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

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

 

 

5 stars · fiction · young adult

Foul is Fair: I LOVE THIS BOOK

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Foul is Fair

author : hannah capin

pages : [hardcover] 336

favorite character : elle

summary :

Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.

review :

This book is badass. Foul is Fair is brutal and beautiful.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from Wednesday Books in exchange for my honest review. Yes, this book doesn’t come out until February. Yes, I started reading this as soon as I got my hands on it because I couldn’t resist the urge to find out what Foul is Fair is all about.

Before page one, content and trigger warnings are printed for readers. I hope that Foul is Fair is setting a precedent, because this is something that is so important to include. Wednesday Books might be starting one of the best trends to happen in literature.

Elle goes to a party. Something terrible happens at the party. Elle begins to call herself Jade. Jade plots her revenge.

Foul is Fair is truly a revenge fantasy for girls who are tired with boys getting away with their crimes. It is dark, it certainly doesn’t hold back, it screams and attacks for every girl out there who’s ever been kept silent. It certainly isn’t like anything I’ve ever read before.

It does require a little suspension of disbelief. This book is a retelling of Macbeth (which, I’ve just realized, isn’t mentioned in the book summary?) and if you keep thinking about it within that context, you’re fine. However, the book does take place over the span of three weeks (at most) so if you think of it within a contemporary context, it makes less sense. It happens so fast. If there had just been a few chapters in the middle that said Jade wormed her way into the lives of her enemies over even a few months, it would have been infinitely more believable.

The writing is so incredibly beautiful–enough to make me not really care about the timeline. Which is saying a lot, because usually I rail against insta-love, even in retellings. Hannah Capin has the kind of writing that is *chef kiss* delicious. I want to read anything she’s ever written or will write; I want to sink into these beautiful words that talk about such dark themes. You all know I’m not the biggest fan of books set in a contemporary world. I feel like Hannah Capin could write about anything, she’s so good. Maybe this also plays into why I didn’t mind the rushed timeline so much; as a reader, you’re so in tune with Jade’s thoughts that you understand her completely. Her motivations. Her fears, that she tries to hide from even herself.

I’m sorry so many of you are going to have to wait so long to read this book, because I want to discuss it with all of you right now. It’s unique. It’s amazing to see this badass girl pulling all the strings. And it’s very satisfying. Foul is Fair is fairly brilliant.

5/5 stars

 

 

 

5 stars · Fantasy · series · young adult

WAYWARD SON is a very fun sequel okay

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Wayward Son

Simon Snow #2
Book 1: Carry On

author : rainbow rowell

pages : [hardcover] 356

memorable quote :

But it was a mistake thinking of that as an end. There is no end. Bad things happen, and then they stop, but they keep on wreaking havoc inside of people.

favorite character : baz

summary :

The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…

So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It’s another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter.

Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero’s journey might be over – but your life has just begun.

review :

I remember a time when I never thought I’d get to read any more Simon and Baz, so I count myself lucky that this book exists and there’s going to be a third book. This book isn’t perfect, but it was a lot of fun and I loved every minute of it (not to mention it dragged me forcibly out of my perpetual reading slump).

Wayward Son deals with the “aftermath of the Chosen One” trope that seems to be popping up a little more often in YA these days. The world is saved. Simon sacrificed a lot for that and everyone seems to think he should be just fine. Nothing will ever be the same, and no one seems to really care.

So they all go on a roadtrip, to try to shake things up and make Simon a little less depressed.

What I liked so much about Wayward Son was the characters, because they all felt very real. Penny is having some harsh realizations about herself that typically happen to people after high school. Baz is still trying to figure out where he belongs in the world. Simon has lost so much and has taken to that quiet kind of depression that affects so many people–not taking care of himself, pushing away the people who care for him because clearly they would be better off without him. And they’re just as young as he is, so they’re equally at a loss for what to do. They’re three teenagers trying to find their footing in a world that really doesn’t need them anymore, and basically anyone who picks up this book should be able to relate to that.

The plot was a little bit all over the place for me, because for half of the book is was just ROADTRIP and then the rest seemed to be building toward something that didn’t quite have its foundation yet. I was still fully on board; the only thing that really threw me off was the last few chapters. It sort of felt like only then and there the decision was made to build up for a third book, which I regrettably wasn’t anticipating because the first book read like a standalone so I assumed this one would as well. Cue sad violins for me as I desperately wait for book three.

Wayward Son also confirms for me that I’m back in it with vampires. Give me all the vampire books. Brooding ones. Dorky ones. Closeted vampires like Baz who have literally no idea what they’re doing but are trying their best.

If you enjoyed Carry On, I really think you’ll like this sequel as well. The same sense of humor that permeated the first book is still here and made me actually laugh out loud a few times. I think I might have groaned a few times too, as in Oh no Simon don’t do thAT WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT. These boys will be the death of me. Go read this book.

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · mystery · young adult

A Study in Charlotte: one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes interpretations

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A Study in Charlotte

Charlotte Holmes #1

author : brittany cavallaro

pages : [hardcover] 321

memorable quote :

The two of us, we’re the best kind of disaster. Apples and oranges. Well, more like apples and machetes.

favorite character : jamie

summary :

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

review :

Okay, I have to admit: I am not the greatest fan of Sherlock Holmes, or Sherlock Holmes themed things.

As in, I don’t really seek them out. I always mean to watch them and then never end up getting around to it. I’m vaguely certain I’ve read a few of the original stories.

Then I received A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE as a free ebook for completing an Epic Reads survey, and I’m already relieved that there’s a second book because I loved these characters so much.

A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE follows the descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, who in this universe were real historical figures who really did the things talked about in their stories. Well, mostly. Watson might have fudged the accounts a little for literary value. Jamie Watson loves to write; Charlotte Holmes loves to solve mysteries. Together, through a series of unfortunate events, they end up at a boarding school in America. When the students start to die, it’s clear that someone’s trying to frame them for it.

This book was just so much fun. Sure, there was death involved. Yes, parts of it were incredibly dark and dealt with extremely serious topics. The dynamic between the two main characters, told solely through Jamie Watson’s perspective, was just so funny. In reality, I would probably want to punch Charlotte Holmes right in the face. I’m also certain she’d be able to deduce that sort of thing was a long time coming for her.

Jamie isn’t immune to my ire, either; some of the decisions he makes are just so stupid. However, he’s incredibly relatable. He’s a young adult trying to figure out his place in the world—what he wants to do with his life, how he fits in with his family now that he’s nearly an adult. Mistakes are made—some of them costly ones—but you can’t help but root for him throughout the whole thing. He’s just so . . . charming. Holmes might agree.

If you’re looking for a quick, fun read—filled with danger and action, witty quips and deductions that are simultaneously surprising and not too far-fetched, pick up A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE. I can’t wait to read the next one!

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · graphic novel · young adult

Fence Volume 2: THIS COMIC IS AMAZING

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Fence, Volume 2

Volume 1

author : c.s. pacat

pages : [paperback] 112

favorite character : ALL OF THEM

summary :

Combines Issues #5-8.

Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place on the Kings Row fencing team, alongside sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama, to win the right to go up against his golden-boy half-brother.

Tryouts are well underway at King’s Row for a spot on the prodigious fencing team, and scrappy fencer Nicholas isn’t sure he’s going to make the grade in the face of surly upperclassmen, nearly impossibly odds, and his seemingly unstoppable roommate, the surly, sullen Seiji Katayama. It’ll take more than sheer determination to overcome a challenge this big!

From the superstar team of C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad comes the second volume of this acclaimed, dynamic series.

review :

This series is imPOSSIBLE TO PUT DOWN. All of the current issues are available on Hoopla, an app where you can borrow ebooks/graphic novels, and I borrowed Volume 2 maybe three seconds after I finished the first one.

Fence has so many great characters which makes things difficult when they’re all competing against each other. The competition to get onto the school’s fencing team (who knew fencing teams were SO SMALL) is really heating up now. Rivalries are forming. Rivalries are . . . attempting to form. I love how Nicholas continuously reminds people that he has a rivalry with Seiji while Seiji is on the side like “Stop, no, we don’t, calm down.”

The art is beautiful. The story is both funny and also sort of stressful because I want everyone to make the team and I know they can’t. The characters are so diverse and well-written, flawed and lovable. I suffered because I immediately wanted to read more issues after this volume but I’d run out of borrows on Hoopla. You cannot understand my pain.

Please, PLEASE read Fence because I know you’ll love it and then we can talk all about these stubbornly amazing boys.

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · graphic novel · young adult

Fence, Volume 1: a graphic novel that I love love love love

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Fence, Vol 1 (issues 1-4)

author : c. s. pacat

pages : [paperback] 112

favorite character : all of them???

summary :

Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…

Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges. From acclaimed writer C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad.

review :

Words cannot EXPRESS how much I love FENCE. This first volume is gorgeous. Intriguing. So riveting that I was very grateful I borrowed it on Hoopla (an app through my local library which allows you access to a certain number of ebooks per month) because it asked me when I finished if I’d like to borrow Volume 2. YES YES YES. I needed it immediately.

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve aways vaguely appreciated fencing from afar because it’s, like, kind of like swords so that’s cool and seems very fancy. But you don’t really know how any of it works. BRILLIANT, because FENCE will explain all of the intricacies of fencing to you. Thankfully it doesn’t do so in info dumps or in the guise of a boring lecture. It’s woven very flawlessly into the overall narrative of the story, so you really get to know the stacks of the . . Oh no. Are they matches? Bouts? I think they’re matches. I think I need to reread this volume already.

Really, though, it’s all about the characters and by GOD DO I LOVE THEM. Even the ones that are asinine are so well-done, realistic, and kind of hilarious, so I love them too. This volume is really an introduction to some of our main players (and a rivalry that has me CACKLING and also uncertain of who I want to best who). I just love it. I want them all to be happy and yet I’m entertained by how miserable they constantly make each other.

This book is unlike anything else I’ve ever read (and has me thinking that maybe I DO love contemporary stories but only in comic form). And it’s one of those things that’ll just leave you so happy inside. If you’re looking for a feel-good graphic novel where you’ll be intensely invested in the characters and you’ll also suddenly be REALLY be invested in fencing . . . Read this.

5/5 stars