Uncategorized

Archie: A Rock N Roll Romance by Dan Parent

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble

Other creators involved in the making of this comic inclued: Inking by Rich Koslowski, Letters by Jack Morelli, and Coloring by Digikore Studios

The following review is based off my own opinions, thoughts and reactions. So in other words be respectful. *You have been advised in advance.

Content Warning: Toxic jealousy and obsession

For fans of the original Archie comics and for lovers of Riverdale, we finally get a designated comic about Valerie and Archie! A long awaited book and romance away from the traditional feud between Betty & Veronica over Archie-kins! We join all the original gang; Bettey, Archie, Jugghead, Veronica, with appearances of Reggie, the Pussycat Dolls, Dilton, Cheryl Blossom, and a cameo with Sabrina the Teenage Witch. We follow the classic love triangle between our three favorite characters, but get rocked like never before when Valerie shows up to shake things up! Archie and Val aren’t the only ones getting close and cozy in this graphic novel. Get ready for some major lovin’ happening as we dive into the Riverdale realm once again!

“With Valerie’s family in Riverdale, she’ll have even more reason to be here! Closer to our Archie!”

Growing up, the Archie comics were one of my go-to reads! I remember every weekend my mother and I would go out early to the store to pick up some things and I would grab one of the comics at checkout! Now that I’m older, I’ve been hit with a terrible case of nostalgia and really wanted to pick up an Archie comic once again. However, revisiting old memories and sacred childhood books has always been like flipping a coin. It can go fifty-fifty with me either loving it like I always did or I end up in shock and completely disliking it. I find myself hesitant to admit this, but for once, I’m not in love with an Archie comic.

Now don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of aspects of this comic that I really enjoyed. The artwork of this comic is absolutely gorgeous just as I remember the comics use to be. They’re bright, pop with life, and draw the reader to each page. If I had to choose a world that I wanted to live in, this would be one of the worlds I would want to be a part of! Plus, it really gives off a homely old time vibe which is so nostalgic for me as I come from a small town. It really gives me a piece of home that I miss deeply. And a side note, the added sketches in the back were an amazing bonus that had me in love!

This comic also gives interracial relationship representation. Of course we have Archie and Valerie, but the author also gave us the relationship between Betty and Trev (Valerie’s brother). I love that we got to have two relationships out of this book, but I also love the fact that we got the interracial couples representation that isn’t too often talked about in books. I also love the fact that both relationships felt very sincere and in some senses, realistic. The author really put in the method of supporting one another while building the relationship between Val and Archie as well as Trev and Betty. Although, there were times where it felt too lovey dovey to the point of pushing the line between realistic and unrealistic relationships. Plus, seeing that cute and adorable musical family dynamic was such a blessing. I was absolutely in love with that added content! Although, I wasn’t a particular fan of adding the “child star” element into this story and it turned me off from the whole family dynamic as a whole.

“Well this show might be ending, but our new adventure is just beginning! e’re starting our own music school!”

I even loved the way the author ended this comic. The author really added that life lesson of”living in the now instead of the future” wisdom. Out of this whole book, this stuck out to me the most because it’s such great wisdom that isn’t too often acted out or even thought about in the world today. It felt like a nice reminder and refresher to stop and smell the flowers , to just take in everything that happening right now instead of having your mind far too ahead to see what’s in front of the face. It was such a great and sweet way to end this comic.

Unfortunately, even with all these there were a lot of things I had issues with and things that made it really hard to love this graphic novel as a whole. As a fan of the original comics and being familiar with how a lot of them played out, this comic definitely felt it was lacking or habits that were hard to get into.

My biggest issue I had with this comic was the plot. Most Archie comics were always plot driven or had a story-line to it. However, there was no real plot to this graphic novel. The beginning starts off strong, but that’s where it ends. After the whole “what if Archie was married” concept into the graphic novel (which wasn’t bad at first), but the author took into into a whole spin of “what if Archie was married to X” plots. At this point, it became super easy to lose interest in it and to become detached from anything happening to the characters. As I said previously, the ending was sweet and ended with some wisdom, but outside of the first chapter and the last two pages of the ending, everything in the entire middle was lacking.

Also, the way this cover is design definitely gives off the wrong impression. I had originally picked up this comic thinking this was going to be a romantic backstory of how Valerie and Archie got into a relationship, how they fell in love, etc…, but this isn’t the case. Even the synopsis is very vague and implies how their relationship came to be. However, the contents of this graphic novel aren’t based off a backstory. It starts out like it’s building to a backstory, but the actual “story-line” doesn’t lead into any history between Archie and Val.

Another issue I had with this comic was the way Veronica was portrayed. While in past comics she has never been a true saint, her personality was never taken to a point where she was being a terrible person, treating everyone horribly, and her nearly disposing of the engagement ring. The author made her super toxic to the point of readers who are fans of her would turn away because of how much she was cast in a negative light. All of this whole “she a the villain of the story” was a complete turn off. The author not only did this with Veronica, but also two other characters who ever really had the “villain” personality archetype. This was a major turn off that was so cringey and almost too hard to read through.

“So make the most of this day ad make it extraordinary!”

Overall, there were elements in this story that I loved and adored. As much as I liked the family dynamic, seeing the couples, the bonus sketches in the back, and the small cameo with Sabrina, all of these things weren’t enough to make me love this comic. Too many things fell short for me and let the taste of wanting more or something lacking. I probably should have read a summary or something because I honestly thought this was a book about how their relationship started, not a hypothetical story about their marriage. As a fan of the original Archie comics, this was definitely a sour note compared to the graphic novels I used to read once upon a time.

|GoodReads|Instagram|Twitter|YouTube|

Playlists

Wicked Saints Reading Playlist

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble

Arc provided by Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review.

Find my review for this book on my GoodReads and on my blog!

“Dazzle the monsters, Nadya. You’ve already charmed the worst of the lot; the rest should be easy.” 

We all have our methods of reading. Some of us like to read in a tree, some of us listen to asmr while reading, and some of us just have random quirks that help make our reading experiences even better. I have many methods, like everyone else, of pushing myself to read or to make my reading experience a little better. One thing I recently realized was I had an amazing playlist that engaged me and made my reading experience with Wicked Saints so much better than it already was. I thought that I would share some of those songs!

I have recommended this book to so many people since this release. Along with recommending this book to anyone who has shown the slightest interest, I have recommended a short playlist along with it. I have gone through my Wicked Saints playlist and chosen six songs that would be perfect to listen to while reading this book!

Number One: Recuse Myself by Demon Hunter
Number Two: Sadness (Full Version) by Enigma
Number Three: Escapade by Skrux
Number Four: Diamond Heart by Alan Walker
Number Five: Monster by Imagine Dragons
Number Six: Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Extended) by Lorde

Those are my top six picks for my playlist! It was such a hard choice because there were so many great songs to choose from. I loved putting this playlist together and you’re bound to see more playlists in the future. I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I do and I can’t wait to put the next playlist together for you all!

|GoodReads|Instagram|Twitter|YouTube|

Uncategorized

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan

The following review is based off my own opinions, thoughts and reactions. So in other words be respectful. *You have been advised in advance.

Arc provided by Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review.

Content Warning: War, death/murder, violence, fighting, self-harm (both for a magical system and talk of self-harm in the past), torture, parental abuse, abandonment, abduction, use of alcohol (possible alcohol addiction), gore, talk of human sacrifice, strong religious fighting.

You can find my first review of this books on my GoodReads.

“You could be exactly what these countries need to stop their fighting. Or you could rip them apart at the seams.”

Let me start this review off by saying how much this book took me by storm! This has been an anticipated book for so many people and I wasn’t expecting to become someone obsessed with this book, but here we are and now I feel like no other book can compare. From the lyrical writing to characters that captivate you with a strong pull, to the beautiful descriptions of the themes: this book sunk it’s talons into me and has found a place within my heart. This debut fantasy, filled with blood magic and a cleric born to serves the gods (if this doesn’t give you D&D or role playing game vibes then I don’t know what will), blew me sky high and then some!

The author pulls from Russian and Polish inspiration and we get two countries, the Russian inspired Kalyazin, and the Polish inspired Tranavia. We also get the deserts of Akola, which we meet a few characters from, but there’s vibes within this book that those deserts will be explored in later books. With this book being so fast paced, we quickly realized how different these two countries are from one another when it comes to religion. We see how far each country is willing to go in the name of their religious beliefs. These two countries are warring, and the author never shies away from that, but they are also beautifully woven together to create such an immersive and captivating world and setting.


“Are we so different, Nadya?” He lifted his hand, fingers tipped with long claws, and pressed his thumb against her lips. “We both long for freedom. For power. For a choice. We both want to see our kingdoms survive.” 

Our tale begins with a girl who has lived and hidden with the protection of a monastery’s walls for her entire life. She has power unlike any other, and it’s her people’s only hope to not only restore the faith of the gods, but bring them back into power. Yet, there are plenty of people willing to do anything to make sure the goods and their religion(s) stay silenced forever. And as fate would have it, the girl’s world is turned upside down when her monastery is brutally attacked by the enemy. She and her friend barely escape with their lives, while everyone stays behind to ensure they can flee to safety. Yet, the cunning prince commander quickly learns the girl is not among the dead. The girl desperate to live and not to have her gods be silenced, is willing to do almost anything to live. Even if that means getting help from a powerful rebel mage, who has many skeletons hidden away in his closet.


“The girl, the monster, and the prince…” 

Nadya – The cleric who can speak to all the gods
Malachiasz – A blood mage, who believes he’s a monster
Serefin – Bisexual icon: Also, a blood mage prince of one of the most powerful realms in this world, but the king is trying to ensure that no one can contest his power, while also wanting to use his son as a martial pawn. He also has a visual impairment and is unable to see out of one of his eyes. 


(Beautiful art of Nadya by Nicole Deal at NicoleDealArt)

All three of these characters? They’re all morally grey characters who have all stolen my heart. Okay, let me be honest…I may be a bit bias towards Malachiasz, but maybe I just connect with him a lot more than the other characters. Although Nadya comes pretty darn close. We do get more disability and sexual representation by some of the side characters. If I could tell you how many times my bi-radar went off, you would be shouting at me like “Calm down!” We also get many characters of color to add even more diversity into this outstanding book. I can’t wait to watch these characters bloom and flourish in later books! However, I may have a soft spot for Ostyia who the author did confirm is a tiny, murder lesbian and as a short, bisexual girl myself….this has given me absolute life! I’m always here for fierce, kick-butt ladies of sexual representation!

Okay, I’m hear to dish on our main girl Nadya a little more because my nerdy self has to gush a little. Also, I really loved how the author crafted the religion and the saints of this book. Truly beautiful and fascinating. First off, I come from a vary colorful religious background of my family being divided into Christian, Catholic, and Apache faith/religion. So you know I come from a very diverse upbringing. However, on the opposite spectrum of that, I have played so much D&D, Pathfinder, done a lot of misc. role playing, and even to this day still do LARPing. And I kid you not, I have always had characters who are clerics, healers, and (in opposite contrast to those blood mages) my most favorite and recent character I LARP as, rogue mage. Seriously, my nerdy-self can’t contain my hype for a book with mages and a cleric who can speak to the the gods. A cleric who has been blessed by the divine (holy cow, YES!). Also, the fact that we get so many moments of Nadya and her banter with these gods, all of whom have different characteristics and personalities, was probably one of my most favorite elements the author has added to this book! I loved it!

Once again, let me take this time to express how dark of a book this is. Please see my content warning above because self-care is so important when reading these topics. It took me so long to get through this book because I had to take time to process what I was reading and making sure I was caring for my mental health. But one of the major magic systems in this book is blood magic, where people will use their own blood (most of the time, freshly cut) and merge it with pages of a spell book to be able to wield their prepared spells and harness their magic. This is something I feel is so heavily represented in D&D, there are a lot of Lovecraft theme board games that feature this, and even some video games will feature it. And I loved every second of it because I’m so familiar with the blood mage characteristics. The author did an exemplary job of weaving the true power of the blood mage into this book.


“Dazzle the monsters, Nadya. You’ve already charmed the worst of the lot; the rest should be easy.” 

I feel like I need to talk about the romance in this book because I didn’t even realize it was happening until I was near the end and I was shook! Now, let me say this because I know a lot of early reviewers who have read this book and didn’t love this romance….this type of romance is an acquired taste. You’re either going to love it or you’re going to say fuck this. That’s just how that type of romance goes. For me, I live for a dark, forbidden, “evil and good” type romance. I live for it, I eat this romance for breakfast. I will go as far as saying I married a chaotic neutral person (which if you’re a nerd and have played D&D, you know what I’m talking about here). Reading this book, even though we had two POVs, I always assumed Nadya was the star of this book. The pull to her was a lot greater than Serefin. So regardless of who Nadya who she would develop feelings for. If you’ve been around my reviews and myself, then you know I always go for the first character who spells trouble with a capital ‘T’. So, when Malachiasz started getting closer and closer to each other…I was so here for it. This book had me thinking that Nadya was about to be made Queen and I was losing it when Malachiasz scooped Nadya, told everyone to fuck off, and put her to bed. Their slow burn, friend-enemy romance was so delicious and I devoured that. So naturally, the way this book ended left me as a husk.

Overall, this book just landed too many punches in my personal arsenal. My only issue with this book was the ending. I felt like there were far too many unanswered questions and it didn’t even leave off on a cliffhanger. But that epilogue just about killed me. The author did an amazing job making the epilogue from The Black Vulture’s point of view. I really think Emily A. Duncan has crafted such a unique book that will make readers wanting more. Wicked Saints is such a beautiful debut and just a hard punch for starting off this series. I can’t wait to see what Emily has in-store for us in the next book, especially since this ending left so many things unanswered and left so many broken pieces of my heart scattered all over the pages. 


“We’re all monsters, Nadya, some of us just hide it better than others.” 

|GoodReads|Instagram|Twitter|YouTube|

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Uncategorized

Check Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

The following review is based off my own opinions, thoughts and reactions. So in other words be respectful. *You have been advised in advance.*

Content Warning: Hazing, under age drinking, panic attacks, scene of drug abuse/addiction, and a lot of sexual content comments (mostly about hooking up with girls)

Everyone, this was too cute for me to handle! Scratch that, Bitty was the cutest, ever! This graphic novel was nothing short of cute, heart-warming, of a joy to ever grace my reading time! Hockey games, behind the scenes, a sweet slow-burn attraction, the blossoming of a romance, and one of the most relatable main characters. What more could you want from a graphic novel? Ngozi Ukazu has given us a graphic novel of pure sunshine. How did we get so lucky?

So if you’re not familiar, this is the published version of the very popular web comic (you know I love a good web comic) that everyone has been reading, following, and adoring for a long time. It stars a boy named Eric Bittle, AKA: Bitty, who is leaving his southern home to go to college in the north to play hockey, and he is gay and not yet out! He is also a very talented ice skater, but he has a little improving to do on the ice with hockey. This book is broken up in two parts that follow him during his freshman year and sophomore year at Samwell University.

Bitty also makes video blogs where he talks about everything that’s going on his life. He also gives some baking tips and secrets out to his followers as well (lots of pies!).We get to slowly see the seasons change, and Bitty’s changes as well during his vlogs. And he especially likes to talk about the captain of the hockey team, Jack, who he is pretty sure dislikes him, even though he is constantly helping him improve on the ice (like his checking). And can I just take this moment to say, yes to the bisexual representation we get from Jack in this comic! As bisexual myself, it warms my heart every time I see some representation! Easily my favorite moment of watching Jack discover his feelings for Bitty after we learn about Jack’s dating habits!

“I gotta go, but I’ll text you, okay?”

But we also get to see Bitty interact with the rest of his team: Ransom and Holster (these two, I swear!), Shitty (what is his name anyway!), Chowder, Nursey, Lardo, and Dex! And Bitty builds some really beautiful friendships among all of them. He is a little pocket of sunshine for them all. Shitty is such a sweetheart who was so accepting and wonderful about so many things. He’s just this subtle character, but when he comes into the picture it’s like Yoda making an appearance. Easily my favorite side character and my favorite brewing side romance with a certain someone (waiting for that ball to drop!) And I think I can confidently say that Shitty was probably the one who was the closest to Bitty.

I also loved getting to see Bitty move into the team house his sophomore year! He had so much excitement and energy, he really made it his own. And speaking of moving into the dorms, all that baking! I can’t say how many times he was baking that I wanted to fall into the book and be like “Share your secrets with me!” Meanwhile, his team were also embracing their love for eating his baking. Seriously, seeing him build friendships and bond with others was so pure and so wonderful (especially when baking was involved)!

“Let me bathe!” “Then stop singing Justin Beiber or whatev—DON’T SPLASH ME WITH WATER!”

Lastly, I think my most favorite part of this book was the banter Ngozi Ukazu delivered so delightfully into this comic. It was so realistic and hilarious. Trying to physically sit down anywhere to read this and just busting out in laughter was so wonderful. I haven’t experienced a comic making me laugh so hard in such a long time. The dialogue was above and beyond with this graphic novel! It was written with the intent of making the reader smile, feel warm, and just fall in love with the characters even more. Plus, the art work was so perfect and pleasing to the eye. If I could live within the color tones of this graphic novel in a state of awe, I absolutely would.

Overall, I am in love with this comic of absolute perfection. I can honestly say that I’m not looking forward to the long wait that lies ahead of me. I need volume two to be here in my hands right this minute. This slow burn m/m romance is precious, and I will forever be screaming to the universe that Bitty is a precious bean who deserves the world and more! I’m not a sports type of read, but this has easily become a new favorite for me!

|GoodReads|Instagram|Twitter|YouTube|

Uncategorized

How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

|GoodReads|Amazon US|Barnes&Noble|

The following review is based off my own opinions, thoughts and reactions. So in other words be respectful. *You have been advised in advance.*

Content Warning: Death/loss of a loved one, grief, eating disorders, talk of suicide, domestic violence, parental abuse, alcoholism, the reality of the foster care system, abortion, depression, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), under age drinking, severe bullying/cyber bullying, and anxiety/panic attacks, self-harm.

ARC given to me by Random House in exchange for an honest review.

This review is going up the day of release (April 9, 2019), so Happy Birthday How to Make Friends with the Dark!

“It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart.”

How to Make Friends with the Dark follows sixteen-year-old Tiger Tolliver who has just had her world flipped upside down. Her and her mom have always been a team, but suddenly Tiger starts to wonder if their well-oiled machine is really so well-oiled after all. Because, come to think of it, her mom needs to control everything. The songs on the radio. The truth about the dad she’s never met. Whether or not she goes to school dances. She can never just be on her own. This doesn’t even begin to tackle the six million other things she has going on in her life. Lupe Hidalgo for instance, who’s life mission seems to make hers a living hell. Band practice with Broken Cradle. The fact that her crush from bio is moving to Deutschland for the whole summer. But then the unimaginable happens. And Tiger soon realizes she doesn’t want to be on her own. Not at all. So begin her mission to track down the dad she never knew about. To find herself again. Find forgiveness. And a whole mess of other things along the way.

Before I start this review, I want to really empathize how hard this book is to read and how self-care needs to be practiced while reading this book. There are so many topics in this book that you have to be in the right mindset to read them. So please take care of yourself while reading this book, take a break, allow yourself to process, and remember I love you!

It’s been a while since I read a book that absorbed me and made me crack into a million pieces. Kathleen Glasgow has written such a powerful master piece that touches on so many topics. This has probably been one of the hardest books I have ever read, but one of the most well-written way of touching on the reality of so many topics. While my life has never gotten to the point of Tiger’s, I have related to this book in more way than one. While reading this book, I think this is the first book that has ever made me pause and think of what would have happened if my life had gone down the other path. Going into this book I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but the roller-coaster ride this book takes you on is a rocky one and I wasn’t prepared for this ride. Glasgow does a service to her readers by not holding anything back, instead choosing to take us deep into Tiger’s mind as she begins to try and figure out how to live a life she never expected.

One particular key piece of this story that was super relatable. After the death of her mother, Tiger decides to exclusively wear the dress her mom had bought her for an upcoming school dance. She refuses to wear anything else until eventually the dress becomes smelly and begins to fall apart. Other ways she finds to cope is through self-harm and unhealthy eating habits. This are all things I experienced at a younger age than Tiger was after losing so many friends to either suicide or car accidents.

“I will never leave you. I will always be right here.”

All the characters in this book were so vivid and relatable. None of them were perfect by any definition, but you could tell how each character was trying so hard to handle the cards they have been dealt. I really found myself drawn to Thaddeus especially when he would interact with one another. I think Tiger and Thaddeus really balanced each other out. Not to mention, he tried his best to be there for her when everything felt like it was spiraling out of control. Near the end in particular they had a really great scene together and it so wonderful to see how far their friendship had blossomed. Tiger’s best friend, Cake also deserves some appreciation because the amount of unconditional love she has for Tiger could stand against any storm. She stands by Tiger through everything. So much that she’s even been putting off her own future to be by her best friend’s side to make sure she’s okay. If that isn’t true love then I don’t know what is. Their friendship is so incredible and you can find a deep appreciation for Cake’s presence.

Glasgow also includes representation for the LGBTQIAP+ community. While it’s never actually declared what their sexual orientation is we do get the implications of what these two side characters prefer. Our first side character is Lupe Hidalgo who comes to grief counseling late because she was with her girlfriend. Later on in the story, Lupe goes into a little more details about her relationship with her girlfriend. Our second side character is Mae-Lynn who spends time with Tiger the most after their grief group. Mae-Lynn is the only one from the grief group that probably spends the most time with Tiger. Later on we do learn that Mae-Lynn feels close to Tiger and feels like she found someone who understands, but first we end up with a beautiful moment. During the school dance, Mae-Lynn and Tiger are sitting in the car and Mae-Lynn confesses to Tiger that she likes both boys and girls. We end up with Tiger responding to Mae-Lynn by just saying “love who you want to love.” This is such an impact as Mae-Lynn continues into how she thinks her dad would have handled her coming out to him. Both of these characters each deliver key elements into this story, but this was just a wonderful detail Glasgow added to these characters to make us love them even more.

My advice to you is to split. Run. Get the fuck out. You don’t know what’s out there, what kind of people they might place you with.”

The other thing I really loved about this book was the accurate representation of the reality of the foster care system. This in the first book I have read that accurate states what the foster care system is actually like. It’s very rare to find a book that openly talks about how children are handled once in the foster system. I have never personally been in foster care, but I had a couple of friends who were in the foster system. The stories that that have told me of what they experienced and what later on ended up happening to them still breaks my heart. This is definitely a rare gem that shines a little more light on the reality and while it’s heart-breaking, Glasgow executed it excellently.

Also, the fact that we more family dynamics with this book is perfection. It’s not very often we get books that have single parent homes or even show the sibling family dynamic. This element made me love this book even more. Glasgow shows the vividness and the imperfection with June and Shayna While they’re both different people, they both put forward a hundred percent to do right by Tiger. As someone who comes from a single parent home, this was such an impact to read two different family dynamics that I could relate to. This is going to be an element that touches so many readers who can relate to Tiger who has that different family dynamic.

My only real issue with this story was the pacing, but it wasn’t to really hold it against the book. This is a book that’s on the longer end and I feel like it didn’t entirely need to be, but I can understand why the author set it for that pace. I want to say the first 50-60% of the book it’s very slow and is building things up for the last 40% of the book. Once you get past that part, you will fly through it is so quickly. I didn’t realize how quickly it was going until I was on the last three chapters. You will get sucked into the story even deeper than what you were.

Overall, I found myself emotionally submerged into this story. How to Make Friends with the Dark really is a can’t miss read. Tiger’s story demands to be told and it deserves to be known. What she goes through is a reality that many teens face, and I really believe that this book has the ability to help a lot of people process the grief they are experiencing and figure out where to go from here. This is a book that is going to touch every person who picks this book up and reads it.

“They were a good-looking, good-smelling, well-oiled machine.”

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

|Instagram|Twitter|GoodReads|YouTube|