4 stars · history

Blog Tour: Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten

Tsarina Book Cover

Tsarina

author: ellen alpsten

pages: [hardcover] 496

summary:

St. Petersburg, 1725. Peter the Great lies dying in his magnificent Winter Palace. The weakness and treachery of his only son has driven his father to an appalling act of cruelty and left the empire without an heir. Russia risks falling into chaos. Into the void steps the woman who has been by his side for decades: his second wife, Catherine Alexeyevna, as ambitious, ruthless and passionate as Peter himself.

Born into devastating poverty, Catherine used her extraordinary beauty and shrewd intelligence to ingratiate herself with Peter’s powerful generals, finally seducing the Tsar himself. But even amongst the splendor and opulence of her new life—the lavish feasts, glittering jewels, and candle-lit hours in Peter’s bedchamber—she knows the peril of her position. Peter’s attentions are fickle and his rages powerful; his first wife is condemned to a prison cell, her lover impaled alive in Red Square. And now Catherine faces the ultimate test: can she keep the Tsar’s death a secret as she plays a lethal game to destroy her enemies and take the Crown for herself?

From the sensuous pleasures of a decadent aristocracy, to the incense-filled rites of the Orthodox Church and the terror of Peter’s torture chambers, the intoxicating and dangerous world of Imperial Russia is brought to vivid life. Tsarina is the story of one remarkable woman whose bid for power would transform the Russian Empire.

review:

Tsarina is a book intended to throw off your expectations from chapter one. Within the most glamorous settings, among the most powerful people, shocking and gruesome events are retold. The book reflects that in gorgeous prose that recounts terrible trials from main character Catherine’s life in poverty, to marrying Peter the Great, to, after his death, finding the opportunity to make herself the most powerful woman in the Russian Empire.

This book is not light reading. Catherine, known as a child as Marta, suffers greatly because of several men in events that are told in detail, so readers who may be triggered by this should consider it in advance.

Catherine quickly learns she is capable of defending herself, using her mind and what resources are available to change her situation, and begins to move upward in station. There is danger for her everywhere, but with that comes some slim chance at greatness.

Other pieces of historical fiction are often bogged down with details that stall and stagnate the plotline. Tsarina reads more like a character study, focusing on Catherine and her life, her many tragedies and successes, providing historical context and information within the existence of these events. I liked this setup, particularly because I knew nothing about her or, really, the Russian Empire from this time period. The writing makes it easy to be immersed in her story.

If you are interested in historical fiction or overlooked women in history, I recommend Tsarina.

4/5 stars

5 stars · history · middle grade

The Summer We Found the Baby: a cute, historical middle grade

The Summer We Found the Baby

author: Amy Hest

pages: [hardcover] 192

favorite character: Julie

summary:

Set during World War II, this poignant, briskly paced historical novel relays the events of one extraordinary summer from three engaging points of view.

On the morning of the dedication of the new children’s library in Belle Beach, Long Island, eleven-year-old Julie Sweet and her six-year-old sister, Martha, find a baby in a basket on the library steps. At the same time, twelve-year-old Bruno Ben-Eli is on his way to the train station to catch the 9:15 train into New York City. He is on an important errand for his brother, who is a soldier overseas in World War II. But when Bruno spies Julie, the same Julie who hasn’t spoken to him for sixteen days, heading away from the library with a baby in her arms, he has to follow her. Holy everything, he thinks. Julie Sweet is a kidnapper.

Of course, the truth is much more complicated than the children know in this heartwarming and beautifully textured family story by award-winning author Amy Hest. Told in three distinct voices, each with a different take on events, the novel captures the moments and emotions of a life-changing summer — a summer in which a baby gives a family hope and brings a community together.

review:

I’ve never read a book like The Summer We Found the Baby. Filled with lighthearted humor, a serious historical setting, and an adorable trio of narrators, this book shows how the simplest morning can turn into a grand adventure.

Each chapter features three different perspectives: Julie, 11, determined to be first to the opening of the new children’s library. Her sister, Martha, 6, who is equally determined never to be left behind. Bruno, 12, is on a very important mission, at least until he sees something odd: Julie taking a baby from where it’s been left alone on the front steps of the library. The book’s setup is very unique, showing the same scene from different characters’ perspectives and also utilizing each narrator’s flashbacks to give some perspective to their lives before they found the baby.

Although this book is set during World War II, it’s different in that it shows the war as an overarching backdrop that affects these children in different ways. Bruno’s brother has gone off to fight; Martha and Julie’s father’s job is to write about war heroes. It’s interesting to see how it’s shaped their lives and motivations–especially when it comes to preparing for the library’s opening!–when the war is so far removed from them geographically. This would be an interesting way to introduce young readers to the general American attitude during World War II, through the framing of a light plot.

In fact, I thought it pretty clever how real lessons and stories were told just behind the narrative surrounding the baby Julie is “borrowing” while the trio decide what to do with the baby. Julie and Martha grieve the loss of their mother. Bruno worries about his brother. The entire town seems to sit, frozen, waiting to hear news about the war. Even in this short book, the characters show real depth as they’re faced with mature situations and emotions. By viewing the plot through three separate narrators, readers can see no one person reacts just the same as another. Everyone processes emotions and life events differently, and The Summer We Found the Baby does an excellent job showcasing that.

I highly recommend this book! The Summer We Found the Baby is a quiet story that will leave you hooked on the mystery as well as the characters relating it to you.

5/5 stars

children's books · Fantasy · middle grade · Uncategorized

The Silver Arrow: an unremarkable middle-grade

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The Silver Arrow

author : lev grossman

pages : [paperback] 164

summary :

Kate and her younger brother Tom lead desperately uninteresting lives. And judging by their desperately uninteresting parents, the future isn’t much more promising. If only life was like it is in books, where you have adventures, and save the world! Even Kate’s 11th birthday is shaping up to be mundane — that is, until her mysterious and highly irresponsible Uncle Herbert surprises her with the most unexpected, exhilarating birthday present of all time: a real-life steam locomotive called The Silver Arrow.

Kate and Tom’s parents quite sensibly tell him to take it back, but Kate and Tom have other ideas — and so does The Silver Arrow — and very soon they’re off on a mysterious journey along magical rails. On their way, they pick up a pack of talking animals: a fishing cat, a porcupine, a green mamba, a polar bear, and the sweetest baby pangolin in the world. With only curiosity, fear, adrenaline, and the thrill of the unknown to guide them, Kate and Tom are on the adventure of a lifetime — and they just might save the world after all.

review :

I received a copy of this book as an arc and was eager to dive into this story, which is sort of like The Polar Express if the message there was about conservation.

It’s Kate’s birthday and everything in her life is utterly boring, which is why she writes a letter to her rich, estranged uncle asking him to send her a gift. What she receives isn’t what she expects: a train engine appears in her backyard! Her parents are furious; Kate and her brother Tom are delighted. At least until the train starts moving and they find themselves swept up in a fantastical journey where they are the conductors on a train helping animals travel to different stations around the world.

The concept of this book was cute. It’s not a bad idea. But the book is promoted for ages 8-12 and thinking back on my own reading experience, coupled with what I know of current middle-grade readers, the book skews too young. The writing and plot feel suitable maybe for the eight year-old end of that scale; The Silver Arrow might have done much better as a picture book. The message here is so blatantly obvious (and I think children are perhaps the ones who least need to be lectured about conservation these days) that I don’t think 8-12 year-olds would get much from this book. It feels like it talks down to children.

The characters are fairly basic and . . . boring. Kate, the main character, often goes chapters at a time without mentioning her younger brother, Tom, so sometimes it’s easy to forget he’s on the train at all. Kate might feel so simplistic because it would be easier for young readers to imagine themselves as her–putting themselves in her shoes, saving the animals. But she doesn’t feel like a realistic person, much less child. Somewhere alone the line (route? train tracks?) the story loses its emotion and becomes more of a step-by-step explanation of Kate’s day. First she did this, and then she did this, and then . . .

Honestly, the message delivered in The Silver Arrow is nothing that hasn’t been done before, and better, by other books. It’s a quick read, and the lesson behind it is very important, but this isn’t the book to use to demonstrate such things to the intended age group. I think they’ll lose interest quickly and won’t find the book fascinating at all.

2/5 stars

 

2 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Grace and Fury: a YA novel that says nothing new

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Grace and Fury

Grace and Fury #1

author : tracy banghart

pages : [hardcover] 320

summary :

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace – someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.

review :

I think the problem with Grace and Fury is it might have been an innovative YA novel if published a decade earlier. Coming out in 2018, this really didn’t say or do anything that hadn’t already been handled in more interesting ways in other books.

The idea of women existing in a totally oppressive society isn’t unique. In Grace and Fury, women really can’t do anything except sit there, wait to enter an arranged marriage, have children, and possibly work in a factory all their lives. They can’t go to school, can’t go anywhere alone, can’t make decisions for themselves. I think I’m tired with these stories now because it feels so formulaic. Women are incredibly mistreated; main character disagrees with how society works and is going to set out to somehow change that.

I’m tired of reading stories like this because yes, women are still fighting for equality in reality. But these stories don’t really make any commentary on life as it currently exists; they don’t reflect current issues and present situations that will feel familiar to readers, then show how the main characters persevere beneath those circumstances as a way to show how the world might take those ideas and better itself by using them, too.

So these stories just end up being really depressing and repetitive.

I want stories where women can want more than equality, where the plot can focus on something different because in the book’s society all people are already treated equal. I just don’t understand why so many fantasy stories seem to feel the need to go backward without using that as a way to comment on the present. Maybe it’s time to look ahead.

Grace and Fury also attempted to include a few plot twists, but . . . they were the exact twists I’ve seen in other YA books, so I was almost hoping they wouldn’t happen as that would have made this book somewhat different.

I won’t be recommending this book, and also won’t be reading the sequel.

2/5 stars

fiction · graphic novel · young adult

Camp Spirit: a spooookily good graphic novel

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Camp Spirit

author : axelle lenoir

pages : [paperback] 204

summary :

Summer camp is supposed to be about finding nirvana in a rock garden… But Elodie prefers Nirvana and Soundgarden. Can she confront rambunctious kids, confusing feelings, and supernatural horrors all at once?

Summer 1994: with just two months left before college, Elodie is forced by her mother to take a job as a camp counselor. She doesn’t know the first thing about nature, or sports, of kids for that matter, and isn’t especially interested in learning… but now she’s responsible for a foul-mouthed horde of red-headed girls who just might win her over, whether she likes it or not. Just as Elodie starts getting used to her new environment, though — and close to one of the other counselors — a dark mystery lurking around the camp begins to haunt her dreams.

review :

I started reading Camp Spirit because I’m eager to read more diverse graphic novels and was able to access this via my local library through the Hoopla app. This book is set in the year I was born, so I was interested to see what the setting would be like–especially because I’ve never gone to summer camp. Something I’m thankful about–I think I would have been as against it as our main character Elodie is when she’s forced to work at the camp for the summer. Her last summer before heading off to college.

For most of the book, this seems like a pretty typical coming of age story. Elodie leads a group of unruly campers and makes reluctant friends with the other counselors, particularly a girl who is incredibly annoying and definitely not cute. Sure, things are kind of strange. The school songs are rather ominous. It feels like something is lurking in the words. And there’s that weird camp legend . . .

I loved how the paranormal elements of this book slowly build in the background. For a while, you don’t know what’s just Elodie’s overworking imagination in this new environment, and what’s actually out to get her. I loved that all of the fantastical elements here are so unique, like nothing I’ve ever read before. So I’m eager to get my hands on a sequel!

Camp Spirit is a lot of fun, with great LGBTQ+ representation, a sarcastic main character, and a unique plot. I really recommend it!

4/5 stars

2 stars · adult · nonfiction

Girl, Wash Your Face: Girl, I don’t think this book is for me

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Girl, Wash Your Face

author : rachel hollis

pages : [hardcover] 220

summary :

Do you ever suspect that everyone else has life figured out and you don’t have a clue? If so, Rachel Hollis has something to tell you: that’s a lie.

As the founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.

review :

I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever read a self-help book before, and Girl, Wash Your Face is potentially the most popular one currently out there. A friend was kind enough to lend me her copy, so I eagerly set in to see what the phenomenon was all about.

Girl, Wash Your Face started off pretty positively (despite the fact that I’ve never really responded well to anyone referring to me as ‘girl’). The first chapter was interesting, speaking about not letting yourself down when you make a promise to yourself. I do think this is good to keep in mind–if you aren’t holding yourself accountable when trying to achieve your goals, no one else will be nearly as invested in motivating you. There’s an internal drive needed to be successful. But I don’t really think the book addresses what to do when something stands in the way of you keeping those promises to yourself–like, the author mentions those promises should take precedence over everything else, but if you skip a workout because of a family emergency or fail to write that chapter because your mental health took a dive . . . what do you do then? How do you recover from that ‘failure’? So I think this book contains a lot of good ideas that need some practical tweaks to actually be applicable in the average person’s life.

Because, despite the fact that the author continuously tries to be making herself relatable . . . she doesn’t have the average person’s life. She speaks about goals like buying a $1,000 purse and saving up for a vacation home; I just want to be able to pay back my student loans. She makes it seem like hard work and dedication are the only two things that are needed for success, but seems to forget an important factor: luck. There are incredibly talented, creative people out there who haven’t gotten to the same point where she is today, but who work just as hard. Maybe self-help books just aren’t for me, because this one seemed overtly, falsely . . . optimistic.

What did I like about the book? It was an easy read and fairly interesting. The tips were succinct and I feel like the chapters were the perfect length. Some of the chapter subjects weren’t very applicable to me; as someone who isn’t married and doesn’t have kids I clearly wasn’t the target audience.

Overall I think Girl, Wash Your Face was fine. I think there’s some good advice in here that should be taken out of context, because I feel like the tips work best when not used in comparison to the author’s life. Will I use this advice to keep me motivated in my own goals? Maybe. But at some points after reading, I honestly felt more stressed about my life’s journey, not like I had a better handle on it.

2/5 stars

5 stars · Fantasy · series · young adult

The Rise of Kyoshi: an AMAZING original story in the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe

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The Rise of Kyoshi

author : f.c. yee

pages : [hardcover] 442

favorite character : kyoshi

memorable quote :

What you do when no one is guiding you determines who you are.

summary :

F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom–born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar.

review :

The Avatar universe continues to be one of the best things ever created.

When I first heard they were telling Kyoshi’s story in books, I was so excited because Avatar is one of the few franchises I think has done well in the transition between mediums. Usually, when you read an adaptation of something that appeared on film or television, it’s . . . lacking. But the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics are stunning, and I expected this book to be no different. I was right!

The Rise of Kyoshi is everything I could ever want and everything younger me needed. When I think back to the thirteen year old watching the show as it aired on my television–back before I could record anything so I’d need to rush to the screen once the time came–she would have loved this book as much as I do. She might have figured out some important things about herself a little faster. She would have been overjoyed, able to relate to freaking Avatar Kyoshi, aka one of the most badass characters I think has ever existed.

This book is so well-written. I love how it managed to capture the feel of the TV series with funny moments, a great crew built around Kyoshi, and also terribly poignant, heartfelt moments. Not to mention terrible violence and danger. Can’t have the Avatar’s job be too easy.

Kyoshi’s character arc in The Rise of Kyoshi is fascinating and unique in that viewers of the series will already know who she is when she’s older. At the beginning of this book, we see an uncertain teenager who’s actually pretty certain she isn’t the Avatar. I loved seeing her growth in this book and was jazzed when I realized this wasn’t a standalone–we’re getting an entire Kyoshi series! I can’t wait to see what’ll come in book two, which is releasing soon. Watching Kyoshi grow, evolve, make all the mistakes typical in a coming-of-age novel–it’s incredibly refreshing, real, and relatable, which is what Avatar is all about. The Rise of Kyoshi has the same heart as the series, and I can’t recommend it enough. I literally can’t stop thinking about it.

If you’re an Avatar fan, or even if you haven’t watched the show and are just looking for an incredible book to read, pick up The Rise of Kyoshi. You won’t regret it.

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Crier’s War: an amazing LGBTQ fantasy

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Crier’s War

Crier’s War #1

author : nina varela

pages : [hardcover] 435

memorable quote :

favorite character : crier

summary :

Impossible love between two girls —one human, one Made.
A love that could birth a revolution.

After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, Designed to be the playthings of royals, took over the estates of their owners and bent the human race to their will.

Now, Ayla, a human servant rising the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging the death of her family… by killing the Sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier. Crier, who was Made to be beautiful, to be flawless. And to take over the work of her father.

Crier had been preparing to do just that—to inherit her father’s rule over the land. But that was before she was betrothed to Scyre Kinok, who seems to have a thousand secrets. That was before she discovered her father isn’t as benevolent as she thought. That was before she met Ayla.

Set in a richly-imagined fantasy world, Nina Varela’s debut novel is a sweepingly romantic tale of love, loss and revenge, that challenges what it really means to be human.

review :

Crier’s War is a book unlike any other.

My friend was nice enough to give this book to me for my birthday, and had already read and loved it, so I was eager to dive in. Without knowing much about the book, I was immediately immersed in the story and both POV.

Ayla is a human servant, whose family was destroyed by the Automae (basically, near-human robots who’ve taken over society). One day, she’ll have her revenge.

Crier is the daughter of the Automae leader, and one day hopes to lead them on her own.

The two are pulled together in unusual ways that reveal important aspects of their divided society neither knew beforehand.

I loved the dynamic in this book. Because we get perspectives from either side of the conflict–human and Automae–we get an interesting look at the whole world the author has created. Each POV has its own biases and judgements, so I liked being able to compare how Ayla and Crier saw the world, the people around them, each other–and then forming my own opinions of what those things might really be like, and how I would react to them myself.

For me, the book did seem to lean more heavily toward romance than toward the plot, but I didn’t mind that. I love that diverse books are getting the chance to have stories like this told. It did make some of the decisions made by the main characters seem a little off, like maybe things were moving a little too fast for some of the decisions they were making, but I also think the timeline during this book was a lot longer than it’d initially seemed. This actually gives the characters a chance to grow together . . . or maybe apart.

I love how Crier’s War managed to have some unpredictable moments that kept me on the edge of my seat, including the ending that has me eager for the sequel. I’m not sure what will happen, but I really can’t wait! Go read Crier’s War and then come discuss the book with me!

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · adult · Fantasy

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin is terrifyingly amazing

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The Fifth Season

The Broken Earth #1

author : n.k. jemisin

pages : [paperback] 468

memorable quote :

Home is what you take with you, not what you leave behind.

favorite character : essun

summary :

This is the way the world ends. Again.

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

review :

My friend gifted me this book and I trust her judgement, so I began reading it without even glancing at the back cover. So I had no idea what I was getting into, and I think it was only a chapter or two before my jaw dropped and remained open throughout the rest of this wild story.

The Fifth Season is unlike anything else I’ve ever read. Terrifying. Powerful. Beautiful. There were parts that were difficult to read through, parts where I absolutely couldn’t put the book down because I needed to know what would happen next. Parts where I was frustrated with the characters and parts where I loved them (and was very, very worried for them).

When a book like The Fifth Season is this good, it becomes difficult to explain why everyone needs to read it. You don’t want to spoil anything, and it’s impossible to capture that feeling the book gives you while reading without actually being in the midst of that reading experience. This is the kind of book that might be best experienced by diving in headfirst without looking up anything about it beforehand.

Because you will love it. Even if there are those parts I said are hard to read through; the writing is beautiful, but I felt a little squeamish. There are a lot of terrible things that happen throughout The Fifth Season, but that’s the sort of thing you come to expect in dystopian novels. This book is unlike all the rest, wholly unique in the way gives you nightmares.

I need to get the sequel.

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · graphic novel · young adult

Check, Please! Volume 2: my favorite graphic novel, ever

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Sticks & Scones

Check, Please! Volume 2
Volume 1

author : ngozi ukazu

pages : [paperback] 336

favorite character : bitty

summary :

Eric Bittle is heading into his junior year at Samwell University, and not only does he have new teammates―he has a brand new boyfriend! Bitty and Jack must navigate their new, secret, long-distance relationship, and decide how to reveal their relationship to friends and teammates. And on top of that, Bitty’s time at Samwell is quickly coming to an end…It’s two full hockey seasons packed with big wins and high stakes!

A collection of the second half of the mega-popular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: Sticks and Scones is the last in a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.

review :

Check, Please! is something that makes me so happy that when I think about it I literally want to cry happy tears. This webcomic turned graphic novel heals my heart. It’s fun, funny, and incredibly endearing. The cast of characters is diverse, and even readers who know absolutely nothing about hockey (or sports in general) will love and cheer on these boys to victory. This second volume (which I realized upon opening would be the LAST) is an incredible conclusion.

Like volume one, Sticks & Scones follows Eric ‘Bitty’ Bittle’s college years. Volume one is freshman and sophomore years; volume two is junior and senior. It’s amazing how much Bitty has developed as a character between page one and the final chapters. I loved him from the start, but I was so proud of how far he’s come! With his confidence, his skills–on the ice, and in the oven. Check Please is constantly handling important, big issues, in this brightly-colored comic that also had me laughing too much to myself. The characters deal with anxiety, depression, coming out, and so much more. These boys go through so much–and it’s all relatable and well-written.

love that these books take place in college, because so few do. They’re going to help so many high school and college readers; I can see that already. Sometimes the best thing for a person struggling with issues that can feel so isolating is to find themselves in a story. Check, Please! shows how happiness can be found at the end of any seemingly impossible fight.

My heart is still glowing from this book. I can’t wait to read it over and over and over again. The artwork is stunning. The characters are real, flawed, and fantastic. The storyline is great, such a nice mix of humor and serious plot–I love all of the sideplots that appear throughout the story. I’d read absolutely anything by this author, because Check, Please is one of my favorite series of all time.

5/5 stars