Jeanne Ann is smart, stubborn, living in an orange van, and determined to find a permanent address before the start of seventh grade.
Cal is tall, sensitive, living in a humongous house across the street, and determined to save her.
Jeanne Ann is roughly as enthusiastic about his help as she is about living in a van.
As the two form a tentative friendship that grows deeper over alternating chapters, they’re buoyed by a cast of complex, oddball characters, who let them down, lift them up, and leave you cheering. Debut novelist Danielle Svetcov shines a light on a big problem without a ready answer, nailing heartbreak and hope, and pulling it off with a humor and warmth that make the funny parts of Jeanne Ann and Cal’s story cathartic and the difficult parts all the more moving. —Goodreads
I can’t tell you how much I love this book…like, when I say it’s one of my favourite reads, it is definitely in my top 5. I loved everything about it: the characters, the plot, the way it made me laugh and cry. This is a book I want to share with everyone I know, young and old. There’s a charm to it that just captures your attention, and makes you want to sit with it for hours. I can’t wait to read it again.
Cal, Jeanne Ann, Sandy, Bad Chuck (Nathan), they’re all such a fun cast of characters. This is one of those middle grade novels that can really get people thinking, especially about the importance of community and how libraries can be such a safe haven. I highly recommend checking out Parked, and I cannot wait to see what’s next from this author.
When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.
But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.
And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.
I was recommended this novel by my Nana and friend T.
First of all, I loved the imagery, and the way the chapters flowed together. This is definitely a book you can get lost in. I think this is also what kept my interest throughout the book, outside of the fact that Katy was seeing a young version of her mother all the way in Italy after her mother’s death.
Katy was a complex character with a strong voice. I liked that she wasn’t perfect. It seems I’m drawn to reading flawed characters lately? But that aside, you can really get a sense of her heartbreak. I have mixed feelings about her as a character, and I believe many readers do. As I mentioned, she’s flawed. Her attachment and reliance on her mother, Carol is a lot. She’s selfish, but I think throughout the novel, after she meets this younger Carol, she starts to grow.
One thing I will add, is that I feel horrible for poor Eric. I really do, and the twists in this novel…like damn, I wasn’t prepared.
Overall, I had a lot of fun reading and I look forward to seeing what Rebecca Serle puts out next! Thank you for this story.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
If it weren’t for that last chunk there at the end I probably would’ve leaned toward 4 stars. I almost thought about giving it a 3.5 when Katy referred to Adam as an “alpha” because I physically cringed. However, it was the transportation, the fact that despite how Katy can be unlikeable at times…or make questionable decisions, I don’t hate her as a character. She feels human. For all that is flawed with Katy, is what helps contribute to the events that lead us to the conclusion of the story…and that to me is why I gave it a solid 5 star review.
But for Eric, I would give 4.5…because that poor little fella…
It’s officially December, which means that NaNoWriMo22 has come to an end. I still have a lot to do for this novel, however it’s been so much fun to write, edit and develop the world of this story. I also got a lot of work done on the next books in The Vermin Series, and am preparing lots of fun content for that.
On Friday we wrapped up recording the newest season of Matchbox, which was fantastic! I can’t wait to see it fully animated in the new year. I have a lot of fun imagining what each scene will look like, and it was so much fun recording in studio with my co-star Julian this season. He’s a fantastic actor, and I can’t wait for you all to hear him as Kayla’s little brother Mason James. I’ll be sure to share the episodes when they come out.
Speaking of shows, on Thursday night I attended the premiere of Stay Tooned hosted by Eric Bauza aka the voice of Bugs Bunny. I love cartoons, and I love documentaries and film studies so this show was right up my alley. The premiere was so much fun, and nostalgic. I felt like a kid again seeing clips from the shows I grew up watching. When I got to thinking about it afterwards, a lot of these cartoons helped shape me, and inspired me to to do what I’m doing today. Stay Tooned is fun, informative and it is so clear that everyone who worked on the show put lots of love into it. It’s available to stream on CBC Gem.
I also released some new music, and have more coming very soon. My most recent releases are all songs my niece asked me to release, and the future ones are based on my favourite game, and stories I’ve written with my niece and sister. Hope you’ll check them out!
A lavish historical drama reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mexico.
Carlota Moreau: a young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of either a genius, or a madman.
Montgomery Laughton: a melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.
The hybrids: the fruits of the Doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.
All of them living in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Doctor Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.
For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.
This was a fun read, and honestly I have yet to read anything I didn’t like by this author. She’s an amazing story-teller! I loved the way things developed throughout, and the descriptions of the hybrids.
At times I found Carlota a little irritating, but it was often during Montgomery’s chapters. She was a neat character, and given her age I can see why she would come across as childish in the chapters from Montgomery’s perspective. From her chapters though, you get a more complex character who is both trying to come into her own as an adult, but who desperately wants to live up to her fathers expectations. Carlota is not perfect, and she grapples throughout the novel with her feelings for Eduardo, her love for her father, and her friendships with Lupe and Cachito that as they’ve grown are now becoming more and more fragile. I love that she isn’t perfect, because it reflects on her anxieties of being the doctors perfect daughter, and it makes the events in the story that much more powerful.
Montgomery was one of my favourite characters because through his eyes you really take notice of the oddities of the doctors experiments. Montgomery is an outsider, being hired to come work there, so through his perspective the others that dwell at the peninsula are revealed. Some feared at first, but as time goes by a bond is formed between them. There were times when I didn’t quite know how I felt about this character, but he grows on you. He too is flawed in many ways, but no one in this story is perfect, and they all struggle with their own battles. Montgomery buries so much inside himself, and often comes across as a bit gruff, but it is clear when you read his chapters that this gruffness is merely a front to protect himself, just as the alcohol is his escape.
My other favourite character is Cachito. Absolutely the best. I adored this character from their initial introduction. His friendship with Montgomery is so sweet, and the loyalty he has to his fellow hybrids is heartwarming. That’s all I’ll say about him because I don’t want to spoil too much.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia does an excellent job of bringing the reader into this world, building a setting at Yucatán that is so clear and vivid, you almost feel as though you’re there in certain passages.
I think I would recommend this novel to those who enjoyed reading books like House of the Scorpion or The Daughter of Black Lake. Especially those who like historical fiction, with a fantastical twist. It isn’t a horror novel, although it is listed as one on Goodreads. The author has stated as such several times since the novels release, so I thought I would add that in my review. This is a historical fiction/fantasy novel.
When Becca transfers to a high school in an elite San Francisco suburb, she’s worried she’s not going to fit in. To her surprise, she’s immediately adopted by the most popular girls in school. At first glance, Marley, Arianna, and Mandy are perfect. But at a party under a full moon, Becca learns that they also have a big secret. — Goodreads.
This book made me think of Mean Girls but with a hairy twist. The artwork was absolutely gorgeous, but the overall story didn’t exactly meet my expectations. Of course, it was a fun concept, but Arianna, Becca and the other girls constantly obsessing over being skinny and Amanda being stereotyped as the mean black girl didn’t sit well with me.
I also felt Becca could’ve been developed more? She was the leading character but it was almost like she fell into the background. The focused seemed to be on Arianna and Marley despite being from Becca’s perspective.
I’d also like to point out that Arianna looks like Arianna Grande. Not sure if that was done on purpose but it did get a little chuckle out of me.
The friendship and then relationship that bloomed between Becca and Marley was sweet, but overall Marley seemed to be the stronger character. Off the bat, the reader can see her personality, how she fits in with the rest of the group and how she feels about them going around feeding off predatory boys whenever they turn.
Unfortunately Amanda’s disapproval of Arianna’s leadership, comes off as both anger and jealousy, when she states several times in the story that she prefers to be called Amanda, not Mandy–which is why I’ll be respectfully addressing her as Amanda during my review. She mentions this several times throughout the story and the other girls completely ignore her. Often Amanda sits quietly observing the others. Becca even seems to think Amanda dislikes her, as Amanda is often glaring at her and the rest of the group. When Amanda becomes more vocal about her opinions, she’s completely ignored by Arianna and the others…but I’ll try not to spoil anything. I just wish this character had been written with a little more care.
With that note, there were also several times where other characters made icky comments toward Becca about her race, and it wasn’t ever condemned or even questioned. It was clear that both Becca and Amanda were being mistreated but they just made up their faces at these comments being thrown at them. I don’t even recall Becca once thinking about how the other students talk to her. Even the comments about her clothes and her weight are unsettling.
I’m not saying that keeping quiet isn’t a realistic reaction, especially with people trying to fit and giving in to peer pressure. When I was in high school and I had classmates say some pretty icky stuff that I didn’t always know how to handle. Sometimes you’re so shocked by what is being said to you, that you have to sit there and process it. Sometimes you wonder if your feelings are even valid, or if you’re just overreacting…and I totally get that, but if that is what Becca and Amanda were grappling with, then it should’ve been shown more clearly. I get that this wasn’t exactly the main focus of the graphic novel, but regardless of that fact this book is a recent release from October 2021 it should at least acknowledge that racism is never okay, especially if those types of remarks are coming from so-called friends. I wish that there had been a moment where Becca has a moment of reflection or clarity upon hearing one of these gross comments. Even if it’s just a brief, “That hurt my feelings, but I wanted so badly to be apart of the Squad that I kept my mouth shut.” I felt this way about the unhealthy fixations with being thin. It was a lot…and I already know there are friends of mine who will require a trigger warning just for that. It didn’t sit well with me at all, and honestly at some point it should’ve been condemned, or at the very least contrasted with something else. Like Becca’s mom is obsessed with it, and all the girls are obsessed with it, and Becca is obsessed with it…at a certain point one of these characters could’ve said something. Even Becca could’ve questioned her mother’s obsession with her weight. Something as small as that, would’ve at least been better than nothing at all.
It was because of those elements I actually found it hard to enjoy the rest of the story. I mean, who doesn’t love reading a monster-girl revenge story? It had such a good premise, but it definitely didn’t hit the mark for me. Lovely artwork though.
And as always, just because this book wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean that it’s horrible and I wouldn’t recommend it to others. It’s still a cool concept, I just felt a few things took away from my reading experience.
Jen is just getting used to her life on Peapod Farm with her brand-new step-sisters, Andy and Reese. But when the school year starts, there are even more changes in store for her. Jen has to navigate new friends and new challenges–but at least she’ll have Andy with her, right? As school begins, she finds that her step-sister seems way more interested in crushes and boys than hanging out with her, while Jen wants to know when the world decided boys and girls couldn’t be just friends anymore.
New York Times bestselling author Lucy Knisley revisits her own childhood, continuing Jen’s story in a standout sequel to Stepping Stones that captures everything awesome (and scary) about growing up. —Goodreads
I enjoyed this sequel so much. It was such a fun read, and is definitely a series I would’ve adored when I was younger. My favourite part of this book was when they all were working on the haunted hayride. It’s something I wanted to do as a teenager but never did. I honestly wish I read this in the fall because of the whole back to school/Halloween atmosphere.
Definitely a great back to school book to welcome in the new year.
Stepping Stones to me is a perfect summer read, so if you’re looking for a good middle-grade read for the summer and a follow up in that series for when school starts Lucy Knisley’s got just the series for you!
Tucked away in a government facility nicknamed the Playroom, six not-quite-human kids learn to control their strange and unpredictable abilities. Life is good–or safe, at least–hidden from the prying eyes of a judgmental world.
That is, until a security breach forces them out of their home and into the path of the Collector, a mysterious being with leech-like powers.
Can the group band together to thwart the Collector’s devious plan, or will they wind up the newest addition to his collection?
Wow! Okay, I just want to start off by saying how perfect this graphic novel was. I loved the illustrations, I loved the writing, I loved the characters. There isn’t one thing about it I didn’t love.
I would totally recommend this to an older tween-teen probably kids around like 11 (grade 6) and up, since there is a bit of mild language, and violence that I would compare to something like Pirates of the Caribbean. The violence is hinted at in certain situations, versus shown, so it is definitely a kid friendly book, but for example…and I’m trying not to spoil it because this book was amazing and super fun…it’s like the car crash at the start of the book. They don’t make it where it’s super graphic or violent. You’re worried about the characters, and people are hurt, but it’s like rated 10 and up kind of PG violent. I hope that was a clear explanation?
Maggie was so cute! Oh my goodness. I loved Maggie so much! I would give Maggie a million stuffies if I could, after all these kids went through.
Omar and Sylvie showed their affection for the younger kids so well. This is probably one of my favourite found family books that I’ve read in a long time.
Omar tried to be calm and collected, always trying to do what he felt was best, and was very patient and understanding with the little kids, despite him being a kid himself. I won’t spoil it, but I believe based off of his backstory, he was equipped to handle Maggie’s outbursts, and took the time to listen to Newt and Jaali.
Everyones backstories made me cry except Maggie’s. Her’s was epic, and colourful and I loved her imagination.
Now Sylvie on the other hand was a lot harder on the other kids. Sometimes brushing them off with sarcasm, but it becomes very clear that she adores them. They’re her family, and she just wants them to be safe and happy. Again, like Omar, the way to treats the others and interacts with people is based on her early years and upbringing. His although resulting in him ending up at the playroom was mainly positive, whereas hers was very negative from day one. She didn’t have any real exposure to love until meeting the other kids in the playroom.
Newt was so cute! I loved them so much. Sweet little Reptilian Cinnamon Roll Techy. I loved their friendship with Jaali. They bickered at times, but it was because they cared about each other. I liked how although Newt, being a Reptilian was raised to ignore things like affection or compassion, this kid has the biggest heart. Newt is so kind, and caring, and their love for homework made me laugh so much. What a precious little bean.
Jaali’s backstory made me cry. Like…I loved this kid. He was literally a big teddy bear. And again, I loved the way Jaali acted like a best friend and older brother to Newt, who clearly needed someone who just loved them for who they were. Jaali was incredible with Clarice as well, and was really only hard on the other kids when he had to be. He’d been through a lot, so it only made sense that he would be striving to get back to that positive, and loving environment he grew up with.
Clarice! Okay, so I absolutely loved that Clarice was a selki. Like yes! Clarice’s facial expressions and body language were used to effectively throughout the story. I love how over time she warms up to the other kids, being the newest one to join the playroom. Sylvie initially is pretty tough on her, but eventually is doing everything she can to protect Clarice and keep her safe. Newt and Jaali were also incredibly sweet to Clarice throughout, always encouraging her and looking out for her when she got hurt, and you could tell that she grew to adore being a part of their family.
Ooh, and there was a Romeo and Juliet reference. I loved that so much. It also gave insight into the other groups and families within the story, and heightened the importance of community.
This book was so good. Seriously. Like, I will be recommending it to everyone. It’s my new favourite. I almost wish it was a series because I just want to read it over and over again. I feel like this is my new Scott Pilgrim or Ao Haru Ride. Like there’s a charm to it, where you just never want the story to end. You want to know more about the characters, and see where life takes them…but I also wouldn’t change a thing about how Another Kind ended.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
I gave this book a full five stars. I’m so glad I decided to pick it up. I saw it on the shelf, went “Ooh this is a cool cover,” started flipping through the first few pages and went. “Oh my gosh…this is really good!”
Mimi wants others to see the other things about her, that make her special, and with the help of her magical toy dog Penelope, she does everything she can to try and change their minds…
Will she be stuck in this cute-astrope forever, or will others see her for who she truly is?
But that’s not all! She’s also a loyal friend and fun playmate, who has the best adventures with
Thank you Scholastic for providing this ARC. I absolutely loved the illustrations for this book! When I saw the cover, I was immediately reminded of Pretty Cure, which was one of my favourite series as a kid. The story itself was wonderful, especially since Mimi is super relatable. I can recall when I wondered whether being considered “cute” was a bad thing, and tried to make myself seem more “cool” like my older cousins and friends…even though I absolutely adored my stuffed animals and other cute things. I think that exploring the thoughts and emotions that Mimi faces in this graphic novel, is an excellent way for young readers who are most likely facing similar situations, to try and understand what they’re going through.
I know I would’ve loved having a character like Mimi when I was growing up, especially since many of the books and films I grew up on weren’t much in favour of the cutesy aesthetic, and leaned more towards encouraging young children to be strong, as if those two things couldn’t go hand in hand. Here, Mimi proves the opposite, that you can still love what you love, and be loyal, strong, and brave! I think that’s a very important message for young children (and grownups too). We are more than what others perceive us as.
Another thing that I really want to mention is how precious Mimi’s friendship is with Penelope!
I had my very own Penelope growing up, who I used to take everywhere with me. To this day, I still have her.
Mimi shares her thoughts and feelings with Penelope, and even considers that in order to stop having others perceive her as cute or baby-ish she needs to stop playing with her favourite toy.
I can recall being teased about my stuffed animal by some kids in my class, and placing her in my trash bin (super dramatic I know), but then I felt lonely without her, and decided to rescue her. I didn’t care what the other kids thought about her anymore, because she was important to me. See, I used to be incredibly shy, and she helped me feel comfortable when I changed schools, or whenever I struggled to make friends. Just knowing she was close by in my backpack, was enough. She was…is…dear to me, and despite being a toy, really gave me an outlet to work through some complex emotions and situations as a child. I changed schools four times during our move between grades 3-4, and had to keep remaking friends, which at the time was extremely difficult for me. I wanted nothing more to go back to my old house and school, where my teachers all knew me and people actually pronounced my name properly haha.
Another thing that really got me was that Mimi has bubbles in her hair! As a kid, I absolutely adored these, and recently I found a doll with bubbles in her hair for my niece and went bonkers. Like, bubbles and beads were my favourite because it was like fashion for my hair…and until high school…and really more-so into my adult years, we weren’t really encouraged to experiment with our natural hair. It was always pulled back into a tight bun…but when I got to wear bubbles in my hair–I had these orange ones with teddy bears that had googly eyes–my mom would give me Pippi Longstocking braids…or that’s what I called them. It was my favourite thing in the world. Seeing Mimi with her hair like that on the cover made my day!
Mimi is such a sweet character, and I loved seeing how she grew throughout the story, and interacted with her friends, family and neighbours. I can’t wait to see what adventures she has going forward, and I look forward to seeing this book on shelves this July 2022!
It’s the season of Fallow, in the era of iron. In a northern misty bog surrounded by woodlands and wheat fields, a settlement lies far beyond the reach of the Romans invading hundreds of miles to the southeast. Here, life is simple–or so it seems to the tightly knit community. Sow. Reap. Honor Mother Earth, who will provide at harvest time. A girl named Devout comes of age, sweetly flirting with the young man she’s tilled alongside all her life, and envisions a future of love and abundance. Seventeen years later, though, the settlement is a changed place. Famine has brought struggle, and outsiders, with their foreign ways and military might, have arrived at the doorstep. For Devout’s young daughter, life is more troubled than her mother ever anticipated. But this girl has an extraordinary gift. As worlds collide and peril threatens, it will be up to her to save her family and community.
Set in a time long forgotten, Daughter of Black Lake brings the ancient world to life and introduces us to an unforgettable family facing an unimaginable trial.
Wow! Cathy Marie Buchanan has done it again! I absolutely loved reading about Hobble, Devout, and Smith. The story was so vivid. I was constantly filled with wonder, and anxious of what Fox would do next, and what secrets were kept in the past. I also loved the way the chapters were split, with Devout’s written almost as if they were being seen by someone else, in third person because they happened in the past, whereas her daughter Hobble’s were written in first person, present day. I thought that this made the story stronger, and it also allowed the reader to get a clearer picture as to who Smith was through the eyes of both his wife, who had known him since he was a boy, and his daughter who could tell his every thought just by looking at him. I loved each and every character in this book, and was definitely drawn to Smith, despite him not having a perspective. It was clear how much he cherished his family, and wanted to keep them safe, making decisions that could put himself in grave danger. The way the suspense was built up in this story was also fantastic! I was constantly worried about what might happen to this family. I don’t want to spoil anything but it was definitely a thrilling read. I can’t wait to see what’s next for this talented author!