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


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.


Goodreads     Indigo


Review | What Does Consent Really Mean? | Pete Wallis, Thalia Wallis, & Joseph Wilkins


What Does Consent Really Mean?

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“Consent is not the absence of ‘NO’, it is an enthusiastic YES!!”

While seemingly straightforward, Tia and Bryony hadn’t considered this subject too seriously until it comes up in conversation with their friends and they realise just how important it is.

Following the sexual assault of a classmate, a group of teenage girls find themselves discussing the term consent, what it actually means for them in their current relationships, and how they act and make decisions with peer influence. Joined by their male friends who offer another perspective, this rich graphic novel uncovers the need for more informed conversations with young people around consent and healthy relationships. Accompanying the graphics are sexual health resources for students and teachers, which make this a perfect tool for broaching the subject with teens.

My feelings for this book are complicated. On the one hand, I love that this conversation has been made so accessible and in such a cool way (graphic novel format). I also appreciate how straight-forward the message is, rather than hiding it within subtext. At the same time, I was taken aback by just how straightforward the message is; if, like me, you thought there would be an actual narrative here, with the message explaining consent, then you’ll be disappointed. It’s my feeling that this novel lacks a narrative entirely. It’s very much like those “moral lesson” books you were given in elementary school where the characters are basically having a dialogue explaining the concept you were meant to learn. There isn’t really a storyline, a plot, a climax, etc. The book is solely argumentative.

I see the merits in this for sure, especially for school age kids. However, this was another point on which I struggled; the subject matter is at times appropriate for all ages (and I definitely think it should be made to be—let’s teach our kids what consent means as soon as they learn to talk!) but there were other times where the content was definitely more mature, with swearing and semi-explicit discussions of sexual relationships, that I would never feel comfortable giving to, say, an eleven-year-old to read. On the flip side, the artwork definitely depicts the characters as younger. Even while they were swearing and talking about their sex lives, I was looking at the drawings of the flat-chested girls with baby faces thinking, There’s no way these girls are older than twelve. Yet the actual verbal content of the book suggests that they are much older than twelve.

Overall, I really appreciate that a book with such a straight-forward approach to the topic of consent has been made available, but I think there is some confusion as to the age group of the audience. I also think the author and publishers will see less success than they hope because of the lack of a narrative; it feels very much like a lesson book, and I foresee this only being read by kids if it’s mandatory.


I received a free digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed herein are my own and do not reflect my professional associations or affiliates in any way.

Review | Paper Girls, Vol. 1 | Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, & Matthew Wilson


Paper Girls, Vol. 1

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In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.

Collects Paper Girls #1-5.

When I picked this graphic novel up, I wanted something unique, girl-strong, and with compelling artwork, and Paper Girls, Vol. 1 has all that. The plot is very much a Stranger Things with an all-girl cast. Is the plot therefore super unique? Not necessarily, but it was still 100% enjoyable. Enough so that I’ve purchased Vol. 2 and am reading it now.

I love the diverse cast, and that the main character is an Asian girl. At the same time, I do feel like the spotlight is stolen from her by Mac more than once, what with her potty mouth and tough-shit attitude. But I do want to give props for the fact that two of the four girls aren’t white…now if we can just get to a point where this is the norm, or where they are ALL from different and/or non-white backgrounds, that will be awesome!


The time travel thing is still confusing. I’m hoping it’ll be answered a little more in the second volume. It’s also not clear how or why certain people are just disappearing from this town. This first volume leaves the reader–and the four girls–very much in the dark as to what is going on. In a way, I suppose this is a good thing. As the reader, you’re very much one of the gang, along for the ride and figuring things out as they do. 

The language that the futuristic minions speak is hard to get the hang of. Once you do, it’s kind of interesting and, at times, funny, but is also sort of ridiculous? Like, I just don’t get why it’s a thing. Hopefully that will also be explained. It just doesn’t make sense to me why the minions speak that way but their leader speaks normally.

At the end of the day, it’s really action-packed and I love the artwork. This series definitely has its own style that I’m digging. I can’t wait to get through the second volume and find out more about what’s going on.

Review | Ravina the Witch? | Junko Mizuno


Ravina the Witch?

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Ravina the Witch, from the supremely talented visual artist Junko Mizuno, is a dark, fantastical illustrated tale featuring talking animals, giant birds and dancing mushrooms. When Ravina is given a magic wand by a mysterious old woman, she turns from a lonely girl living in a dump… into a witch?

Some initial thoughts of mine were that this artwork is fantastic–and it really is. The imagery on the cover is consistent throughout the comic in what I would describe as sugar-skull-esque/Mexican-heritage/chibi-infused design. It’s very unique and the colouring of the ink is really fantastical.

But pretty quickly, I realized that the artwork was most of what the comic had going for it.

The storytelling was really lacking; there were times where it just made NO SENSE whatsoever, plot points were added in willy-nilly and then abandoned, and nothing seemed to truly drive the plot–yet it continued forward. It felt very much like the type of story you tell on the spot while sitting around the campfire, put to paper and then never edited for consistency or sense. I’m glad I own it because the artwork is beautiful; however, that is partly influenced by the fact that I can’t take it back so I have to accept that I have it. I do not recommend buying this comic book.

*Also*: You won’t get this from the cover or the back description, but there are some very mature themes in this comic. It looks, for all intents and purposes, like a kids’ comic or at least a teen, but it’s very mature.

ALICE IN THE COUNTRY OF HEARTS, Vol. 01 by QuinRose, Soumei Hoshino

alice in the country of hearts

4 out of 5

After losing the man she loved, Alice falls asleep beneath a tree and in a dream, finds herself in a dangerous land where everybody loves her and is willing to do whatever it takes to gain Alice’s love in return. The Country of Hearts is a place filled with constant competition and strange characters vying for power but, most of all, Alice’s beating heart.

This is the first graphic novel I’ve read, so it’s going to be tough to review.

When you read a graphic novel, it’s not just about the story, but the artwork as well. Unfortunately, my copy was paperback and all the pictures were in black and white, which was somewhat disappointing. It took away from the artwork quite a bit. As well, the different drawings for each character were not all unique, which sometimes made it difficult to tell who was who or remember characters. However, this may have partly been because, as I said, my version was all black and white.

The story itself was interesting and I liked how bits of comedy were inserted throughout. Towards the end, though, the story became very jumbled and jumped around all over the place, which lessened my enjoyment of the experience as a whole.

Overall, it was an easy and enjoyable read, despite having to get used to reading from right to left and from back to front. I don’t think I’d actively seek out the second book in the series, but that’s simply because I rent them from the library and so they are all in black and white; if I’m going to read more graphic novels/manga, then I want them to be in colour. At the end of the day, I still find so much more depth to regular novels.

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

Check out this book on Goodreads!

My First Ever Wrap-Up!

This is my first ever wrap-up! This is so exciting.

So during the month of July I read my favourite contemporary YA novel of 2015 so far, and that was All the Rage by Courtney Summers. I absolutely adore this book, and I completely feel that everyone should read this book at some time in their lives (hopefully early on! Lots of important life lessons in there).

I also read my favourite YA historical fiction of ALL TIME, which is Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman. This book comes out in August, so make sure to keep an eye out for it! Also, if you click on the link below, I’ve shared details on how to get the free prequel and about a swag pack that’s happening if you pre-order.

Also new this month (at least I think this month…) is that one of my favourite YA contemporary authors Lauren Morrill now has a PO Box. I really love snail mail. I think it’s a dying art form, and I think it makes people feel a bit more special that you’ve taken the extra time to send something. So if you’ve read her (which you definitely should), then please send her some mail! She mentioned sending out swag to people who did…

Her website with her contact information is here.

And lastly, but not least, I have a total of FOUR books on the go right now, with a few more waiting for me. I am trying to read, for only the third time in my life, a graphic novel called Alice in the Country of Hearts, and I have to say, I’m really enjoying it. It’s a refreshing change from what I normally read, and I’m excited to stretch past my usual boundaries. I also noticed that I read hardly any books written by men, so I’m going to be making a conscious effort to change that. I want to break the stereotype that women write for women and men write for men, because that’s so not true.

A final reminder as well that there is a giveaway happening. If I can reach 50 blog followers, then I will be giving away a book. So make sure to follow if you want to enter!

Books read:

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher (5 out of 5)

Most Likely to Succeed by Jennifer Echols (3 ½-4 out of 5)

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman (5 out of 5)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (4 ½ out of 5)

All the Rage by Courtney Summers (5 out of 5)

Total books read: 5

Other posts:


Blog Redesign News

How to Write a Good Book Review

Tuesday’s Track List #2

Total posts (including reviews): 9

Books currently reading:

Jackaby by William Ritter

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Alice in the Country of Hearts by QuinRose and Soumei Hoshino

Voice of Gods by Eleanor Herman