Orange: The Complete Collection

25667474by Ichigo Takano
Graphic Novel
4 of 5 stars
(This is a review for all 5 volumes of Orange)

My lovely friend and CP Meg rec’d these to me and they are so cute! Coming off the utter story hangover that is the film “Your Name” this was perfect!

This story arc is about a group of high school friends who befriend the new guy at school. But Naho receives a letter from herself ten years in the future, warning her that tragedy strikes, and she must do everything the letter recommends if she wants to save Kakeru’s life. Skeptical at first, Naho quickly realizes everything in the letter comes true, and if she doesn’t act quickly, Kakeru will be lost to them again.

26247042The friendships are fantastic and the slow-burn, awkward romance between Naho and Kakeru is so adorable! It’s a story about how the seemingly mundane moments in everyday life can matter so much, and that it’s important to be there for your friends and not entirely wrapped up in yourself. It hits the heavier moments with grace and provides plenty of humor too. I had so much fun speeding through these! The first three volumes are bound in one book, and the remaining two are in the second volume.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Orange is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm – This cute, nostalgic story features children dealing with serious situations regarding addiction and how they can learn to cope with them. See my review here.
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – Simon isn’t exactly “out” and the only person he can truly be himself around is Blue – the boy he’s been emailing that he’s crushing on so hard. As he and Blue try to figure out each other’s true identities, Simon has to be brave, especially since another guy at school is threatening to expose his secret. See my review here.
  • The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord – Paige’s boyfriend drowned in a freak accident the previous summer, and now she’s facing junior year as The Girl Whose Boyfriend Drowned, with a side of anxiety. Her attempt to make a better year for herself doesn’t go as planned, but that’s kind of a good thing. The friendships in this story are wonderful! See my review here.
  • This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills – When Sloane falls in with a new group of friends she finds herself on a quest to save a painting by their deceased mother that has gone missing. Another story about how it’s the in-between moments that build a life. See my review here.
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This Adventure Ends

27779275by Emma Mills
YA Contemporary
5 of 5 stars

I grabbed this last year because it’s essentially my favorite color–I thought it would be fun (it definitely was!) but I did not expect to feel so connected to Sloane. I did not expect to feel like Emma Mills was calling me out on my sh*t. It’s a special book that makes you feel vulnerable, understood, and inspired without ever alienating you. So glad I randomly added this to my pile last fall!

But let me back up.

Sloane moves from NYC to Florida with her family for her senior year. She knows this would really piss off most seniors, but she doesn’t much care. She has turned “not caring too much” into an art form, until she breaks up a fight at a party and finds herself drawn into the dynamic and broken lives of popular twins Gabe and Vera. When a beloved painting from their deceased mother goes missing, Sloane makes it her mission to get it back.

Maybe I only connected to Sloane’s special brand of well-meaning earnestness that inevitably turns into awkwardness because it reminded me so strongly of myself, but I like to think the writing is strong enough to pull anyone in. It creates that wistful feeling that you wish you were friends with these characters.

This story revolves around the complicated nature of friendship, which is often overlooked in favor of romance. This one puts attraction on the backburner, choosing instead to study how you become and stay friends now that social media dominates the landscape (don’t worry, it doesn’t get all preachy about technology ruining Today’s Youth or anything). It actually just highlights how it’s harder to know if someone is your friend or just a follower, how you have a public persona and a deeply private one, and how you must reconcile those two sides of yourself. At times I felt guided along, but I did not mind.

What I really loved was the number of strained conversations between Sloane and everyone else. There aren’t snappy retorts and witty banter so much as the moments you feel you can’t tell the truth, so you give a one-word answer. You make a joke rather than addressing the real issue, even when the joke is terrible. Deflections rather than the deeper conversations. Finding ways to tell your friends you care without having to pull the words out. This book works hard in the best way—it’s a new favorite for me!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, This Adventure Ends is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – Another inseparable group of friends that you just want to be friends with (but possibly more so, because Magic). Blue, the psychic’s un-psychic daughter, joins a group of prep school boys to find a Welsh king in suspended animation so they can claim a wish. Or something. See my review here.
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord – Vivi’s summer in a beach town is already off to a great start when she meets the attractive and quiet Jonah. A summer romance, perfect! Because neither of them have intense personal secrets that could erupt at any time. See my review here.
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – A co-dependent anxiety-filled twin must spend her freshman year of college apart from her sister, and decide whether her roommate’s friend can draw her out of her fanfiction world and into the real one.
  • You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner – Another art-filled story of friendship–and rivalry. When Julia is expelled and becomes the only Deaf girl in a mainstream school, she throws herself into her art even more. But she unwittingly stumbles into a turf war and must figure out who is trying to push her out. See my review here.

Truthwitch

Truthwitchby Susan Dennard
YA Fantasy
4 of 5 stars

I have been looking forward to this book close to a year, ever since I saw it pitched as “Avatar: The Last Airbender” meets pirates. It was hyped so extensively I actually worried that I would be disappointed (a la Red Queen) but thank goodness my fears were unfounded. This story is just plain fun! Although the first few chapters took some time to suck me in, once I reached 50 pages I was hooked.

Technically, the story is a lot of world-building mixed in with chase scenes across the world, but it was so enjoyable I didn’t care—these characters have my attention and I’d follow them anywhere! It really feels like an old-fashioned fantasy romp from my Tamora Pierce days, with light-hearted quips and serious friendships amidst all the adventure you could want. Cinematic and carefully crafted. I’ll rein in the fangirling now…!

Safi and Iseult are two friends on the run from their expected roles (for Safi it’s the political and social responsibilities of a domna, for Iseult it’s a Threadwitch apprenticeship in her tribe that she can’t hope to accomplish). Their unquestioning commitment to each other is what has gotten them into and out of scrapes for six years—until a heist gone wrong lands the girls in more trouble than they ever bargained for. Everyone seems to be hunting them for different reasons and they have nowhere to turn. Suddenly their abandoned pasts are catching up to them and a stranger destiny is looming before them. Throw in a Bloodwitch bounty-hunter seeking Safi’s coveted truth-seeing ability, a beleaguered prince on the high seas trying to help his country, and some secret plots between kingdoms, and you have an amazing setup for a series!

What I enjoyed the most was the exploration of the bonds (or Threads) between the characters. The story explores all the motivations we face with mundane and massive decisions. What is best for ourselves, our friends and family, or a country? Usually you can’t have all three. What do you sacrifice and what do you save? What if you have to decide within minutes? I love considering questions like that through fiction.

My biggest critique would only be that the book does feel like a setup more than a standalone novel (as first books in a series typically do), but the writing is solid and this should definitely be on any fantasy-lover’s list.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Truthwitch is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce – The Circle of Magic quartet and The Circle Opens quartet features four teens with different types of magic whose intense, unyielding friendships help them defeat evil sorcerers and unite cultures. Adventures abound, and it’s fun watching these characters grow up. These were some of my favorites when I was younger and Pierce is an author worth reading.
  • The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie – Cas is captured by the Pirate Queen Santa Elena to train a sea monster for her (instead of training them to kill pirates). See my review here.
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore – Katsa’s magical gift is killing, and her uncle uses it to control her. But when a foreign prince allies with her to save his kingdom, Katsa wonders if her Grace is actually something else, and if she can escape her uncle long enough to find out. This is more in-depth than Truthwitch but has a similar interesting take on magic. See my review here.
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – Susan Dennard’s real-life Threadsister’s series about an assassin removed from her life sentence of hard labor to compete for the role of King’s Champion (i.e. sanctioned assassin). Celaena Sardothien’s epic story is filled with magic, mystery, and veiled destinies. See my review here.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik – I recommend this because this story has another awesome female friendship at its heart, but it was much darker than Truthwitch. See my review here.
  • Abarat by Clive Barker – Candy Quackenbush finds herself in an archipelago where every hour of the day has its own island and she discovers she is destined to save them all. Beautiful artwork by the author fully illustrates this series!

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