Size Doesn’t Matter (123): Foxheart; DC Trip

I received this book for free from Edelweiss 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 (123): Foxheart; DC TripFoxheart by Claire Legrand
Published by Greenwillow on October 4, 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 480
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Goodreads
three-half-stars

Orphan. Thief. Witch.

Twelve-year-old Quicksilver dreams of becoming the greatest thief in the Star Lands. With her faithful dog and partner-in-crime Fox, she’s well on her way—even if that constantly lands them both in trouble. It’s a lonesome life, sleeping on rooftops and stealing food for dinner, but Quicksilver doesn’t mind. When you’re alone, no one can hurt you. Or abandon you.

But the seemingly peaceful Star Lands are full of danger. Witches still exist—although the powerful Wolf King and his seven wolves have been hunting them for years. Thankfully, his bloody work is almost complete. Soon the Star Lands will be safe, free of the witches and their dark magic.

Then one day a strange old woman and her scruffy dog arrive in Quicksilver’s town and perform extraordinary magic. Real magic—forbidden and dangerous. Magic Quicksilver is desperate to learn. With magic like that, she could steal anything her heart desires. She could even find her parents.

But the old woman is not what she seems, and soon Quicksilver has to decide—will she stay at home and remain a thief? Or will she embark upon the adventure of a lifetime and become a legend?

Foxheart is my third Claire Legrand book, and, in some ways, it’s my favorite. In others, it’s my least favorite. As expected, though, it’s a quality novel, and I continue to be impressed by the breadth of Legrand’s talent and creativity.

My absolute favorite thing about Legrand’s writing is her heroines. Every single heroine has been unique and not followed the typical MG heroine archetype. Legrand’s heroines are miles away from the Pollyannas of the world, having much more in common with Mary Lennox. Quicksilver’s a tiny little middle grade bitch, and I love her so damn much.

Quicksilver pranks and bullies, admittedly in response to ill treatment from others since she has a witchy look about her. She is selfish and uncomfortable with feelings. Not to mention that she’s a thief, who feels zero guilt about stealing from others. When she meets Sly Boots, she tells him “‘I don’t need to hear your tragic life story,'” and generally is totally mean to him. Such ship. When Quicksilver receives her mission/quest/thing for the book, her first response is wondering why she would possibly want to help others when no one ever helps her. I seriously love this girl, and I relate to her a lot. She’s such a  beautiful, unique, powerful character, and I love that Legrand dares to write grumpy, selfish heroines. I expect kids will love her and that grownups may not like her attitude. Quicksilver doesn’t give a damn either way.

If you’re into little middle grade ships (as I am), you do not want to miss Foxheart. Legrand’s good about including ships in everything, which I’m grateful for because lbr crushes run rampant in the middle grade age group. Quicksilver and Sly Boots are an adorable ship, constantly saying things they don’t mean and getting jealous and not understanding their feelings and it’s just the cutest. Of the three books I’ve read, this one spends the most time on the ship.

The characterization is so strong, and I adored the book from beginning to end for that reason. However, I did have pretty major issues with the plot. The whole plot hinges on a time travel element that makes absolutely no sense. It’s sort of a *handwave* magic scenario, but that’s really not enough for me. The plot also felt a bit disjointed and long for a standalone novel, but I do like that there were times where the plot took unexpected, inconvenient turns. I also wish View Spoiler ».

If you’re a fan of middle grade fiction, especially shippy middle grade fiction, I urge you to try Foxheart. If you’re more of a plot reader, I’d recommend trying one of Legrand’s other middle grade novels before this one.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from ALA 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 (123): Foxheart; DC TripDC Trip by Sara Benincasa
Published by Adaptive Books on November 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Humor
Pages: 280
Format: Hardcover
Source: ALA
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three-stars

Author and comedienne Sara Benincasa takes a bold, fearless and irreverent look at the classic high school trip to Washington DC.

Alicia Deats is a new teacher chaperoning her very first high school trip to Washington DC, and nothing could be more terrifying than a class full of horny, backstabbing, boundary-pushing teenagers under her watch. To make matters worse, she embarrassed herself with her co-chaperone Bryan Kenner with one too many margaritas and an ill-placed vomiting incident at last year’s teacher mixer and is hoping this trip can be a fresh start for them. Alicia believes in positive reinforcement and trust to keep her students out of trouble, but best friend high school sophomores Gertie, Sivan, and Rachel have a different idea: they plan to take full advantage of the un-parented freedom that a trip to DC offers. DC TRIP by novelist-comedian Sara Benincasa is an honest and irreverent journey of sexual confusion, bar shots, drag queens, and pot cookies in the Rose Garden.

Oh man, DC Trip is a total hot mess. In both good and bad ways. I laughed a lot, but also really hated some things about it, and it’s going to be tough to find people who love all of this book because it’s so all over the place.

First thing you need to know about DC Trip is that it’s sort of kind of not YA. Like, it’s kind of two books mashed up together, and one of them is YA and one of them is not. The frame story is an adult romantic comedy about a high school teacher. Inside, there’s as much time spent on the teen dramas. I can see where this story could be hard to market to the typical adult reader and why they chose to label it teen, but the start of the book especially focuses on the adults, and it’s really not what you expect when picking up a YA book. I didn’t mind really, but it makes the whole book feel weird right from the start.

Second thing you need to know about DC Trip is that Benincasa made some weird narrative decisions. The frame story consists of emails written to Alicia Deats’ coworker friend. Alicia wants to warn her of the dangers inherent in chaperoning the sophomore class trip to DC, and she says she’s going to tell her the whole story. Then, right after that, the book switches to omniscient third person and jumps around from character to character. I don’t have any problem with that generally, but it’s really annoying when ostensibly this is a story Alicia’s typing out to her friend. Alicia’s weird, but I don’t think she’s so weird she would write about herself in omniscient third.

Third thing you need to know about DC Trip is that it’s a satire and a raunchy comedy in the vein of Bridesmaids and The Hangover. Benincasa doesn’t really satirize anything in particular, so much as whatever happens to venture into the story. There’s satirization of the teens, of restaurant franchises, of Obama, of hippies, etc. Some things do come through without judgment, like D.C. itself and the security guards of the Holiday Inn.

There’s a lot of offensive stuff in DC Trip, and a lot of readers are going to hate that. I believe it’s there to play into the satirization of our culture, but it’s there and not necessarily pleasant. The easiest example is how the three MC teens call the rival group of cheerleaders the CunTriad. There’s also a lot of jokes about barf and pooping, so be prepared for that too.

A lot about this book didn’t really work for me. I don’t enjoy potty humor and raunchiness to try to shock/offend doesn’t do anything for me. The actual storytelling is flawed. However, other elements worked. There were parts of the book that were genuinely funny and bantery. Some of the ships worked really well. I totally ship Alicia and Brian a whole lot. Gertie and Danny Bryan turned out to be much cuter than anticipated. I wish the lesbian ship had gone somewhere, but I’m down for it. Rachel’s ship, however, was forced and ridiculous. The highlight of the book is any time the characters converse, because the dialogue is on point. I’d love to see Benincasa right a novel that read like a screenplay or interview (like It’s Not Me, It’s You) or in emails and chats (like Meg Cabot’s Boy series).

DC Trip‘s for a very particular audience. It’s a quick, fun read if the things above don’t totally put you off, but it’s a strange one, that’s for sure.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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