Advance Review: The Need

★★☆☆☆

A mother alone with her two children, settling in for the night as her husband is abroad. An intruder who knows them intimately, lurking in their home. The Need is eerie and gripping from the very first page.

This is the first of Helen Phillips’s books that I’ve read, and I was thrilled with the captivating quality of her writing, especially her raw portrayal of motherhood. The pacing is quick, with frequent changes of scene, bouncing between the present and days earlier. I tore through the first half of the book, but found myself beginning to lose momentum as the plot progressed further. The Need became more dreamlike and ambiguous and ultimately ended this way. The final act of this book was unsatisfying and left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, but this was an interesting read nonetheless. Continue reading “Advance Review: The Need”

Review: Birthday

★★★★★

39863399This is a difficult book for me to review. Not because I have mixed feelings, but because there is so much I loved that I only hope I can do it justice. Birthday is the story of two best friends, born on the same day, in the same hospital. On the night they were born a freak snowstorm struck the area and stranded their families together. From then their fates were sealed: friends for life. Their story is told in snippets, starting on their 13th birthday and continuing until they turn 18.

By 13, Morgan has realized that something is wrong. Between the loss of her Mom, a struggling with a distant relationship with her father, and being the subject of her rural town’s torment, Morgan can’t imagine losing her best friend. She’ll play it safe, even if it means hiding here true self from the person she cares about most.

When my copy of Birthday arrived I picked it up with the intent of skimming the first few pages to get an idea of Meredith Russo’s style. I read a page, and then a couple more, and then all of a sudden I was 100 pages in. Without exaggeration, this is easily the best YA book I have ever read, and certainly one of my favorites of this year. This own voices story is equal parts powerful, uplifting, and heartbreaking. I have so much appreciation for the way Morgan, a trans girl, is represented in this book and I cannot wait to pick up Meredith Russo’s books in the future.

Going off initial impressions I don’t think I would’ve picked this for myself, but I couldn’t be more thrilled that I did. Even if you’re on the fence, give Birthday a try. Let it surprise you in all the best ways.

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Advance Review: Waves

40744544★★★★☆

Waves is a brief and poignant story of the world-shattering loss of a child and a young couple’s life in the aftermath. Chabbet weaves their tale of recovery, based on her own experiences.

It’s hard to say that I enjoyed this story in the typical sense. My heart ached at every page during their journey of learning to cope with the reality of losing their son as I was touched by Carole Maurel’s gorgeous illustrations. My only qualm with Waves is that it left me wanting more.

 

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Advance Review: A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities

★★★★★

This is a book I wish I could’ve handed to a younger version of myself. In this beautifully illustrated graphic novel queer identities of all varieties are explored by our narrator, a snail. It is clear that this book was made to be accessible to younger readers, but I would recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about identities beyond their own, those trying to figure out what identity suits them, and allies trying to educate themselves.

Other reviewers have critiqued the fact that a book geared towards younger readers includes a section on relationship basics, but it was a touch that I actually loved. If you are closeted or struggling with your identity, there may never be an opportunity for you to learn about what the basis of a healthy relationship is or signs of a partner that may be controlling and/or manipulative. I think there is little harm in the way this was approached- emphasizing self love and open communication. It is clear that the authors aimed to make this an accessible, inclusive read and I can wholeheartedly say they succeeded. Continue reading “Advance Review: A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities”

Advance Review: The Time Collector

★★★☆☆41711272

I have such mixed feelings about this book. I loved the premise and I wanted to love the story, but it wasn’t meant to be.

The Time Collector focuses on a group of gifted individuals known as psychometrists. Psychometrists range in their strength, but all share the ability to discern the past of objects the touch. Our male protagonist, Roan West, is one of the most powerful psychometrists among their small numbers. Roan has become increasingly worried with the disappearances of several psychometrists across the globe, including one of his closest friends. Then arises the problem of Melicent Tilpin.

Melicent is a young woman scraping by as she tries to balance work and raising her teenage brother following their mother’s recent death. She’s also a psychometrist whose powers have newly awakened. After peering into the past of objects found at flea markets and antique swaps, Melicent find herself on Antiques Roadshow where her items are appraised for tens of thousands of dollars and she’s admitted her gift to the world. Upon seeing the video Roan rushes across the country to warn Melicent, hoping she’ll listen.

The greatest triumph of The Time Collector is Gwendolyn Womack’s skill as a writer. This book touches on phenomena like out-of-place artifacts (OOPArts), crop circles, and more as Womack spins a tale that spans all of Earth’s breadth and history. I went in with very little foreknowledge of many of the phenomena she describes, but I never found myself lost in the explanations – the world she creates is easy to slip in to and enjoy. Some of the chapters that I enjoyed most were those where as a character reads an imprint, you are transported back in time. From 18th century Vienna to South Korea on the cusp of The Forgotten War, these periods are captured with incredible realism that drew me in despite their intrusion into the main plot.

So here’s the caveat of all this: I just didn’t like the romantic aspect. I was pulled in by the tension between Melicent and Roan through the first half of their story, but once the romantic tension was dissipated everything seemed to lose momentum. I’m also seldom a fan of stories where two characters are fully in love in a matter of just days. I tried to see past it because there was so much else that I enjoyed, but it ultimately left me feeling a little disappointed as I finished this book. I’m certain The Time Collector will be the perfect read for many people, just not me. Continue reading “Advance Review: The Time Collector”