Size Doesn’t Matter: Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger (2)

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter: Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger (2)School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough
Published by Feiwel & Friends on August 4, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Adventure
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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three-stars

Being a hero isn't always what it's cracked up to be in this funny and genuine novel from adult fantasy author Kelly McCullough.

Evan Quick is a GIANT superhero geek who dreams of one day becoming a superhero himself. Every morning he checks to see if he's developed his powers overnight, and every day there's nothing. No flying, no super strength, no invulnerability—that always hurts to check—no telepathy, no magic. Not even the ability to turn off the alarm clock without smacking the switch.

But then Evan somehow manages to survive a supervillian's death ray, and is sent to the Academy for Metahuman Operatives. Unfortunately, his new school is not what he expected, and instead of fighting bad guys, Evan finds himself blacklisted, and on the wrong side of the school's director. If Evan ever wants to realize his dream, he must convince his "mentor" Foxman, a semi-retired has-been, to become a real hero once again.

School for Sidekicks is a fun middle grade superhero book. It’s got a lot of great humor based on tropes from all the superhero pop culture out there, for example how capes should be avoided despite how stylish they look. The plot proved more complex than anticipated and suggests that there will be at least another book about Evan Quick, though I’ve not found anything to confirm that.

There’s a hint of adorable middle grade romance where they don’t like each other but also kind of do. What really makes School for Sidekicks stand apart for me is the diversity. There’s casual mention of Evan’s dad’s two mothers, for example. One of the kids, Blurshift, has a power that allows them to shift genders and Blurshift has yet to choose a gender or standard form, which is so cool.

School for Sidekicks is worth a read for those of you who can’t get enough of superhero stories. If there is another book in the series, I’m down for it.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter: Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger (2)Shadows of Sherwood by Kekla Magoon
Series: Robyn Hoodlum #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on August 4, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Dystopian
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Goodreads
three-stars

The night her parents disappear, twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley must learn to fend for herself. Her home, Nott City, has been taken over by a harsh governor, Ignomus Crown. After fleeing for her life, Robyn has no choice but to join a band of strangers-misfit kids, each with their own special talent for mischief. Setting out to right the wrongs of Crown's merciless government, they take their outlaw status in stride. But Robyn can't rest until she finds her parents. As she pieces together clues from the night they disappeared, Robyn learns that her destiny is tied to the future of Nott City in ways she never expected.

Kicking off a new series with an unforgettable heroine, readers will be treated to feats of courage and daring deeds as Robyn and her band find their way in this cruel, new world.

I know a lot of people want to dismiss three star ratings as not actually having liked a book, but I’d urge you to please not do this with mine. Shadows of Sherwood is fun and fast-paced. There are so many clever twists on the Robin Hood formula, and Magoon clearly put a lot of thought into genderswapping much of it and moving it into a futuristic setting. Were I younger, say 8 to 10, I suspect I would have loved this much as I loved that Robin Hood’s daughter movie with a young Kiera Knightley, which is to say quite a lot.

As an adult reader, I liked it and very much appreciated a lot of what it was doing. Still, I think Shadows of Sherwood doesn’t work as well for an adult audience, which is not a huge criticism since we’re NOT the intended audience. I had some issues with the believability of it. Robyn is twelve, and that feels way too young to be the mastermind of this revolt against a huge scary government. She’s gathered together her little gang of talented children and it’s super cute but it’s almost laughable watching the government declare them the most wanted criminals. How would the evil guys not just get laughed out of governing?

I’m not sure if I’ll be coming back for the second book. I do rather want to know if Robyn is going to fall in love with Merryan, aka Maid Marian, because I would so come back for a middle grade lesbian ship.

Size Doesn’t Matter: Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger (2)The Selection by Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #1
Published by HarperTeen on March 26, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 327
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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one-half-stars

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Yeah, that’s right. I reread The Selection. I may make questionable life choices. That probably won’t stop anytime soon.

So yeah, The Selection actually held up surprisingly well. Now, that’s in the context that, even at the time, I knew it was trash. That sounds really bad and it is, but also it’s really fucking entertaining trash. If you love it, don’t be offended because some parts of me kind of do too, despite the fact that I rather wish I didn’t. There is some crack in these pages. Like, seriously, possibly, there is actual crack in dem pages because it should not be so much fun to read.

I actually hold with a lot of how I felt about it before. The writing is, uh, not good, the world building is ??? wut r world building, and the characters are rather annoying and often stereotypes. At the same time, it very much plays on those fascinating tropes that make a reality TV marathon impossible to quit. I still maintain that kept to one book and without the whole dystopian pesky rebels business, this could have been the most fun ever. I also maintain that if you want a really good prince choosing his princess from a group of options book, you should read Princess Academy.

All that good sense aside, I ate this up like cotton candy, guilty but oh so happy.

Size Doesn’t Matter: Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger (2)Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Published by Clarion on August 25, 2013
Genres: Steampunk, Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Retelling
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Goodreads
two-half-stars

Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

Mainly, I feel disappointed because Mechanica could have been so much more. For the most part, Mechanica was a consistently solid three star book. It rehashed the Cinderella tale with few real changes or twists.

That might seem unfair given that there’s a whole political backdrop to the setting with the faerie kingdom and those tensions. Plus, Nicolette is an awesome mechanic, which is a really original twist on the Cinderella story. Oh wait. The stepmother is evil, the step sisters are vapid and cruel, Cinderella’s mother was her inspiration, and Cinderella is kind-hearted and never gives up hope. Like the movie version released this past year, I felt like it wasn’t going to actually do anything new.

The characterization really failed for me. I didn’t bond to any of the characters. Nick was claiming her feelings for Nick and I was honestly confused. It seemed like her crush should be on Caro if on anyone. The one relationship I really felt for was the one between Nick and Jules, a horse made of metal, glass and magic.

Then I got to the last thirty pages or so and then all of a sudden the book took a major turn to the right. View Spoiler » I wish that Mechanica had been that book all along. I wish that it had committed more to the things it hints at. I wish that it had wrapped up some more of the political questions.

I’d say it’s worth pushing through for the ending, but I do wish there’d been MORE of the ending and a bit less of the rehashing of all of the standard elements of Cinderella that we all already know.

Size Doesn’t Matter: Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger (2)The Elite by Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #2
Published by HarperTeen on April 23, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Gifted
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
two-half-stars

The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America's chance to choose is about to slip away.

Guh, this dark magic. I really can’t bring myself to rate this book below 2.5 because I’m so addicted to this stupid series. I have a serious love/hate thing going.

I cannot even about how ridiculous the rebels are, breaking into the palace to leave messages that they are coming. THEY CAME TO SAY THAT THEY WILL COME. IS THIS A JOKE? THERE ARE PHONES IN THIS WORLD SO WHY NOT JUST CALL.

The first half (or more) of this book was so deadly dull and I thought maybe I was over it but then BUT THEN I suddenly couldn’t put it down and I cared despite hating everyone and this is the magic of The Selection. I can’t even tell you WHY I care that Maxon choose America, despite the fact that I already know what happens in all the things and the fact that I already think they’re both jerks but SOMEHOW I DO.

The jealous in this book though. Constant jealousy. All the time jealousy from Miss America about Maxon while she makes out with Aspen who I feel bad for even though he’s a sexist shitpig. Like, seriously America how are you so awful that I feel BAD for your sexist shitpig ex-boyfriend because of the way you are saving him in reserve in case you don’t get Maxon? He’s her fucking safety school and, shitty as he is, any human deserves better.

Wait, no. King Clarkson does not deserve better. King Clarkson deserves a hard kick to the thigh. And by thigh, I mean mangarden, America.

This has been a whole lot of emotional gibberish which seems pretty apt ngl. BRING ON THE ONE!

 

3 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter: Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger (2)”

  1. Angie F. says:

    “It seemed like her crush should be on Caro if on anyone.” – THIS!!! That is exactly how I felt while reading Mechanica! Like, why did this not happen?!?!!?

    I am madly in love with The Selection! I reread it last year, then read the other two. I laughed and I cried and just aahhh! Love it! I totally get that it’s not exactly the best series out there and the world building is awfully questionable (normally a deal breaker for me), but they’re so fun to read!
    Angie F. recently posted…Review: Spider’s Trap (Elemental Assassin, #13) by Jennifer EstepMy Profile

  2. Dahlia Adler says:

    Ooh, you have me *very* compelled by Shadows of Sherwood! She’s written younger-leaning LGBTQ before, so I wouldn’t be shocked if she went ahead with a MG lesbian ship, and honestly, I don’t read nearly enough Robin Hood stuff…
    Dahlia Adler recently posted…Ten Books That Celebrate Intersectional DiversityMy Profile

  3. Lyn Kaye says:

    Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa. I have Shadows of Sherwood, and even the slightest hint that this might be a lesbian MG novel, if there is a possibility, then I am going to read this one!

    Also, I am actually looking forward to School for Sidekicks. It sounds cute, and I want to support authors who are adding in more diversity. Also, a gender fluid character? That right there alone deserves my money. What pronoun does the book use for Blurshift?
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Garden Gazette: July Wrap-UpMy Profile

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