The Avant-Guards, Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin (Author), Noah Hayes (Illustrator)

A graphic novel about a basketball team that will endear even those who yell “yay sports”, The Avant-Guards is a charming, fun, beautifully illustrated story that will leave you wanting the next volume as soon as you close the back cover!

 

42201523

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound

Published: 3 September 2019

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Genre(s): Graphic Novel | LGBT+ | Sports

When Charlie transfers to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, she struggles to find her feet, but winds up exactly where she belongs…in the school’s (terrible) basketball team.

As a transfer student to the Georgia O’Keeffe College for Arts and Subtle Dramatics, former sports star Charlie is struggling to find her classes, her dorm, and her place amongst a student body full of artists who seem to know exactly where they’re going. When the school’s barely-a-basketball-team unexpectedly attempts to recruit her, Charlie’s adamant that she’s left that life behind…until she’s won over by the charming team captain, Liv, and the ragtag crew she’s managed to assemble. And while Charlie may have left cut-throat competition in in the dust, sinking these hoops may be exactly what she needs to see the person she truly wants to be.

From Carly Usdin (Heavy Vinyl) and artist Noah Hayes (Wet Hot American Summer, Goldie Vance) comes an ensemble comedy series that understands that it’s the person you are off the court that matters most.

 

5

 

Representation: sapphic relationships (past/present); non-binary character (Jay); transgender character (Nicole); casual racial diversity

 

 

content warnings - Copy

 

Panic attacks

 

what i enjoyed

 

The dual point of view, from Charlie the new transfer to Olivia the leader of the Avant-guards, played out well. As the strongest personalities in this volume, their points of view set up the framework the brought the reader to the others, who brought a lot of joy and variety to the group.

I thought there was so much energy that played off one another. Tiffany, Ashley, Nicole, and Jay were separate entities that were still something of a family in this story. There were some “rough” edges, such as the romantic history between Olivia and Nicole, but these edges were still good in a way because it made for interesting interactions.

The basketball aspect is easy enough to follow for someone who isn’t a huge sports fan (i.e. me lol) and whatsmore it’s still enjoyable. The first game between the Avant-guards and their league opponent was fun and sportsmanlike. I actually look forward to seeing more action when generally I’m a “go sports” type person.

The cliffhanger is tricky because I thought it was good in terms of being what it was, but also I didn’t enjoy it because now I have to wait until next February for the answer to that email? How am I supposed to do that? *weep for me*

 

what i didn't enjoy - Copy

 

There’s not a lot to not enjoy about this! I suppose it was rather short, so there’s that? 😦 I can’t wait for the next volume, especially with that ending.

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

 

RetellingAThon Prompts & Team Announcement

RetellingAThon

Thank you to everyone that has signed up for the first Retelling-A-Thon. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun and it wouldn’t be that without all of you.

A special thanks, of course, to Tay from Frayed Books for creating Retelling-A-Thon and a shoutout to Jen from jm_bibliolater for creating the banner you see above. 🙂

Now, on to the important things you’ve come here for today!

Team Shakespeare!

Calliana—@callathekitten
Lauren—@muchadoforbooks

There are a lot of Shakespearean works from which to draw inspiration for retellings. For the RetellingAThon prompts, I chose these five plays specifically: Macbeth, Hamlet, Twelfth Night,, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo & Juliet.

Two spots are left available for Reader’s Choice. You can choose two more titles based on the prompts or ANY Shakespeare retellings you can think of!

Over the next couple weeks before the readathon starts I’ll be sharing some title recommendations that will fit these prompts, but don’t think they’re to restrain you! As long as it fits the prompt, no matter the genre/format, it’s fair!

Do Not Say the Name: A retelling of Macbeth

Talk to the Skull: A retelling of Hamlet

Witty Fool or Foolish Wit?: A retelling of Twelfth Night

Foolish Mortals and Faeries: A retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Star Crossed Lovers: A retelling of Romeo & Juliet

Readers Choice x2

Retelling-A-Thon Week 2 Prompts

A brief reminder: RetellingAThon runs from August 1-31st. Each week is dedicated to reading retellings in the theme of the week. Please see the schedule below for each week’s theme and host. 🙂

August 1st-8th

Host: Tay at Frayed Books

Mythology

August 9th-16th

Host: Harker at The Hermit Librarian

Shakespeare

August 17th-24th

Host: Umairah at Sereadipity

Fairy Tales

August 25th-31st

Host: Jennifer Mitchell at JM_Bibliolater

Classics

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Bloom by Kevin Panetta (Author), Savanna Ganucheau (Illustrations) – Review

Baking, sweet boys, and a summer of slow burning romance. What will these months bring for Ari and Hector? There’s only one way to find out.

Step up to the counter at Krykos Family Bakery and say hello. 🙂

 

39073387

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound

Published: 29 January 2019

Publisher: First Second

Genre(s): Graphic Novel/LGBT+/Young Adult/Romance

Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band—if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.

Writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow.

 

5.png

 

Rep: Greek-American MC, Samoan MC, M/M relationships (ex/current)

 

content warnings - Copy

 

Mild ableist language, off screen death of a grandmother, ild assault mentioned, (spoiler – highlight between tags to display) fire & related loss of property (end spoiler)

 

what i enjoyed

 

The sheer enjoyment that Hector got from baking was sweet to watch. The way that it rubbed off on Ari and helped not only their relationship, but Ari’s inner turmoil was a benefit to the story.

Ari’s friends from high school who were in his band, the ones that he thought he’d be moving to Baltimore with, the evolution on their relationship was definitely an interesting one.  There was something to be said for the was the band’s friendships changed and some parts irrevocably so over the course of the story. It felt like an honest portrayal of real life relationships rather than an idealistic one that is seen a lot. However, Ari’s friendships did at times feel like more of a background plot line, taking a seat to Ari and Hector’s blooming relationship, so I wasn’t quite pleased with that handling of it.

Savanna Ganucheau’s art was a perfect choice to complement the Kevin Panetta’s text. The softness of the linework, the shading and the color choices, complemented the tender moments when Ari and Hector were the bakery, letting their guard down as they baked, or even in some of the harsher moments, when Ari was fighting against his father’s wishes for him or even his own confusion about the future (a familiar fear that many readers may identify with).

 

what i didn't enjoy - Copy
Ari’s bandmates were split between supportive and very not. Cameron for instance? Oh boy. Cameron was a jerk who didn’t much care about the other members of the band besides Lauren, with whom he had a more personal relationship. Not liking him, though, wasn’t the problem, exactly. It was that the band members took a backseat to the Ari/Hector plotline and their intermittent appearances felt awkward at times. Even though there were two that ended up being friendlier and more essential, Cameron and Lauren felt very underdeveloped aside from Cameron’s jerkiness.

 

to sum it up - Copy

 

The slow burn romance, the questioning of one’s future, the break up of friendships, and excellent art tying it call together…Bloom has a lot to recommend it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and would suggest picking it up so y’all can watch Ari & Hector fall in love for yourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

 

#RetellingAThon Announcement Post

Tis the summer of Readathons in these here parts!

Apparently taking a break is only sort of taking a break for me. ^^; While I’m scaling back on some commitments in order to rest, I am trying to read more for enjoyment to scale back on stress (possibly the source of some of the trouble I’ve had recently).

What has that resulted in recently? Readathons up the wazoo! The most special of all being…

 

The RetellingAThon!

 

Created by Tay and Missy from Frayed Books, the ReTellingAThon is about reading books (retellings, of course) that fall under one of four categories: Classics, Fairy Tales, Mythology, or Shakespeare.

Each week we’ll be reading one kind of retelling, a host will be sharing their recommendations for the following week, and social media will be abuzz among the hosts with updates. It’s pretty laid back overall, but if you have any questions be sure to ask away. 🙂

Be sure to visit everyone’s blog and don’t forget to sign up and choose a team!

 

Sign Up Here!

 

I’ll be hosting Team Shakespeare and look forward to seeking out the different interpretations of the Bard’s work.

 

 

IMG_20190629_175305

 

Tay at Frayed Books

Harker at The Hermit Librarian

Jennifer Mitchell at JM_Bibliolater

Umairah at Sereadipity

 

 

RetellingAThon Schedule

 

 

August 1st-8th

Host: Tay at Frayed Books

Mythology

 

August 9th-16th

Host: Harker at The Hermit Librarian

Shakespeare

 

August 17th-24th

Host: Umairah at Sereadipity

Fairy Tales

 

August 25th-31st

Host: Jennifer Mitchell at JM_Bibliolater

Classics

 

 

Need Retelling Reading Ideas?

 

Starting next week #RetellingAThon will be releasing prompts for each team to aide you in creating your TBRs. In the meantime, think about what kind of retellings you might like to read. What team would be right for you? Personally I hope you’ll join Team Shakespeare, but whatever feels best for you is what is right!

EpicReads did a Epic Chart of YA Retellings in 2014 that has some great ideas y’all can use as a jumping off point. There have been a lot since then and this readathon isn’t limited to one age group of books, so feel free to think outside of YA.

 

 

 

 

 

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

The Hermit Librarian Hosts: Xpresso Book Tours & Zara West’s Under the Skin Blog Tour

 

A billionaire bridge builder

A gifted thief

A ruthless criminal

Can he save her before it’s too late?

 

Under the Skin by Zara West
Publication date: June 6th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Thriller

Born poor and raised on the streets, celebrated bridge builder and billionaire, Mic Vargas is knee-deep in the construction of a trouble-plagued bridge from Manhattan to New Jersey. He really can’t afford to take in a stray thief and fall in love with her. But when a beautiful, snappy-tongued, illegal immigrant literally drops at his feet, he becomes consumed with saving her and her family from poverty.

Cat burglar, Lena Correr stopped trusting anyone long ago. Not even a rich, handsome billionaire with good intentions can break through her defenses. At least, not until an East Coast crime boss threatens her family and forces her to steal for him. Mic vows to help her and her family escape the hell they are in. But will the man Lena is coming to love succeed, or will he end up dead at the hands of an old enemy?

 

 

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks

 

 

Excerpt from Under the Skin

 

Mic stopped to let a snowplow pass. Doing street art was taunting the authorities enough. Did his thief know what she was risking? Being caught making graffiti was a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. But stealing property was considered grand larceny and could land you in prison for the long haul.

He didn’t wish jail time on anyone.

What she had stolen from him alone would get her locked up for years, and he assumed he was not her only mark. If she kept it up long enough, she’d get caught. Everyone got caught eventually.

She’d been lucky it was he who’d rescued her. He didn’t want that beautiful girl to spend her life behind bars.

 

 

about the author - Copy

 

 

Zara West loves all things adventurous and heart-stopping as long as they lead to true love. Born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Zara spends winters in New York where the streets hum with life, summers in the Maritimes where the sea can be cruel, and the rest of the year anywhere inspiration for tales of suspense, mystery, and romance are plentiful.

An accomplished artist by training and passion, she brings a love of art to every book she writes. When not marooned on an island or chasing after Greek shepherds, Zara tends her organic herb garden, collects hats and cats, and whips up ethnic dishes for friends and family. Learn more at http://www.zarawestsuspense.com

 

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

 

 

GIVEAWAY!

 

$10 Amazon gift card & an e-copy of Under the Skin

 

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

 

Tour Schedule

 

July 1st

The Avid Reader – Interview
A Dream Within A Dream – Excerpt
diary of a wannabe writer – Review

July 2nd

Turning Pages – Review
The Hermit Librarian – Excerpt
From the TBR Pile – Review
The Magic of Wor(l)ds – Interview

July 3rd

Reviews by Jaye  – Review
Viviana MacKade – Guest post
Live Through Books Blog – Review

July 4th

Book Reviews by Steph – Guest post
Read with Me – Excerpt
crazy kalm – Review

July 5th

Books and Life – Review
Don’t Judge, Read – Interview
A British Bookworm’s Blog – Review
Book Lovers 4Ever – Excerpt

 

 

 

 

XBTBanner1

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

 

Fearless Felines: 30 True Tales of Courageous Cats by Kimberlie Hamilton – Review

As a cat enthusiast, how could I not leap at the chance to review a book like Fearless Felines? Within its covers is a wealth of felines from around the world who have done marvelous things, from feats of courage to giving hope to small towns. Truly inspiring, some of these stories were entirely new to me and I am pleased to be able to share my thoughts today on Kimberlie Hamilton’s new book: Fearless Felines: 30 True Tales of Courageous Cats.

Thank you to Scholastic Inc. for sending me a copy of this book to review.

 

43319727._sx318_

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound

Published: 5 November 2019

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Genre(s): Non-fiction/Animals

From World War II London to outer space, meet the coolest cats in history in a colorful illustrated compendium of famous felines and cat facts.

Drawing from the thrilling lives of more than 30 adorable cats throughout history, Kimberlie Hamilton retells the fascinating tales of cats through the centuries. Meet Mrs. Chippy, a cat who joined a daring ocean journey to Antarctica, or Simon, the only cat to receive a medal for wartime bravery, and dozens more. Filled with colorful depictions of each cat and feline facts throughout, this is the perfect gift for cat and history lovers alike.

 

 

4

 

 

content warnings - Copy

 

Implied animal testing/animal death

 

what i enjoyed

 

The format of the book was pleasing and kept my interest as a reader. The 30 courageous felines were featured as promised; interspersed between their entries were smaller features that were just as fascinating.

These smaller entries included cats may have shared a common thread with the previous entry. For example: the Courageous story of Faith, a cat whose insistence on staying in a church basement saved her and her kitten’s lives, was followed by a listicle of other cats who were seemingly possessed of a preternatural sense (one cat “knew” when his owner died, another seemingly predicted an avalanche).

Other interspersed pages featured tips such as How To Tell If A Cat Loves You, How To Help Cats In Need, Feline Entrepurr-neurs, and more.

The various art styles were all very nice and went so well together. The work of 17 different artists, their individual styles complemented the portions of the book that they worked on while also working with the styles of their neighbors.

 

Thank you to all the illustrators!

 

Allie Runnion, Andrew Gardner, Becky Davies, Charlotte Archer,

Emma Jayne, Holly Sterling, Hui Skipp, Jessica Smith, Katie Wilson,

Lily Rossiter, Michelle Hird, Nan Lawson, Olivia Holden, Rachel Allsop,

Rachel Sanson, Bonnie Pang, Sam Loman.

 

I loved the end of the book where, gathered together, were the titles of the books mentioned within for further reading on these fascinating felines. I have read Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicky Myron (yes! Dewey was featured in Fearless Felines!) and hope to read more from this list. There are also select websites with information about cats, cruelty prevention, and dedicated sites for featured felines.

 
what i didn't enjoy - Copy

 

There were some parts of the book where I felt conflicted. There were the 30 distinct entries, of course, and aside from that there were listicles between the entries within which more cats were mentioned. This is all to bring up the entries I’m referencing.

One being Milo of The Adventures of Milo and Otis film fame/infamy. The first issue is that the entry misgenders Milo (female used in place of male) and also the entry saying that, because the film has no humans appearing in it, that that makes it worth seeing. While normally I’d agree on that point, the animal cruelty allegations and murky issues surrounding the film make me question why this particular entry’s inclusion.

Another entry, this one a feature one including illustration, was that of Felicette, a street cat from France that was sent into space as part of the Space Race in the 1960’s. While it sounds impressive that she was the first cat to go to and survive her journey into space, the cavalier way the author describes her fate upon her return made me uncomfortable.

 

“Scientists were eager to see if Felicette’s brain had changed in any way during her history-making voyage, which included five minutes of fur-raising weightlessness.
They learned a great deal…”

 

The implied animal testing was, as I said, discomforting, particularly once I looked up what actually happened to Felicette both during her journey and afterwards.

Edit (16.7.19): the author does include a note in the book during Felicette’s entry that is of import here. My apologies for not including it in the original review:

 

“There’s no longer much reason to send cats, dogs and primates into space and many believe it is unethical to do so. Being launched into space isn’t exactly a pleasant experience, and unlike human astronauts, animals have no say in the matter. That’s why it’s so important to remember and honor Felicette for all that she sacrificed in the name of science.”

 

 

to sum it up - Copy

 

It was a lot of fun to hear familiar stories about my favorite historical felines. It was that and more to discover new tales from around the world, from cats that “danced” ballet to ones that travelled hundreds of miles to be reunited with their families to cats that accomplished so much more. Cats as a species have depths of incalculable depths and I don’t think we’ll ever stop learning from them.

Sharing their stories can be funny, can be enjoyable, educational, at times worrisome, but hopefully we can take what we learn and make sure we’re worthy of the devotion and intelligence of cats by taking care of their lives and their stories.

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

 

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine by William A.E. Ford (Author) & Marcela Simonetti (Illustrator) – A Review

Timothy has a big imagination and a week of time to travel it! With his time machine he’ll go everywhere, from the time of the dinosaurs to the far future with flying cars and robots. Travel with him on his journey as he takes a look at different locales in his trusty Time Machine.

Thank you to William Ford for providing me with a copy of his book for review.

 

about the book - Copy

 

43617901._sx318_

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound

Published: 30 January 2019

Publisher: Self-published

Genre(s): Children’s/Picture Books

With Timothy Mean’s amazing imagination and time machine, anything and anywhere is possible! Join Timothy on a magical rhyming adventure as he skips through time and pranks with pirates, gets daring with dragons, and even teases a T-Rex!

“It’s Monday. Hip hip hooray! Where shall we travel in time today?

With Timothy Mean, every day is a rhyme in time!

 

2

 

 

what i enjoyed
Timothy was a curious, inventive child that built his time machine out of scrap parts in his basement. His crafting skills seem to be on point.

There was a range of historical points of reference that Timothy visited. From the age of dinosaurs to a futuristic time period where robots are teachers, including his own parents’ childhoods and the 1969 lunar moon landing, his went to a lot of places over the course of a week.

 

 

what i didn't enjoy - Copy

 
Some of the rhyme schemes didn’t seem to work too well, thus interrupting the flow of the story (fun/mum for example). There were multiple grammatical choices that fell into this as well and made the flow of the words awkward. If one is reading this aloud, it’s going to sounds strange or at the very least not match what’s on the page.

Timothy Mean feels like an illustrated chapter book that’s trying to cram itself into a picture book format. The chunks of text on each page feel like too much for the format.

Artwise, I thought that the cover was a bit off putting because it seemed like clip art as opposed to the art style found within, which did improve and reminded me of an almost creepy Dave McKean aesthetic.

Whether Timothy actually used a time machine or this was all in his imagination, the actions taken throughout the book are very telling of his personality. I understand his name is quite literally Mean, but he doesn’t really have or get a redeeming quality by the end. There are multiple examples of “naughty” behavior, but by the end his parents quite literally say he has a playful mind and it’s left at that.

 

 

to sum it up - Copy

Timothy certainly lived up to his name during the course of this book. He doesn’t interact with anyone else in this book that can be said for sure to be a real person, with the exception of his family on the final page. I’m not sure whether he’d be like this with other people (i.e. the behavior that makes him live up to his name). Is he a bully? Is he a lonely child? Both? There’s a lot of layers to this story that I don’t think really get answered which is, in part, because I think this is feels more like a story that isn’t quite right as a picture book (see my point under Things I Didn’t Enjoy).

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine is a decently illustrated, if overly dark (color wise), decently written book that doesn’t quite connect as a picture book. I don’t think it works as a read aloud experience, but maybe as a teaching experience for how not to act as a mean person.

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.