Tag Archives: graphic novels

ARC Review – The Broken Vow (Spill Zone #2) by Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland

Title: Spill Zone: The Broken Vow

Author: Scott Westefeld & Alex Puvilland

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Only the very brave or the very desperate dare enter the Spill Zone—Addison Merritt is a little of both. In exchange for a suitcase full of cash, she made one last to the Zone. She survived the encounter, but came back changed.

Addison is not alone. In a remote village in North Korea, a young man named Jae was touched by the unholy fire of the Spill Zone. He made it out alive—alive, but also changed.

Now bestowed with uncanny powers, Addison and Jae may be the only ones strong enough to face a new threat that has risen in the Spill Zone. This deadly entity is searching for his runaway bride—and his hunt is bringing him closer and closer to Addison and her little sister. 

Huge thank you to Raincoast books for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I really enjoyed the first volume of Spill Zone, and I will admit, I think I enjoyed this sequel a little less. The story has definitely taken some interesting twists and turns, especially now that we are introduced to Jae, a North Korean boy who has similar powers to Addison. This novel explores what happens to those who have been touched by the spill and how drastically they transform.

I won’t lie, I still found parts of this graphic novel a bit confusing. The plot of the first book was a lot more steady, but here I found myself lost at times regarding some of the elemental plots. It’s interesting to see what the spill is doing worldwide, and this book is genuinely far creepier than the first. I still hate the creepy-doll, but this book takes this element to a different level and one I was unnerved by — which means the book did it’s job. I do think the pacing was much slower for this installment than the first, but I appreciated that the stakes truly felt higher in Broken Vow compared to Spill Zone.

I still think the artwork is quite a unique mashup of styles and colours. I love that they puke every colour of the rainbow and it suits so much of what is happening in the story. I still love the relationship between Addi and Lexa, though the ending did leave a bit to be desired. This volume really felt like it was playing with a lot of different science fiction and horror tropes, which I appreciated. Vespertine the doll still gives me nightmares. I didn’t think it would be possible, but she was scary in book one and in the sequel… lets just say she shook me at times.

I think Broken Vow is a good sequel, and perhaps I am at fault for having not reread the first book just for a refresher. I think fans of the first book will definitely enjoy this volume, and I think maybe for me I just had the wrong expectations as I was reading this of what I thought was going to happen. A good, but not great conclusion for me.

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Girl Power Graphic Novels – Kicking Butt & Taking Names – Blog Tour

When I was growing up in the 90’s, there wasn’t a lot of female-led comics or graphic novels. A lot of the comics were geared towards boys, often making it feel like comics were for boys and girls were excluded. I still found myself reading and rereading The Adventures of Tintin by Herge and when I could find Wonder Woman in issues of the Justice League I was thrilled.

I still felt like comics were a boys club.

Then I discovered manga, and it was something I constantly devoured. Marmalade Boy, Fushigi Yuugi, NANA, Hellsing… I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. Even better, I had made friends who loved manga as much as I did and we would constantly trade back and forth with each other.

It wasn’t until towards the end of high school and early into my university career that I fell back in love with comics. My then-to-be-husband was constantly introducing me to a variety of graphic novels and comics, He helped me fall back in love with Wonder Woman, and taught me so much about Marvel comics. We shared our manga collection and both cried when we found out that NANA wasn’t being completed.

Girls are much more fortunate now than I was growing up. There are so many inspirational female characters in comics, from Cleopatra in the Cleopatra in Space series, or Zita from Zita the Space Girl. First Second has constantly been pushing the boundaries for young girls being able to see themselves in comics and graphic novels more and more. I thought I’d share with you why you should check out some of their girl powered graphic novels!

Cucumber Quest Vol 1: Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G

Why You Should Read It: This series is about a boy named Cucumber who simply wants to be a magician, go to school and just not get into any trouble. However, with world domination inbound, Cucumber and his best friend Almond set out to help everyone in Dreamside to keep them safe.

While Cucumber is a cute main character, the star of this graphic novel series is easily Almond. She’s funny, stubborn, tough-as-nails, and constantly fighting baddies with a smile on her face. Almond is crazy, but has such a good heart, and will do everything she can to protect the people she cares about, and from Cucumber making himself look bad.  I laughed a lot reading the first two volumes of Cucumber Quest, and I easily cannot wait to continue with this series and share it with the middle graders at the library!

Giants Beware! (Chronicles of Claudette #1) by Jorge Aguirre & Rafael Rosado

Why You Should Read It: Brave, yet completely crazy, it’s hard not to love Claudette. Finding a magical sword that always her to slay anything is amazing when you are a tiny little girl with aspirations of being a defender.

I mean seriously, LOOK AT CLAUDETTE’S GRIN. The girl is fearless and has no problem beating baddies into submission. In all honesty though, what I loved about the three volumes in this series is Claudette has such a sense of justice about her, and when she punishes the bad guys it’s never malicious… if anything she even will try a friendship tactic! Claudette would do anything for the people she cares about, and that alone makes her an admirable heroine to love.

Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter by Marcus Sedgwick & Thomas Taylor 

Why You Should Read It: Let me introduce you all to Scarlett Hart. Monster Hunter by trade, Scarlett is cunning, clever, and intelligent, using more than just brawn to deal with mummies, monsters, and ghouls. Scarlett is an inquisitive heroine, which makes her a lot different from Almond or Claudette. Scarlett needs to think situations through, and needs to be able to calculate an outcome in her head before simply jumping blindly into a problem. She’s the kind of heroine who is serious, but you’d want her on your team because you know she’ll have your back.


I hope you enjoyed my stop on the blog tour. Please consider checking out these great comics published by First Second, be it buying them from your local bookstore or borrowing them from your local library. Remember: comics were never a boys club, and there are so many amazing and inspiring ladies not only creating great comics, but wonderful heroines to fall in love with.

If you want more out of this blog tour, consider checking out all the other stops and see what other bloggers consider to be girl powered graphic novels!

Blog Tour – The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

I love stories about gender. I think there are such a wide variety of stories that still need to be told, and I think Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker fills a void. There a lot of deconstruction of gender, there’s cross dressing, romance, and Sebastian and Frances will easily win your heart over. I was so happy to be approached by First Second to talk about this title with all of you, from doing a review, to sharing my favourite panel from the graphic novel. I sincerely hope that many of you reading this blog post will check out this heartwarming book.

And while you’re at it, consider checking out the rest of the blog tour hot spots for more goodies related to The Prince and the Dressmaker!


Title: The Prince and the Dressmaker

Author: Jen Wang

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

Huge thank you to First Second for this ARC!

This graphic novel is important and wonderful. It offers an amazing discussion regarding gender identity, labels, and what it means to stand up and be who you are. It’s heartwarming, fun, but it is also very dark and emotional.

The story follows two characters: Prince Sebastian, a young prince whose parents want him to get married to a princess, and Frances who dreams of making beautiful gowns and one day having a fashion show. Their lives collide when Prince Sebastian sees one of Frances’ designs and hires her on to be his dressmaker. Frances and Sebastian form a beautiful friendship, and it’s one that is memorable as it is sweet. Frances accepts Sebastian for who he is, and in turns tries to help him gain the courage to tell his parents that he enjoys wearing dresses.

There is so much beauty in Jen Wang’s artwork and storytelling. Her characters are expressive, gentle, and have such strong desires to be loved and accepted by others. Sebastian and Frances are characters that are easy to love, you want them to succeed and be loved, and you want them to see worth in themselves. They get such fantastic growth throughout the story, and I found myself getting emotional during certain parts given their was such shocking moments.

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a wonderful graphic novel full of heart. It’s a read where you’ll cheer the characters on, fall completely in love with them, pick them up when they fail, and give them all the encouragement to keep going. This is one beautiful story that deserves to be read, and reread. I can only hope more people love and give this book a chance, because it will warm your heart and shatter it at the same time.


A BIT ABOUT MY FAVOURITE PANEL:

Part of this blog tour required participants to choose a favourite panel in The Prince and the Dressmaker. One aspect I love about this graphic novel is the transformation of Sebastian’s family after they learn his secret. This panel shows his father embracing his inner sexy at Frances’ fashion show. It’s a wonderful scene because it shows the change of heart that Sebastian’s family goes through, and their desire (in their own way) to support the person he wishes to become.


Jen Wang is a cartoonist and illustrator currently living in Los Angeles. Her works have appeared in the Adventure Time comics and LA Magazine. She recently illustrated Tom Angleberger’s Fake Mustache.  Her graphic novels Koko Be Good and In Real Life (with author Cory Doctorow) were published by First Second. jenwang.net

Ten Comics & Graphic Novels, and Manga You Should Check Out! October 2017 Edition

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a round up of comics, graphic novels, and manga that I want to share with you all. Again, I’ve read some interesting and unique stuff. Any of these recommendations can be purchased in physical or ebook form, and also consider grabbing them from your local library! You can also Read the previous issue.

Without further ado! Let’s talk comics.

My Brother’s Husband, Volume 1 (My Brother’s Husband Omnibus #1)
by Gengoroh Tagame

This. manga. Holy crap. This is an emotional read that had me sobbing from the first couple pages. It focuses on a Japanese man and his daughter who find out that his twin brother married a Canadian man. It looks at issues surrounding homosexuality in Japan and Canada, and it’s just super sweet and emotional. I absolutely loved this one and it’s been a book I have been recommending constantly to anyone and everyone.

Lucky Penny
by Ananth Hirsh & Yuko Ota

Adorbs and totally for fans who love heroines that are always looking on the brighter side of life! This comic is delightfully funny, utterly charming, and Penny will just make you laugh. Seriously, this is just too funny. Seriously, Penny is plucky and down on her luck, but you will fall in love with her!

Spinning
by Tillie Walden

This is a beautiful illustrated graphic novel that focuses on figure skating and learning about your sexuality. Spinning is just absolutely stunning, beautifully written, and I can’t wait to see what Tillie Walden does next. You can read my full review here!

Motor Crush, Vol. 1 (Motor Crush #1-5)
by Brenden Fletcher et al.
OMMMMMMMMGGGG THIS SERIES. THIS SERIES. What if Mad Max met Death Race! With motorcycles! Motor Crush is cool as hell. There’s motorcycle trippy drugs, there’s beating up rival biker gangs, and Domino is just such a badass rad ladyboss who NO ONE should mess with. Also the art and colours in this graphic novel are just stellar. Check this one out!
The Beauty, Vol. 1 (The Beauty #1-6)
by Jeremy Haun et al.
What if beauty was a transmittable disease? That’s the premise of The Beauty. It’s weird, uncomfortable, and it leaves you thinking about vanity quite a bit. It’s also just SO DAMN CREEPY. Like ragdoll people creepy. If you like to be spooked, or you want something with a more intriguing but uncomfortable premise, this is worth reading.
Wonder Woman 77  Vol 1 
by Marc Andreyko
Okay, so while Greg Rucka and Gail Simone are king and queen of writing Wonder Woman, I want to give a shout out to Wonder Woman ’77 which looks at the Linda Carter years. I ADORED the cornball 70’s style storytelling and humour that comes with comic. There’s only two volumes, but the art is gorgeous, the stories are corny, and just total fun. Also looking forward to the cross-over comic that is out with Batman ’66.
The Backstagers, Vol. 1 (The Backstagers)
by James Tynion IV & Rian Sygh
Diverse, charming, and full of life, that is what The Backstagers is all about. This book is full of wonderful friendships, slice of life humour, and the characters are just completely lovable.  If you love inclusive comics and haven’t checked out The Backstagers, you are missing out on something wonderful. Sasha. ❤
Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1 (Akatsuki no Yona #1)
by Mizuho Kusanagi
This series was pitched to me by a friend who loves Fushigi Yuugi. I read this while I was at a cottage and this is pretty spectacular. It’s about a princess who witnesses her father’s murder. This situation really causes her to change dramatically, and her situation is very sad. However, there’s more to this and all the characters are a lot of fun. I have only read the first volume, but I definitely need to read more of them (and perhaps request it at the library for purchase!)
Brobots series
by J. Torres & Sean K. Dove
This is an adorable kids comic series about three “Brobots” who have wacky adventures fighting kaiju monsters, while also enjoying every day activities like fishing. Very cute, simple, and definitely a fun read for children. Also there’s a little chubby bot, and he is the cute one.
Essex County 
by Jeff Lemire
I love Jeff Lemire, and that’s pretty evident on this blog given I am constantly recommending his works. Essex County looks at Lemire’s life through some unique characters and people. It’s won so many awards, and each of the three stories that exist are haunting, cold, and uncomfortable. A+ for comic lovers who love realistic or autobiographical works.
So that was ten more recommendations, which I hope you all check out. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these or if you have recommendations. I always love finding new comics, graphic novels or manga. 🙂

Blog Tour – Robots & Repeats (Secret Coders #4) by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes

I was asked to participate in the blog tour for Robots & Repeats (Secret Coders #4) by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes. One of the things I was asked to do was show you my coding skills! Huge thank you to First Second for allowing me this opportunity, and if you are interesting in learning to code, I have provided a link to the suggested tutorials.

Without further ado, let’s see how I did with coding!


SAM LEARNS TO CODE!

I am admit, I am not great when it comes to math and science. I am a huge supporter of STEM and STEM activities, and I even run programs related to this at the public library where I work. My knowledge of coding really steams from basic HTML and I know a little bit of Scratch, which I teach to children during Canada Learn to Code Week. Otherwise, my experience is very limited!

However, I decided I wanted to rise to the challenge that came with this blog tour and learn to code using Turtle Academy. Gene Luen Yang uses Logo to teach coding in Secret Coders, but I decided to go the Turtle route if only because I love having step-by-step instructions.

It’s a lot of fun to see the turtle move in different directions and curl around. Being able to easily put commands in and seeing success is pretty wonderful. What’s great about using Turtle Academy is that it’s very user friendly, encouraging (you get badges!) and it will provide you with hints and solutions if you are unsure of what you need to do next.

As I progressed through the tutorials, it got to the point where I could hide my turtle, and then re-show him. LOOK! MY TURTLE IS MISSING! NO!

Overall, I really loved these coding activities and it’s definitely something that I am going to incorporate for the next Canada Learn to Code Week. It’s a lot of fun, and I appreciate the simplicity of the program given my skills in coding are very basic. This was very engaging and I think for a lot of kids, they will take to this program like fish to bait.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Gene Luen Yang is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. He has written and drawn many graphic novels, including American Born Chinese, which was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. His graphic novel set Boxers and Saints won the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize. He has also written for  the hit comics Avatar: The Last Airbender and Superman.

Mike Holmes has drawn for the comics series Bravest Warriors, Adventure Time, Secret Coders, and the viral art project Mikenesses. His books include the True Story collection, This American Drive, and Shenanigans. He lives with a cat named Ella, who is his best buddy.

 

 


CHECK OUT THE SECRET CODERS SERIES

Secret Coders

Paths & Portals

Secrets & Sequences

Robots & Repeats


Want to see how other Kitlit bloggers fared with the coding challenge? Check out the rest of the blog tour! Thank you again to First Second for allowing me this chance!

Check out how everyone did!

ARC Review – Spinning by Tillie Walden

Title: Spinning

Author: Tillie Walden

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.

Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.

She was good. She won. And she hated it.

For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. It was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But over time, as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the figure skating team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. It all led to one question: What was the point?

Huge thank you to First Second for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I always love sports stories despite not enjoying playing sports. There’s something about watching a protagonist grow and transform through the use of sport. However, this is not entirely that story. This graphic memoir looks back on Tillie Walden’s relationship to figure skating, understanding her sexuality, and falling in love with art.

First off, I am a big fan of graphic memoirs. They are an interesting medium for telling personal stories, and Walden’s is one I think many readers can relate to, particular what it means to fall out of love with someone and in love with something (and someone else). You see throughout the course of the story that Walden’s passion for figure skating changes, that it doesn’t feel fulfilling. You also see what is keeping her there – her first love, a girl, whom she is over the moon for.

We learn in the story that Walden has known she was gay since she was quite young. We are told that she was afraid of coming out for so long, but because of how young she was it was easier to have girls come over for sleepovers and her parents think nothing of it. She talks about how living in Texas is was scary to be young and gay, especially when society pushes it’s agenda of marriage and kids. I felt for Walden, especially when she talked about her fears and how concerned she was if people found out she was gay. The book shows how she was bullied and tormented be it at school or at figure skating practice, and she never truly gets to feel satisfied in her own skin.

Spinning is a gentle story about growing up. Tillie Walden shares such a powerful narrative, and her artwork does an amazing job of showing the intense feeling of what happened in her life. I LOVED the artwork and chromatic colouring in this graphic memoir and I think it just adds such a beautiful layer to such an emotional story. I felt nothing but sympathy for Tillie, but I felt so proud towards the end when things finally came together.

Ten Comics & Graphic Novels, and Manga You Should Check Out! July 2017 Edition

Holy crap, it has been seven months and I haven’t even shared some new comic, graphic novel or manga recommendations. The crazy part is I’ve read SO MANY new and awesome things that I need to share with everyone. Here’s ten new recommendations that you need to go out, RIGHT NOW and check out. Buy them, get them from the library, borrow from a friend, just NOW.

But before I get into recommending some great comics, graphic novels and manga, I thought I’d share a few ways on how I get my fix. First off, I work for my public library and public libraries are a great source for getting graphic novels/comics/manga, and if there’s a series you want to read and your library doesn’t have it, ASK THEM TO GET IT! We love recommendations on how to make our collections better! Or if you want to show your support because you have the cash, buy comics and graphic novels from your local book store or comic shop and show that this is worth the investment.

Another good source is Comixology, which constantly has sales on all the popular publishers that it houses. It also has one of the best digital panel viewers to make it easier to read comics as well. If you don’t have a lot of money, but want to read comics digitally, see if your library has OverDrive or Hoopla, as both those services carry a wide variety of comics and graphic novels, and they are all free with your library card.

And now, without further ado, some new recommendations!

Hawkeye: Kate Bishop, Vol. 1: Anchor Points by Kelly Thompson et al.

I was a huge, huge fangirl for both the Matt Fraction and Jeff Lemire runs of Hawkeye, but Kelly Thompson my have them beat with her amazing rendition of Kate Bishop. Stylish, sassy, and just a heck of a lot of fun, Kate is best Hawkeye, and you’ll learn how she really gives Clint a run for his money. Also the art is phenomenal and it never looks inconsistent either. Just, omg I need more nao.

Chew Vol 1. Taster’s Choice by   John Layman & Rob Guillory

I realize this series has been around since 2009 and I am only just getting to it now, but it’s REALLY GOOD and I wish I had started it sooner. I am a huge iZombie fan, and this is a comic where you really see some parallels between the two works. Tony Chu is *hilarious* as a protagonist and his partner is… special to say the least. This is easy a series I will whip through as my holds come in from work, but a really fun read, though not for a faint of heart.

Welcome to the Ballroom Vol 1 by Tomo Takeuchi

While dabbling in my love of Haikyu!! one of my dearest friends had talked about getting into Welcome to the Ballroom. Then I saw another friend on Goodreads enjoying it, even giving every volume out so far five stars, and I knew I needed to check this out. With such a silly premise and adorable characters, I feel like the anime for this can’t come soon enough. Plus the art is beautiful looking as you progress through the volumes. I can’t wait to read more. Poor Tartara never catches a break. 😦

Spell on Wheels Vol 1 by Kate Leth et al.

One of my author friends, Vikki VanSickle read and raved about how fun this series is. The saw week she said this, was the same week it was on sale on Comixology. 99 cents per single issue? How can I go wrong? Well, now I need more of it. This is a very inclusive comic series about three young witches, two which are dating, as they attempt to retrive their stolen belongs by going on a road trip. Very fun and feminist, with very loveable characters. I want more.

Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

I make no bones about being an insane Jeff Lemire fangirl. Both my husband and I are huge fans of his work. While his art style is very unique, the man is a fantastic storyteller. During the month of June, I binged all of Lemire’s works that I hadn’t read, from catching up with Descender, reading Trillium and Essex County, but the book that spiraled me into that binge read was Roughneck, his latest effort. Roughneck left me with so many emotions, from sadness, to anger, to fear. A good storyteller should do that effortlessly, and by the end of the story my heart was in a million pieces and I was cleaning it up with a dustpan. Curse your talents, Jeff Lemire. Curse them.

Fetch: How A Bad Dog Brought Me Home by Nicole J Georges

I recently reviewed this! You can read the full review here. The short version: for animal lovers who are okay with some intense uglycrying.

One Punch Man by ONE et al.

As many of you know, I work in a public library, and more specifically, I have the task of working with middle graders and teens when it comes to Reader’s Advisory. It was my Branch Librarian who’s recommendations I trust that led me to One Punch Man, a series I didn’t know I needed in my life. All the teens at my branch were reading and loving it, and it was one of those mangas I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy. Then I read the first volume and fell down the rabbit hole and have been unable to get out of it since. Saitama and friends are doofy and I LOVE THEM. It is like a more hilarious version of Dragon Ball Z, and that alone makes it fabulous.

The March trilogy by John Lewis et al.

Easily one of the most important graphic novels to date, the March trilogy explores the life of Senator John Lewis during some of the most important events in the American civil rights movement. It chronicles a young John Lewis beginning his days as an activist, and moving towards the march on Selma. You see how some of his most important relationships form, as well as how he takes responsibility for the lives that have been lost in many of these non-violent protests. Each volume paints each event in such a vivid way, and it reminds us that even now we still have a long way to go to making things better for PoC. Escellent stuff here, and one I need to get for my shelves (I borrowed the trilogy from my work). A must read for those who not only love graphic novels, but love seeing history in a different way.

SuperCakes by Kat Leyh

This is an adorable comic about two ladies who are madly in love with each other, and are both super heroines. I picked this up on a whim at this year’s TCAF, and it made my heart so so happy. May and Mo are SO DAMN CUTE, and I appreciate that Leyh showcases many of the women in the story in varying shapes and sizes. Yay for big girls! Yay for small girls! Yay for girls! While this is just one adventure, you can still read SuperCakes online by going to this link!

Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura

In my quest to rediscover manga, I remember I was watching a recommendation video by the amazing Elena @ Elena Reads Books‘ Channel, and this was a title that popped up. The name didn’t click with me right away, but it was also a series my husband had recommended as well. Princess Jellyfish is a wonderful series about women, friendship and fashion. I love those first two themes, though fashion is one I maintain I still couldn’t give a crap about. The characters are wonderfully fleshed out and the drama in it is pretty… crazy at times. Really been enjoying this series and loving that it’s one my work carries in the giant bind-up editions!

And there you have it! I am so sorry I went so long without sharing some new recommendations. I’ve had folks asking and I feel terrible with how long it took. All of the titles above are A+ and worth reading. Hopefully I’ll have another batch of recommendations soon!