What I read last week: January 12-18.
A Cold Legacy, by Megan Shepherd:
Last book in the Madman's Daughter trilogy, and for the most part, it does a nice job of bringing Juliet's story to a satisfying conclusion. Like the first two books, it's got some fantastically gruesome bits, loads of atmosphere, and plenty of romance and soul-searching and discussions about morality and whether or not the ends justify the means.
I continued to find Juliet's romance with Montgomery somewhat dissatisfying and troubling: on the one hand, yes, he's trying to keep her from following in her father's footsteps, but I also felt like he was always trying to CHANGE her, to mold her into the person he WANTED her to be, not necessarily the person she WAS, or the person SHE wanted to be. And there was a major reveal that I REALLY disliked, in that it kind of diminished Juliet's personal journey and soul-searching, in that it made her choices and decisions moot. (<—This is hard to talk about without spoilers. If you're curious, let me know in the comments, and I'll elaborate.)
Emiko Superstar, by Mariko Tamaki & Steve Rolston:
LOVED THIS ONE. Emi wants to shake up her boring summer, so she gets involved with a performance art collective. It's about figuring who you are and who you want to be, and about realizing that when you figure it out, you need to GO FOR IT. Wonderfully layered, with three parallel stories: while Emi is working on figuring out her own stuff, she watches two older women (the woman she babysits for; one of the other performers at the collective) go through some huge life changes as well. So, so good.
Soulprint, by Megan Miranda:
Soulprint is a solid romantic adventure-mystery, made all the more enjoyable by Miranda’s avoidance of instalove; the strong threads about trust and friendship; and the thoughtfulness about the moral, philosophical, religious, and political implications of tracking the movements of reincarnated souls.
Batgirl #38, by Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher:
My feelings about Batgirl's new direction are SO mixed. On the one hand, the exploration of fame and celebrity is so relevant to our time and culture, but on the other, I feel like Barbara is a completely different character now. She suddenly seems unsure of who she is, which she never has been, and strangely rash and immature—it feels like much of the growth she achieved in the first 35 issues has been erased—she's young, sure, but her life experience should count for something, no? I love the new characters who've been introduced at school—her tech guy is adorable and her officemate is hilarious—but overall, the series has lost the emotional depth that it had before.
The Buffalo Tree, by Adam Rapp:
Twelve-year-old Sura gets caught stealing hood ornaments and is shipped off to Hamstock, a juvenile detention facility with a terrible reputation. He and his roommate, Coly Jo, do their best to look out for each other, but Hamstock—guards and inmates alike—has other plans. As in Rapp's other books, Sura's voice is original and rhythmically hypnotic—it doesn't feel like he was slowly created, it feels like he just... appeared. Visceral and upsetting, but ultimately hopeful.
Ammie, Come Home, by Barbara Michaels:
First in the Georgetown Trilogy, I know I own multiple copies of this one, but it was faster to ILL it than to dig through all of my books to find it. I always love Barbara Michaels, but this one's especially fun because a) the heroine is in her mid-40s, b) it's REALLY creepy, like REALLY REALLY, c) while there is SOME skepticism at first about whether or not they're actually dealing with a ghost, it doesn't take very long for all of the characters to get on board, and d) the generational banter and side eyeing and so on between the older couple and the younger couple is REALLY funny.
There Will Be Lies, by Nick Lake:
The book set my cultural appropriation alarm bells off with a vengeance. Lake’s creation of Shelby’s Dreaming—in which elements from European fairy tales are mashed up with pieces pulled from actual existing Native American cultures and religious traditions—seems to equate the two in a way that made me profoundly uncomfortable. Due to the book’s brief cameo towards the end, I suspect that he was going for an American Gods vibe, but I couldn’t find a way of looking at this aspect of the book that made it work.