Review | Slam! Vol. 1 | Pamela Ribon & Veronica Fish

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Slam! Vol. 1

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In the fast-paced, hard-hitting, super cheeky, all-female world of banked track roller derby, two young women will have to decide if their budding friendship is stronger than the pull of a team when a win is on the line.

When life starts coming at you like a freight train, you have two options: run away screaming or lean into the hit.

From the first day of Fresh Meat Orientation for the Eastside Roller Girls, Jennifer and Maisie knew they’d be fast friends. But when they’re drafted to different teams, the pull of competition — and their increasingly messy personal lives — threaten to drive them apart. In roller derby you take your hits, get back up, and learn how to be a better jammer, a better blocker, a better lover, and a better friend. Derby can heal your heart . . . but it might break a bone or two in the process.

Bestselling novelist, screenwriter, and retired Los Angeles Derby Doll Pamela Ribon (Going In Circles, Why Girls Are Weird) joins artist Veronica Fish (Archie, Silk) for a tale of friendship, heartbreak, and truly epic jams.


Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that cover art. It’s saucy, sexy, rebellious, and so much fun. Want me to read your graphic novel/book? Put a cover like that on it.

I’m officially hooked on this series. I finished Slam! in one night, and the next morning went to get Volume 2 but it wasn’t in-stock at my local Chapters. Poop. I’m still on the lookout for it and I cannot WAIT to read it!

The novel profiles two women in their early twenties (yes, I’m surprised it’s been shelved as YA too) who take up roller derby as a way of dealing with the different stressors in their lives. For Jenn, it’s her Master’s degree and for Maisie, it’s that she’s just been cheated on and subsequently dumped by her boyfriend of three years. Right away roller derby introduces them to a new way of life and they form new and stronger identities and senses of self because of it. For example, Maisie learns that she has worth; Jenn’s outcome is a bit rockier (I think we see that she’s someone who struggles to find balance in her life) but ultimately I think that her personal changes aren’t bad. The reader sees this inner struggle happen for both characters where roller derby brings out the best in both of them yet they cling to their past—or it clings to them.

I am in love with the bodily strength that is portrayed here. All of the women are big—muscular, curvy, heavy-set. The skinny characters purposefully eat gargantuan amounts to put on weight and make themselves a physical force to be reckoned with on the track. The pages are covered in what would never be considered North American society’s “ideal” female body image and it’s so gorgeous and refreshing. I also loved the racial diversity spread across the pages, but would have loved it even more if BOTH MCs were non-white. Basically, this graphic novel is presenting some wonderful things to the young adult audience: girls eating—a LOT; big, strong, round bodies; and women discovering and asserting themselves. Insert heart eyes!

Now, I am questioning why it’s considered YA. It’s pretty tame for a graphic novel, but it does cross over into territory that I would consider too mature for the YA audience. Bearing in mind that the term “YA” is generally targeted at 12-18 year olds (I’m talking marketplace here and I am very much aware that adults read YA), I was surprised that the characters were as old as they were and dealing with what they were. Maisie, specifically, had concerns about her wedding plans going to shreds when her boyfriend leaves her. She is also pretty open about her sex life, which is fine in itself and I’d love for girls to be more comfortable with their bodies and exploring their sexuality, but I don’t think anyone below the age of 15 or 16 should be reading what is in this book. I also don’t think many girls 18 and under are planning their weddings. Maybe that’s just me.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel. The artwork is droolingly gorgeous, the writing is so amazing and entertaining, and there are so many great messages contained within the pages that I can’t even. Please let me know if you added it to your to-read pile! I really want people to read this one.


Links

Goodreads     Amazon.ca     Indigo

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Review | I Hate Everyone But You | Allison Raskin & Gaby Dunn

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I Hate Everyone But You

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Dear Best Friend,

I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.

Sincerely,

Ava Helmer

(That brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.

Stop crying.

G

So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out, and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

I Hate Everyone But You, the debut novel by two emerging major talents in YA, Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn, is a story about new beginnings, love and heartbreak, and, ultimately, the power of friendship.


I’ve been getting into certain audiobooks lately. My fiancé and I are in the middle of a huge renovation and move, so it’s been very hard to balance my free time to allow reading for pleasure. Then I get dragged down and feel stressed, and while at work I feel even worse. I turned to audiobooks as a middle-ground: I’m not getting to hold a physical book in my hand, but I do get to listen to a story while I accomplish my other tasks.

A few weeks ago I promised a review of the audiobook of The Sin Eater’s Daughter but…that never happened. I still want to because I LOVED it, but honestly speaking I might not get around to it. Sorry! Instead, let me share with you my review of the best audiobook I’ve ever listened to, which I had the pleasure of enjoying this past week. It’s I Hate Everyone But You performed by the authors, Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn.

If you’ve never watched the YouTube channel Just Between Us and you identify as feminist, I’d recommend you head on over to YouTube and take a look. Allison and Gaby play versions of themselves where their quirks and/or flaws are ultra-heightened and the result is hilarious. They are a great comedy duo, their writing is qualitatively spot-on, and so I knew when I heard they were writing this book that it would be great. Then I picked it up in stores, discovered that it was a novel composed of texts and emails…and was promptly put off. I can’t stress enough that I hold a strong disdain for diary, letter, or text-style novels. I can’t stand them. So I didn’t pick it up. But then I learned that there was an audiobook and that Allison and Gaby perform it together. I thought, this might work. AND IT SO DOES!

Gaby voices the character Gen, who I imagine to be a younger version of the Gaby portrayed in Just Between Us. Likewise Allison voices Ava, a younger version of JBU’s Allison. However, both Gen and Ava are toned-down versions of the characters in JBU. The listener follows along as the two characters part for their first year at university on opposite sides of the country, navigate self-exploration, expression, and romance, and, like an old married couple, work out the kinks in their newly long-distance relationship. Allison and Gaby’s performance is imbued with warmth and a genuine care for the characters and each other that I think would be, potentially, missed in the printed versions. They both have excellent comedic timing and perform the novel in such a way that I truly believe the audiobook is the only way this novel should be experienced. I loved it so much that I plan on listening to it again and again until the disk breaks. The story is timeless, relatable, and genuine. I can’t recommend it enough.


Links

Goodreads     Amazon.ca     Indigo

Review | Watermelon | Marian Keyes

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Watermelon

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A hilarious and bittersweet tale of baby-blues and fruitless men.

At twenty-nine, fun-loving, good-natured Claire has everything she ever wanted: a husband she adores, a great apartment, a good job. Then, on the day she gives birth to her first baby, James visits her in the recovery room to tell her that he’s leaving her. Claire is left with a beautiful newborn daughter, a broken heart, and a body that she can hardly bear to look at in the mirror. So, in the absence of any better offers, Claire decides to go home to her family in Dublin. To her gorgeous man-eating sister Helen, her soap-watching mother, her bewildered father. And there, sheltered by the love of her (albeit quirky) family, she gets better. A lot better. In fact, so much better that when James slithers back into her life, he’s in for a bit of a surprise.


Think Bridget Jones’ Diary meets Gilmore Girls with a dash of Kristen Wigg from Bridesmaids; that’s what you get when you enter into Claire’s head the day her daughter is born and her husband leaves her for another woman. Marian Keyes uses something akin to stream-of-consciousness writing to turn something really tragic into something also heartwarming and hilarious. I felt the plight of Claire’s broken heart while also laughing out loud at the ways she deals with it. I’m sure anyone can understand why she would spend the next month or so rotating through the motions of sleeping, drinking, feeding her baby, forgetting to bathe, and refusing to change out of her mom’s neck-to-toe nightdress—but then she climbs onto the stationary bike in said nightdress at three in the morning and I couldn’t help but smile imagining it.

Anyone who’s grown up with sisters will also love Claire’s family dynamic when she returns home to Ireland to live with her parents at the very beginning of the book, after her husband has left her and she has a newborn daughter to care for. Helen is absolutely hilarious—and awful in the best way—and I can’t wait to read the novel that is from her perspective. I’m sure we’ve all met someone that one of the characters in this novel will remind you of. Hopefully one of those people is Adam! Oh, Adam. So handsome and wonderful, and another one of the aspects that makes this novel hilarious. I related so hard to the way Claire felt around him, and the difficulty she had in trusting another man since her husband left her! I think any romance fans will love that thread of the novel.

My one and only complaint is that, when we finally do meet James (the adulterer husband), I can’t understand what Claire ever saw in him in the first place. He is downright awful! He honestly triggered so much anger and anxiety in me that I couldn’t wait for him to disappear from the novel again. This character could have been killed off and I would have thought, “Right. Good riddance.” Anyone who reads it will know what I mean. He is abusive and manipulative and everything I have worked so hard in my romantic life to avoid that I wanted to throw the book at the wall whenever this character opened his mouth. Little Kate, you are better without him!

I am now reading the next in the Walsh family series, which is Rachel’s Holiday, though I have taken a break to read a holiday story, The Afterlife of Holly Chase (Rachel’s Holiday is way better, though). What novels do you all like to read around the holidays?


Links

Goodreads     Amazon.ca     Indigo.ca