Book Review | Almost American Girl by Robin Ha

Authour:
Robin Ha
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
January 28th 2020 by
Publisher:
Balzer + Bray
Publisher Social Media: 
Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher

Review:
 Almost American Girl is a graphic novel memoir written and illustrated by Robin Ha. Though it resembles a YA novel, it is also based on the creator’s life experience. The book starts with Ha Chuna aka Robin being told by her mother that they are going to the US to visit a friend. However, shortly after they arrive, she learns that she and her mother will not be returning to South Korea as her mother will be marrying her “friend”. The rest of the book follows Robin’s journey as she struggles to adjust to her new life while dealing with the challenges you would expect she’d face including difficult step-siblings, unpleasant food, bullying, and trying to adapt to a new culture and language.

While Almost American Girl is Robin’s story, it also reads as a “love letter” to her mother who over the course of the novel faces several setbacks but shows enormous strength and resilience. Furthermore, while Robin’s passion for art is central to this book, her love and admiration for her mother is just as obvious. I do however wish we had more time with “adult” Robin as the jump from her high school years to her adult years felt a bit rushed near the end. It would have been interesting to get more of a glimpse of her time in Korea as an adult as well as her life in the “present”. Though I understand why this was not the case since the book is meant to be more for a YA audience and of course there is not enough room to fit everything in.

This being a graphic novel, I can’t forget to talk about the illustrations. As a result of reading and reviewing the ARC, my copy of the book was mostly in black and white with only the first few pages in full colour. Personally I did not mind this as it felt as if I was reading manga plus it also helps keep the focus on Robin’s story. Other than that, I found the artwork to be simple and clean throughout. However, the art is also incredibly detailed when it came to the backgrounds and in highly emotional moments as both the detailed facial expressions of the characters and the backgrounds helped to set the mood for these scenes. Another interesting visual element in this book, which was also an example of visual elements replacing words was how scribbles and symbols were used to show the words and the occasional conversations that Robin couldn’t fully understand.

A worthwhile read, Robin Ha’s Almost American Girl is for the kid (or adult) who feels or has ever felt like an “outsider” and can relate to the awkward and painful moments of growing up in America.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

Authour:
Julie Murphy
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
May 8th, 2018
Publisher:
Balzer + Bray
Publisher Social Media: 
Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
So I am most likely in the minority, but I read shortly after it was released and felt “meh” about it. Willowdean was unlikable and it was difficult to root for her to come on top. However, the same cannot be said for the “sequel” Puddin’. I first heard of the book when the author came to a Frenzy Presents event in Toronto and was intrigued since the focus was to be on female friendships.

Taking place a few months after the events of Dumplin’, Puddin’ is told from the perspective of Millie the girl who won the runner-up position in the beauty pageant in Dumplin’ and Callie who was one of the mean girls who teased Willowdean and her friends. The book alternates between the two girls which allows readers to become acquainted with both of the girls. Millie was easy to relate to an extremely likable and it was easier to sympathize with Callie in spite of her past actions once we understood her character better. As a friendship tale, Puddin’ is marvelously adorable yet also realistic. It was refreshing, albeit a bit sad to see the girls who got to grow extremely close in Dumplin’ drift apart at the start of Puddin’. I appreciated the fact that Puddin’ establishes that while a major event can form bonds between people, it up to the people to maintain the relationships afterward. And this is what Millie does roping Callie and the other girls into “mandatory” sleepovers on the weekends.

The positive female friendship is truly the crowning piece of Puddin’ as, over the course of Puddin’, both Callie and Millie undergo a bit of character development as a result of their unexpected friendship. Millie learns to assert herself and fight for her dreams while Callie becomes slightly more soft-hearted and caring towards others after she opens herself up to the other girls. I also enjoyed seeing both the girls’ relationships with their mothers as they were far from ideal yet authentically portrayed.

Ultimately a solid YA contemporary novel, there are a few aspects of the book that just did not reach the same level as the rest of the book. Considering the central focus is on girls’ friendship, the romance in the book is more of an afterthought and the guys did seem a bit one-dimensional since there wasn’t enough time or space to develop them better. Furthermore it’s unfortunate that the dance team as a whole did not actually suffer any consequences and that only Callie was punished. Still, Puddin’ is my favourite of Murphy’s books to date as I delighted in the diverse characters and the overall female empowerment which made Puddin’ an excellent spring/summer read that I couldn’t put down!

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

revengeAuthour:
Michelle Modesto
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 373 pages
Publication date:
February 2nd 2016
Publisher:
Balzer + Bray
Publisher Social Media:
Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again, I love a thrilling, revenge story. Oddly enough for a book with the word “revenge” in it, there wasn’t much happening revenge wise for the majority of Revenge and the Wild. Although the “revenge” element does come more into play later on in the book. Nevertheless, it remained a story that had numerous other compelling elements to it.

One of the intriguing aspects of Revenge and the Wild was how the author managed to quite seamlessly weaved together a traditional western setting with supernatural and steam punk elements. All within Revenge and the Wild, we have vampires, ogres, cowboys, Indians and cyborgs…of sorts. It also features a badass protagonist in the form of Westie, who’s in possession of a mechanical arm that makes for an awesome weapon. Why does Westie have a mechanical arm? Well it’s to replace her real arm that was lost along with her family to cannibals. Yes, that’s right there cannibals exist in this book and if you’re the squeamish type then you might not want to pick up this book as it can get quite graphic.

Along with its unique setting Revenge and the Wild was a compelling story as it addressed issues similar to family, addiction and moving on from your past. I particularly loved the relationship dynamics between Westie and Alistair. The only thing I felt the book lacked were positive female relationships as I felt the only healthy interaction Westie truly had, was with Bena who was the one who saved her a long time ago. Sure Westie was foul-mouthed and tough and at times unpleasant however it would’ve been wonderful for her have other friends that weren’t attracted to her or that weren’t part of her “family”.

Anyways, I’m glad I got the opportunity to read and review Revenge and the Wild, as it was one of the winter 2016 titles from Harper that I was eagerly anticipating. Overall, it remained an entertaining read and if you’re looking for something a bit unusual and unique then this one might be up your alley.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Waiting On Wednesday #15 – Born of Deception by Teri Brown

wed

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights upcoming titles that we’re looking forward to/dying to read.
It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine
deception

Synposis:

Budding illusionist Anna Van Housen is on top of the world: after scoring a spot on a prestigious European vaudeville tour, she has moved to London to chase her dream and to join an underground society for people like her with psychic abilities. Along with her handsome beau, Cole Archer, Anna is prepared to take the city by storm.

But when Anna arrives in London, she finds the group in turmoil. Sensitives are disappearing and, without a suspect, the group’s members are turning on one another. Could the kidnapper be someone within the society itself—or has the nefarious Dr. Boyle followed them to London?

As Cole and Anna begin to unravel the case and secrets about the society are revealed, they find themselves at odds, their plans for romance in London having vanished. Her life in danger and her relationship fizzling, can Anna find a way to track down the killer before he makes her his next victim—or will she have to pay the ultimate price for her powers?

Set in Jazz-Age London, this alluring sequel to Born of Illusion comes alive with sparkling romance, deadly intrigue, and daring magic.

Authour:
Teri Brown

Publication date:
June 10th 2014

Publisher:
Balzer & Bray/Harperteen

I really enjoyed reading the first book in this series, Born of Illusion so I am eagerly anticipating this book as its the sequel to the first book. The combination of a 1920s setting and magic makes this book one that I’m excited to get when it comes out.