About a week late- but finally ready to post a reading wrap up for April. I managed to get through 10 books in April, a good chunk of them ARC's from Edelweiss, and again, all of them really good. The bnulk of them came out in April or the first part of May, so you can get your hands on the now! I did DNF one book this month, not neccessarily a bad book, but defintiely not a book for me. At any rate- lets get to it.
and yet... you want the best for them. They are allowed to be realistic teenagers and screw up, and also be totally worthy of good things. Gabi and Theo are a full disaster, and I love them for it.
increadibly relatable... they just happen to also be dealing with magic and high courts and ancient prophecies that might well end up with someone dead. On top of that the main characters Arek and Matt are instantly loveable. You know where the story is going, you know how you want it to end, and you hope Lukens is going to give it to you... the fun is following along as they bumble their way to the finish line.
immediately in love with it. I read the whole thing in one sitting. It hits all the right RomCom notes, there's an instant meet cute, a terrible ex, an accidental wedding, many (MANY) misunderstandings and a super adorable dog. Both Cara and Finn are great characters and its easy to get swept away in their nonsense and become invested in their future. What I really liked about this one is that by the end, I was happy with who both characters were on their own, and even though your always looking for that HEA in a RomCom, I also felt like if this was just a blip on their timeline I'd be okay with it. Ultimately it ends perfectly and I'm super glad I snagged this one on a whim.
orders in October/November and because of some supply chain issues the last of them just rolled in... so it's a bit like Christmas for me in that I dont' know which books are going to be in there until I open the box. So, yeah, I bought this one for the library and it arrived a few weeks ago and I immediately devoured it before checking it out to kids. This book is EXCELLENT. Reynolds is already a fan favorite here in the library, so I was excited to get this title in.
In Ain't Burned all the Bright Reynolds and Griffin look at the reality of living through the pandemic and how that impact is felt on a daily basis by a kid. What does it feel like to know a parent is sick in the next room, or when a sibling is withdrawing into their phone, or when watching the news is so repetative that it feels inescapable. The topics in the book are heavy and I was a little worried that it might be too soon, since we are very much still in it, but Reynolds prose combined with Griffin's art pull you right into the story and you remember first what those early days are like, and then that there is always hope. This book is a perfect addition to our shelves.
Full Wrap Up!
Those are some highlights from the last month- reviews of all my April reads are up on Goodreads and will be slow rolling out here as we hit the release dates.
complete chaos and make absolutely disasterous decisions and yet somehow they are entirely endearing and no matter how much you want to yell at them, you also, in equal measure want the absolute world for them. Cafe Con Lychee delivers in total messy glory.
I immediately loved both Gabi and Theo and I knew that although they would most likely find their way together in the end, that it would be a wild ride to get there. Both Gabi and Theo are trying their best- they have school, sports, their family businesses and their families expecatations to contend with and both are drowning a little bit. And then they are shoved together in a scheme to save their family restaurants and the enemies to lovers vibe is strong in this one, but the path isn't easy. Neither believes they deserve happiness so they find themselves fighting not only with outside influences, but with themselves as well.
I won't give the resolution away- but what's beautiful about what Lee does here is that e allows for both Gabi and Theo to make a mess of things and still find themselves worthy of forgiveness and love. It's something that they needed to learn and hear, it's something that readers need to learn and hear- that you can mess up, you can say hurtful things that you don't mean, sometimes when you are trying to do your best you might make really bad decisions... and you can still be a good person worth of respect and love.
This is exactly the kid of book I like to put on the library shelf- I can't wait for more readers to meet Gabi and Theo.
Disney movies, Princess Merida came along right when my own little stubborn child with unruly hair was really getting into movies and for her to see a girl like her go on the adventure Merida did was awesome. My concern with sequels, or tie in books, or retellings is always that they might get it wrong, that, in this case, the book will dull the magic of the story and characters. However, Maggie Steifvater is an always buy for me. Meaning, I dont' care what's she's writing, I'm reading it. I've reread The Scorpio Races every year since it came out and it remains as magical as ever... so if there was ever an author who I trusted to keep the magic of Merida and DunBroch alive, it would be her. Luckily for all of us, she nailed it.
Set a few years after the events of Brave, Bravely finds Merida still in control of her own life, travelling and learning, figuring out who she will be someday. The triplets are older and they too are starting to become their own people, finding their own interests, trying to find their own place. As for Elinor, Fergus and DunBroch, well, they have become a wee bit stagnant, simply living in the moment but not moving forward, just kind of stuck.
Which is where the story begins, with Merida chasing her way into a magical bargin with two gods, Callieach and Feradach, dealing for the future of her family and her community. Given a year to change the fate of DunBroch and everything she loves we get to follow Merida on more adventures as she learns more about the people around her, about her family, and about herself.
What I truly love about this book is how Steifvater allows Merida (and the boys) to grow up. They aren't stuck as the characters we once knew, but they haven't made a giant leap into adulthood either. Merida is still a teen really, older and wiser, but still full of curiosity and possessing the same passion and fire we all loved in Brave. The boys are heading into their teen years, and each is grappling with that in their own way. While the story is firmly Merida's, the glimpses we get into the boys and their personalities and the people they might become add a richness to the entire story. In turn, through the journey we also get peaks at who Elinor and Fergus were before they settled down as the King and Queen of DunBroch. Without giving anything away, I'd love to see a story about the two of them in their younger days and how they brought the clans together, a story lightly touched on here.
Lastly, the other thing that Steifvater does is tie in the history, mythology, religion, traditions and stories of Scotland. While this is a work of fiction, Steifvater makes sure to weave in the real deal- using stories passed down from family member to family member, locations that can be found easily on the map, and even traditional foods. If you are like me, and compelled to always get even more information, you will find yourself googling the gods that Merida encounters and deals with Callieach and Feradach, and end up tumbling into hours of stories about gods and kings and the magic that is hiding right in front of us if we just choose to open our eyes (and our hearts) and look for it.
The combination of characters and setting, and the attention to the detail of Merida's world, makes Bravely feel lived in, like you just popped in to visit an old friend. It makes you want to stick with Merida and the DunBroch clan as they set out on the next chapter of their lives.
I can't wait to put this one on my shelves (I've already ordered a signed copy for a giveway to my students) and I'll make a wish in the well that this isn't the last we've seen of Merida or DunBroch.
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