Bite-size reviews: the beginning of May

Hello, and welcome again to another edition of everyone’s least favorite type of post: bite-size reviews! Lotta stressful stuff happening in my life right now, so let’s just get to it!

All of these books were provided to me at no cost by NetGalley. Thanks, NetGalley!

Crumbs
Violet and the Crumbs: A Gluten-Free Adventure by Abigail Rayner and Molly Ruttan
40 pages
published April 19th, 2022

The dynamic duo of I Am a Thief by Abigail Rayner (author) and Molly Ruttan (illustrator) have created a new picture book sure to spark conversations about this timely issue. 

Violet used to love birthday parties, but now that she has celiac disease, she’s not allowed to eat pizza, cake, or anything else with gluten. Violet feels alone until she discovers that some animals have dietary restrictions as well. While standing up for her animal friends, she realizes she can do the same for herself. And when it’s time to celebrate Violet’s birthday, there isn’t a single gluten-containing crumb in sight! 

Filled with pluck and humor, this informative story provides a great opportunity to discuss this increasingly common condition with children who have celiac disease and gluten-intolerance as well as those who know people who have it and are seeking to learn more about it. 

This book has been approved by the Celiac Disease Foundation.

This is a really cute book! I love Violet’s raincoat and her polka-dot wellies, and the way she deals with change. Five stars. Bookshop link here.

Boss
Be the Boss of Your Stuff: The Kids’ Guide to decluttering and Creating Your Own Space by Allie Casazza
160 pages
published March 8th, 2022

Give your kids the decluttering guide that will encourage their independence and create a more peaceful home for your family. Allie Casazza has created a resource for you to show kids how to create and design their own space, offering practical ideas on organization and productivity, kid-friendly inspiration for mindfulness, and interactive pages for creativity.

Allie has encouraged women to simplify and unburden their lives as the host of The Purpose Show podcast and through her first book Declutter Like a Mother. Now she’s helping you equip your kids and tweens to discover the same joy of decluttering as they

design and create a space that supports their interests and goals,
make more room in their lives for playtime and creativity,
increase productivity and find renewed focus for schoolwork,
learn valuable life skills, and
cut down on cleaning time, reduce stress, and feel more peaceful.

Your kids will start to understand that the less they own, the more time they have for what’s important. Written in Allie’s fun, motivational voice, Be the Boss of Your Stuff is ideal for boys and girls ages 8 to 12, includes photography and interactive activities with space to write, draw, imagine, and plan, shares step-by-step instructions for decluttering,
offers added practical, personalized instruction from Allie’s children, Bella and Leeland,
and is a great gift for coming-of-age celebrations, the first day of spring, New Year’s, Easter, birthdays, back-to-school, or school milestones.

As your kids become more proactive in taking care of their stuff, you’ll find your whole family has more time and space for creativity and fun. After all, less clutter, less stress, and less chaos in your kids’ lives means more peace, more independence, and more opportunity to grow into who they’re meant to be.

Read Allie’s first book, Declutter Like a Mother, to further equip yourself in decluttering while you empower your kids to embrace their space.

This is a great book! I hated being a kid and my mom would tell me to clean my room but would never really explain HOW. This book really gets kids thinking about HOW to clean their room, especially perpetually messy kids who can’t seem to get ahold of themselves. There’s quite a few journaling prompts and exercises of that nature in this book that I didn’t necessarily find useful, but a kid probably would! Four stars.

Bookshop link.

Fire
Like A House on Fire by Lauren McBrayer
320 pages
published April 26th, 2022

What would you do if you found the spark that made you feel whole again? 

After twelve years of marriage and two kids, Merit has begun to feel like a stranger in her own life. She loves her husband and sons, but she desperately needs something more than sippy cups and monthly sex. So, she returns to her career at Jager + Brandt, where a brilliant and beautiful Danish architect named Jane decides to overlook the “break” in Merit’s résumé and give her a shot. 

Jane is a supernova–witty and dazzling and unapologetically herself–and as the two work closely together, their relationship becomes a true friendship. In Jane, Merit sees the possibility of what a woman could be. And Jane sees Merit exactly for who she is. Not the wife and mother dutifully performing the roles expected of her, but a whole person. 

Their relationship quickly becomes a cornerstone in Merit’s life. And as Merit starts to open her mind to the idea of more–more of a partner, more of a match, more out of love–she begins to question: What if the love of her life isn’t the man she married. What if it’s Jane?

I really expected this to be a “fucked up woman makes fucked up decisions for 400 pages and then you’re mad about it but also can’t stop thinking about it” book, and it is kind of that but also like, in some new and different ways. I recommend it! It’s also sapphic. Four stars.

Bookshop link.

Ninja Kitties Mini Reviews

Trouble at the bridge
Ninja Kitties: Trouble at the Bridge: Zumi Understands the Power of Listening
by Rob Hudnut and Kayomi Harai
48 pages
publishes June 7th, 2022

It’s a beautiful day and Zumi, Hana, and Drago are busy bustling about Kitlandia’s castle to prepare for a visit from Piglandia’s King and Queen, but Zumi is in charge and wants everything just so. Meanwhile, the mischievous trio – Winty Wolf, Cody Coyote, and Jed Jackal – are up to no good; they’re destroying the Emerald River Bridge!

Piglandia’s royal family are on their way and they’ll get hurt if the bridge isn’t repaired in time. The kitties assemble for Ninja Kitty Time to come to the rescue! Find out what happens next in this charming new picture book for kids, where they’ll learn about the power of teamwork, listening to others, and working together! Also included are exciting activity pages for kids, from crossword puzzles and word searches to mazes and seek and find games, plus tons of bonus stickers!

Thanks to NetGalley for these books in exchange for an honest review. I did ask for them so I got myself into this.

I mean this with full offense. All of these books are terrible. The illustrator is NOT getting paid enough because everything looks like terrible photoshop, and they keep reusing the model of the wolf. In Fried Eggs and the Red Gem (Drago Discovers the Importance of Teamwork), they keep reusing the egg drawing and flipping it upside down and pasting it weird places. What!  This is a book you give to a child so you can have twenty minutes to yourself (no judgment, I have done this and I would do it again. Sorry Peppa Pig). I was not impressed by the writing or the illustrations,  The best thing about these books is that the grandmother cat is autistic because she wears the autism symbol (a rainbow infinity sign) on her head (this is presumably unintentional but I like it). If this book was $1 at the dollar store it would be a good buy. Or if my child loved them, I would get them from the library. But I would not intentionally expose a child to these ninja kitties, in order to never have to look at them again. One star. 

Not the demographic at all, but June 7th 2022, when these books publish, should be reserved exclusively for buying and celebrating HELL FOLLOWED WITH US. Link here.

Bookshop links below in case you want to check out how much money you’re saving by not buying them.

Trouble at the Bridge. 

Beebee
Ninja Kitties: Activity Storybook, Kitlandia is in Danger! Bee-Bee believes in His Inner Strength by Kayomi Harai and Rob Hudnut
48 pages
publishes June 7th, 2022

Combining an empowering story with engaging play, kids will learn to always be themselves and join Bee-Bee as he learns the same lesson! While his royal kitty siblings are training, Bee-Bee is self-conscious about his own honey powers – he thinks they’re nothing compared to all the cool things his siblings can do and wishes he was more like them. But when Kitlandia falls under attack, Bee-Bee’s honey-sticking powers are exactly what the Ninja Kitties need to save the town and defeat the evil scheme of the Fang Gang. An uplifting Ninja Kitties picture book for kids that teaches them why comparison is the thief of joy, children will also learn to always be themselves because they’re unique in their own special way! There’s only one of them in the entire world – and that’s something special in itself! Also included are exciting activity pages for kids that will help them further their comprehension of the story and its lesson, from crossword puzzles and word searches to mazes, trivia, and seek and find games, plus tons of bonus stickers!

Kitlandia is in Danger! 

Castle
Ninja Kitties Save the Castle Activity Storybook: Mia never gives up! by Rob Hudnut and Kayomi Harai
48 pages
publishes June 7th, 2022

Combining an empowering story with engaging play, kids will learn to never give up on themselves in this charming children’s book! It’s super hot in Kitlandia and Mia is having a hard time learning and controlling her special water power. She wants to give up being a Ninja Kitty, but wise Grandma Tabby encourages Mia and patiently works with her as she tries over and over again. Meanwhile, back at the castle, a fire breaks out and the royal kitties hurry to use their Ninja Goodness power and rush to put out the flames. When Grandma Tabby and Mia arrive back at the castle and see the fire, Mia knows the Ninja Kitties need her water powers now more than ever! Read and find out what happens in this encouraging Ninja Kitties picture book for kids that teaches them the power of failure, trying again, and never giving up! Also included are exciting activity pages for kids to further their reading comprehension of the story and its lesson, from crossword puzzles and word searches to mazes, trivia, and seek and find games, plus tons of bonus stickers. 

Save the Castle!

Fried eggs
Ninja Kitties Activity Storybook: Fried Eggs and the Red Gem: Drago Discovers the Importance of Teamwork by Rob Hudnut and Kayomi Harai
48 pages
publishes June 7th, 2022

In this exciting Ninja Kitties picture book for kids, children will learn about the power of teamwork and also have fun with awesome activities! One morning, Prince Drago is feeling frustrated and unappreciated by his royal siblings. When he later gets word the Fang Gang has stolen Farmer Fluff’s eggs that Baker Baku needs to bake the Queen’s birthday cake, he decides to handle the problem himself without any help. After confronting the Fang Gang using up all the stolen eggs to cook for themselves, Drago quickly learns he shouldn’t have come alone. Will any of the other Ninja Kitties realize Drago needs help? Will the Fang Gang eat all the eggs and ruin the Queen’s birthday cake? Read and find out! Also included are exciting activity pages for kids that will further their comprehension of the story and its lessons, from crossword puzzles and word searches to mazes, trivia, and seek and find games, plus tons of bonus stickers!

Fried Eggs and the Red Gem

Bite-sized reviews: April Edition

What’s this again? Everyone’s least favorite style of post? A BITE-SIZED REVIEW ROUND-UP? That’s right, it’s finals for me and I am So Stressed because if I get One B I will die and lose my dreams of going to the University of Michigan for Grad School. So I read some books this week but I’m not going to talk about them at length! Let’s go!

Sofi and the Bone Song

Sofi
Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley
416 pages
publishes April 19th, 2022

In this gorgeous, queer standalone fantasy, a young musician sets out to expose her rival for illegal use of magic only to discover the deception goes deeper than she could have imagined–perfect for fans of An Enchantment of Ravens! 

Music runs in Sofi’s blood. 

Her father is a Musik, one of only five musicians in the country licensed to compose and perform original songs. In the kingdom of Aell, where winter is endless and magic is accessible to all, there are strict anti-magic laws ensuring music remains the last untouched art. 

Sofi has spent her entire life training to inherit her father’s title. But on the day of the auditions, she is presented with unexpected competition in the form of Lara, a girl who has never before played the lute. Yet somehow, to Sofi’s horror, Lara puts on a performance that thoroughly enchants the judges. 

Almost like magic. 

The same day Lara wins the title of Musik, Sofi’s father dies, and a grieving Sofi sets out to prove Lara is using illegal magic in her performances. But the more time she spends with Lara, the more Sofi begins to doubt everything she knows about her family, her music, and the girl she thought was her enemy. 

As Sofi works to reclaim her rightful place as a Musik, she is forced to face the dark secrets of her past and the magic she was trained to avoid–all while trying not to fall for the girl who stole her future.

-sapphic!
-Deep, Involved Fantasy!
music as magic
a RIVALRY that ends in KISSING?
-GENERATIONAL TRAUMA?

This is many things I enjoy in a book. Four stars. Bookshop link here.

 

A Fatal Booking

Booking
A Fatal Booking by Victoria Gilbert (Booklover’s B&B Mystery #3)
304 pages
publishes June 7th, 2022

Victoria Gilbert’s third Booklover’s B&B Mystery, a treat for fans of Mary Daheim and Kate Carlisle, finds owner Charlotte Reed and her former spy neighbor, Ellen Montgomery, pitted against a tea-party poisoner. 

Booklover Charlotte is delighted to welcome an eclectic group of guests to Chapters Bed and Breakfast for a book club retreat focused on fairy tales and classic children’s literature. But when one of the guests is poisoned at a Mad Hatter tea party, Charlotte realizes she’s fallen down a rather unpleasant rabbit hole 

The victim – an opinionated busybody whose jewelry store sold original designs, along with some possibly “hot” merchandise – had plenty of enemies, spurring Charlotte and Ellen to offer their well-honed investigative skills to assist the local police. But as they delve deeper into each of the guest’s stories, they realize all of them had a motive, and the means, to close the book on the unfortunate victim. 

Enlisting the aid of a few local residents, as well as their new ally, agent Gavin Howard, Charlotte and Ellen vow to reveal the truth, even if the path to any sort of happy ending is strewn with deadly danger.

-I’m taking a ballads and folktales course this semester as part of my children’s literature degree and I thought about it so much while reading this book
-the theme is Alice in Wonderland
-EVERYONE has a motive which I think is very good
-this is definitely a good afternoon read with a cozy cup of coffee

Four stars.

 

Spear

Spear
Spear by Nicola Griffith
192 pages
publishes April 19th, 2022

If Le Guin wrote a Camelot story, I imagine it would feel like Spear: humane, intelligent, and deeply beautiful. It’s a new story with very old bones, a strange place that feels like home. –Alix E. Harrow, author of A Spindle Splintered

She left all she knew to find who she could be . . . 

She grows up in the wild wood, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake drift to her on the spring breeze, scented with promise. And when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she decides her future lies at his court. So, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and sets out on her bony gelding for Caer Leon. 

With her stolen hunting spear and mended armour, she is an unlikely hero, not a chosen one, but one who forges her own bright path. Aflame with determination, she begins a journey of magic and mystery, love, lust and fights to death. On her adventures, she will steal the hearts of beautiful women, fight warriors and sorcerers, and make a place to call home. 

The legendary author of Hild returns with an unforgettable hero and a queer Arthurian masterpiece for the modern era. Nicola Griffith’s Spear is a spellbinding vision of the Camelot we’ve longed for, a Camelot that belongs to us all.

On the surface, this is everything I love in a book (queer Arthurian retelling! Welsh Arthurian retelling! sapphic!), but it really unfortunately felt like it Was Not For Me, which I don’t think was any particular fault of the book itself, it was honestly probably just the fact that it is Finals Week and also Migraine Week for me. I think if you liked Cursed which was an Arthurian retelling on Netflix that premiered at the start of the pandemic, you’ll really like this book, but I couldn’t get into that for similar reasons (it was the start of a pandemic and I was very stressed about it). Three stars but like, I’m sad about it. Rating systems suck.

Bite-sized reviews

Oof, some really short reviews for some great books this week. Sorry about that, folks, I’ve been consumed by migraines and looking at a bright screen is exceptionally bad for me. As always, I received everything from NetGalley ahead of time in exchange for an honest review.

She gets the girl cover
She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick
384 pages
Publishes April 5th, 2022

She Gets the Girl

She’s All That meets What If It’s Us in this swoon-worthy hate-to-love YA romantic comedy from #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Five Feet Apart Rachael Lippincott and debut writer Alyson Derrick.

Alex Blackwood is a little bit headstrong, with a dash of chaos and a whole lot of flirt. She knows how to get the girl. Keeping her on the other hand…not so much. Molly Parker has everything in her life totally in control, except for her complete awkwardness with just about anyone besides her mom. She knows she’s in love with the impossibly cool Cora Myers. She just…hasn’t actually talked to her yet.

Alex and Molly don’t belong on the same planet, let alone the same college campus. But when Alex, fresh off a bad (but hopefully not permanent) breakup, discovers Molly’s hidden crush as their paths cross the night before classes start, they realize they might have a common interest after all. Because maybe if Alex volunteers to help Molly learn how to get her dream girl to fall for her, she can prove to her ex that she’s not a selfish flirt. That she’s ready for an actual commitment. And while Alex is the last person Molly would ever think she could trust, she can’t deny Alex knows what she’s doing with girls, unlike her.

As the two embark on their five-step plans to get their girls to fall for them, though, they both begin to wonder if maybe they’re the ones falling…for each other.

This is super voice-y and ends up being really sweet. Also, I loved the cover! Four stars. 

Bookshop link. Storygraph link.

 

Young Mungo

Mungo
Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart
400 pages
publishes April 5th, 2022

A story of queer love and working-class families, Young Mungo is the brilliant second novel from the Booker Prize-winning author of Shuggie Bain

Douglas Stuart’s first novel Shuggie Bain, winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, is one of the most successful literary debuts of the century so far. Published or forthcoming in forty territories, it has sold more than one million copies worldwide. Now Stuart returns with Young Mungo, his extraordinary second novel. Both a page-turner and literary tour de force, it is a vivid portrayal of working-class life and a deeply moving and highly suspenseful story of the dangerous first love of two young men.

Growing up in a housing estate in Glasgow, Mungo and James are born under different stars—Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic—and they should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all. Yet against all odds, they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they fall in love, they dream of finding somewhere they belong, while Mungo works hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his big brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. And when several months later Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland with two strange men whose drunken banter belies murky pasts, he will need to summon all his inner strength and courage to try to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future.

Imbuing the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism and giving full voice to people rarely acknowledged in the literary world, Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the bounds of masculinity, the divisions of sectarianism, the violence faced by many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.

This story is heart-wrenching. Romeo and Juliete except queer and working-class set in Glasgow Scotland. It’s like a Front Bottoms song with a cello. Four stars.

Bookshop link. Storygraph link.

 

Dreams Bigger than Heartbreak

 

Dreams bigger than heartbreak
Dreams Bigger than Heartbreak by Charlie Jane Anders
300 pages
publishes April 5th, 2022

From the international bestselling author of All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders, comes Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak, the sequel to Victories Greater Than Death in the thrilling adventure Unstoppable series.

They’ll do anything to be the people they were meant to be — even journey into the heart of evil.

Rachael Townsend is the first artist ever to leave Earth and journey out into the galaxy — but after an encounter with an alien artifact, she can’t make art at all.

Elza Monteiro is determined to be the first human to venture inside the Palace of Scented Tears and compete for the chance to become a princess — except that inside the palace, she finds the last person she ever wanted to see again.

Tina Mains is studying at the Royal Space Academy with her friends, but she’s not the badass space hero everyone was expecting.

Soon Rachael is journeying into a dark void, Elza is on a deadly spy mission, and Tina is facing an impossible choice that could change all her friends lives forever.

I couldn’t get into this book, maybe because I didn’t read the first one. Everything felt confusing and soaked in neon. I loved the premise, though. Three stars, possibly revisiting this one after I read the first book.

Bookshop link. Storygraph link.

Bite-sized reviews: Late March edition

I am so stressed and so sick! Great! Let’s get into these reviews. Thanks to NetGalley who keeps approving me for books even though really I should chill out.

THE CITY OF DUSK

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim
576 pages
Comes out March 22nd, 2022
  • incredibly dense
  • Really intense
  • Not the best thing to read when you are stressed and sick (unless it becomes a comfort read over time etc etc)
  • Politics! Magic! Everyone is queer!
  • I do not read enough fantasy to deal with this
  • Risha is my favorite for the record, thank you
  • This is SO LONG

Four stars. I Do Recommend It. Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

DELILAH GREEN DOESN’T CARE

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake
400 pages
Released February 22nd, 2022
  • I heard about this SO MUCH so often
  • LOOK AT THIS COVER
  • It’s a romcom and it’s not realistic but that’s whatever
  • It’s sapphic as heck
  • Grumpy/sunshine
  • Hijinks!
  • You know I love a found family!
  • Delilah’s hot
  • Dual POV
  • These characters are kind of flat but it’s a sapphic rom-com so it’s not like. A big deal?

Four stars. Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

GIRLS CAN KISS NOW

Girls Can Kiss Now: Essays by Jill Gutowitz
240 pages
Released March 8th, 2022
  • This book is so millennial it kind of hurts
  • Love some funny essays
  • I feel like I am like. Five years too young to understand most of these references. 
  • Lesbians!

Three stars. Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

TRIPPING ARCADIA

Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist
368 pages
February 22nd, 2022

“They lived in their own heaven, their own arcadia, where nothing, not even death, could touch them. Nothing except for me.”

  • Med school dropout! Set in Boston! Poisonous revenge!
  • It’s dark! It feels green! (I’m not explaining this) A girl kisses a girl!
  • I felt one step ahead of Lena the whole time which honestly was kind of incredible to me, I am usually very dumb
  • Unease more than horror
  • There’s so many commas in this book which is honestly kind of a mood

Four stars! Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

ELLEN OUTSIDE THE LINES

Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J Sass
336 pages
Releases March 22nd, 2022
  • MIDDLE-GRADE AUTISTIC MAIN CHARACTER
  • MIDDLE-GRADE AUTISTIC MAIN CHARACTER
  • MIDDLE-GRADE AUTISTIC MAIN CHARACTER
  • AUTISTIC. JEWISH. LESBIAN. AUTISTIC. MAIN CHARACTER.
  • Yeah I think you should read this book

Five stars. Also there is a nonbinary important character. Also there is bullet journaling. I think this book is fantastic. Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Bite-sized reviews and the end of spring break!

I received all these books at no cost from NetGalley!

The World Cannot Give

The World Cannot Give, Tara Isabella Burton
Comes out March 8th, 2022

This is like…. a sapphic, dark academia A Separate Peace? You ever been a teenager and growing up is hard and nobody understands? That’s basically the summary of Laura Stearns. And then she joins a weirdly intense school church choir and meets Virginia, who is uhhhhh intense. This whole book is really kind of intense and yet ALSO I found it really hard to get into? I feel like it should be read in pieces over the course of several months, it feels like a really slow read. This feels like a four-and-a-half star read. Rounded down for NetGalley, feels like I might revisit this one in the future. Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Lakelore

Lakelore by Anne-Marie McLemore
Comes out March 8th, 2022

“So many of us are haunted by versions of ourselves we wish we could exile. But the pieces of our beings don’t pull apart that easily.”

Look, I absolutely loved this. It’s about Being Neurodivergent and Having A Gender in a way that isn’t, I don’t know, overblown? It doesn’t, at any point, feel like they are nonbinary for the sake of being nonbinary, and it also isn’t just an aside (which seems to be the only other option a lot of the time). Honestly, I feel like I’m going to be thinking about this one for a long time. I want to get a print copy of this so I can highlight passages. 

Okay, but it’s also all of these things and it’s a magical realism story, which is so — intense, and weird, and incredible. I really liked this one, pals. Five stars. Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Bagels, Schmears, and a Nice Piece of Fish

Bagels, Schmears, & a Nice Piece of Fish by Cathy Barrow
Comes out March 15th, 2022

The subtitle for this book is “a whole brunch of recipes to make at home”, which is a perfect summary of this book! It’s funny, it’s got a bunch of incredible recipes, it’s happily Jewish, it’s got great photography. We didn’t get to make any recipes from this book before this review was due, but my roommate has promised to make me bagels for my birthday in April, so watch this space (well, the blog. Keep watching the whole of the blog). Also useful to note that not only are there bagels, there are recipes for spreads AND schmears, and recipes for other spreads for your bagels like whitefish and chicken salad. Five stars! Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Eleutheria

Eleutheria, Allegra Hyde
Comes out March 8th, 2022

EVER JOIN A CULT BECAUSE YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE AND YOU’RE ALSO A MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL? This was a WEIRD book and I think it was probably not for me because I am ALSO worried about climate change and am a (reformed!) manic pixie dream girl. I don’t NOT recommend it but I don’t …. I didn’t like it. 3.25 stars. (Rounded down for NetGalley.) Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Three bite-size review: The Moonstone Girls, Bright Ruined Things, Getting Clean with Stevie Green

What’s the theme for these books? They’re all kind of about messy girls? Yeah, sure, let’s go with that. It’s midterms week for me, so I gotta post these and write some essays! Yes they’re all very short I literally do not take criticism I have so many better things to do. I received all of these books from NetGalley. When I do not receive a book from NetGalley, I will absolutely be shouting that from the rooftops.

The Moonstone Girls

This book was beautiful and also absolutely brutal. Kind of reminded why I don’t read period pieces. Same melancholy awful feeling as the Miseducation of Cameron Post. 4 stars. Bookshop link here. Published Feb 10th, 2022.

Getting Clean with Stevie Green

“It’s so hard to know who you are.”

I enjoyed this book but not that much? Love a book about a messy woman, you know, especially messy women who kiss girls. But. It felt like the characters were my age, not ten years older than me, and I just feel like if I was still embroiled in high school drama now I would be endlessly annoyed with myself, not to mention if I was 37. Kind of kept expecting something life-changing to happen and it just did not. Also I did not really like the dialogue in this book. Three stars, but like, two and a half, actually. But we’ll round up for NetGalley. Bookshop link here. Published Feb 1st, 2022.

Bright Ruined Things (audiobook)

You know that subplot in The Magicians season three about how there were fairies working for that rich family and making them appear to still have magic? That’s basically this book’s vibes, if that subplot were also a retelling of The Tempest? The vibes are really really good. The ending kind of ruins things — they are bright ruined things, I guess — but I enjoyed being taken on this ride. Also, a fantastic audiobook narrator. Three and a half stars (rounded up for NetGalley). Bookshop link here. Published Feb 15th, 2022.

Four bite-sized Reviews: Chef’s Kiss, Live, Local & Dead, Every Variable of Us, and Real Easy (again!)

Hello! These are coming out really fast because I have to write reviews for class (as a writing exercise) and I keep writing another review and then being like “I can’t possibly show this to my professor, this is the worst thing I’ve ever written”. I might write a couple more today, depending on how I’m feeling. Stay tuned! Also I’m trying to rebrand my mini-reviews as bite-sized. I’ll keep you posted on that front. I received all of these books at no cost to me through NetGalley.

Live, Local, and Dead (Vermont Radio Mystery #1), audiobook

This is a cozy mystery book that takes place around a radio station. It avoids the standard cozy mystery trope of not having any animal companions for the main character, unless you count the snowman that hides a dead body at the requisite murder of the novel. No? Well, I thought I’d give that a try. It stars a Jewish (by conversion) radio jockey, an ex-husband who had cancer (big overarching trauma), and a hot new guy who I think is a guest radio host. There’s a lot of narration in this book that bogs down the plot, including just some random harassment by a frat boy republican, and that’s all well and good in a print novel, but in an audiobook cozy mystery where I hate the narrator? It’s not happening. Look, this is how it shook out: I absolutely could not finish this book because listening to this narrator is like listening to your least favorite aunt speak. Is it just me? Maybe! Maybe you have a better relationship with your aunts than I do! But I am not on good terms with either of mine. This audiobook receives one star for narrator, three stars for being a book. No comment on any copaganda because I only got to chapter seven before I gave up. Releases February 15th, 2022. Bookshop link here.

Chef’s Kiss (graphic novel)

Chef’s Kiss is a little graphic novel about roommates in a very classic comic book style. There are speech bubbles and clean lines throughout the book. Now, I don’t know much about comic books, but this looks like a superhero book from my dad’s collection. It’s not a style for me! It’s also very old-style comic book in the fact that it censors all swears? And this book is meant to be adult or at least new adult, so it doesn’t make sense why swears would be censored. The main character also only reads books that are available in the public domain, or so old that they aren’t copyrightable, which sure is weird! (His favorite books are 1984, Brave New World, and another that I forget. Come on, dude! Haven’t you heard of the Hunger Games? There are people using laptops and tablets in this book so I know it’s not set in the 90s!) Despite this, there is a vibrant cast of characters and the portrayal of working in a kitchen is both incredibly idealized and exactly right. Honestly? This is like a comic-book adaption of a gay romance light novel, and it’s kind of exactly right. Five stars. You didn’t see that one coming, did you? Neither did I. Publishes March 1st, 2022. Bookshop link here.

Every Variable of Us

This is a voice-driven YA novel with intense characters and really self-aware writing: “And can I just point some messed up shit out? Two high school girls stealing a frozen pizza and hair extensions, and this guy feels it’s necessary to draw his weapon. And they wonder why there’s a new hashtag against the police every week.” (Copaganda rating? Zero. Excellent job.) One of the things I hate most about YA novels is their frequent refusal to name specifics or make pop culture references, and this book absolutely does not have that problem. However — and I realize this book was probably drafted before 2020 — there are a lot of Harry Potter references and it is now generally considered bad form to include Harry Potter references in queer novels, so I do wish that that had been edited before this book hit ARC metaphorical shelves. Love the casual queers-in-STEM rep. Four stars. Publishes on March 1st, 2022. Bookshop link here.

Real Easy (ebook review)

I got approved for this ebook unexpectedly after reviewing the audiobook back in January! My main problem with the audiobook was that all the characters are voiced by the same (excellent!) narrator and there are many many different perspectives. I… unfortunately had the same problem with the ebook. Also I found myself uninterested in some characters’ perspectives and started skipping their chapters. It reminded me of reading My Sister’s Keeper as a Youth and I always skipped the dad’s chapters because I thought he was annoying. (And I was right!) Unfortunately, this brought down the review to three stars. But also an intersex perspective! I just think there should have been more intersex perspective and less everything else. I’m not biased at all. Published on January 18th, 2022. Bookshop link here.

Book review round-up! Battle of the Linguist Mages, Finlay Donovan Knocks Em Dead, What’s Your Sign?, Katie the Catsitter 2: Best Friends for Never, Cold, and Ophelia After All

You hate to see it! Your favorite Latitude is simply swamped with homework, Still. I read fifty-two books in January and that was my goal for the whole year! I’m tired and I need to consume a different media now. Being a lit student is a Lot. Hopefully February will be better. Also sorry that all of these sound like Letterboxd one-line reviews. I’m a product of my time! I received all of these books at no cost to me through NetGalley.

Battle of the Linguist Mages (Audiobook)


Science fiction, adult, pink
Published January 11th, 2022

Have you ever wished that An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was more like Snow Crash or Neuromancer, or that it was entirely drenched in pink and sparkles? If you have, BATTLE OF THE LINGUIST MAGES is for you. I would die for Scotto Moore. Five stars. I also read this on audiobook, and the narrator was great. (Five stars for her also.) Bookshop link here.

Finlay Donovan Knocks Em Dead (Audiobook)

Published Feb 1st, 2022
Adult, cozy mystery, contemporary

Think of a cozy mystery that’s just like, a touch more stylish? And you’ll get FINLAY DONOVAN KNOCKS EM DEAD. This is the second volume in the series, and I did not read the first, but now I really really want to — not because I was confused, but because I am fascinated. Bookshop link.

Cop involvement: Finlay’s sister, Georgia is a cop and a love interest, Detective Nick Anthony is also a cop (he is regrettably very hot). Finlay shows little regard for the law, which I love in a cozy mystery. Four stars! Narrator gets a solid five stars.

What’s Your Sign? (Audiobook)


Publishes Feb 15, 2022
Nonfiction, astrology

This is like a coffee table book but for some reason it was turned into an audiobook. I imagine this would be incredible to have on your coffee table to flip through sometimes. As an audiobook, it’s kind of a mess. Honestly, I picked this book up because I thought it was an adaption of the podcast What’s Your Sign? Which is the only astrology podcast I listen to and which I once gave a three-star review on Facebook to because it was “too gendered”. (It gets less gendered!) I thought that reading and reviewing this audiobook would be my redemption arc! But it is not put out by the double Tauruses of What’s Your Sign, it is put out by Sanctuary Astrology, which is an app with the ugliest icon I’ve ever seen. Anyhow, after reading this book, I know way too much about astrology, and I know more about houses but have retained none of the information about how houses relate to my chart. Three stars. No redemption arc. (Fantastic audiobook narrator. 5 stars, but I’ve enjoyed her work more on novels.) Bookshop link.

Katie the Catsitter Book 2: Best Friends for Never


Publishes Feb 15, 2022
Graphic novel, middle grade, diverse

I was not prepared for this graphic novel at all being about superheroes and villains! I did not read the first Katie the Catsitter book so I was a little lost at the beginning – was this contemporary? Magical? Urban fantasy? It’s just about superheroes and villains – unclear if any of the superheroes have “powers”, really, and also many hyper-intelligent cats. It’s also about friendships and getting new friends and not remembering how to connect with your old ones. It’s got really good art that isn’t necessarily realistic but feels relatable. The cast is both diverse and delightful. There are twists that I definitely saw coming, but also I am An Adult and familiar with The Tropes — a child Latitude would definitely be surprised. Five stars! Bookshop link.

Cold by Mariko Tamaki


Queer, YA, mystery, thriller
Publishes: February 8th, 2022

Dual-POV YA murder mystery partly from the perspective of the victim? Yes! Are the characters well-rounded? Not really! Is that okay? Yeah, pretty much! This book is not good because of the characters, but because of the twisty plot and the layers that this story uncovers. I enjoyed this book more than I enjoyed The Taking of Jake Livingston, a similar book that I read last year. Content warnings for homophobia and some intense toxic masculinity. Four stars. Bookshop link.

Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie


Publishes: February 8th, 2022
Queer, contemporary, YA

This is one of my favorite reads of 2022. Now, is it February 1st? Yes. However. This book’s got everything you want in a YA novel:
1) Incredible characterization
2) The voice! Excellent use of voice!
3) It’s here, it’s queer, it’s fantastique
4) Also the main character is a botanist and really intensely into roses and I’ve never been more delighted about this??

This book is like the experience of reading a really really good short story in a Dahlia Adler anthology and then it goes on for the FULL NOVEL EXPERIENCE. I’m in love with this book. Five stars. Bookshop link.

Mini Review Round-up!

I started school again this week, so here are some mini reviews to tide you over!

I received all of these books at no cost from NetGalley.

The Temperature of Me and You

The Temperature of Me and You, Brian Zepka
416 pages, science fiction, m/m, YA
publishes on January 25, 2022

This is a contemporary light science fiction novel, and when I say “light” I mean really light – it feels like it has barely any substance. The pacing of this book is exhausting; it feels at various points like it’s going too slow or too fast, but you know what? The gay scene deserves some mediocre mildly sci-fi YA romances too. Also, the characters in this book are 16, but I would recommend the age range as being 13+ — perfectly acceptable for middle-graders as well as young adults. It’s fine! I wouldn’t write home about it! Three stars. Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Manywhere

Manywhere: Stories, Morgan Thomas
208 pages, magical realism, surrealism, Gender
publishes January 25, 2022

This is a book of surrealist short stories, and they are all unusual and very Gender. I poked through a couple other reviews, and many misgender the protagonists — from my perspective, as a trans person frequently around other trans people, both online and off, I think I correctly gendered the protagonists. But it’s not explicitly explained to the reader What Exactly is going on, which is something I really like but might not be your cup of tea. This book gets five stars from me — the first short story, The Lightning Man, is my favorite. I think I’d like to actually buy this to keep on my shelf. Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Wash Day Diaries

Wash Day Diaries, Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith
192 pages, graphic novel, slice of life
publishes June 14th, 2022

This is a slice of life graphic novel about four different best friends! The theme connecting theme of the stories, hair care, is woven into each story. The art style is both cozy and expressive, with each woman having her own color scheme. These stories take place mostly during the summer, and it really feels like a summery story! Unfortunately over the course of the story, one friend tells another that she shouldn’t get antidepressants and gives her a crystal instead, and we see the depressed friend simply crawl back into bed afterwards. While this story is slice of life and we don’t really follow up on any of their individual stories, this was the least cozy story that I wish had a better ending, and knocks the rating down a quarter star. 4.75 stars. Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Love and Other Disasters

Love & Other Disasters, Anita Kelly
384 pages, contemporary, nb/f
publishes January 25th, 2022

If I knew that romance novels could be just as cozy as cozy mysteries, I would have picked this one up a lot sooner! This story involves a nonbinary POV character dating a girl (also POV) at a cooking competition! Their romance is hot and heady and there are some sex scenes, which I wasn’t expecting at all but was very pleased by (they’re all good!). Something that I didn’t like about this book is that I was really worried about the cooking competition and the main characters kind of ignored that for a while, and then it was suddenly a problem! Also there is a transphobic character which was :/ but the book dealt with it really well. 5 stars! Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Icebreaker

Icebreaker, A.L Graziadei
320 pages, contemporary, sports romance, m/m
publishes January 18th, 2022

I got approved for this really close to publish date so here is my lightning-fast review!

  • The enemies to lovers seemed REALLY fast and also kind of tame!
  • I arbitrarily wanted this book to be more like The Foxhole Court and it was not, but also that’s the only other sports romance I have ever read!
  • The voice in this was super strong!
    I barely have any thoughts because I read it so quickly! It comes out this Tuesday! I’ll probably check this out of the library and read it again then! Four stars!
  • Storygraph link! Bookshop link!