Review | So You Think You’re a Millennial? | Jo Hoare

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So You Think You’re a Millennial?

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Discover how the life of the Millennial is a non-stop mix of selfies and startups, Kardashians and kale, kombucha and crowdfunding, anxiety and activism, experiences and entitlement.
Do you feel as nervous about your life prospects as you are about securing the last available table at your favorite brunch spot? Are you equally outraged by the myriad injustices in the world as you are by changes to Instagram meaning your selfies won’t be seen by your followers? If the answer is yes, then chances are you are a Millennial. So what exactly is that? If you were born between the early 1980s and the turn of the century (give or take), then it’s you. This hilarious guide, which features profiles and observations of this most self-interested of generations, plus a series of fun quizzes, will reveal exactly what it is that makes a Millennial tick, from freaking out about rent prices to checking out the latest BuzzFeed listicle.


This little book was such a joy to read! Honestly, I don’t know how it hasn’t been all over social media or Buzzfeed given its pure, unadulterated and hilarious attack on the millennial generation. Full disclosure, I am part of that generation, and reading this book was so much fun. The profiles in this book are of course exaggerated, but I was able to see little bits of myself in every profile, and was even able to peg my friends (but don’t tell them that!)

So what are some of the things you’ll find in this book? Apart from the wonderful illustrations, you’ve got such profiles as The Wellness Addict, The Perpetual Intern (that was me for a loooooong time), The Basic, The Mean Geek (my boyfriend), The Brunch Obsessive (me now), The Armchair Activist, The Fitspo Bore, The Crafter, The Makeup Obsessive, and so many more! I loved them all.

It’s clear Jo is a people-watcher, and also not a millennial. Otherwise these pages would also be dotted with her tears.

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Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own and in no way reflect those of my professional associations and affiliations. 

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

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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.

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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 | Ravina the Witch? | Junko Mizuno

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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.

Review | The Disappeared | Kristina Ohlsson

disappeared

The Disappeared

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A young woman is found carved up and buried in a forest glade in a Stockholm suburb. She is identified as Rebecca Trolle, a student who went missing two years earlier. While Fredrika Bergman and her team try to find out why Rebecca met such a violent demise, more bodies are found in the same area. Fredrika Bergman is inevitably drawn into the case, but it becomes much more complicated when her lover’s name is mentioned in the investigation. The investigative unit are nearing a resolution, but the killer is still at large. One question remains: whose body will turn up next when the killer returns to the grave in the forest?


This book really kept my guessing until the very end. I’m a big fan of crime fiction—not police procedurals, but solid crime fiction where it’s more about what makes each character tick than it is about the process of discovering the criminal. And of the crime fiction I’ve enjoyed, I find European crime fiction to be the best, with this being no exception. I’m so glad I stumbled across this title in the bargain bin!

I didn’t know until I had finished it that this is the third book in a series, but that’s a good thing because it means you can read it as a stand-alone and not be lost at all. All of the characters were really beautifully detailed in terms of background and development throughout the novel. Like I said, I was guessing as to who might have committed the murders right up until the very end. What’s better is that even when the killer is uncovered, you’re still left with a cliffhanger and questions. Some people don’t like that with their crime fiction, but I love it. It means I can go back and re-analyze if I want to, see if I can fill in the gaps myself.

The only thing that could have been more detailed was the setting; there’s a lot of character description, but not a lot regarding the setting. You’re told what city you’re in and what the weather’s like, but other than that you’re virtually left with a blank canvas. Again, some people like that. I’m someone who doesn’t like TOO much setting detail—but more would have been preferred so I could feel more grounded in the story.

I would definitely recommend if you’re looking for a mystery to solve!

Review | Since You’ve Been Gone | Morgan Matson

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Since You’ve Been Gone

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It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um…

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait…what?


This book has been on my to-read list since it came out and I’m so mad at myself for not having read it sooner! But at the same time, I think I read it at the perfect time for me. This book is so amazing, I can’t even begin to describe the feels. It’s so cute! Everything about this book is great. Honestly.

Admittedly, it took me a while to get into it. Ambur, the blogger behind BurningxImpossiblyxBright and my co-worker, said the same thing. But believe me when I tell you to stick with it!! Here’s why: in the beginning, Emily’s best friend Sloane has left without a trace, and Emily is a little lost. For pages and pages, she just goes on about Sloane and how she has no one to come to her rescue. It gets tedious. But it was only because I stuck with it that I realized this wasn’t poor writing, but is in fact very intentional. You’re supposed to be able to look back and see that Emily’s weakness—maybe her biggest one—was always deferring to Sloane and putting herself in what I would call a “lesser” role. So I can’t tell you what page you’ll start to get into it on, but just trust me and keep on reading. Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you’re like, “Oh yeah, I see it now!” When that happens, let me know!

It’s a really good read for summertime too. I loved taking my lunch break outside with this in my hands, or relaxing after work on the back patio while I read this. It’s a really thick book but it’s not too dense, so it was perfect to read when I just wanted to escape. I can’t wait to read more of Matson’s writing. I’m, frankly, hooked! 😉


Link to Ambur’s blog here.

THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY by Lauren Morrill

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1.5 out of 5

[ARC provided by Paper Lantern Lit in exchange for my volunteer position as a VIP Trendsetter.]

All aboard the Destiny, a cruise ship hosting a high school music competition where the winning group receives a $25,000 cheque. Liza is the only one who knows how desperately her band needs it, and her one goal as she boards the ship is to win the prize and keep her marching band afloat.

A huge mishap involving an out-of-bounds bowling alley and a stray bowling ball throws the entire competition in jeopardy, and Liza finds herself putting all the blame on the school’s quarterback, Russ, on the trip as a form of detention. Serving as the band’s—and thereby Liza’s—lackey, Russ only causes more harm than good in Liza’s eyes. To top it all off, Liza is sharing the cruise not only with her arch nemesis Demi, but with her crush and son of the band director, Lenny. She can’t afford any distractions, but one little kiss wouldn’t hurt…

It’s rare that I finish a novel and ask myself what on earth just happened, but that’s what I did upon finishing this. The Trouble with Destiny lacks the charm of Morrill’s Meant to Be and is a severe let-down in terms of plot, character building, and writing style.

Let me start off by saying that the opening was good but very long; there is not much action until about a quarter of the way in. That being said, the plot is predictable, and the writing and pace are both flat. There is way too much going on and not enough space devoted to properly developing relationships or the varying storylines in order to make the outcomes believable. For example, there was zero chemistry established between Liza and Russ. Therefore the shift in Liza’s characterization and tone, particularly towards Russ, is so sudden that I was experiencing whiplash. It takes about a paragraph for Liza’s entire personality to change, with no decent reason or warning.

Additionally, as someone with seven years of concert band experience, the band setup seemed very unrealistic to me. For example, the sheet music for Pirates of the Caribbean or Star Wars isn’t that difficult for a band with experience and skill (I’ve played both pieces in band at the senior level), so it seems unlikely that they would win a competition using such simple music. With this in mind, it is quizzical to me why someone headed for Juilliard would be wasting their time with a band that plays such lower-calibre pieces.

Overall, The Trouble with Destiny is incredibly, incredibly disappointing. Definitely steer clear of this one, but bear in mind that Morrill has done better. I look forward to seeing her next novel and hope it demonstrates the quirky skill that I know she has.

-Ember Book Reviews

Check out this book on Goodreads.

OF THINGS GONE ASTRAY by Janina Matthewson

of things gone astray4 out of 5

“You are the reason I’m glad there are words.” -pg. 66-67

Mrs. Featherby loses the front wall of her house. Robert heads to work one morning to find that the building has gone, as if never there at all. Cassie has lost her lover and, determined to wait forever for her if she has to, begins to turn into a willow tree. These are just three of the whimsical cast of characters that Matthewson throws at you on your journey through Of Things Gone Astray. All of them have lost integral pieces of their lives and must decide whether or not they will carve new paths for themselves. The result is a lovely, engaging novel that redefines life, loss, and personhood.

Of Things Gone Astray is positively delightful. Matthewson’s writing is liltingly musical and fraught with mesmerizing tension throughout. Additionally, the book’s cover is captivating; the aesthetics alone were enough to reel me in.

On the other hand, I am not sure how I feel about the ending. A lot was left unresolved, to the point where it is not clear exactly what happened with certain characters. The whimsy is fantastic but in this instance it served as a weak point, where explanation was needed and not provided. In addition, we could have done without a select few characters, such as Marcus and Jake. Their storylines were blurry throughout the course of the novel and, specifically in Marcus’s case, were simply abandoned towards the end.

The true gems of the novel are Delia and Robert. They never interact, but Delia is a darling eccentricity, while Robert and his wife Mara are bright sparks of life that were greatly appreciated.

-Ember Book Reviews

Check out this book on Goodreads.