Freheit!: The White Rose Graphic Novel by Andrea Grosso Ciponte Thanks to Plough Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this graphic novel. Based on the actual White Rose group that spread leaflets against Nazi rule and actions during World War II. Several members were arrested and quite a few of them were executed by use of a guillotine. I didn’t realize that anyone in that era was executed by any means other than shooting. A highly impactful graphic novel that sums up the growth and activities of The White Rose and also includes the real writings on the original leaflets. Amazing strength, integrity and bravery sums up The White Rose members! A must for history buffs, 5 stars!
I received an advance reader copy of this book for volunteer review consideration and all opinions and thoughts are my own.
Benji, born a girl, wants to be a boy (transgender), likes boys and is the Angel’s weapon to purge the Earth. Benji escapes and befriends the rebels becoming even more conflicted on top of identity struggles and dysphoria. Benji meets an LGBTQ+ group and joins the center keeping the fact of being a weapon a secret. Much violence takes place and loyalties are broken and built. A true mix of dystopian and horror.
Likes/dislikes: The book contains too much swearing. I struggled to follow the confusing circumstances because the author shoved a lot into one story. There’s too much going on to fall into the world and enjoy the storyline and it also kept me feeling distant from the characters. I do appreciate the author’s notes about the story’s origins and reasons and also content warnings. The made up pronoun, xem, added to the confusion. Mature content: PG-13 for underage drinking, implied oral sex, abusive relationship. Violence: R for bloody deaths and gore. Language: R for 151 swears and 72 f-bombs. Ethnicity: Benji is presumed white. The other ethnicities are quoted as “more non-white than white”.
Christa and several strangers are on a bus to Blackstone Alpine Lodge in winter when they are stopped by a fallen tree across the road. Christa and Kiernan are on the trip so he can share with her the memories he made with his family at Blackstone Alpine Lodge in years past. The two wander off while the other bus passengers work on moving the tree. A storm hits and Christa falls out of Kiernan’s reach. She’s found later by the rest of the group but Kiernan is lost. The group soon discovers that a killer is in their midst when they’re taken out one by one and their heads are displayed on the large tree next to their cabin shelter. Creepy and surrounded in mystery to the very end! 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the double layer mystery, the creepiness factor and suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed the twists. Mature content: gentle kisses Violence: R for several bloody deaths by decapitation and heads being displayed on tree branches. Language: PG-13 for 16 swears and no f-bombs.
17yo Josslyn lost her father, the Prime Minister, to an assassin a year ago during the Queen’s Gala. She’s attending the current Gala to support Celina, her best friend and the first daughter of the present Prime Minister, and to help Celina gain confidence. While at the Gala, Josslyn wanders to the art treasures display and accidentally absorbs magic when an artifact opens during the robbery she walked into. The robber, Jericho, knows the magic will cause swift action and punishment for Josslyn if the Queen finds out because she has completely banned all magic, so the two of them run and end up in the Queens prison after they search for help in removing the unwanted magic and discover they have something in common: the same assassin that killed Josslyn’s father, Lord Banyon, also killed Jericho’s parents. The magic Josslyn absorbed shows her Lord Banyon’s memories from sixteen years ago when he was being tortured and she continues to have these memories in full force, showing her a side of Lord Banyon that isn’t cruel at all. Lazos is the prison overlord and also a warlock who used to be the queen’s magic advisor, so Josslyn and Jericho ask him to get rid of the unwanted magic, but he strikes a deal first; Jericho must kill the beast in the prison before Lazos will help them. When the beast is discovered, many more secrets are revealed and the danger has just begun.
Likes/dislikes: This book is such a fun read! I enjoyed the humor and sarcasm. There’s plenty of action. The story is entertaining almost immediately and I loved the twists. Mature Content: PG-13 for brief, passionate kissing and underage drinking. Language: R for 115 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for bloody kicking, bloody shooting and bloody death. Ethnicity: Josslyn is white, the queen is white, Overlord is olive skinned, and all shapes, sizes and skintones are at the Fight Club.
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo is the second book in the Grisha Trilogy. Mal and Alina escape from the Darkling and are trying to earn enough money to travel to a place where no one has heard of the Grisha. Before they can move on, the Darkling finds them again. The White Stag captured in the first book was only the first of the amplifiers the Darkling wants. He is now after the Sea Whip. The crew is overthrown by a privateer who rescues Mal and Alina from the Darkling, just as the Sea Whip is captured and killed. Alina now has a second amplifier and reads a story about a third one, the Firebird. The privateer, Sturmhond, has many tricks and secrets up his sleeve. While Alina is put in charge of the Second Army with Mal as the Captain of the Guard, the kingdom is searching for the Darkling and preparing for war. Alina learns that the amplifiers were not discovered, but created, which makes their safety more questionable and makes them even more of a mystery. Lives are lost and some are forever changed in the battle with the Darkling. Once again, Leigh Bardugo has entered the Grisha’s world with magnificent writing and dynamic characters- 5 stars!
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the world building and the unsurety of what lies ahead. The characters are dynamic. I like how the author changed Alina to let the magic become part of who she is.
Mature content: PG for a brief kiss and a gentle kiss.
Once again 17yo Enola becomes inadvertently involved in a mystery when a customer asks for help from the new false identity she’s using, Dr. Ragostin. This new London mystery is a missing man who was bitten by a rabid dog. His sister Caroline and best friend Rudyard Kipling ask for help in finding him. Enola throws herself into the search and comes across strange characters, a strong leader and an odd group with the mark of the mongoose. She’s determined to find the missing man no matter how much danger she puts herself in.
Likes/dislikes: I like how the author ties history into the fictional Enola Holmes’ stories. The author states what’s true history and what’s fictional in the ending notes. I enjoy Enola’s perseverance, bravery, and generosity. Mature content: none Language: PG for 6 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG for fighting. Ethnicity: Predominantly white.
Resolve lives in New England with her mother who helps the community as a midwife because she’s very good at healing. Abigail loses her mother to poison during childbirth and some of the villagers blame Abigail, saying that she poisoned her mother and baby because of jealousy just like she killed her sibling twins. The community thrives on gossip, backtalking, and drama and Resolve, her mother, and Abigail are different, therefore problematic. A few good people help protect Resolve and her mother, and in turn, Resolve helps Abigail. The ominous feel of the story drew me in and I enjoyed the Native Americans involvement and the mystery and foreboding intensity.
17yo Merit is cursed to be a beast until she agrees to marry someone who her mother approves of. She meets 19yo Tevin, a professional conman, and they strike a bargain. Merit’s mother has set her up with three worthy candidates and Tevin is going to help Merit navigate their intentions because she doesn’t trust her instincts after being jilted by her boyfriend Jasper. Jasper left Merit after her mother offered him money to leave. Merit feels trapped by her mother and she doesn’t feel anything for the three candidates. As she confides in Tevin, the two of them become friends and more. As they work together, they unknowingly walk into danger and discover deception and they’re going to have to rely on each other more than they realize.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the wonderful descriptions of the setting. The humor is cute and funny. I grew to love the charming characters. Mature content: PG for brief passionate kissing. Language: PG for 7 swears and no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for bloody death of an animal. Ethnicity: Merit is white, other characters are of mixed ethnicity, including fairy.
The Watchmaker’s Daughter by Larry Loftis is about the ten Boom family’s legacy of kindness, resilience and strength. Corrie ten Boom went on to create a rehabilitation center for Holocaust concentration camp survivors to recover, reset and refocus their upended lives. “In the Christian spirit to which she was so devoted, she also took in those who had cooperated with the Germans during the occupation.”https://www.biography.com/activists/corrie-ten-boom
This book describes the ten Boom family history, their fight to save as many Jewish people as possible during the Holocaust, what happened to the family members during World War II, and how Corrie ten Boom continued to build on her family’s legacy after the war was over. True heroism!
18 year-old Elwood runs away when he overhears his father talking about sacrificing him for the church he resides over in the Garden of Adam Community, located in the Upper Peninsula. He’s been told throughout his entire life that he’s a burden. He’s been punished and unloved by his parents. 18 year-old Wil is sure that her mother was sacrificed by the church and Elwood’s father. Wil and Elwood help each other hide from danger, investigate the community’s weird happenings, and try to find out what happened to Wil’s mother. Their lives will be thrown into chaos before it’s over.
Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the creepy aspect of Elwood’s family and his father’s effect on the community. The prose represents beauty and pain, hurt and happiness, perfectly. The story was too quick to achieve well developed characters. Mature content: PG-13 for Underage drinking and smoking, passionate undescribed kissing (PG) Language: R for 79 swears and 6 f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for Bloody sacrificing of a rabbit, sacrificing son by bleeding him to death, father plunges knife into son’s chest. Ethnicity: falls to white.
Soon to be a Netflix movie! 20yo Elodie is excited to meet her betrothed, Prince Henry of Aurea. Elodie is one of three princesses who will be given to the dragon during Harvest Week in exchange for Aurea’s prosperity. Each year for the last eight centuries, three princesses from different parts of the world have been brought to Aurea under the guise of marrying Prince Henry, only to be sacrificed to the dragon. After unceremoniously being sent into the dragon’s lair, Elodie keeps going by relying on her wits, her strength and the help of past princesses through clues they’ve left behind. She might just survive to save the next princess.
Likes/dislikes: The story is slow in the beginning to give the reader a sense of calm but then the action picks up once Elodie learns the secret of Aurea. I enjoyed how the author meshed the past and present princesses together and the perseverance of each. I’m impressed how the author’s 13yo daughter created a functional language for the dragons in this story. The language syntax, grammatical rules and words are in the back of the book. Mature content: PG for brief kisses. Language: R for 35 swears, no f-bombs. Violence: PG-13 for Men being eaten by dragon, detailed sounds. Being burnt by flames. Pierced through skull by dragon wing point. Ethnicity: The ethnicity of Elodie and Henry fall to white, but brown skinned characters are found in the book also.