If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason.
This go around, we have sequels! Since these will likely have spoilers to previous books, I thought I'd put a few in one post so you could skip them/skip the post if you wanted to avoid that. Plus, you know, themes! I like themes.
So this post will have Another Life by Keren David, Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore which is technically a companion and doesn't actually have any spoilers, but... themes, the second Lumberjanes bind-up, and Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs.
Another Life by Keren David
Published: September 2012 by Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Page Count: Goodreads says 384. I didn't write it down, so we're going with that.
Part of a series? Yes, it's the third in the "When I Was Joe" series. See my reviews of When I Was Joe, and Almost True if you want to see what I thought of those. Beware spoilers.
Got via: The library and I will say more about that when I have more room.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound
Summary (from goodreads): Kicked out of yet another boarding school, Archie couldn't be happier to find himself back in London with old friends and an exciting social life. But he's worried about his cousin Ty, who is facing a sentence in a Young Offender Institution and doesn't seem to be coping. And he's finding that his old friends have moved on and it's a struggle to keep up with their new lives.
When he begins to learn surprising things about Ty, Archie goes on a mission to discover the truth about his cousin's past. But who is the real Ty?
Thoughts: Background first. Not a SINGLE LIBRARY in all of Saskatchewan had this book. Not ONE. And I so, so, so hated the idea of leaving the series unfinished. I considered buying this, but it's hard to get a hold of a copy and I couldn't really afford to pay that much for a book I probably wasn't gonna read more than once. So I messed around on the library website and ended up almost more by accident than anything ordering a copy of this through ILLO. It ended up coming from Edmonton. That is awesome.
This is a really good ending to the series. I felt ending on the second book left things too open-ended, and this ties up the threads, and gives everything a definite ending. I'm definitely glad I got it. I did have to return it really fast, though, because you only get so much time on an ILLO and I wasn't messing around with that.
This one changes up the POV, and alternates from mostly Archie chapter, Ty's cousin who was introduced in the last book, and only a few Ty chapters. Archie has a much lighter voice than Ty, who's going through a pretty dark spiral at this point in the series after everything that's happened to him, and I think it really helps to have that POV to change things up. It also is important to the plot.
I can't decide whether this one is better or worse on the girl representation. It's like... it's not as insulting at times as the other two could be, but also girls didn't really get as much screen-time as in the others. None of the girl characters are really fleshed out, or memorable. It's been a few days since I read this, and nothing is really coming to mind as exceptional.
The families in this are still incredibly messed up, and Ty and Archie and maybe their grandparents are probably the best of it. Ty's parents are disasters, Archie's parents are hardly there and his dad is a jerk. (I gotta say this, maybe a bit of a spoiler - Archie's dad clocks Ty at one point because he and Archie got in a fight. Like teenaged boys NEVER do that. The first thing Ty does, still on the ground, is ask if his uncle treats Archie like that. He's literally on the ground after being punched in the face by his uncle, and his first thought is to make sure his cousin is safe at home.)
*exhales* Okay, I'm okay. I liked the POV switch, since I did like Archie a lot in the last book, and it works really well in this one to balance Ty's chapters. I do wish there had been some sort of marker to indicate when the POV changed, though. And I feel like the ending was a little rushed action-wise, but it still wrapped up the story well enough. I also was annoyed by the fact that Ty never got any kind of therapy or treatment or anything. You can't fix PTSD by traveling and pep talks, and I think it would have been really good to show that.
All in all, satisfied with this one. It wraps up the series well, and I'm glad I got to read it. I probably wouldn't buy it since I have way too many books as it is, but I'm glad I got to finish the series. I don't love these books, but I'm satisfied with the experience, and this one is probably my favourite of the lot.
Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Published: May 14th, 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young eaders
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance with a good amount of Mystery/Thriller mixed in.
Page Count: 384 plus author's note and such
Part of a series? It's the companion to Texas Gothic, which you can read my review of here.
Got via: The library, what else is new?
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound
Summary (from goodreads): Daisy Goodnight can speak to the dead. It’s not the result of a head injury or some near-death experience. She was just born that way. And she’s really good at it. Good enough to help the police solve the occasional homicide.
But helping the local authorities clear cold cases is one thing. Being whisked out of chemistry class by the FBI and flown to the scene of a murder/kidnapping in Minnesota? That’s the real deal.
Before the promotion can go to Daisy’s head, she’s up to her neck in trouble. The spirits are talking, and they’re terrified. There’s a real living girl in danger. And when Daisy is kidnapped by a crime boss with no scruples about using magic—and Daisy—to get what he wants, it looks like hers is the next soul on the line.
Thoughts: I mentioned that I read Texas Gothic when I was under a lot of stress and feeling pretty meh about reading in general, and I basically started this in the same way! I started it right before Christmas, read about a chapter, and then got majorly distracted and didn't pick it back up until after Christmas. And, honestly, I think that was probably best because I loved this book and I wouldn't have wanted to read it halfheartedly.
Like I said, this is a companion book, not a strict sequel. You could read this or Texas Gothic first or second, and the only thing mentioned in this about TG is a little bit about Amy's love life, and only in the loosest of sense. Phin and Amy only make small appearances, and Amy's boyfriend isn't even mentioned by name. I think it's probably better to read TG first, but Spirit and Dust doesn't rely on it heavily, and they essentially stand alone from each other.
One of the thing that does connect them is obviously that Daisy is Amy's cousin, and with that, there is still the element of the Goodnight family, and how they are all connected, and the strength of their family. I will say this - the book could use more women of colour, disabled women, queer women, fat women, etc. Because of that, I'm not going to do the "it writes women well" because, hey, it's seriously missing some women, including ones like me. But the women it has, though not exactly diverse, are written very well. The Goodnight women are connected, and supportive, and the strength of a family of women like that is kind of wonderful.
Romance-wise, there's a bit of a tease of a love-triangle. I referred to one in my head as a "decoy love interest" because, wow was I not into that. It kept playing around with the underage thing, since Daisy was not quite eighteen with the guy calling her "Jailbait" and basically saying she was too young for him. Don't get me wrong, I agreed! I was honestly uncomfortable with the age gap, and that he was essentially in a position of power over her because of their respective jobs. I can't even figure OUT Texas's current laws about consent (tw: article discusses age of consent and statutory rape), honestly, but I'm pretty sure at the time the age of consent was 17 and that actually made the entire thing not actually true.
Regardless of whether it was correct, I actually didn't think it was funny, or cute, or romantic, not with the power imbalance especially. There's age gap romance, and then there's squicky, and if the author had taken us there, I feel it would have gone squicky fast. Plus it's essentially saying that a relationship is entirely about sex. Like, does the moment she turn 18 suddenly change her personality so you'll magically suit each other in a relationship? Or is just "okay" to have sex then and the rest doesn't matter? It's just... a lot of tropes I am not a fan of. Luckily, the author didn't go there! Instead we got a very nice little romance with only a few years between them, probably more like two or three years versus a possible minimum of five years, which I'm just not into in my YA.
What we got instead was a really good romance. Not entirely unproblematic, but just problematic enough in the right ways to be really fun to read about sometimes. Like, dude, he kidnaps her! But then they go on the run together! And it gets steamy! And it's kind of awesome. I was so much more into that than the other one, honestly, but it is done very well. It's got a pretty classic feel to it, a lot like Texas Gothic where the romance was very "I hate you I hate you more hey we're kissing now cool", and I really enjoyed that.
I also thought this one was funny, vibrant, the references weren't too dating, and I loved Daisy. I honestly think I liked this one even more than Texas Gothic, and I really enjoyed that one! The magic is awesome, the romance is good, the travelling and settings are really cool and so well described, the mystery was awesome, and the characters are really good. It just works very, very well. Highly recommend this one.
Oh, and I'm pretty sure there was an affectionate shout-out to the 1-800-Where-R-You books by Meg Cabot, which I loved as a kid, and are sort of superficially similar.
Lumberjanes Volume 2: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Waters, Brook Allen, and Maarta Laiho
Published: October 13th, 2015 by BOOM! Box
Genre: YA Comics with like a paranormal twist
Page Count: 111 pages
Part of a series? Yes, this is the second bind-up of the Lumberjanes series, featuring issues #5-8
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound
Summary (from goodreads): Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are not your average campers and Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types is not your average summer camp. Between the river monsters, magic, and the art of friendship bracelets, this summer is only just beginning. Join the Lumberjanes as they take on raptors and a sibling rivalry that only myths are made of.
Thoughts: Guys, why don't these come out faster? I have to wait for April (Edit: I realize I'm scheduling this for April, but I wrote most of this in like January, so it was a long time to wait) for the next one and the library can be SO slow and I think I'm going to explode. I love reading them in this bind-up format, or I'd use up absolutely every one of my Hoopla check-outs each month reading them all. *sigh* Life is hard.
I love how packed these are with women. There's like literally maybe one male character who comes into play in this bind-up for like part of the last issue. I love how there are different bodies and skin tones in this, even in the extras who don't make a ton of appearances. I love how you see a character with leg hair, and it's not a joke. I love that one of this messages of the book is girls being capable and being treated as such. I love the way the setting of an all-girl camp really lets the female characters be themselves without some of that social pressure, and how realistically the girls shine. I love the format of the comic and the devices of their handbook that it uses to help tell the story. I love the little romance they're hinting at, and the spoiler I know that I won't tell because that'd be mean.
I also really, really enjoyed the absolutely brutal game of capture the flag the girls played, and how that is something you'd usually see as a "boy" thing, but the girls are never treated as doing "boy" things. These are girls things they do, even the rough, dirty, somewhat violent things. The girls are just so realistic, and it makes me so happy.
If you liked the 80s/90s "girl groups doing things" books, read this. If you like books about summer camp, read this. If you like Steven Universe, read this (that's just a hunch). The same could probably be said of Adventure Time, but I don't watch that, so who knows? If you know a girl around the age of 9 or 10, give her an issue of this. If you know a boy around the age of 9 or 10, give him one. If you know any child around the age of 9 or 10, give them one. Child into Greek mythology? Get them this. Magic stuff? This. If you know a child of basically any age or interests, get them into this. There's no language you need to be worried about, and the most gore involved is a scraped knee.
Girls especially, though. Give all the girls you know a chance to find this. You'll be giving them something truly special. This kind of representation is so important for girls to see, and it's done so beautifully in this. I'm gonna go cry now because I'll be waiting for months for the new one!
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
Published: September 22nd, 2015 by Quirk Books
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal/a bit of Horror. It crosses genres.
Page Count: 458 plus the acknowledgements for the use of the photos.
Part of a series? Yes, this is the third and final book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children trilogy. You can read my review of the first book here, and the second book here.
Got via: The library, amusingly.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound
Summary (from goodreads): The adventure that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued in Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.
They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all.
Thoughts: These books are just so cool. I love the blending of these weird, actually real photographs and the story. It's not an easy thing to do so it doesn't throw you out of the story. It could easily become very gimmicky very quickly, and it doesn't. At the same time, the story stands on its own, and doesn't solely rely on the pictures.
I will say that there is a plot that is almost metaphoric for sex work, and I think that it's a bit clunky. There's some language used in the dialogue, even, then that really reinforces that. Maybe more metaphoric for human trafficking, technically, but at times it still comes off as somewhat clunky. I think the plot itself worked fine, and could have been fine if the language had been refined just slightly.
Other than that, I really enjoyed this one. These books are all have very deep, complex writing, and I enjoy how it takes me a little longer to read these instead of just breezing through them. This is a great conclusion to the series, wrapping everything up in a very satisfying manner without it getting sappy, or in a way that had too many convenient coincidents. I was pleased in general. Good job. Also, a girl's gotta love a book with libraries in it, because a girl loves libraries.
So, a girl is curious about what you've been reading lately. Any sequels?
Peace and cookies,