Hi! I was on the blog tour for this Middle-Grade novel last month. As a part of my stop, I didn’t review the novel, so I wanted to write a review, and post it to NetGalley.
Rating- 4.5 Goodreads and NetGalley-4 stars
The characters of Etta Invincible were fantastic, and I loved how they interacted with each other. One of the characters had hearing loss, which is not something you see in many books, and as someone who also has hearing loss, I loved seeing the representation in this book. The other character was moving to a new country, and I loved seeing the world through his eyes as well as Etta’s.
The plot of this story was fantastic. I’m a fan of contemporary novels, and this had a dash of fantasy for those that prefer some fantasy in their novels. This novel had a magical train where a majority of the story takes place,, but you could still feel that they set this in our world. This story was fun because it was different, and it took the reader on an adventure. I loved the adventure this story took you on, and how the characters grew at the end of the novel.
The writing of this novel was fantastic. It’s difficult to go between both Fantasy and our world, and the author does it seamlessly. I loved this mixture of the different scenes set on the train because you could tell that this was a fantasy story and one that was also set in our world because of the way the characters interacted. This was a mixture of both light-hearted scenes and scenes that were heavier. The characters were having in the light-hearted scenes, and in the more heartfelt scenes, they were talking about the problem at hand, and what they were going through.
This was a Middle-Grade Novel, so there was more of a focus on friendship. I love the friendship between the two main characters, and how they met one day. The story was played out, so the characters met at the time when they both needed each other.
Enjoyment/ Recommend For
I really enjoyed this book! The story was very fun, and I had a great time reading this. I recommend this for anyone who enjoys a Middle-Grade novel, or a mixture of fantasy and our world in their stories.
What didn’t work for me
While I did enjoy this novel I did have problems with the pace. I felt like there were some scenes that could have been longer, and some scenes that could have seen shorter. Overall, the pace of the book is fine.
A contemporary young adult romance about moving on, finding your place, and recovering after life falls apart.
Gymnast Caroline Kepler has three state balance beam titles, a new trick even most elites can’t do, and chronic, undeniable back pain. While she might never be an Olympian, she has dreams of leveling up to elite, making Nationals, and competing in college. But when one epic face-plant changes all that and Caroline’s back pain goes from chronic to career-ending, her dreams are shattered and her life is flipped upside down.
Enter Alex Zavala, a three-sport athlete who’s both incredibly cute and incredibly off-limits. He offers to give Caroline a crash course in all the sports she’s missed, and she has an offer for him in return: For every sport Alex teaches her, she’ll play matchmaker for him. Deal done, Caroline “dates” new sports with Alex for the rest of the summer, which is loads more fun than wallowing in despair. Just as Caroline starts to see herself as more than her past athletic successes, she picks up something she didn’t bargain for: a big fat crush on Alex. Turns out life was way easier when it was just layout-fulls and beam burns….
Rating -4 stars
Characters are one of the main reasons I read books, and It’s All In How You Fall was no different. I loved the characters because they were passionate, and they went after what they wanted. Caroline and Alex, the main characters in the novel, were so sweet, and they both really cared for each other. The supporting cast in the story was also a lot of fun to read about, and they added fun elements to the story.
I’m not much of a sports person, but the story of It’s All In How You Fall was a lot of fun. I loved exploring the different sports with Caroline and Alex and seeing both of them grow over the course of the story. There was also the added element of musicals and musical theater, which I loved because I’m a theater fan as well. There was also a sweet story of friendship. which I loved between Caroline and her gymnastics teammates.
This was my second book by Sarah Henning, and I just loved the writing. Sarah Henning has a style that I love in YA where there are some light-hearted scenes, along with some heavier scenes. The lighthearted scenes were fun because you could tell that the characters were enjoying themselves, and they were just having a blast. This book also had some heavier scenes, and heartwarming ones where you learned about the characters, and saw their journey.
This was a bit of a romance, and I loved the slow build. Caroline and Alex were so sweet, and you could tell that both of them had feelings for each other, The end of the story where they got together was so cute, and I couldn’t help but cheer for the two of them.
Enjoyment/ Recommend for
I loved this book, and I had a fantastic time reading it. Everything about the book was great. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a YA novel, a YA romance, or if you’ve read another book by Sarah Henning.
I blaze through all the suggested summer reading for sophomores at Northland (Lord of the Flies, Into the Wild, and a bunch of other work by dead white guys.)- Caroline.
Dad, it’s been weeks and I’m still four-ten. -Caroline Live a little. Enjoy a trans fat. Consider it reentry into the world of normal people.-Nat.
I’m not as smooth as fictional Angelica Schuyler or probably a fictional nobody, but I step onto the sidewalk leading to Balan’s front door with a huge grin on my face. -Caroline
Also, you’re going to have up your game up, Zavala
Boys are allowed to love musicals, Caroline, and I love just as much as gramps and Dad, too.
I love that song. I’ve seen the movie version more times than should be allowed.
Never Neverland-Peter Pan
Agony- Into the Woods
About the Author & Links
Sarah Henning is a recovering journalist who has worked for the Palm Beach Post, Kansas City Star and Associated Press, among others. When not writing, she runs ultramarathons, hits the playground with her two kids, and hangs out with her husband Justin, who doubles as her long-suffering IT department. Sarah lives in Lawrence, Kansas, hometown of Langston Hughes, William S. Burroughs, and a really good basketball team.
Sarah is the author of SEA WITCH, which was a 2018 Indies Introduce and Indie’s Next selection. Its follow up, SEA WITCH RISING, came out in 2019. THROW LIKE A GIRL, about a down-spiraling softball player who is recruited to play quarterback on her ex-boyfriend’s football team, was her first YA contemporary novel and came out in January 2020. THE PRINCESS WILL SAVE YOU, the first book in her fantasy trilogy—a feminist tale inspired by The Princess Bride—came out in July 2020. Its sequel, THE QUEEN WILL BETRAY YOU, came out on July 6, 2021.
Other upcoming projects include THE KING WILL KILL YOU, available August 2, 2022 and will be the conclusion to her Kingdoms of Sand & Sky Trilogy inspired by The Princess Bride. Also scheduled for summer 2022 is IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU FALL, available May 31, 2022, which takes place in the same fictional universe as THROW LIKE A GIRL. Slated for summer 2023 is OUT OF OUR LEAGUE, a YA anthology of contemporary short stories about girls in sports.
From critically acclaimed author Katrina Leno comes a tender love letter to books and summertime, with a touch of magic.
Anna Lucia Bell believes in luck: bad luck. Bad luck made her best friend stop talking to her. Bad luck caused her parents’ divorce. Bad luck is forcing her mother, Miriam, to sell the family’s beloved bookstore. And it is definitely bad luck that Anna seems to be the only person in the world Miriam is unable to recommend a life-changing book.
When Anna finds out that she and her mom are spending two months in a New England seaside town called Rockport, she expects a summer plagued with bad luck too. But Rockport has surprises in store for Anna, including a comet making its first appearance in over twenty years and two new—but familiar—friends.
In what will prove to be the most important summer of her life so far, Anna learns about love, herself, and the magic that an ordinary summer can bring.
Rating- 4.5 stars
I really loved the characters in this book. Anna was a great main character, who was flawed, and had an interest in space. I love it when characters are interested in something I’ve always been interested in, but don’t know much about. Anna’s mom Miriam had a bookstore, and I loved seeing the books that she would recommend for people. Emmy and Beck were also fantastic characters that brought out the best in Anna as a character.
Sometime in Summer had a plot that was interesting, and kept me reading to see how the book was going to end. I loved the story, and I couldn’t wait to see where the story would go next. Anna has things in her life that trouble her, and it was interesting to see how she was going to figure out how she was going to go about solving what she was dealing with.
The writing in this novel was fantastic. I love how Katrina Leno used a style that was familiar to YA readers, and it still packed a punch. Sometime in Summer was filled with both light-hearted scenes. The light tone of the story enhanced these scenes because you could tell that the characters were having fun during these scenes. This novel also looked at some heavier topics, like finding new friends, and misunderstandings that occur when you’re a teenager. These more intense scenes had a dramatic tone, one where you could tell that the characters were learning from their mistakes, and they were growing for the better. The writing in this novel was fantastic, and I want to read more from this author.
Sometime in Summer was more about friendships than it was about romance. The friendships in this novel were fantastic, and I loved seeing how the characters changed from the start of the book. We follow Anna after a falling out with one of her best friends, and not the spoil the end of the book, but the ending of the book for these two characters was so sweet, and I just loved it. While staying on the east coast with her mother for the summer, Anna meets Beck and Emmy, and the three of them also form a friendship bond. Mistakes were a common thread between the two friendship groups, but the end of the book brought both groups back together, and it was such a sweet ending to the story for me.
Recommended for /Enjoyment
I really enjoyed this story. For me, Sometime In Summer was a mixture of of the fun, and light-hearted vibes of summer, while also taking a hard look at the fact that teenagers can make mistakes, and have miscommunications just like adults can. I recommend this book to fans of the YA genre.
What didn’t work for me
The only reason why this was only a 4.5star read for me was the pace. Some the book was slow for me, and I wanted the story to move a bit. I wanted some parts of the book to be discussed more, and then there are parts of the book that I thought could be discussed a little less.
About the Author
Katrina Leno was born on the East Coast and currently lives in Los Angeles. She is the author of six critically acclaimed novels: Horrid, You Must Not Miss, Summer of Salt, Everything All at Once, The Lost & Found, and The Half Life of Molly Pierce. Her seventh novel, Sometime inSummer, arrives June 28 2022. She thinks you are just lovely.
Hi! Welcome to my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tour for Home Field Advantage by Dalia Adler. Thank you to TBR & Beyond and Net Galley for the E-ARC of the book. This was a sports romance, but the characters were fantastic, and the story was heartwarming.
About the Book & Book Purchase links
Genre: Young Adult Romance Publishing date: June 7th, 2022
In this sweet and funny new f/f romance from the author of Cool for the Summer, a cheerleader and the school’s newest quarterback are playing to win, but might lose their hearts in the process.
Amber McCloud’s dream is to become cheer captain at the end of the year, but it’s an extra-tall order to be joyful and spirited when the quarterback of your team has been killed in a car accident. For both the team and the squad, watching Robbie get replaced by newcomer Jack Walsh is brutal. And when it turns out Jack is actually short for Jaclyn, all hell breaks loose.
The players refuse to be led by a girl, the cheerleaders are mad about the changes to their traditions, and the fact that Robbie’s been not only replaced but outshined by a QB who wears a sports bra has more than a few Atherton Alligators in a rage. Amber tries for some semblance of unity, but it quickly becomes clear that she’s only got a future on the squad and with her friends if she helps them take Jack down.
Just one problem: Amber and Jack are falling for each other, and if Amber can’t stand up for Jack and figure out how to get everyone to fall in line, her dream may come at the cost of her heart.
Dahlia Adler’s Home Field Advantage is a sparkling romance about fighting for what – or who – you truly want.
Content warnings: off-page death by car accident, off-page pregnancy loss (including some on-page conversation about abortion), homophobia, misogyny, alcohol use (light), references to racism
Rating- 5 stars
The characters in this book were fantastic. I loved reading about them because they were all just so sweet, and they all cared about each other. Every character came from a different family situation, but as football players and cheerleaders, some of the characters were found family. I loved how the characters would fight for each other, even if that meant going against what their team wanted.
The plot of this story was fantastic and heartwarming. The story followed Jack, a girl who played football, and after the death of the quarterback, she is sent to a new high school to be the new quarterback. Amber is a cheerleader who wants to be cheer captain next year. While this might become the classic story of the football player and cheerleader dating, Jack and Amber read differently. Jack and Amber are both queer girls who are looking for love, but they’re also looking for acceptance both on and off the field. The plot was one of my favorite things about the book, and I was cheering for Jack and Amber with every moment.
Home Field Advantage was written in a way that made you feel for the characters. The lighter scenes had a fun tone, and you could tell that the characters and the author were having fun during these scenes. Home Field Advantage also has some heavy scenes, and these were treated with a serious tone, making you feel for the characters in those moments.
The romance in Home Field Advantage was so sweet. While they spent most of the novel with Jack and Amber hanging out in groups, or with their teams, they also had some sweet romance scenes. These were some of my favorite scenes and moments in the novel because you could tell how much they cared about each other.
This is one of my favorite books of the year, and I enjoyed it so much. Between the characters, story, and romance, they all worked to tell a story that I didn’t want to end. I recommend this book to anyone who likes stories like this and enjoys a story with queer characters going on a journey, and coming out stronger in the end.
For the cheer team in general- Move On from We Are The Tigers (Musical)
The cheer team in the musical has had hard times similar to the one the cheer squad in Home Field Advantage has. While listening to this song again, I immediately picked up on the vibes of this song and knew that I needed to put this song on my playlist because the storylines were similar.
Amber- One Perfect Moment from Bring It On (Musical)
When I started reading this novel, I had this song in my head for Amber. Amber wants to be a cheer captain, and she knows she will have to work to get to where she needs to be. Campbell during this song is one doing the same thing, meaning the vibes are the same.
Jack-I’d Rather Be Me from Mean Girls (Musical)
I’d Rather Be Me is sung by Janis in the musical during the iconic scene when she is on the top of the table in the film. Jack won’t change who she is because other people want her to. She is willing to be different, and she is confident in who she is as a person. Janis in the musical has the same vibes, as she sings about being her own person, and not being someone who changes because other people don’t like the way she is.
Jack and Amber- I Just Wanna Dance with You from The Prom
This is a song from a musical about two girls from a conservative town in Indiana that want to go to their high school prom together. Amber and Jack would relate to this because both of them have a crush on each other, and they both just want to be able to go to their homecoming together. The overall vibes on this song reminded me of Amber and Jack in the last half of the book, but especially during the last scene in the book.
About the Author & Author Links
Dahlia Adler (she/her) is an Editor of mathematics by day, a Buzzfeed blogger and LGBTQReads overlord by night, and a Young Adult and Romance author at every spare moment in between. Her novels include the Radleigh University trilogy, Kids’ Indie Next pick Cool for the Summer, and Home Field Advantage, and she is the editor of the anthologies His Hideous Heart (a Junior Library Guild selection), That Way Madness Lies, At Midnight, and, with Jennifer Iacopelli, Out of Our League (upcoming from Feiwel & Friends). Dahlia lives in New York with her family and an obscene number of books, and can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @MissDahlELama.
Hi! Welcome to my review of Places We’ve Never Been by Kasie West. Thank you to Net Galley and TBR and Beyond for the E-ARC. I also have a playlist with songs that reminded me of the book as I was reading.
About the Book & Book Links
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Publishing date: May 31st, 2022
A sweet and swoony contemporary Young Adult novel about a cross-country family road trip that puts one girl and her childhood best friend on an unexpected road to romance!
Norah hasn’t seen her childhood best friend, Skyler, in years. When he first moved away, they’d talk all the time, but lately their relationship has been reduced to liking each other’s Instagram posts. That’s why Norah can’t wait for the joint RV road trip their families have planned for the summer.
But when Skyler finally arrives, he seems…like he’d rather be anywhere else. Hurt and confused, Norah reacts in kind. Suddenly, her oldest friendship is on the rocks.
An unexpected summer spent driving across the country leads both Norah and Skyler down new roads and to new discoveries. Before long, they are, once again, seeing each other in a different light. Can their friendship-turned-rivalry turn into something more?
Rating- 5 stars
The characters in this book were delightful. I loved getting to know them and seeing their romance blossom. Norah and Skyler were so sweet, and I loved seeing them bond both with each other, and with their siblings. The supporting cast of characters in this book were sweet as well, and I love the fact that they had sibling dynamics in the book. The mothers in this book were excellent as well.
This was one of the most unique plots I’ve ever read. I loved exploring the country with Norah, Skyler and their families. I’ve never been out west, so it was so much fun exploring an area I’ve never seen. The other plot in this book was the romance, best friends who hadn’t seen each other in years, and it was just so sweet, and so cute seeing them interact.
The writing in this novel was excellent. This novel had a mix of light hearted and heavy scenes. Light-hearted scenes were fun and gave me a break from the more heavy content. Heavy scenes were very real, and very heartwarming even if they had heavy content.
I talked about this a bit before, but I loved the romance in this novel. Norah and Skyler were such a sweet couple. I loved seeing the two of them as a couple.
Recommend For/ Enjoyment
Places We’ve Never Been was an excellent read, and I loved it so much. This sweet summer romance had all the feels, and I was so here for it. I recommend this for anyone who loved YA, and romance novels.
Bubblegum KK from Animal Crossing OST for Norah
Norah wants to go to school for art and video games. I think she would have a great time enjoying the vibes of this song from the video game Animal Crossing. The songs from Animal Crossing are fun, and I believe Norah would have a great time listening to them.
Brave- Sara Bareilles for Norah
I can see Norah loving this song, especially after Skyler left. Norah was alone, and missed her best friend after Skylar left, and I believe she would go to this song for comfort.
What if It’s Us from Dear Evan Hansen for Norah and Skyler in 2022
This is a romance novel, so I picked one of my favorite romantic duets from Dear Evan Hansen for this playlist. I feel like both Norah and Skyler would both relate to the lyrics of this song given their current situation.
Love Story- Taylor Swift for Norah in 2022
As I was reading this, I was imagining Norah listened to a lot of Taylor Swift in her life. The vibes of Taylor’s music just fit Norah as a character for me. I imagine that Norah would listen to this song after she sees Skylar again, and those old feelings come back to her.
About the Author & Author links
Kasie West is the author of many YA novels, including The Fill-in Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, Lucky in Love, and Listen to Your Heart. Her books have been named ALA-YALSA Quick Picks, JLG selections, and ALA-YALSA Best Books for Young Adults. When she’s not writing, she’s binge-watching television, devouring books, or bury-ing her toes in the sand of the Central Coast. Kasie lives in Fresno, California, with her family.
A tale set amid the 1956 Hungarian revolution in post-WWII Communist Budapest.
In the middle of Budapest, there is a river. Csilla knows the river is magic. During WWII, the river kept her family safe when they needed it most–safe from the Holocaust. But that was before the Communists seized power. Before her parents were murdered by the Soviet police. Before Csilla knew things about her father’s legacy that she wishes she could forget.
Now Csilla keeps her head down, planning her escape from this country that has never loved her the way she loves it. But her carefully laid plans fall to pieces when her parents are unexpectedly, publicly exonerated. As the protests in other countries spur talk of a larger revolution in Hungary, Csilla must decide if she believes in the promise and magic of her deeply flawed country enough to risk her life to help save it, or if she should let it burn to the ground.
1- This story started at such a heightened moment in the plot that I immediately wanted to read more.
2-I know little about Budapest, or what was going on at this time, so I’m excited to learn about a new time in history.
3-I was not expecting this to have romance or love interests in the novel, however; I am curious as to where the love will go.
4-I love how you get a glimpse as to what it was like for Csilla and her family back then through the journal entries of her father woven throughout the novel.
5-I am interested in how Csilla knows the man whose records she checked. The journal entry from her father on the next page is also intriguing.
6- I really loved finding out more about the relationship between Azriel and Tamas. I feel as though this is just the start of the exploration between the characters, and I am interested in learning more.
7-I love that Csilla is asking about her father to learn more about that life that she never knew about.
8-There is a turning point in the novel where Csilla is giving a speech about her father, and I believe it serves as a turning point in the story. I believe Csilla will start fighting to correct the wrong her father did.
9- I love that the young people are starting their own paper. The young characters in this novel have a voice that needs to be heard, and I love hearing what they have to say.
10- I love the friendship group in this novel. They all support each other so much and it is fantastic.
11- Speaking out about what happened to Gabor is important, so the public remembers what they’re fighting against.
12-I love that Csilla is going to tell the story of her father. Just so the public knows who he really was, and it might explain some of her actions.
13-I love how the river is treated as a character in this story. It really packs an impact and adds more to the story.
14- Azriel was always an interesting character to me, and I loved the explanation of why his character was the way he was. After it was explained, he added more to the story for both Tamas and Csilla.
15- The ending of this book was so sweet. I loved how the story ended, and it felt right considering the characters and the story we just had.
Rating- 4.5 stars (4 on Good Reads)
One of my favorite things about this book was the characters. Csilla was the main character, and she was a fantastic character to read about. I loved her personality and her backstory. Her friends were also very fun characters to read about, and I loved reading about them. This Rebel Heart had characters that meshed well together and made for a very fun story.
This Rebel Heart was a story with a heavy plot, but I still really enjoyed it. The main story follows Csilla after the war, and on her journey, trying to move out of the country for a better life. As the plot moves, you find out that Hungary is still feeling the repercussions of the war. There is also the story with Csilla’s father, how he was as a person, and what Csilla learns as the story goes on. I loved how much the story was in this plot, and the story was interesting. The ending of this novel was so sweet, and I loved it.
This Rebel Heart had fantastic writing, and I loved how the story was written. The novel as a whole was heavy and tense, and the writing set the tone for the rest of the story. Style plays a role in a story for me, and the writing style in This Rebel Heart was a perfect match for the story.
This Rebel Heart had a fantastic Found Family element with Csilla’s friend group that I just loved. The friends were so supportive of each other, and they would do anything for each other. Csilla had little family left, so her friends were like a family to her.
I really liked this book, and I enjoyed it immensely. As a fan of Historical Fiction, this is fantastic, and I learned learning about an era I knew little about. I recommend this for fans of Historical Fiction.
About the Author
Katherine Locke (they/them) lives and writes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with their feline overlords and their addiction to chai lattes. They are the author of The Girl with the Red Balloon, a 2018 Sydney Taylor Honor Book and 2018 Carolyn W. Field Honor Book, as well as The Spy with the Red Balloon, and the forthcoming This Rebel Heart (April 2022). They are the co-editor and contributor to This is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them and Us, which had three starred reviews and made Kirkus Review’s Best Middle Grade of 2021 list, as well as It’s A Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes and Other Jewish Stories. They also contributed to Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens and Out Now: Queer We Go Again. They are the author of picture books Bedtime for Superheroes, What Are Your Words? A Book About Pronouns, and the forthcoming Being Friends with Dragons (February 2022). They can be found online at KatherineLockeBooks.com and @bibliogato on Twitter and Instagram.
A young girl in middle school will do whatever it takes to meet her favorite author–even if it means joining her school band! A contemporary graphic novel about making your dream come true–and the friends you make along the way.
When Scout learns that her favorite author is doing an exclusive autograph session at the end of the year, she’s determined to be there! She officially needs a plan…and when she finds out that her school’s band is heading to the same location for their annual trip, an idea takes shape. Being a band kid can’t be that hard, right?
As it turns out, learning how to play an instrument when you can’t even read music is much, much, MUCH tougher than expected. And it’s even harder for Scout when her friends aren’t on board with her new hobby. Will she be able to master the trombone, make new band friends, and get to her favorite author’s book signing? Tackling everything seems like a challenge for a supergenius superfriend supermusician–and she’s just Scout.
Rating: 5 stars
The characters in this novel were absolutely fantastic, and I loved them. These characters and their love for the band, and music took me back to my high school days of being in choirs. Fandom also played another role in the characters’ lives specifically, a book and video game fandom, and I loved their passion so much. As a lover of books and video games, I loved seeing two things I love as plot points in the book. Band kids and students involved in the arts tend to stick together and find their group of friends when they join a creative extracurricular. They showed this in the novel when Scout joined the band and found new friends there. Also, the way Scout and Merrin had a rocky start and then became friends, was so sweet. Character profiles with stats were a fun and creative addition to the story and their personalities.
The plot in this novel is one that was very fun to follow. Scout joins the band to meet her favorite author at a fest the band performs at, and I loved following the journey in the story. Through her time in the band, Scout goes on a journey of self-discovery and growth, which was fun to go along for the ride on. Although Scout started off joining the band for the wrong reasons, she made friends with common interests, and this was exactly what she needed. Another part of the story was about Scout and her online friend Lou, and their friendship was so sweet. As someone who has several online friends as well, I loved reading their scenes.
The writing of this novel was fantastic. Jade Armstrong uses tone in a fun and unique way, keeping the reader interested in how the scene will go. Most of Scout is Not A Band Kid is filled with a light and fun tone, which I loved because most of the time, that was Scout’s personality. There are so heavier scenes in the novel, and these had a heavier tone. These scenes also had more honest conversations, which I enjoyed.
The art in this novel was fantastic, and I loved the art style so much. Scout is Not A Band Kid is a modern story, and the art style feels modern. Sometimes when you read Graphic Novels, the art can take away from the story, and this is not the case here. The art works in tandem with the writing to help tell the story.
Enjoyment/ recommend for
I recommend this novel to those that want a cute Middle-Grade Contemporary Graphic Novel. Scout Is Not A Band Kid is a love letter to the creative kids, and I loved that so much. I’m going to keep recommending this to both kids and adults for years to come.
“You mean the music notes”- Merrin
“Please. Like I can tell when someone is playing pianissimo? What’s really going on?”- Merrin
“So this is how you treat all your new tromboners? I’m being interrogated!”- Scout
“Merrin is extra because she’s classically trained in piano or whatever.”- Victor
“My passion and love for the sport alone got me into band.”- Scout
“Sick, but only on Tuesdays from 3:00-4:30 PM?”
“I like that game a whole lot.” Merrin
“Shh! Don’t say that to loud the Baritones are always listening.”-Merrin
“I’m not goofy! I’m cool”- Scout
“Yeah! Also, her costume is really cute …..” -Merrin
“It’s sooo cute! I wanna cosplay it so bad.”- Scout
“I love soundtracks. I want to make fantasy-style ones.”- Merrin
“Well stores don’t always have the clothes I want to wear.”- Scout
About the Author
My name is Jade Armstrong, and I am a non-binary cartoonist. I was raised in a little town called Almonte, Ontario, before heading off to Toronto to work in comics and animation. I’ve worked as background painter in television for 4 years. At the moment, I float between Toronto, Almonte and Montréal.
One of my favorite things in this book was the characters. All the characters had interesting backstories, and they all had personalities that I wanted to read more about. My favorite character was Ellen, not because she was the main character in the story, but because she went on a journey. Ellen’s growth over the novel was absolutely amazing, and I loved reading about how much she grew over the course of the story. I loved the supporting cast. They were all very well-crafted characters, and they all supported Ellen on her journey to find herself. In the end, there was an understanding between all the characters, and that was fantastic.
Most of the story took place in Spain, and I just loved seeing Spain from the eyes of Ellen and her friends. The scavenger hunt was an interesting plot element and one that kept me guessing, wondering how it was going to end in the story. Another major element of the plot was the journey that Ellen found herself, and I loved seeing how much the story helped Ellen find herself. Friendships come and go, especially in Middle-School, and this was an authentic story about friends, old and new, coming together, which I loved.
The writing of this novel was excellent, and I loved how the writing worked to tell the story. The lighter tone was welcome during the more light-hearted and fun scenes, where the group was bonding and getting to know each other. This was a story that also had some heavy scenes and the writing during the heavy scenes in the story and the more honest scenes set the tone for the rest of the story.
Friendship plays a big role in Ellen Outside the lines, and I loved the friend group. Laurel was Ellen’s best friend but as a friendship goes, Laurel started hanging out with two other girls, without Ellen, and Ellen misses the way it used to be. Ellen’s team was made up of Isa, Gibs, and Andy, and as a team, they all worked very well together. The end of the novel was sweet because both friend groups talked, and they came up with a plan where they could all hang out together. Ellen also learned that she could make other friends over the course of the story.
Enjoyment/ Recommend for
I loved this story so much. I believe that anyone who enjoys Middle-Grade Contemporary, LGBTQ+ stories, and stories about friendship, would enjoy this novel.
Rain Reign meets Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World in this heartfelt novel about a neurodivergent thirteen-year-old navigating changing friendships, a school trip, and expanding horizons.
Thirteen-year-old Ellen Katz feels most comfortable when her life is well planned out and people fit neatly into her predefined. . categories. She attends temple with Abba and Mom every Friday and Saturday. Ellen only gets crushes on girls, never boys, and she knows she can always rely on her best-and-only friend, Laurel, to help navigate social situations at their private Georgia middle school. Laurel has always made Ellen feel like being autistic is no big deal. But lately, Laurel has started making more friends, and cancelling more weekend plans with Ellen than she keeps. A school trip to Barcelona seems like the perfect place for Ellen to get their friendship back on track. Except it doesn’t. Toss in a new nonbinary classmate whose identity has Ellen questioning her very binary way of seeing the world, homesickness, a scavenger hunt-style team project that takes the students through Barcelona to learn about Spanish culture and this trip is anything but what Ellen planned.
Making new friends and letting go of old ones is never easy, but Ellen might just find a comfortable new place for herself if she can learn to embrace the fact that life doesn’t always stick to a planned itinerary.
15 Reactions I had while reading Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. Sass
.1- I love the friendship between Ellen and Laurel at the start of this story.
2-Isa seems like they are a fantastic character, and they seem like they could be a great friend to Ellen.
3-The scene on the airplane made me sad because Laurel could have talked to Ellen about what was going on instead of leaving for her new friends.
4-I loved how Ellen stuck up for Isa during the room assignments.
5-While I understand Ellen is upset about the team assignments, this is also an opportunity for her to meet new students and make new friends.
6-I love Ellen sticking up for Isa. I understand kids can be mean, especially to those they don’t know. I feel like Gib and Andy could still be nicer.
7-The private text between Ellen and Isa is so sweet, and it makes me happy that Ellen and Isa are forming a friendship,
8-I love the team bonding more. I was hoping they would, but reading the scenes is so heartwarming.
9-I love how Gibs stepped in when Ellen needed help. This shows that they’re working as a team.
10-Ellen and Laurel hanging out together makes me happy. I wish that the two friend groups could combine into one, though.
11-I love the talk Elle and Laurel have in Barcellona. It was so sweet and showed that the two of them are really repairing their friendship.
12-Laurel and Ellen having an honest talk about what Ellen feels is one of my favorite moments. I love that both of them are talking about Ellen is feeling honestly.
13-Ellen’s conversation with her dad is so sweet, and I believe it was exactly what Ellen needed to hear.
14- The pride parade scene was one of my favorite scenes in this book. I loved how it made the great feel included.
15-The ending of this book was so sweet, and I love how the story ends on a cheerful note.
About The Author -A.J. Sass
A. J. Sass (he/they) is an author, editor, and competitive figure skater who is interested in how intersections of identity, neurodiversity, and allyship can impact story narratives. He is the author of Ana on the Edge, a Booklist Editors’ Choice 2020 and ALA 2021 Rainbow Book List Top 10 for Young Readers selection, and Ellen Outside the Lines (Little, Brown, 2022), the co-author of Camp QUILTBAG* with Nicole Melleby (Algonquin, 2023), as well as a contributor to the This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us (Knopf) and Allies: Real Talk about Showing Up, Screwing Up, and Trying Again (DK US & UK) anthologies. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his boyfriend and two cats who act like dogs.
The characters in this novel were so sweet, and so much fun to read about. They all met while working at a game store, and I just loved the vibes of all these characters. Each character had their own personality and story, which made it easy to follow the story of each character. All the characters had their own demons, and I loved that they could all come together, and they could all help each other. These characters all had a passion for games, and as someone who also enjoys games, I loved reading about characters who enjoy the same thing as I do. The end of the book was so sweet, and I’m so happy with how the story ended.
Good Game, Well played had an interesting plot and one that I wanted to know where the story was going to go. I loved the fact that all of the characters came together for something they loved, and how they all worked so well together. There are other elements of the story that I loved, such as the character’s love for video games, and the different family dynamics, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. Some of the plots come at the end of the book, and I loved how we got to see the characters later in life and see how their stories ended.
Good Game, Well Played had fantastic writing, and it made you feel like you were a part of the story. The heavy scenes were serious in tone, and the light-hearted scenes were more light-hearted in tone. This graphic novel was a journey, and I believe you can see that in the writing.
I loved the art style in Good Game, Well Played. I don’t read a lot of Graphic Novels, and this art style was not only adorable, but it worked well with the story. Like the writing, the tone of the more serious scenes uses dark colors and tones, and more light-hearted scenes use lighter color pallets and lighter shades.
Enjoyment/ Recommend for
I really enjoyed this book, and I am so glad I took the chance to read the story. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys Graphic Novels or wants a YA story that is a little off the beaten path.