Marshmallow reviews Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Last week Marshmallow reviewed Smile by Raina Telgemeier. This week she continues her Telgemeier streak with the next graphic novel by this prolific author: Sisters (2014). Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow reviews Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow you have been reading graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier for a while now. And finally you got to Sisters.

Marshmallow: Yes.

S: The cover says this book accompanies Smile. I seem to remember that you wrote that that book was quite self-contained. How is this related to it?

M: They are related by the fact that both are about the same characters. The main character is the author herself, once again. But the main story line of this book is different. And it is a different time in her life. Instead of the school year, this is about summer time, about a summer when the author and her family took a road trip from California to Colorado to visit relatives.

S: I see. What is the main challenge this time?

M: The author and her sister are arguing too much. They are not in good terms. And there is a snake in their truck. And there are some problems between their parents.

S: I see. Seeing how the title mentions the sisters, I am assuming the book is mainly focusing on them getting their relationship in order?

M: Yes mostly.

S: So did you enjoy reading this book?

M: Yes. I always like Telgemeier’s drawings. She has a unique style. The faces of the characters are always very expressive. I like the color palate too. There is someone else who adds the coloring I think, Braden Lamb. I think the color choices add to the specific moods in each panel.

Marshmallow is reading Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow is reading Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.

S: Did you find this book helped you think about your relationship with Caramel a bit?

M: No, not really. Caramel is my brother, and we don’t fight that much.

S: Really? So these two sisters fight more than you two? Hmm, that is some serious discord in the family then. Okay, so what else do you want to tell our readers about this book?

M: If you do have a sibling, this book might be helpful to you to think about your relationship with them, and see if you can be a better sibling yourself. So actually, maybe the book did make me think a bit about Caramel and me. I am thinking of how I can be a better big sister to him.

S: That is nice Marshmallow. I think you are a good big sister. And Caramel is a good little brother. So is the author the older sister or the younger?

M: She is the older one, like me.

S: I see.

M: But she is not totally like me. She is detached from her family at the beginning of the road trip. But through the book she starts feeling closer to them.

S: That is nice.

M: Yeah, I thought the book was pretty good. One thing I was not too keen on was that one of the story threads, the one about the parents and their problems, was not completely resolved. I wanted some more closure.

S: Well, you said this is a book about the author’s own life. Sometimes in real life, we don’t get closure, especially on big issues.

M: Yeah, I guess I wanted that part to be more like a book than real life.

S: I can see that. So the book was at times too much like real life! Anyways, it seems like this was all around a very good book. How would you rate it Marshmallow?

M: I’d rate it 95%.

S: Cool. And what do you want to tell our readers as we wrap up this review?

M: Stay tuned for more amazing book reviews from the book bunnies!

Marshmallow rates Sisters by Raina Telgemeier 95%.
Marshmallow rates Sisters by Raina Telgemeier 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Marshmallow has reviewed three books by Raina Telgemeier before: Ghost (2006), the graphic novel version of Ann N. Martin’s Kristy’s Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #1) (2006), and Drama (2012). For her first review after her summer break she chose to write about a fourth Telgemeier book: Smile (2010).

Marshmallow reviews Smile by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow reviews Smile by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about friends, friendship, and school, or if you enjoyed any of Raina Telgemeier’s other graphic novels, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): When Raina Telgemeier fell after her Girl Scouts meeting, her front teeth fell too. Unfortunately, they were her adult teeth and they weren’t going to grow back. This leads to a long process that continues for years. Her teeth must be fixed through braces, headgear (only during the night), and more. Raina is extremely self conscious of her image at school, and fears that her braces will make her look like a “dork” or a “nerd”; her friend group doesn’t help at all. In fact, several of her friends tell her that, “cool just isn’t the word to describe you.” In addition to all this, Raina has, what the book cover calls, “boy confusion”. ’nuff said.

Raina feels overwhelmed by middle school, and eventually high school. She is frustrated by the teeth issue, and struggling to find out what real, true friendship really is. I can’t spoil too much, but I can say that by the end, Raina can finally smile. 

Marshmallow is reading Smile by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow is reading Smile by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Review: I thought that this was a very interesting insight into the author’s childhood, and her experiences with middle and high school. This book is about the author, Raina Telgemeier, herself, and spans several years of her teenage experience. 

Though I couldn’t associate myself with all of the feelings the main character had, I can still sympathize with her problems, because the character is shown in such a real way. She is almost like a real person. (Oh, wait, she is.)

This is a graphic novel, and one of a series. However, despite the fact that there are two other books, this can definitely be read as a stand-alone book. But it doesn’t take too long to read, so you can probably read the books all at once and it makes a nice story all together. (I might even review the other books for the blog some day.) However, as I said, this could be a stand-alone, because the story ends at a satisfactory point. (Furthermore, the story arcs of the other two books are all different and the plots are all unconnected. I would of course say more if I do end up reviewing them, too.)

All in all, Smile is a good book that can be enjoyed by all. But I would say that probably a middle school / middle grades reader would find it more exciting than younger or older bunnies.  

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Smile by Raina Telgemeier 95%.
Marshmallow rates Smile by Raina Telgemeier 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Rise of the School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Marshmallow loved Soman Chainani’s School for Good and Evil series, and reviewed three of the six books for the book bunnies blog. So she was delighted to get her paws on Rise of the School for Good and Evil, the much anticipated prequel to this fascinating hexalogy. Below she shares her thoughts on this book, just published in May 2022.

You might like to check out Marshmallow’s reviews of Quests for Glory, the fourth book, A Crystal of Time, the fifth book, and One True King, the sixth book, before moving further.

Marshmallow reviews Rise of the School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.
Marshmallow reviews Rise of the School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about family, fairy tales, and magic, then this might be the book for you. This will be even more of a joy to read if you have already read and enjoyed the six School for Good and Evil books.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Rhian and Rafal have been ruling the School for Good and Evil as School Masters for years. Both twins are immortal as long as they can uphold the balance between Good and Evil and that they both love each other, despite the fact that one is Good and the other is Evil. The Storian (the pen that writes all of the fairy tales happening in the Woods) selected them to be the next School Masters. The School for Good and Evil is where all of the people in fairy tales are trained. Heroes, princes, princesses, fairies, and other Good people/creatures are trained at the School for Good. Witches, warlocks, giants, and other Evil people/creatures are trained at the School for Evil. Students at this school train in the hope that the Storian will one day write their stories. 

The Pen never specified which brother was the Good one and which one was the Evil one, but the twins were sure they already knew. Rhian was the Good one (described as tan with golden, wild hair), and Rafal was the Evil one (described as pale with white, spiky hair). Still the two brothers get along well and love each other.

Unfortunately, the arrival of one student turns their dynamic upside down. What starts out as a joke between Rhian and Rafal creates a rift between them. Challenge after challenge threatens to tear them apart. Will their love for each other be enough or will the rift between them eventually tear the School apart? 

Marshmallow is reading Rise of the School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.
Marshmallow is reading Rise of the School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.

Marshmallow’s Review: WARNING! DO NOT READ THIS BOOK UNLESS YOU HAVE READ THE OTHER BOOKS IN THIS SERIES! I generally don’t recommend reading books in any certain order, but in this case, reading this book before the others would be a mistake. I think that Rise of the School for Good and Evil is a book meant to be read after the others. The story fits in well with a lot of things that we saw in the other books, and fills some gaps, but you wouldn’t understand it unless you read the other books. Let me also add, without spoiling anything, that the ending of this book is not definite and would definitely not be satisfying unless the reader had already read the other books. One does not have to have read the entire series, probably just the first three books. However, I feel that this would definitely be better as an addition to the series, not an introduction. 

However, this is a great book that is a great addition to the series. It doesn’t go fully into some of the details discussed in the previous books, but it definitely shows the events that led up to the hexalogy. I especially liked how we saw characters who were completely Evil in the previous books in a different light. I also enjoyed how we saw the ancestors of some of the characters in the previous books, as this book is set much before the rest of them. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%

Marshmallow rates Rise of the School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani 95%.
Marshmallow rates Rise of the School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani 95%.

Marshmallow reviews How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani

Today Marshmallow reviews How to Find What You’re Not Looking For, a 2021 novel by Veera Hiranandani.

Marshmallow reviews How to Find What You're Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani.
Marshmallow reviews How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about family, friends, or historical fiction, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Ariel Goldberg’s life is drastically changed forever when her older sister Leah elopes with a man from India.

The book starts in the summer of 1967. Interracial marriage is now legal, however, stigma and bias remain, even in Ariel’s parents. Leah tells Ariel about her relationship with Raj, an Indian college student, and says that they have plans for the future, which greatly worries Ariel. When the girls’ parents meet Raj, they don’t like him. This is mainly because Ariel’s family is Jewish, and Raj is not; they don’t want their daughter to marry a person who is not Jewish. Ariel likes Raj, but she definitely doesn’t want her sister to marry anyone yet. But then one day, Leah and Raj elope, and Ariel’s life is forever changed. 

Besides all that is going on in her home life, Ariel has been having problems at school. There seems to be a new rift between her and her best friend, Jane. Ariel is also bullied by a boy who hates Jewish people. On top of all this, Ariel also has trouble writing. Her new teacher, Miss Field, believes that she has dysgraphia. Miss Field brings a typewriter for her to use and asks Ariel to write short poems to practice writing. 

Ever since Leah left, Ariel’s life seems to be falling apart. Can Ariel put it back together?

Marshmallow is reading How to Find What You're Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani.
Marshmallow is reading How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani.

Marshmallow’s Review: How to Find What You’re Not Looking For raises many complex issues such as racial and religious bias in a way that teaches but also gives hope. It shows that bias is not just in other people but everywhere. It also shows that there might be reasons for behavior that looks excluding, such as people wanting to sustain their family culture and identity, but it does clearly show that stigma and bias are not okay. 

I found it interesting how the main character wrote poems to express what is happening in the book. I found it to be a good way for the author to tell the reader how the main character, Ariel, is feeling. The poems really add something to the book. 

The story is set in 1967; the author uses words like “groovy” to show how the narrator is living in the past. The narrator is also always using the second person “you” and everything is told in the present tense. This gives the story a more urgent tone somehow and like everything is happening all at once, as you read the book.

This book includes information about the Loving vs. Virginia case from 1967 and the ideas around interracial marriage play a significant role in its plot. Martin Luther Jr.’s murder from 1968 is also mentioned. In other words, How to Find What You’re Not Looking For talks about racial and religious injustice very openly. This makes me think that this book would be more appropriate for older bunnies, from 10 and up. There isn’t really any inappropriate content for younger bunnies, so younger readers could also enjoy it, but I think 10 and up would be able to understand the context better and so get the most out of this book. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates How to Find What You're Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani 95%.
Marshmallow rates How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani 95%.