Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Book Club Picks #10 The Girl from Everywhere

Nix Song has lived aboard her father's ship, The Temptation for as long as she can remember. However, The Temptation is no ordinary ship. As long as Captain Slate has an accurate hand drawn map of the location and time he wishes to travel to, he can guide his ship there. Captain Slate's dreams lay in Hawaii in 1868, when Nix's mother was still alive. He is determined to go back and save her life with modern medicine. Nix however, has other plans. She loves her life aboard The Temptation, and is reluctant to give it up. There's also the risk that saving her mother will rewrite her whole history, causing her to lose everything. Nix must decide if she is willing to take the risk, or if she should leave her father behind.

 The Girl From Everywhere is the first book in a duology by Heidi Helig. It follows Nix, a girl who has spent her life on her father's ship, The Temptation, which Captain Slate is able to navigate through time and space. Basically this is what it would be like if the TARDIS was an awesome sailing ship instead of a police box. Captain Slate only needs two things to make this happen. An accurate and detailed map of the location, and the belief that it could exist. I was excited when I discovered it was possible to travel to fictional places too! The possibilities are endless, and if I was in Nix's position, I would constantly be creating my own worlds to travel to, along with commissioning JK Rowling to draw me a detailed map of Hogwarts. You can probably imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the majority of the book takes place in one location, and it's not even a fictional one!

Although this was the biggest disappointment in the book for me, I did actually love the location. The majority of the book is set in Honolulu in 1884, and it is a beautiful location. I adored Heidi's gorgeous descriptions, and it made me wish that I could visit Honolulu before it became the huge city that it is today. I loved that everything was historically accurate, as I pretty much knew nothing about the history of Honolulu before reading this book, so I loved that I was constantly learning. There were several times when I stopped reading to research more on a certain subject, particularly on the subject of the monarchy. As Heidi grew up in Hawaii, she was aware of local legends from her childhood, and I loved how she incorporated them into the book, particuarly the Hu'akai Po.

I felt as if I wasn't interested enough in the characters themselves, particularly Nix. She seemed a little two dimensional to me, and I just couldn't make myself become emotionally invested in her. I felt the same way about Blake, and felt as if his main purpose was to be a barrier between a romantic relationship happening between Nix and Kashmir, essentially creating an unnecessary love triangle. Although I loved that Blake was full of local legends, and showed up to save the day, I felt as if he was mostly there to give Nix and the reader information that would later be important to the plot. Blake was pretty much a background character, like the NPC in a video game that conveniently appears to guide the player in the right direction, only to fade back into the background. Everything that Blake did seemed to be for Nix's benefit, and he seemed more like a catalyst than a character.

The one character that I did actually like was Kashmir, and I was happy that he was central to the plot. I was worried that his main role would be to act as the love interest, so I was happy that there was more to him than that. I loved how kind he was, and that he was extremely loyal to Nix and Captain Slate. However, I did roll my eyes over the typical hostility between Kash and Blake, as it's such a cliché for the two men to hate each other in a love triangle. Although I didn't care much for the majority of the characters, I did love that they were wonderfully diverse, and I particularly loved that one of the female crew members had a wife.

The plot overall was a little too slow for me. I initially thought I was going to love it, as they travelled from 1774 India to 2016 New York, and then onto 1884 Honolulu in a short space of time. As the book is marketed as time travel, I expected the book to go on as it started, so I became a little bored towards the middle, as all that seemed to be happening was planning on how to rob the treasurey. I did however love when they travelled to a fictional version of China, as this was the only time we personally experienced something like this, rather than Nix just telling us about something that had happened in the past. Although I loved this part, I was also extremely confused in regards to Joss, the woman who had given Nix the map. I feel as if I didn't understand something shomewhere, and I got extremely confused over her timeline. I'm not sure if this was just me being stupid, or if it just wasn't explained well enough.

Although I did enjoy various parts of the book, I unfortunately didn't enjoy it as a whole as much as I thought I would. I am interested in Nix's story enough to read the sequel, but I think I will take a little break and read some other books before I jump back into Nix's world. I think that in order for me to enjoy the sequel more than I enjoyed this one, there would have to be character development, a more action packed plot, and a lot more time travel

The Girl from Everywhere is now available to purchase!

  | Amazon Book Depository

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

2018 Blog Goals

Something that I never do is New Year's Resolutions. I know I'll never actually start running every day or give up chocolate, but I thought something I could do was set some blog goals! A couple of these goals will be related to other bookish things outside my blog, but as they're still related to books, I'm going to add them anyway.

1. Have more of a variety of posts

So I've realised that probably 90% of my blog is book reviews on YA books. I have incorporated my reviewing the classics segment in the last two years, but I want to branch out into different bookish posts this year. I would love the opportunity to engage with authors more and have a variety of author Q&A's and guest posts. I would also love to be able to collaborate with some of my favourite bloggers on a topic we are both passionate about. This year I want to be more creative with my posts, and show that despite it's title, there is more to my blog than just reviews.

2. Start taking review requests from indie authors again

So 2017 kicked my ass for various reasons that I will go into detail about a little later, but something that I felt I had to do about halfway through the year was close review request submissions to self published authors. Now as I've probably mentioned hundreds of times, I love self published authors. My blog would probably not exist today if it wasn't for self published authors approaching me to ask if I will review their book. I didn't' read nearly as many books last year as I usually do, and this is the
firs year that I didn't actually reach my initial Goodreads goal. I got to a point where I was getting multiple review requests per day and I just couldn't keep up. My blog is something I do as a hobby, and when that hobby is causing me stress and anxiety, it's time to take a step back, which is exactly what I did last year. I hope this year will be less of a strain on my mental health, and I hope to reopen submissions to self published authors by the end of the month.

3. Understand that it's okay to take a break from blogging for mental health reasons.

This is something I really need to get my head around for my own well-being. Last November, I decided I was going to take part in NaNoWriMo. A dream I have had since I was around seven is to write my own book. I lack confidence in my writing abilities, and currently have three WIP's in various stages of completion that probably won't see the light of day. Now I have taken part in NaNoWriMo twice before, so I knew what I was getting myself into, but as I was averaging around 2K words a day and dealing with life outside my writing cave, I barely had time to read. After spending so much time working on my novel, I was always too drained to write blog posts too, but me being me, this made me anxious and worried. I know that posting nothing for a month doesn't look good. I worried that people would stop visiting my blog. I worried that people would forget about me. I worried that publishers would think my blog was inactive and drop me off their mailing lists. As I rarely get book mail from publishers these days, a lot of these worries remain, and even if my mental health has taken a turn for the worst, I often still feel obligated to make blog posts. I need to always remind myself that this is a hobby not a job. I don't get paid for my time, so I should let myself take breaks when I need them.

4. Continue writing my book

So I have a problem. Every time I decide to do NaNoWriMo, I stop writing when the calendar hits December. Finding the time to write 2K words every day becomes draining after a while, and every year I do NaNo, I tell myself I will take December off from writing and continue in January. The problem is that that never happens, and my half finished first draft remains that way indefinitely, doing nothing but taking up space on my laptop. I don't want that to happen again. I want to at least finish the first draft before I decide it's unsalvageable. It's unlikely I will ever try to get this piece of work published, but I think completing a first draft is the first step to my dream of one day becoming a published author.

5. Make booktube videos

Every year I tell myself that this will be the year I start to properly make booktube videos, and every year it doesn't happen. I always make a video to sum up my favourite books of the year (I'll be filming that soon I promise!) but then I will only make one or two videos for the rest of the year. I'm not going to become a daily vlogger, or even a weekly vlogger, but I hope to make a video at least once a month.

6. Read other peoples blogs more often

This is something I don't do nearly as much as I should, and this year I want to take the time to read and appreciate all the time and effort my fellow bloggers put into their posts. There are so many amazing bloggers who put their heart and soul into what they do. I want to engage with other bloggers who, like me, don't have thousands of followers, and can sometimes be overlooked in favour of the more popular bloggers. Small bloggers put just as much time and effort into their blog as the popular bloggers do, and I would love to give them a small portion of the recognition they deserve.

7. Read the books that have been gathering dust on my shelves

It is so easy to get a new book and dive right into it, ignoring the books that have been patiently waiting on my shelf for months (and occasionally years!) for me to pick them up. When I get sent an ARC, I feel obligated to review it before it's publication date, and often several books will be published in the same month, giving me no time to read anything else. There are a few (hundred) books on my shelf that I've been meaning to get round to for ages, and this is the year where I want to find the time to make a dent in my ever growing book collection, and find the time to read some of those books that I have so carelessly abandoned.

There are plenty more things I want to achieve with my blog this year, but as I'm in danger of making this post too long, I'm going to stop here. I would like to thank all the amazing bloggers who interacted with me last year, and all of you who have ever taken the time to read one of m blog posts. You are all totally awesome!

I hope you all have an amazing year!

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Review on The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily

It has been a year since Dash found a mysterious red notebook in his favourite book shop. A year since he started dating Lily, who changed his views on Christmas forever. However, as Christmas approaches once more, Lily is not in her usual festive spirit. Lily's grandfather is still recovering from a heart attack, and even though there are only twelve days left until Christmas Day, Lily still doesn't have a Christmas tree. Dash decides to try to get Lily's excitement for Christmas back by doing a kind gesture for her every day in the twelve days leading up to Christmas, but will it be enough to regain Lily's Christmas spirit?

It's no secret that I adored Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, so I was excited to dive right into the sequel! The book starts a year after the events of Dash and Lily's Book of dares, with Christmas fast approaching. However, Lily is far too worried about her Grandfather's ill health to throw herself into the holiday spirit this year. Dash puts it upon himself to change this, and make this the best Christmas ever.

I was so happy to get back into the festive world of Dash and Lily! I loved these characters in the first book, and was looking forward to seeing what Christmassy adventures they would get up to in this one. I did say in my review on Dash and Lily's Book of Dares that Dash hadn't gone through much character development, but in this book it is clear that he has. A year of being Lily's boyfriend has taught him to not only tolerate, but actually enjoy Christmas. The tables have turned in this book, as this time it is Dash trying to get Lily into a festive mood, something he definitely hadn't had to do in the previous year. I found Dash more likeable in this book, as he wasn't as stuck up and selfish as he used to be.

Something that I usually hate is miscommunication as a plot device to create drama between characters, but it worked surprisingly well. Although Dash does what he thinks is right, Lily often takes Dash's good intentions the wrong way and jumps to conclusions. I think it's natural to have doubts in a new relationship, and I think plenty of people have worried if their romantic partner really does love them. With the stress she was already going through with family issues, I could see why she was seeing everything negatively. It almost feels like David Levithan is taking all the tropes I usually hate and proving they're not always awful if they're written well.

I loved that Langston had a bigger role in this book, and that he had to put his grudge against Dash aside for Lily's sake. I love when characters who dislike each other have to unwillingly team up, and I loved that Dash and Langston slowly got to know each other, and were able to reach a point where they could be allies. I felt as if Langston grew up a lot in the space of a year, as he seemed quite immature in the first book, but this time he stepped up to help Lily, and had plans to move out.

I continued to adore Dash's friendship with Boomer. I remember one of the big dramas in my school was that a boy had broken up with his girlfriend only for his best friend to start dating her a while later. The boys stopped being friends, and although they still had to sit with each other in class, they refused to even talk to each other. Even though this does seem childish, these boys were actually not much younger than Dash. I loved that there was absolutely no drama between Dash and Boomer, and Dash handled the situation well. I loved how supportive he was, and seemed to be genuinely happy for his friend. Boomer's one liners continued to make me laugh out loud, and I particularly loved the addition of Oscar the Christmas tree.

Like the first book, this one had an important message, this time on the subject of change. I loved that this subject was brought up, as it is something we all go through. Nothing ever stays exactly the same. Things are changing constantly, and often these things are something that we have no control over. We can't stop the cherry blossom from blowing off the branches as Spring slips into Summer, or stop our loved ones from ageing. Lily is surrounded by changes she doesn't want to happen, from her brother planning on moving out, to her grandfathers health not being what it once was, and her parents wanting to move out of the one home she has lived in her whole life. Lily has no control over these changes, and although she initially tries to stop them, she eventually realises that these changes are inevitable, and although she may be able to stall them for a little while, they will happen eventually, and she will have to accept them. Change can be scary, but it can also be exciting and give us something to look forward to. I loved that Lily eventually realised that things changing is just a part of life, and something we often have no control over. Sometimes we have no choice but to adapt to change, even if we would prefer for things to stay the same.

There were so many brilliant and funny moments packed into this short book, but the one that really stood out for me was the ice skating scene, as it really couldn't have gone more wrong! It was both hilarious and relatable, as although non of us have landed several librarians in A&E (I hope!) I think we have all tried to do something nice for someone only for it to backfire horribly. I also loved that despite being injured, Dash kept his positivity and didn't blame Lily for what had happened.

This was a fantastic sequel to Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, and I thought it was just as good, if not better. Reading these two books in December really put me in a Christmassy mood! Even though I usually avoid sappy romance stories, there's just something about sappy Christmas romance stories that makes me occasionally make an exception. David Levithan and Rachel Cohn make the perfect writing duo, and I hope they continue to work together in the future!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Review on Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

When Dash tricks his parents into letting him stay home alone for Christmas, the last thing he expects is to find a red notebook nestled between the books in his favourite book shop. Dash discovers that someone has written a series of dares in the notebook, just waiting for someone to take them on. With nothing to distract him from the nightmare that is Christmas, Dash decides to complete the dares and leave the book for it's owner to collect. Dash soon forms friendship with the mysterious notebook owner, who turns out to be a teenage girl named Lily. However, Dash soon realises that his idea of who Lily is may not be who she is in real life. Will the relationship they have formed on paper transcend into real life, or will Dash's idea of who Lily really is be completely wrong?

So I actually got this book as a present from my friend last Christmas, but I just didn't get round to reading it. As I was looking for a festive book to read over the Christmas period, I thought this one would be perfect!

There is just something about David Levithan's writing that I adore. Usually I would hate a cheesy Christmas romance book, but when it comes to David's books, I can never get enough! This book was completely cheesy and unrealistic, but I loved every second of it! The book follows Dash,  a teenage boy who finds a notebook in his local bookshop that someone has written dares in. Dash finds out the owner of the notebook is a girl named Lily. Dash and Lily communicate exclusively through the notebook, writing dares for each other and leaving the notebook for each other to find. Dash's friends start to worry that Dash has created a version of Lily in his head, a version that the real Lily won't be able to live up to. If their relationship is to work out off the page, Dash must accept Lily for who she is, and realise the person behind the notebook is an actual person with her own flaws and problems.

The story is narrated through the point of view of both Dash and Lily, with the chapters alternating between the two of them. I loved this way of telling the story, as we are able to properly get to know both of the characters rather than just getting to know one character and just the idea of the other character. I also loved how it was set during the Christmas holidays and went up to New Year, as it made it the perfect book to read in December.

As the book was published in 2010, I can't complain too much about the unoriginality of Dash. It seems like every teenage boy in a YA contemporary novel likes to use big words that I don't understand and think themselves superior to others. I felt as if Dash would end up going through more character development than he did, as he was still pretty snarky by the end of the book. I did prefer Lily to Dash, as she was more down to earth and I loved how enthusiastic she was about Christmas, and how much she loved dogs.

One thing that David Levithan is well known for is his LGBT characters. Although there are no LGBT protagonists in this book, I loved how other LGBT characters were handled. Lily's brother, Langston, has a boyfriend, while two of Dash's friends are in a gay relationship. Something I loved was how there was no drama surrounding these relationships. There was absolutely no homophobic behaviour from any of the other characters, and the relationships were treated no differently than if they had been straight ones. I feel as if we need more books like this, as a story doesn't have to be about LGBT people for them to be present in a story. They exist all around us, going about their daily lives. This is something that rarely comes up in books, but is something we need to help us normalise LGBT people in the media. We need to get to a point where seeing a gay couple in a book or on TV is just as normal as seeing a straight couple. Although it's unlikely this will be achieved any time soon, having more LGBT side characters is a good way to move forward.

This book had some fantastic side characters, and I particularly loved Boomer, Dash's best friend. Boomer was a friendly and lovable character, and although he was obviously meant to come across as dim witted, he actually gave Dash some good advice. As more of the chapters involving Boomer are narrated by Dash, I felt as if we are given a biased opinion on Boomer, as I felt that he wasn't as dim as Dash made him out to be. I thought Boomer asking Lily to get food with him was adorable, and I loved seeing a friendship starting to form between the two of them.

This book was quite a mixed bag, as there were sad moments, funny moments, romantic moments, and probably every other moment in between! Although I've been super busy lately with my birthday and Christmas being a week apart, I still managed to get through the book fairly quickly. I even almost missed my stop while reading on the train I was so engrossed in it!

This book is a brilliant, light hearted read to get you in the festive mood! Although no super serious topics are brought up, I loved the theme of acceptance that ran throughout the novel. I loved how although Lily wasn't exactly how Dash had imagined her to be, he ended up liking her more than when she was an anonymous girl writing in a notebook. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a warm and fuzzy read!I

Thursday, 30 November 2017

NaNoWriMo (a.k.a the reason I disappeared off the face of the planet)

So as you may have noticed, my posts have been pretty much non existent this month! I usually post around four times a month, but I’ve not managed to find the time even for one during November. Don’t worry, there is a reason for this. I’m not just abandoning my blog. This month, I participated in NaNoWriMo, and all my writing endeavours ended up being put into my novel. If you’re reading this, you probably already know what NaNoWriMo is, but if not, basically it’s a challenge to write 50k words in a month. The challenge starts on November 1st and ends on November 30th, giving participants just one month to get down 50k words. I usually participate in this every other year. I started in 2013, and have participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, which is a similar event that takes place in the summer that is a little more relaxed, as it allows you to set your own goal. The November event is the main one, and is a little more extreme. More people fail the target word count than those who “win,” so every time I do it I’m convinced I’ll lose! However, so far, I have somehow managed to win each time! My first draft is nowhere near completion, but I’m 50k words closer to my dream of one day publishing a book than I was at the start of the month, so I’m happy about that!

So what happens now? In previous events, I’ve actually managed to finish telling my story in the 50k words. This time however, I feel as if I’m only about ¾ of the way through. There is still a lot to tell. The characters still have a lot of development to go through, and romances are still developing. I felt as if I took a leap of faith with this one, as for the first time since I started doing NaNo, I went for a contemporary idea rather than a fantasy one. Now, if you know me you’ll already know that fantasy is my favourite genre. There are quite a few YA contemporary books that I adore, but most of my favourites are in the fantasy genre. I had no idea how to write contemporary, but I really wanted to give myself a challenge, and do something I wasn’t comfortable with to see if I could actually do it. It turns out I can! As with most writers, my first draft is messy. There are events that don’t make sense in the order that I’ve wrote them, there’s some very questionable dialogue, the formatting is all over the place, there’s typos galore, but you know what, non of that matters. What matters is that I have taken a giant leap towards completing a book that I can be proud of.

I have a problem that whatever I write, I think it isn’t good enough. I am truly my own worst critic, and my first two attempts at NaNoWriMo ended with me completely abandoning the projects once November had ended. Seriously, I have never once gone back to edit, or even to read over them. I just thought they weren’t salvageable, that they were so badly written that there was no point in trying to turn them into anything worth reading. This time, I don’t want to do that. I want to finish the first draft, I want to read over my work, and then start putting everything in chronological order. I want to edit, I want to write, rewrite and rewrite some more. I want to get it to the point where I feel it is the best I can do on my own, and then I want to show it to my friends, get an editor, maybe even get an agent! Of course this will take months, even years to achieve. I might decide that this, like my previous attempts just isn’t good enough, and next time, I’ll come back with a brand new idea. Whatever happens and whatever I decide, I hope that one day I will achieve my dream of being a published author. For now I’m going to take a little writing break and get back to what I do best, which is reading and reviewing books!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Review on A Shiver of Snow and Sky

Red, red, the lights glow red
                                                          Beware the dangers up ahead

Seventeen years ago, The Goddess sent a warning. A warning that meant the villagers would soon be in life threatening danger. Only a few days later, the villagers were struck by a plague that killed many, including Ósa's mother. Now the time has come for the red lights to appear in the sky once more, bringing with them a future filled with certain danger. Ósa must find out what the lights mean, and find out how to prepare for the oncoming danger before even more of the villagers die.

 I felt as if the blurb was quite vague for this book, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. From looking at the cover, I figured it was going to be some type of fantasy romance. Something that I rarely enjoy is romance being a key element in a fantasy book. When I pick up a fantasy book, it is always because I want to read a fantasy book, not a romance. My first impression of a book is usually quite accurate, but to my delight, my first impression of this book was completely wrong! The phrase “never judge a book but its cover” has never been more accurate than it is with this book.

The book follows Ósa, a seventeen year old girl who's mother died when she was just a baby. When the plague that took her mothers life threatens to return, Ósa must find a way to stop it before more lives are lost. Something I adore seeing in fantasy novels are epic quests and adventures. One of my favourite books as a child was The Hobbit, and I grew up watching The Lord of the Rings movies. The thought of going on an adventure to a dangerous and distant place was always appealing to me, so I was hoping Ósa 's adventure into the mountains would be full of excitement and danger!

Although I loved most of the characters, one character that I just couldn't stand was Ósa's father. I think them not getting along is a huge understatement, as I was completely shocked that he sent her on her quest alone, when he understood how dangerous her journey would be, and there was a high possibility that she wouldn't come back alive. I also hated that he had such little faith in her, and although Ósa starts to mend their broken relationship towards the end of the book, I wasn't able to forgive him so easily!

Once Ósa leaves the village, the book is split into two parts, with one focusing on Ósa 's journey, and the other focusing on Ivar and what was happening in the village. Although Ósa 's chapters are narrated in first person, Ivar's are narrated in third. This didn't make much sense to me, as I saw no reason why both narratives couldn't be told in either first or third person. It is occasionally necessary for a book to be narrated in this way, but I felt that it was a little pointless to do it in this case, as I prefer when books aren't constantly switching between first and third person.

I did love both Ósa and Ivar, but I ended up being more drawn into Ósa 's story. I think this was probably down to my love of adventures, but I was always eager to get back to Ósa 's chapters. I think the only thing I disliked about Ósa 's story was that she was alone for most of her journey. Even Frodo had Sam to help him get to Mordor, and I felt as if having a companion would have made the story more interesting. I did love when she teamed up with Sejer, but I thought it would have been better if they had met earlier on in the story, and if Sejer had had a bigger role to play.

Even though the villagers are expecting another plague, the main threat becomes the Ør, the same creatures that forced the villagers ancestors to find new homes. Although the Ør were given a description, the name is so close to Orc that I couldn't help but imagine them as Tolkein's Orcs. It made me wonder if Lisa drew some inspiration from Tolkein's work, as I found a few similarities throughout the book.

My favourite part of the book was towards the end, where Ósa has to get through a number of rooms to reach the Goddess, each with something in it to deter her. This part felt like a brilliant mixture of Philosopher's Stone, Doctor Who and The Hobbit. I particularly loved the stone creatures, as I found them quite creepy, and they reminded me of The Weeping Angels.

Something that I always like to see in a fantasy novel is a good battle scene, and this book definitely delivered on that! I adored the battle, and how Ósa harnessed her new powers. The one thing that I found a little confusing was the dragon. You would think that having a dragon on your side would guarantee victory, which made me confused as to how the Ør were winning. The book mentions later on that the dragon was incinerating the Ør, so to me it made no sense why the dragon wasn't just creating a wall of flame to force the Ør to retreat.

I overall really enjoyed this book, and it went above and beyond my expectations. I loved that the main plot focused on the fantasy, and the romance was just a small subplot. The book was more plot driven that character driven, but this didn't bother me too much, as the plot was so good! I recommend this book to fans of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.

A Shiver of Snow and Sky is now available to purchase!

  | Amazon Book Depository

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Review on Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!

Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types is the best summer camp around! From working towards badges, to making friends with fellow Lumberjanes, there's never a dull moment at camp, especially when you happen to stumble upon a unicorn! When April, Jo, Ripley, Mal and Molly come across a lost unicorn, they decide to help it find it's way home. However, their adventures go astray when they decide to climb a mountain. A mountain that isn't on any maps, and seems to be undiscovered. The five friends soon find themselves stuck in the clouds with no way back down. Will the girls find a way back to camp, or will they be stuck drinking cloudy tea forever?

So I have to admit that I've never actually read the Lumberjanes comic books. I don't tend to read many comic books, so although I had heard of them before, I'd never actually picked one up. However, novels are definitely my thing, and when I got an email from Abrams asking me if I wanted to review a novel adaptation of the comics, I of course accepted!

The book follows April Ripley, Jo, Molly and Mal, a group of scouts who share at cabin at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. While working towards their Living the Plant Life badge, Ripley discovers a unicorn wondering through the forest. Ripley does what we would all do in that situation, which is of course scream and run after it. The girls soon discover a whole rave of unicorns, along with a huge mountain. A mountain that has never been documented on a map. A mountain that seemingly doesn't even exist!

The first thing that I noticed about this book was that the text is GREEN! I was concerned about my eyesight for a moment before realising that nope, it actually was green. I've never come across a book with green text before, and as green is one of my favourite colours, this made me very happy! As this is a children's book, I thought this was quite a clever design choice, as children are always more interested in colourful things. The green text along with the short chapters and gorgeous illustrations made it the perfect transition between picture books and chapter books.

One of the many things I adored about this book was the focus on the importance of friendship. I love seeing strong friendships between girls, as girls can often be horrible to each other, so having a group of girls loving and supporting each other was lovely to see. I loved that although each girl had different interests, they all supported each others hobbies, and helped out even if the activity wasn't something they enjoyed much. This was such a positive message, and I loved how it showed that girls don't have to limit themselves to fit into the female gender roles. Girls can pursue any hobby and achieve anything!

I loved each girls unique personality, especially Ripley's. I just loved how she was constantly energetic and having fun, and how she greeted strangers with a hug. Really we need more Ripley's in the world. I also adored April, the leader of the group. I loved how although she was brave and confident most of the time, she also had a moment where she doubted herself. April feels as if she has to single handedly get the girls back to safety, but has no idea how. I felt as if the girls helping her showed that some tasks are just too big to take on alone, and it's ok to ask for help.

So I have to talk a little about Barney, who despite being a side character, was extremely important. Although we aren't told in detail how Barney identifies, we are told that they use they/them pronouns rather than he/she. I have never come across a fictional character before who uses they/them pronouns, so I was a mixture of shocked, excited and happy to find out this information about Barney. I loved the way Barney was treated by the girls, as no fuss was made over their preferred pronouns at all, and they were treated the same as everyone else at the camp. This was such a positive message to young non binary and gender fluid people, as they are often ostracised and bullied by their peers. By not making a big deal over Barney's gender identity, the book took us in the right direction to normalise children like Barney for younger generations. Clearly there are not enough characters like Barney in middle grade and YA fiction, the age range where people can struggle with how they choose to identify. I really hope this book can pave the way for more authors to include characters like Barney in their books! While I'm on the subject of diversity, I adored the fact that Jo had gay dads. I was so happy how this was casually thrown in, and the drag race comment was comedy genius!

I honestly don't think I have anything negative to say about this book except that I wanted it to be longer! I'm usually not a huge fan of cliffhangers, but the ending definitely made me want to continue reading this series. This is an important book that I think all children would enjoy, as I think all children would benefit from discovering how awesome girls truly are! I adore the Lumberjanes and will definitely be looking into getting hold of the comics.

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! is now available to purchase!

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