Monday, January 15, 2018

Things I've Read Recently (64): Extraquels

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.

Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Published: November 1st, 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: YA Thriller
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 373 plus the acknowledgements.
Part of a series? This is the fourth and, as far as I know, final Naturals book. Beware of spoilers ahead. You can see my thoughts on the first book here, and my thoughts on the second and here here.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): When Cassie Hobbes joined the FBI’s Naturals program, she had one goal: uncover the truth about her mother’s murder. But now, everything Cassie thought she knew about what happened that night has been called into question. Her mother is alive, and the people holding her captive are more powerful—and dangerous—than anything the Naturals have faced so far. As Cassie and the team work to uncover the secrets of a group that has been killing in secret for generations, they find themselves racing a ticking clock.

The bodies begin piling up, the deaths hit closer and closer to home, and it soon becomes apparent that this time, the Naturals aren’t just hunting serial killers.

They’re being hunted themselves.

Thoughts: I think these are actually best read one right after the other, although this does a pretty good job of catching you up. I have like no memory, so maybe other people do better, but I had forgotten some of the details and it took me a little bit to get back into the voice and flow of the book. As this one is also the last book, too, the vast majority of it is about the plot.

I both liked that and had some issues with it. It's super exciting, and so much happens, but some of the characterizations suffers as a result of that. It's not bad with the existing characters, as we've had three other books to get to know them, but one of the new characters especially gets hit with it. That bothered me especially because it was the first and last queer character in four books to show up. Related, something that's started bothering me is how infantalized Sloane is in these books - she's the only character who doesn't end up in a romance by the end of the series, shown to be very clueless when people flirt with her, and the book at one point calls her "the most childlike". It's bordering on problematic honestly, because she's also somewhat coded as autistic or something similar. She's a really funny and sweet character, but I became less comfortable about it the more I read it and the more some of these things were emphasized.

Coding without actually labelling is becoming one of my least favourite tropes because... you could have gone for representation instead!

I think my biggest problem with these is I enjoy the voice and the writing and what they do well so much that what they do badly really bothers me because they could be absolutely amazing if they didn't fall into certain traps, or lack diversity so much. I like the characters so much, though, and the plot twists always surprise me, so it leaves me conflicted. I honestly love these, but they have problems. They're really fun, but I wouldn't expect them to be great on representation, I guess.

Sink or Swim by Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Kat Leyh, Grace Ellic, Carey Pietsch, Maarta Laiho, and Brooke A. Allen

Published: April 10th, 2017 by BOOM! Box
Genre: YA Fantasy Comic
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 112
Part of a series? This is Volume 6 of the bind-ups, containing issues 21-24.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Knot On Your Life!

Camp is about more than just crafts and acquiring badges when you’re a Lumberjane. When April, Jo, Mal, Molly, and Ripley all decide to learn more about the mysterious Seafarin’ Karen, things take a turn for the strange. Shapeshifters, strange portals, and friendship to the max make for one summer camp that never gets boring!

Thoughts: SEAFARIN' KAREN. I love her so much. Lumberjanes is just my favourite in general, and this is a really good one, too. SELKIES. I also can't wait to learn more about the on-going plot arc and I really adore a certain relationship that has developed. The next volume comes out the day before my birthday and I already want it. I'm not a super big fan of the current artist, but I'm still super excited about the series and I really enjoyed this volume. I just end up so happy when I read these.

Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond

Published: April 18th, 2017 by Switch Press
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 357 plus acknowledgements and about the author.
Part of a series? This is the third and I believe final book in the Lois Lane series. See my thoughts on Fallout here, and Double Down here.
Got via: The library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): For the first time, Lois Lane has almost everything she wants. Non-temporary home? Check. Dream job? Double check. Incredible BFFs? The absolute best. And now, her online crush, SmallvilleGuy, is coming to Metropolis. If all goes well, they'll turn their long-distance friendship into a some-kind-of-fairy-tale romance. But when does all ever go well?

Before she can check boyfriend off her list, Lois must take down a mad scientist plus a trio of mutant teens, protect the elusive flying man from the feds (including her dad), and navigate her very first date with SmallvilleGuy. In the follow-up to FALLOUT and DOUBLE DOWN, Gwenda Bond's reimagination of DC Comics's first leading lady takes on her toughest challenge yet: Love.

Thoughts: I am both bummed that this is quite likely the last book and very satisfied with it as a finale to the series. It wraps things up in a satisfying way and really shows how much Lois has grown in her friendships, and how far she's come from having none.

The romance in this is just the cutest thing. And honestly, I think one of my favourite things is that there's no love triangle, or real romance drama. The romance is obviously a tiny bit predictable, because we know where it's going to go (I mean... we do, lol), but the book, and the series, does the best thing with that. It takes the time to develope the characters so that we love them as much as they love each other.

One thing I gotta ask - what's with this series and the name James? There's two James (father and son) and also a random "Jamie". It's just that name, but still, I notice these things XD

Overall, I really liked this and I'd recommend the series if you want something fun and comic-book related. I'd really love to read more like this, too.

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia

Published: April 21st, 2015 by Amistad
Genre: Historical MG
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 285
Part of a series? This is the third and final book in the Gaither Sisters series. See my thoughts on the first book here, and the second here.
Got via: Library.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother Big Ma and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles’s half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven’t spoken in years.

As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that’s been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.

Thought: This is a great way to wrap the series up. I like how things are both kind of wrapped up, and there are new things happening in their life so it's like all beginning and end all at once. That was a terrible sentence. The characters are growing, and things they've been dealing with throughout the series come back and they work through them and learn to not just fall into the same patterns they've always fell into. Characters have to learn new roles and things about themselves.

At the same time, I thought the girls exploring their roots as a family just as they're getting to an age where they're not going to be as close and lean on each other so much was a great idea. They're also away from home again, and thrown into a different environment, shaking things up. Their family story is great, and it's really interesting what a contrast this one especially is from the first one. But at the same time, there's a lot of similarity in what happens in them - the girls spend a summer together, exploring both their relationships with each other and others, and learning about their family.

Great book on its own, and a really great way to wrap up the series.

Trigger warnings for child abuse, racism, animal death, and a near-death experience, which could especially be upsetting for a younger child.

And I believe that's it!!

Peace and cookies,

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