!

excited kermit the frog GIF

I honestly enjoyed the entire cast of characters, relatability, and artwork. Yes, to that cute, expressive artwork. The light humor is great too, not cringy just right.

This story is great for younger kids to acknowledge how all your actions have a consequence; On the other hand, older kids/teens will love that it explores the be-careful-what-you-wish-for trope in a fresh way.

And that plot twist tho? Laughs for days!

“You’re a minor character! Boom!” No context needed but the shade of it all. xD

CHARACTERS:

I loved the cast of characters and a few of them came from diverse backgrounds (black, Guatemalan, Asian, etc).

Dany is pretty normal. Usually, in these type of stories, the main character is whiny, annoying, or special-snowflakey. Dany might be a touch of that, but she’s still likable to me.

Prince Neptune is bae! Yeah, Dany I liked him too.

Also, go Aleesha! She’s adorable and brainy and comically serious and has a cute bun of natural hair.

Tom is also equally bae haha. He’s an adorable character obsessed with conspiracy theories and can think for himself. Gasp. A middle-school character not consumed with popularity? Yep, that’s him.

ART:

A wonderful display of colors, not too bold but not too soft. It reminds me of the palette of a 90’s pop culture ad, green, blue, purple, pink, etc.

Like I said before, I enjoyed the anime-inspired expressions and whatnot. I think the paneling was fine as well.

OVERALL:

Making Friends is beautiful and wonderfully dumb.

READ IT!

If you’re like me and love shoujo/general anime references, light-hearted stories, and a good laugh, then I definitely recommend it. I couldn’t stop smiling while reading this.

5 out of 5

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8/20/18 Monday: What I’m Reading Now

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.

What I’m Reading Now:

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Big Nate: Great Minds Think Alike by Lincoln Peirce (224 pages). I have read 59 pages so far.

 

 

 

 

31193404Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge ( 224 pages). I have read 0 pages so far, but I’m excited to read it.

 

 

 

 

 

35297272Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi (394 pages) okay, the cover’s gorgeous and the premise sounds super cute, so … You know I had to get it. I have read 0 pages so far.

 

 

 

 

 

34054703All About Mia by Lisa Williamson (324 pages) seems like it has an interesting premise. I have read 0 pages so far.

 

 

 

 

 

What I Read Last Week:

36896665In The Middle-Route Run (Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo #2) by Ben Costa (208 pages), I really like seeing more of Rickety’s origins and the cast of colorful, fun characters makes every scene play out like a movie. I like the mature tone taken with the story, meaning there is violence, existential crisis, and an even a sole curse word without feeling like “ooh, this story is sooo edgy.” I just admire the all-ages quality this story has.

Not to mention the artwork and coloring are A1. I definitely recommend it.

29773916In Chasma Knights by Boya Sun and Kate Reed Petty (128 pages), the imagination behind this story is so much fun! Little animals or monsters come with screws and gears, and you can combine their parts like robots to create vehicles or other devices.

I enjoyed the storybook, manwha-like artwork a lot.

Overall, I think this had a great end to a stand-alone or a good beginning for a series. Kids are going to love all the bright colors and cute characters.

It needs to be said: Coro needed to be choked out! I’m surprised there wasn’t an explicit conversation where they acknowledge you can’t just take someone’s stuff and do whatever you want with it. This fool really took her stuff twice!

7086986Scarlet Rose #2 I’ll Go Where You by Patricia Lyfoung (96 pages) is much better than the first book in the series. Where the first dragged and was filled with cliches, this second book manages to make the story fun. The Fox’s identity is revealed and Maud, of course, has a hard time coming to terms about her once-idolized hero. Some Scarlet Rose and Fox shenanigans abound and end with a fun pirate adventure. There are also some cute shipping-scenes if you’re invested in that sort of thing. I’m actually more interested in knowing more about the Baron brothers.

Some minor violence is present with a victim dying with a bloody arm. Still, a fun book for all ages.

SN: Ohmygosh! The author’s the one behind Totally Spies and Martin Mystery’s art direction. No wonder I thought the art was familiar 🙂

31123268In Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly Devos (376 pages), I wasn’t really blown away by Cookie at all. I like that she wasn’t afraid to call out buffoonery against plus-sized people, but I just never fell for her. Maybe she was too snarky for me. And I sho’ didn’t care for her 31-year-old-grown-behind-man-abusing-his-power love interest.

His nice-then-nasty personality was fun to an extent. Him and Cookie one-upping each other was fun. Good banter. When he progressed beyond that, I was kind of over it.

The funeral was the absolute best part. Everything else is pretty forgettable.

40994995In Luisa: Now or Later by Carole Maurel (276 pages), I hated older Luisa. She was just so cantankerous, ugh. Beautiful artwork. That is what really drew me in from the character expressions to the color changes. I guess the takeaway is to take all your opportunities or you will end up as a grouchy 32-year-old who missed her chance at love.

Still, the other characters besides older Luisa are really likable. There are strong lgbtq and time-travel themes present as well.

28818219Concerning Curse of the Attack-o-Lanterns (The Creeps #3) by Chris Schweizer (128 pages), you all should know that I love the Creeps series, and I think it would be cool to it see in a cartoon format.

As always, I liked the characters and their interaction with the sheriff. The humor’s spot-on, and the book doesn’t treat kids as stupid. Yeah, the premise is kiddy but the tension that stems from it is real. I’m always ready for more Creeps books!

Warning: A character dies in a pretty graphic, cartoony moment.

Pokemon Horizon: Sun and Moon by Tenya Yabuno (192 pages) is exactly what you would expect from the Pokemon franchise: a gung-ho shounen protagonist who isn’t really knowledgeable about the Poke-world though not dumb, a level-headed female character and a cute (poke)mon with an unquenchable fighting power. Cute drawings but nothing spectacular.

 

 

 

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Kidlit version hosted by Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen of Teach Mentor Texts; original version hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Book Review 31: When Dimple Met Rishi

 “She’d seen what his soul was made of. And she liked it” (pg 367).

28458598STORY:
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (380 pages). First, I really liked the cover (and the controversial “iced coffee” back cover) and the rom-com flare though I’ve to say I got tired of the constant kissing. You have to drizzle kisses into a story like sprinkle cheese, not too much. On another note, I just loved Dimple’s name; it’s so cute.

There’s not much focus on the actual coding that takes place (it’s lampshaded by Dimple herself). Instead, living up to parents’ expectations, back-and-forth with Dimple/Rishi, and a dance contest takes up the bulk of the book. If you don’t mind the lack of coding, you will probably enjoy the non-linear plot.

Also, I was amazed at YA fiction characters communicating about sex before having it, and even putting it off to a later date.

CHARACTERS:
Disclaimer: Yes, we know Dimple “took over too much”, can’t keep her fists to herself, and basically played yo-yo with her relationship. And thought she was a special snowflake. It’s understood.

Dimple is a brash character that still is likable in some portions of the book. It’s really hard to pull off characters like her because they usually come off as edgy jerks. However, that’s not entirely the case here. If some of her narrative thoughts could’ve been tweaked a little, I think more readers would have liked her.

Rishi is a cinnamon roll. It’s super-refreshing to have a male (romantic) lead, in a genre filled with angsty bad boys who can’t communicate, that speaks his mind and is kind in a gentleman sort-of-way. I actually wanted him to find another girl who suited him better. Dimple, of course, wanted the best for him, but she forced him to make decisions often.

OVERALL:
I didn’t hate this story. I rather liked some of the details and descriptions and diverse characters. Whoa. That’s a lot of “d” words. Anyway, I don’t feel as strongly as others, so I recommend you read it. 3 stars/5.

[SPOILERS START HERE]

Continue reading “Book Review 31: When Dimple Met Rishi”

Book Review #30: The Edge of Everything

“‘Why endanger yourselves?’ he said. ‘Why do all this for me
Zoe looked down at where his hand lightly gripped her. She gave him a smile, a trace of light in the darkness.

‘There’s nothing good on TV,’ she said (page 87).”

29566060STORY:

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (368 pages) has some good narrative(s) though a bit cringy at times. I enjoy the details embedded in the character’s personalities and movements.

“Zoe couldn’t help it; she took a photo to put on Instagram later (page 41).

For me, the bounty-hunter moments are the best parts. The entire supernatural element to bounty-hunting is just mad interesting, and the ordeal with a character named Stan was my favorite part.

At times, the story falls into “slice-of-life” moments such as Zoe and her mom not seeing eye-to-eye about her father’s death or caving, which is a huge part.

Now, a serious case of “instalove” is present in this book. AIN’T NO REASON X should’ve been that caught up and strung out on basic-behind Zoe that quickly. Perhaps, it is akin to baby chicks imprinting on the first image they see as their mother, but X was too into Zoe too fast.

This doesn’t mean I don’t like their little cliche romance, but it is worth noting.

CHARACTERS:

Zoe is bland but the stuff that happens around her is what’s interesting. Her friends, Dallas and Val, are much cooler.

Jonah, the little brother, is a little cinnamon roll. 😀

Bounty hunters seem really nice for this sort of story. Maybe too nice for me… I mean Zoe was talking to them like they couldn’t have snapped her neck into two at will. Here, bounty hunters are basically the grim reaper.

X is fine with me but his backstory seems a bit like a cop-out, so we don’t forget for a second his life’s not like the other morally-gray bounty hunters. Still, I liked his gentlemen-ly speech even if it didn’t feel consistent at times.

OVERALL:

Well, The Edge of Everything reeks of instalove, but it has me hooked enough to read the sequel. The story’s a bit of a slow burn but the plot twists keep readers engaged. It is worth a read, and you can tell early on whether you love/hate it.

Book Review #29: The Last Black Unicorn

I think this is my first non-fiction review? So yeah!

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The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish (288 pages) is an interesting read or, better said, an interesting life story.

Be aware there’s a bunch of cursing and crude language, almost excessively. The appeal of the humor is all the messed-up/f’ed up junk that happened in Tiffany’s life. Oh my God. Sometimes, it got heavy. Nothing is politically-correct (disabled jokes, poop in shoes, etc) and a lot of trauma is present through carefully covert jokes.

But real life can’t be censored.

Anyway, I like the choppy, episodic chapters because it’s easy to put down and start reading again. Honestly, many of the sentences are written in AAVE, which is cool.

Three stars out of five!

 

Book Review #28: Calling My Name

33829748Aye! I’m always excited for new fiction with black leads!

STORY:

“‘You can’t control everything, Taja,’ Daddy says in a soft voice, eyes closed to the sun.

‘I know, Daddy. But I can control a lot.'” (pg 227).

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani (384 pages) explores Taja Brown’s life. It is something of a fictional biography of a young, African-American girl growing up in a conservative Christian background from childhood to adulthood. Of course, you can expect first kisses, periods, and dealings with f*boys.

I think it is a good read if you enjoy “slice-of-life/coming of age” stories. However, the writing is so flowery that I get confused often.

I can emphasize with Taja’s upbringing as I have grown up in a Christian home as well though my parents weren’t overbearing with our faith.

Still, unfortunately, the narrative of an ultra-conservative character usually isn’t that fun.

One of my favorite parts is when Taja feels guilty for reminding her father about a promised birthday present. That is a really relatable moment when you first feel “child guilt” because you know your parents don’t have the money but you want something.

Also, I realized mid-way through the story that this is set somewhere between 80’s-90’s. Some of the references are dated like them listening to Johnny Gill. Chile, who out here listening to JG?

over it eye roll GIF

Okay, okay… I’m one of those people. XDsoul train life of new edition GIF by BET

A few days ago I was just listening to Johnny Gill’s old Arsenio Hall performances. (yes, I know the gif is from Soul Train).

CHARACTERS:

Not too many characters were memorable. I enjoyed the glimpses we saw of Taja’s family and would have liked a bit more beyond her mother always disciplining her.

Taja is cool, but she is very whiny and a bit annoying in her narrative.

Naima, Taja’s younger sister, is a character that I wished we could have seen more of. Unlike Taja, she’s more sure of herself. Taja and Naima’s sister relationship is barely displayed save for a few conversations in their older years.

Damon, the older brother, was okay. I like how he tried to overcompensate for his thinning headline at 15.

OVERALL:

This isn’t a book I would necessarily read again, but it is nice experiencing Taja’s adolescence with her.

Mini Review #10: The Battle for Amphibopolis (Nnewts #3)

33609902Let’s assume y’all have read the first two books in the trilogy.

STORY:

This is the conclusion of the Nnewts trilogy. It’s been a while since I first read the other books, but thankfully there are a few callbacks to previous moments so I got up to speed rather quickly. Was the pace a bit fast and did some things not get answered with complete clarity? Did the characters make asinine decisions? Well yeah, but I might still be on the fumes of finishing-a-series-joy, so I’m most likely overlooking it. I liked this book.

The Battle for Amphibopolis reminded me of the Bible, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter (tho I haven’t actually seen LoTR or HP) mixed into one.

I never thought a story with so many (permanent) deaths would leave me feeling satisfied. I mean if this were any other story, I would have been like

Come On Please GIF

The little dash of romance was sweet but not entirely believable due to the age range of the recipients. I think they were supposed to be like 12, and like I said before it’s been a while since I read the second book. But didn’t Herk only know her for like a few days?

Anyway, when I saw Herk’s parents in “heaven” so to speak, I started tearing up. I don’t know why, but it really had me in my feelings.

interview crying GIF

CHARACTERS:

Herk is pretty much the same as before except this time he has to deal with trying to stall a Lizzard transformation.

Sissy had a less prominent role in this book. She got these great powers, but the potential for them just kind of fizzled out at the end.

Zerk was there as well. :p

I loved Launa and her father. Their relationship was heartwarming, and I enjoyed Launa’s strong determination so much. I mean she was tempted with a very strong thing, but she turned it down. Respect.

ART:

I like the cartoony style and the colorful singing geckos? lizards? were so cute. Nice color direction overall.

OVERALL:

This is a fun graphic novel series though admittedly very violent at times. I give this book 4 out of 5, but as for the series as a whole, I don’t know. I will just say it’s a good series and leave it at that.