We Are All Made of Molecules

Stewart and his dad move in with his new girlfriend and her daughter Ashley. Stewart’s mom died a year ago, and Ashley’s parents got divorced because her dad came out as gay. Stewart is thirteen and goes to a special school for gifted children. Ashley is fourteen and goes to the local high school. But when Stewart moves in to Ashley’s house, he decides he wants to go Ashley’s school, to improve his social skills. Though Ashley is mortified that her new step-brother is going to her school, she soon figures out that she needs him as much as he needs her. 

This book covers a wide range of problems that teenagers face. Stewart has to deal with the death of his mother. Ashley has to learn to accept her father for who he is, and not be ashamed of him. They both have to face teenage drinking and parties, and the negative consequences that can come from that. 

I really liked how the book addressed so many important issues but was still able to keep a light, humourous tone. There were both laugh-out-loud and heartbreaking parts. Most importantly, this book shows that we all have something in common, despite our differences: we are all made of molecules. 

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

This is a memoir by Carrie Brownstein, a musician, writer, and actress. It follows her time with her band Sleater-Kinney through the 1990s and 2000s.

I picked this book up because it was one of the picks for Our Shared Shelf, Emma Watson’s book club. I really liked the first quarter of the book. Carrie talks about her life growing up in Washington state, including her mother’s eating disorder and her parents’ divorce.

The details of Brownstein’s band took up half of the book. If you aren’t familiar with it, like me, it will probably be difficult to get through. There were many details about how they wrote their songs, recorded of their albums, and toured the world. Unfortunately a lot of this was lost on me since I don’t know much about the indie music scene in the 1990s.

At the end of the book, Brownstein returned to stories from her personal life, after the band had broken up. This part brought me back into the story of her life. She is an excellent writer, which pushed me to keep reading even when I wasn’t interested in the topic. I liked her feminist commentary on how her female band was treated in a male-dominated industry. I can see why it was chosen to be a book for Our Shared Shelf.

Jonesy Vol. 1

Josephine aka Jonesy is a high school student. She lives with her father, who owns a donut shop. She also has a pet ferret. The story follows Jonesy through major parts of the school year: Valentine’s Day, a talent show, prom. She also has to face the idea of her father starting to date. Though these are fairly ordinary things that most teens face, Jonesy is unique. She has a special power: she can make people do anything she wants. Jonesy discovered this power when she made her two favourite characters on her anime show fall in love. The only problem is that the powers don’t work on Jonesy herself. She isn’t able to make her crush (a pop star named “Stuff”) fall in love with her. 

This graphic novels was so entertaining. It was very funny. There were many times that Jonesy spoke directly to the reader, especially at the beginning of the chapters. This breaking of the “fourth wall” set the scene and brought me into the book.  

This story also has a diverse cast. Jonesy is latina. Her best friend, Susan, is black and has a crush on a girl. It was refreshing to see these diverse characters in a YA/middle-grade graphic novel.

I definitely recommend this graphic novel and I can’t wait to see the next volume!

Captain Marvel

The story opens with Captain Marvel, and others, entering a market. They disperse, and then someone named Tic disappears. Flash back to six weeks ago. Captain Marvel is in New York. Iron Man asks her to go to space to represent the Avengers. In space she meets the Guardians of the Galaxy and they find Tic, who Captain Marvel takes to her home planet. Then she fights for them in a battle to keep them on their planet. 

If that sounds confusing and disjointed, that’s because it was. This was the first Captain Marvel comic I’ve read and I was disappointed. I thought it would be more of an origin story, like many of the Marvel reboots have been in recent years. There were many parts in the graphic novel that didn’t even have Captain Marvel in them. I didn’t understand why the story focused on the other planet when she was supposed to be the main character. 

My favourite part was when she teamed up with the Guardians of the Galaxy because I’m more familiar with them than Captain Marvel. I understood their personalities and purpose. Since this story didn’t provide a background for Captain Marvel, I didn’t feel connected to her in any way. 

Unfortunately this graphic novel fell flat for me. However, it made me want to pick up a Guardians of the Galaxy comic, so it wasn’t all bad!

New Release: Definitions of Indefinable Things

One day, when Reggie is picking up her prescription for depression medication, she meets Snake. Snake has a tattoo on his neck and dark hair hanging in his eyes (to Reggie, he looks like an “emo” poster boy). But Reggie and Snake have something in common: depression. They see each other a couple of days later when Snake starts working at the same ice cream parlour where Reggie works. Though Reggie isn’t ready to let anyone in, she begins to “hate” Snake… in a good way. Her mixed feelings become even more complicated when she discovers that the popular girl at school, Carla, is pregnant with Snake’s child.

I loved this story because it has a unique plot. It deviates from a traditional love triangle, since two of the people are having a child together, though they aren’t necessarily “together.” Though most of the book deals with these serious issues, there is some comic relief with the caricatures of their parents. Reggie’s extremely religious mother and Snake’s lesbian moms provided some moments of relief between the dark discussions and therapy sessions.

This amazing debut novel explores what it means to be depressed, what it means to be lonely, and how to learn to love.

Fifteen Dogs

Fifteen Dogs has been a huge award winner. Not only did it win the Giller Prize last year, but it just won Canada Reads 2017 last week!

There are many reasons this has been a bestseller. First of all, it’s a short book that is easy to read.

It also has an intriguing plot that tries to answer the question of what makes humans happy. The ancient Greek gods Apollo and Hermes meet in a bar in Toronto and make a bet to see if animals will be happy if they are given human cognition and language. They put a spell on fifteen dogs, giving them the ability to speak and think like humans. These dogs make their own packs, with hierarchies. They each have distinct personalities, like humans. They even create their own language, though they still have the basic instincts of dogs (i.e. sniffing each others’ butts). Apollo and Hermes observe how the dogs interact and progress to determine the winner of their bet.

As a dog lover, I really liked this book. Now this may be a bit of a spoiler, but not all of the dogs make it to the end of the book. Nevertheless it is an excellent book that you should definitely read!

Uppercase Box March 2017

This is my first Uppercase Box! Uppercase is a Young Adult monthly subscription box.

This book, Hunted by Meagan Spooner, is very timely right now. It is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. This box coincides with the release of the new live-action Disney film. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it came with a link to a website with special features for the book.

This box also included a pair of Jane Austen socks (my fave author!!!), a print of classic book spines, and a dragon sticker which reads “Book Hoarder.”

I was very pleased with this box and I can’t wait to see what will come in April!