Monday, February 25, 2019

SnarkNotes: Sheets by Brenna Thummler

SnarkNotes: noun. The sort of review Susie does for books that wouldn't mesh with her usual review format. Graphic novels, nonfiction, fiction she's read before, and fiction she simply doesn't have much to say about all fall under the SnarkNotes category. SnarkNotes are usually brief and snide in nature.

Today's SnarkNotes topic is... Sheets by Brenna Thummler!


GENRE
  • fantasy
  • graphic novel
  • drama
SUMMARY

  • Marjorie is a lonely young girl who has held her family together by the seams ever since her mother died
  • Wendell is a lonely young boy who died far too soon, and is having trouble adjusting to his new situation as a ghost
  • when Wendell stumbles across the laundromat where Marjorie works -- the family business she struggles to keep afloat -- he inadvertently makes matters much, much worse for her
  • as Wendell attempts to make the afterlife work for him, Marjorie attempts to keep her own life from spiraling out of control

PROS
  • first of all, the art style is absolutely GORGEOUS
  • and for such a short story, there was a LOT of emotional weight here
  • I teared up more times than I am proud to admit
  • Marjorie was such a fantastic protagonist. her situation has forced her to grow up fast but she's still undoubtedly a child
  • and Wendell?
  • oh my sweet baby Wendell
  • he's so precious
  • I loved the society of ghosts, and the fact that they literally need to have sheets to be able to see each other
  • I love how the story balances the ghosts and fantasy element with the real-world turmoil of Marjorie's family situation
  • mentioning the art again because it's really something special
  • I opened the book on a random page in the bookstore, looked at the art for twenty seconds, and then decided to buy it
CONS
  • my main complaint is that the villain felt a bit weak?
  • almost a little too cartoonishly evil
  • (and yes, I realize "it's not realistic" is an odd complaint for a story with ghosts in it but you know what I mean)
  • I also thought it was a bit short, but that complaint is pretty minor because the story wrapped up nicely
  • and if my complaint is that I wish there was more of it, that's a pretty good sign tbh
OTHER NOTES
  • it works great as a self-contained story, but I absolutely would not say "no" to a volume 2
  • also, fuck you Brenna Thummler, the last panel literally made me cry
  • and I was at WORK when I read this
RATING: 8 / 10

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If you've read Sheets, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!



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Thursday, February 21, 2019

DNF: Angels of Music by Kim Newman


TITLE: Angels of Music

AUTHOR: Kim Newman

GENRE: mystery

SUMMARY: Beneath the opera house in Paris, a mysterious masked man known only as the "opera ghost" has three women under his tutelage. These women are Christine Daae, Irene Adler, and Trilby O'Ferrall. Together, they are the Angels of Music, detectives who investigate crimes their clients would prefer to keep out of the news.

HOW FAR I GOT: 90 / 416 pages

WHY I DIDN'T FINISH: Okay, so as you can probably tell from the summary, I did not go in expecting this to be great literature. I'm a huge fan of the "Phantom" musical, but I know that it's a very melodramatic, very flawed spectacle. Unfortunately, this book didn't have the qualities that made the musical work (sometimes in spite of itself). I think part of it was, I didn't know who a lot of the characters were. Most (if not all) of them come from classic literature, and I had difficulty keeping track of all of them. Not helping matters was the fact that the lineup of Angels changes with every section, and Irene -- who was my favorite in the first section -- was the first one out. That, combined with the writing style not really grabbing me, made it difficult for me to find the motivation to continue reading. I don't think it's a bad book, but it's definitely not for me.

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Monday, February 18, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend


TITLE: Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow

AUTHOR: Jessica Townsend

GENRE: fantasy

NOTE: As this is a sequel, this review will contain spoilers for the first book in the series, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. If you haven't read that book yet and wish to go in unspoiled, don't keep scrolling.

PLOT SUMMARY: Morrigan Crow has successfully completed her Trials and won a place in the Wundrous Society. Within Wunsoc, she is a safe, protected, and respected member of society. Or at least, she would be, in theory. The trouble is, Morrigan is a Wundersmith -- she has the ability to control and manipulate Wunder, the very fabric of Nevermoor. Not only are her abilities powerful, they have a bad reputation. The only other currently living Wundersmith is known as "the evilest man to ever live," and Morrigan knows that if anyone outside of a select few learn the truth about her, she could be thrown out of Wunsoc, and probably Nevermoor altogether. As Morrigan tries to cope with her new role in Wunsoc, things get a whole lot worse when it becomes clear that someone knows Morrigan's secret -- and they're willing to blackmail her whole unit with it.

FIRST THOUGHTS: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I LOVE NEVERMOOR SO MUCH YOU GUYS. Okay, now that that's out of my system... I am happy to report that this is a more than worthy followup to the first book in the Nevermoor series. If anything, Wundersmith is even better. I am truly hooked on this series, and the worst thing about this book is now I have to wait another year (or... *shudder* even longer) for book three.

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: The primary conflict of the book is Morrigan's struggle to fit in at Wunsoc, and come to terms with her role as a Wundersmith. (Which, predictably, isn't helped by the fact that a lot of people -- including most of the adults -- view Morrigan as a threat because of her abilities. Seriously, I wanted to slap most of the adults in this story at least once.) Even with all the magic and action -- both of which were fantastic, don't get me wrong -- the real driving force of the story is Morrigan's emotional growth. It was really great to see her develop and navigate all these difficult situations, especially when it all got tied into the larger plot with Ezra Squall and the various magical goings-on in Nevermoor. I really hope future installments show us more of the inner-workings of Wunsoc, too -- I'm especially curious about what it is that Jupiter does all day long.

9 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: I talked a lot in my review of the first book about how much I love Morrigan as a protagonist, and believe me when I say that that hasn't changed. I loved seeing Morrigan's character growth here, and her relationship with her mentor Jupiter develop. Jupiter wasn't in this book as much as I would've liked, but that did have the silver lining of providing more room for the (many, many) supporting characters. This book introduced a lot of characters, mostly the other kids in Morrigan's unit, and the staff at Wunsoc. I really liked a lot of the minor characters, especially the dual-personality'd Miss Murgatroyd / Miss Dearborn. (It makes sense in context. Sort of.) My only real complaint is that the main villain of the story (and, likely, the series), Ezra Squall, wasn't in it much. I know that less is more, and it's probably creepier if we only see him every now and again -- but still. I found his developing dynamic with Morrigan to be really interesting, and I'd like to get more into his character and backstory. Who knows, maybe one of these days we'll find out why he's literally the worst person on Earth.

9 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: Still wonderful. Townsend's prose is extremely easy to get into, and once you stop reading, it's difficult to stop -- I finished the back half of the book in a single sitting. Townsend's also really, really good at exposition, which is a must for a good fantasy series. It can be difficult to explain all the rules and lore of a magical world without getting infodumpy about it. (Trust me. I'm speaking from experience.)

9 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: A step up from the previous installment, in the sense that there are a lot more female-centered relationships. I was really glad we got to see more of Cadence in this installment, and her friendship with Morrigan develop. In terms of representation of  POC and queer people, it's about the same, but I am optimistic about future installments.

7 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you haven't read Nevermoor yet, I implore you to pick it up. Seriously. I am obsessed with this series, and I am determined to drag as many people down with me as I possibly can. It's one of the best young readers' series around, and it's great for the adults, too. So, go back and read the first book, then read this one, and then come scream with me.

FINAL GRADE: 8.5 / 10


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Thank you so much for reading this review. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute! Even if you can't donate, you can feel free to follow me on social media; the links are in the top-right corner.

If you've read Wundersmith, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!



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