Content/Trigger Warnings:Toxic relationships, anger issues (from a side character), manipulation anxiety depictions, depression, trauma
I truly wish I would have loved this graphic novel. I truly do, but it wasn’t in my cards when I first started this series and it’s still not looking good now. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why many readers love this series. The world is fascinating, the characters are interesting, and there’s still so much we don’t know. However, there’s a lot of details that I just couldn’t over look. Maybe I’m too much of a critical reader, but one thing is for sure, this didn’t improve my feelings about a lot of things in this series.
Spring break is on the horizon for the town of Blitheton and with spring break comes the highly anticipated mermaid festival. Julie, our werewolf barista, and her girlfriend, Selena are ready to have a wonderful day together! There’s just one catch, actually, make that several. With the new introduction of an uninvited friend, a mysterious force that keeps randomly appearing, and Julie’s friend appearing to pass along an omen, what could possibly go wrong? Everything.
Let’s start with some of the good things I loved about this graphic novel. As usual, I love a lot of the side characters. Cass is probably my ride or die for this entire series. Not to mention, I love that we get new characters introduced into this series. Of course the artwork is absolutely stunning. The cover and the art has been one of the biggest things for me about this series. Also, we have a lot of diversity within this series. From f/f relationship between our two main characters, a side m/m romance, on page plus-size characters and BIPOC characters, to the recently added disability representation, this graphic novel does a fantastic job at delivering diversity.
“Sometimes it’s better in the long run for things to turn out differently than you expected.”
Despite the good things I have to say about this graphic novel, there are still some lasting issues that haven’t been resolved since the first volume. When this series first started, I love the concept of Julie and Selena being the couple of focus for this graphic novel. I loved that they weren’t perfect and I loved how the relationship wasn’t perfect. However, now that we’re on volume three, I feel like there should have been some form of growth, some learning, or something. Instead, we’re still given a toxic relationship that is fueled by lack of communication, anger, and jealousy. The fact that in the first two volumes we’re given scenes of physical fights between the two main characters and now in volume three they’re still fighting, and refusing to work through their problems isn’t something I want to be reading about. This is the third volume in the series and this is the kind of relationship that can make an impressions on young readers. It’s not my cup of tea and the author should have done something to improve the relationship instead continuing to portray an unhealthy relationship between two young adults.
My second issue with this graphic novel is the fact one of the side characters hasn’t seen any personal growth either. They suffer from really bad aggression/anger issues and they’re constantly starting/picking fights with everyone. On top of that, my biggest issue with this character is how it impacts another side character. This kind of toxic relationship is so powerful that another side character literally tells our main character they want to become that horrible themselves. Now this wouldn’t be a problem except the author is continuing to promote toxic relationships and trying to normalize this as a positive thing. This is a continuous theme since the first volume of this series and I don’t see anyone talking about this.
To further solidify these statements and how the author wants to normalize toxic, and abusive relationships, I present one of the new characters introduced into the series. We get introduced to a new side character who’s a kitsune. This character’s entire purpose of being introduced into this graphic novel is to stir up chaos, drama, and negatively charged areas for other characters for no reason. We don’t know why she’s there, we don’t know her back story, all we know is she’s there to cause trouble. This character causes so many issues for those around her especially the main character. So much so that the outcome caused by this new character leads the main character to make a very rash decision that’s going to change a lot about this series.
It really wasn’t a fun time reading this book. And I’m not going to lie, I almost regret preordering this book. But I truly thought there would be improvements, we would get the answers we deserved. We really didn’t though.
Overall, this just wasn’t the book I expected it to be. I don’t know if my hopes were too high. Maybe my critical reading got in the way. Honestly, I’m not sure anymore. I went into this book thinking we would get some resolution or personal growth from our main character especially after the first two volumes because of all the fighting and arguing, but this wasn’t it. I was cringing so much throughout this book and I had a lot of second hand embarrassment from reading this. And that’s one of the things I can’t stand when I read a book, the second hand embarrassment. And the fact that no one is talking about how the author constantly promotes toxic and abusive relationships without ever trying to have a positive resolution, any form of communication, or even anyone stepping in to say, “knock it off right now” or “this is not okay, stop” absolutely blows my mind. This just wasn’t it folks and I can’t recommend this book or series especially knowing that there will be some youths who see the relationships in this book, and think that’s the kind of treatment they deserve in their relationship.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, toxic friendships, manipulations, talk of death, mentions of racism, loss of a parent (in the past), loss of a loved one (in the past), allusions to depression, grief, depictions of suicidal ideation
“Except there’s nothing more delicate than a life.”
Friends, this graphic novel knocked my socks off! I really liked Sheets, but this Delicates was a whole other level for me. This graphic novel hit home in so many ways and I ended up in my feels. Brenna Thummler always has an important message in their books and the one in this graphic novel is so damn important. I just really loved this graphic novel so, so much and if you haven’t started this series yet, please do!
Following the events that took place in Sheets, Marjorie, our laundromat girl who looks after the ghosts who live there, is back in an all new story about navigating friendships and what it to be a middle schooler who feels out of place. Also, we’re introduced to a new character, Eliza Duncan, an avid photographer who spends most of her time in the school’s dark room and ghost hunting for her next photograph. Eliza doesn’t have any friends and through that loneliness (as well as Wendall), we see Eliza’s story truly unfold.
I love the characters in this graphic novel. When Eliza’s character was introduced, I instantly wanted to know more about her, about the backstory, and why Eliza likes to ghost hunt. I think many readers are going to enjoy Eliza’s character and the way her storyline plays out. Of course, I love Wendall and Marjorie, and the friendship they share with one another. I love how it’s not a perfect friendship, that there’s bumps along the way, but I love how everything comes together with them. Also, I really enjoyed the intersecting storylines of Eliza and Marjorie. They have a really rough path, but the conclusion with them was really wonderful.
“Humans are delicate too. The teeniest mistake can ruin them, even if you do everything else right. Just because mistakes seem small and insignificant, doesn’t mean they are.”
Of course, I have to talk family dynamics. I feel that this is one aspect of this graphic novel series no one talks about a lot. Marjorie comes from a single parent household, a widowed father of two. In the first book we saw him struggle with grief and depression. Now in book two, we see the hardships of what it means to be a single parent and trying to start you life again after the loss of your partner. There’s also Eliza’s family, who’s far from perfect. We see Eliza’s parents struggle to find balance within their home life. From schedule struggles to trying to co-parent the best they can of three children, these two are tackling the hardships the best they can even if it does stir up some disagreements. I love family dynamics and I love family dynamics that show the more realistic side of what families go through instead of the typical “rainbows and sunshine” family trope.
As I mentioned above, this graphic novel deals a lot with mental health. I think many of us can remember a time in school where we experienced peer pressure, bullying, or maybe some of us felt like outcasts. And Thummler doesn’t hold back from when we’re going through those hardships. This opens up to the bigger discussion of suicide and how during this point in many teenagers lives, they feel like they’ve hit a rock bottom and find it impossible to get back up once they reach that point. For myself, reading this was really emotional because of the friends I’ve lost to suicide and from the low points I’ve reached in my past. And I truly believe this graphic novel is going to resonate with so many readers like it did with myself. Truly, this graphic novel is going to touch the hearts of so many readers.
“Life is a precious thing, dearie. It has skin that feels. And feet that can dance. And hearts that can love and be loved.”
Overall, I loved this graphic novel so much. I love how there’s so many important themes laced throughout this graphic novel, how many important discussions this will spark. Truly, this hits like a ton of bricks and so many readers will resonate with the messages in this book. And I just wanted to say that if you do feel like you’re in a dark place, please reach out to loved ones or reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Please know that I see you, that you are loved, and that I’m so glad that you’re here.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
ARC was provided by NetGalley and Zest Books in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date(March 2, 2021)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Mental health, homophobia, toxic relationships, addiction (drug abuse & alcoholism), depression, grief, mentions of suicidal ideation, trauam/PTSD, mentions of terminal illness (cancer), death, loss of a loved one, microaggressions, mentions of rape, mentions of assault, mentions of a forced outing
“What I’ve learned throughout my life is that while I struggle to feel loved and supported by the people around me, I can always rely on my dogs, no matter what.”
With my whole chest, I love this book so damn much! I’m a firm believer that there are some books that everyone needs to read at least once in their life. This is one of those books. All too often society doesn’t talk about mental health or certain illnesses because of the stigma around them. And all too often, that stigma can cause a one-sided perspective of them and the person who has to face these challenges every day. HIV and those who have HIV are no exception to these type of circumstances, but this book is so fantastic because it offers so many different perspectives, from a plethora of people who share their own stories. I can’t express the importance this book holds and how much I wish I could put this book in everyone’s hands.
This book is a collection of stories with a photo of a person(s) and their dog(s), and their story. Each story is centered around their story with HIV and how their canine companions help them heal, and improving their life despite the challenges happening to them. Throughout the book you’ll meet a plethora of diverse people who are trans, do drag, queer, BIPOC, and so much more. You’ll learn about their background and the most common theme is the rejection of one’s family and loved ones, addiction, and facing the struggles of mental health from all the stigma surrounding HIV.
This is probably the most emotional book I’ve read in a very long time. You know I love my books that make me cry and steal my soul away, and this book succeeds at that. This book is so heart breakingly beautiful and it shines a light on the importance of fighting back against the stigmatism surrounding HIV. As someone who faces stigmatism around certain mental health challenges, this book hit so close to home on how hard it is to keep going despite the stigma, despite feeling like you don’t have the support you need, and this book melted me into a puddle. And while I don’t have HIV, one of my good friends passed away from having HIV and seeing the hardships they faced, reading this book just hit so close to home in so many ways. I think that’s why I loved it so much because I love books that touch that part of my soul.
“I am not a bad person – you don’t get HIV because you’re a bad person. You can be a good person, an educated person, and get HIV. We have to get past the stigma – that is the reason people don’t get tested and are not honest about their status.”
I think the thing I love most about this whole book is the hopefulness and the reflection on the benefits, emotional and physical, that pets have on people. I loved that despite the hardships all these people face, there’s always a feeling of hopefulness, of love, and seeing the silver-lining. And I think with everything combined, the good and the bad, readers will be able to connect with the people within this book.
Overall, I don’t want to say too much about this book because I want to encourage you to go pick this book up and read it. I believe with my whole heart that everyone needs to read this book at least once in their life because this book is too important not to. Even though I read and finished this in 2020, this is book has made it onto my top books of 2021 because it truly is a master piece and I just love it so, so much!
“I know that without him I wouldn’t be alive, and without me he wouldn’t either. We saved each other.”
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Happy Holiday Season dearest friends! I hope all of you have been staying safe, staying hydrated, and staying cozy (or staying cool for my southern hemisphere friends)! 2020 is finally coming to an end and I think it’s safe to say we’re all ready to start a fresh new year. It truly has been a wild ride of a year and December seems like it came flying by. Also, I want to make a quick statement that things might be a little staggered with posting due to the holidays and this is going to be kept very brief. But enough of all of that! This Friday in the US is Christmas! Again, just like Thanksgiving, we do and don’t celebrate this holiday in my family. However, my family also celebrates Winter Solstice and Yule this time of year too! So the end of November and the majority of this month has been… busy, to say the least. But that’s the typical chaos that usually happens in my family around this time of year.
This time of year has always been my favorite. I love giving gifts to all my friends, making homemade presents, and just making their holiday season a little brighter with spreading the love. Moving along, you all came here to talk books and I’m sure you’re all curious as to what I could be hoping for during the holiday season.I normally don’t share my wishlist except with friends and family, but I figured let me share some of the books I’ve really been wanting for a while now.
ARC was provided by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date(March 2, 2021)
This was absolutely precious! With the way 2020 has been going, this is the book to make things just a little bit brighter. Truly, this is so precious and there’s some really hilarious moments. Let me be the first to say that everyone needs to check this graphic novel out as soon as it releases.
From really cute panels to friendships that will warm you heart, this is a graphic novel that will steal your heart. The characters are super cute and the dedication page was so wholesome. This is one of those graphic novels that poke you right in your heart and make you cherish the the friendships you have. Also, I know many readers will probably get this graphic novel for the children in their lives, but let another adult tell you that you need this book as much as children do. It’s just a precious gem of a book that many book lovers are going to fall in love with.
The only thing I think readers might have an issue with is thinking this is going to be a graphic novel with a continuous story. That’s not the case at all with this book. This is a graphic novel that’s designed to make you feel good, feel happy, and pick up the phone and call your friends. That’s the kind of book this is. For me, this wasn’t an issue because this was something I needed. I needed a feel good book to come into my life and wrap me in love, and that’s exactly what this book does.
Overall, I loved this graphic novel so gosh darn much! It’s so wholesome, the feel good book we all need, and just a fantastic pick me up. I highly recommend this to everyone, literally everyone! I think we all need a feel-good book that washes us in warm, fuzzy feelings. And if I could put this in everyone’s hand right now, I would.
“I must find a way to still choose myself despite holding on to you.”
I’m a firm believer that poetry, literature, and a plethora of other things can come into our lives when we need them the most. If I’m being honest, if this didn’t come into my life right now, I probably wouldn’t have given this as high of a rating as I have. Modern poetry and prose is something I have to be in a particular mind set or in a certain part of my life where I feel like it’ll be helpful to read. And reading this book right now, it has been a blessing.
This was such a well written collection that’s beautiful, and at times very heart breaking. I loved how every thing flowed and nothing seemed out of place. Everything was connected to one another whether it was a poem or prose. I think that’s one of the hardest parts modern poetry face, making everything flow together, but this author did a wonderful job of accomplishing that. And really loved that despite some of the hard themes throughout this book, there’s an optimistic feeling at the end. It was such a great way to end the book.
My most favorite thing of this whole book was the content and trigger warnings at the very start of this. I say this every time, authors should include these in their books and when the do, damn it’s the best feeling. Seeing an author take the time to add these at the beginning of their book, it’s like a little pat from the author saying, “I see you and I acknowledge your mental health.” It’s just a really great way for authors to show they care about their readers.
“I grew wings, but sometimes in between, I think I left my heart where you’ve been.”
Overall, I think this was a well-written book that many readers are going to connect with. I think many readers will find validation in their feelings or find a way to heal with this book. For me, with my whole chest, I believe this book came into my life when I needed it the most and that left a big impression with me.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Salutations friends! This is going to be a super sweet, short to the point kind of post! With the holidays just a week out from now, I’m a bit long-winded and currently trying to catch up on some things before the new year rolls in. So sit back and enjoy these few books you’ll see popping up on my tbr the next month or so!
Salutation friends! I know I’ve been a bit absent and haven’t put out as much content as I’d like, but I do have a new #5OnMyTBR post for all of you. I can’t begin to express how happy this prompt makes me. Animals has always been a HUGE part of my life and if I’m being honest, I feel like that’s a part of myself that I greatly suppress within the book community. There are times where I talk about my corgi or maybe one of my cats, but it’s a part of my life that I keep in a box and keep it tucked in the back of the closet (if you get my drift). And I don’t want to do that anymore… It’s a part of who I am, it’s a huge part of my every day life, and animals are a heavy influence in some of the things I read and watch on media platforms. So I’m really excited to open this side up to all of you and I hope you find a new book within these books that might interest you!
“The best medicine may not always be found at a pharmacy or in a doctor’s office. Sometimes it comes in the form of a four-legged friend.
Three well-known leaders in their fields—award-winning dog photographer Jesse Freidin, adolescent HIV+ specialist Dr. Robert Garofalo, and LGBTQ advocate and journalist Zach Stafford—offer a refreshing, beautiful, and unique portrait of HIV infused with a deep message of hope. Each extraordinary profile shows the power of the incredible bonds between humans and their canine companions, whether that means combating loneliness and stigma, discovering the importance of unconditional love, overcoming addiction, or simply having a best friend in a time of need.
When Dogs Heal shares the stories of a diverse set of people who are thriving and celebrating life thanks to the compassion and unconditional love of their dogs.
A portion of the proceeds from this book benefits Fred Says, an organization dedicated to financially supporting HIV+ teen health care.”
“S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle’s wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.
Then Big Jim’s eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn’t quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies–from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim’s loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis–fail to cure Big Jim’s debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.”
“When Katie Underwood discovers a litter of newborn cougar cubs, the last person she expects to come to the rescue is her former crush―and high school nemesis―Bowie Wilson. The worst part? He doesn’t seem to remember the trouble he caused her.
As a single father and owner of a cash-strapped zoo, Bowie struggles to balance budgets while raising his pre-teen daughter and a host of rascally animals. He considers himself lucky when Katie agrees to lend her talents to a publicity campaign in support of the zoo’s animal rehabilitation programs―until he learns just what she’s planning…
This time, Katie is determined to resist Bowie’s charm. But a lovelorn camel, a matchmaking honey badger, and a nursemaid capybara have different plans. Can they and the rest of the zoo’s menagerie help Bowie break through the barriers surrounding Katie’s heart?”
“When Terri Raines was twenty-seven years old, she took a vacation that changed her life. Leaving behind her wildlife rescue work in Oregon, Terri traveled to Australia, and there, at a small wildlife park, she met and fell in love with a tall, blond force of nature named Steve Irwin. They were married in less than a year, and Terri eagerly joined in Steve’s conservation work. The footage filmed on their crocodile-trapping honeymoon became the first episode of T”he Crocodile Hunter, ” and together, Steve and Terri began to change the world. In “Steve & Me, ” Terri recounts the unforgettable adventures they shared — wrangling venomous snakes, saving deadly crocodiles from poachers, swimming among humpback whales. A uniquely gifted naturalist, Steve was first and foremost a wildlife warrior dedicated to rescuing endangered animals — especially his beloved crocs — and educating everyone he could reach about the importance of conservation. In the hit TV shows that continue to be broadcast worldwide, Steve’s enthusiasm lives on, bringing little-known and often-feared species to light as he reveals and revels in the wonders of our planet.
With grace, wit, and candor, Terri Irwin portrays her husband as he really was — a devoted family man, a fervently dedicated environmentalist, a modest bloke who spoke to millions on behalf of those who could not speak for themselves. “Steve & Me” is a nonstop adventure, a real-life love story, and a fitting tribute to a man adored by all those whose lives he touched, written by the woman who knew and loved him best of all.”
“In pursuit of the wild, solitary, predatory octopus, popular naturalist Sy Montgomery has practiced true immersion journalism. From New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, she has befriended octopuses with strikingly different personalities—gentle Athena, assertive Octavia, curious Kali, and joyful Karma. Each creature shows her cleverness in myriad ways: escaping enclosures like an orangutan; jetting water to bounce balls; and endlessly tricking companions with multiple “sleights of hand” to get food.
Scientists have only recently accepted the intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees but now are watching octopuses solve problems and are trying to decipher the meaning of the animal’s color-changing techniques. With her “joyful passion for these intelligent and fascinating creatures” (Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick), Montgomery chronicles the growing appreciation of this mollusk as she tells a unique love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopusreveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.”
Whew! It feels like I’ve been holding my breath for such a long time and finally came up for air! I’m hoping in the future that you’ll see this side of me often and maybe I’ll do a animal book recommendation post in the future. Truly, I hope you enjoyed this and some of these books caught your interest. I’m excited about these books and I’m so happy I could share them with you. Do you have any books with animals that you love? Please let me know! I love reading books with animals or educational books about animals. Until next time, I hope you’re staying safe and cozy! I love you! 💙
ARC was provided by NetGalley and Random House Children’s in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published on the release date(December 8th, 2020, Happy Release Day!)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Brief desecration of the dead (A Universe of Wishes), death and talk of death (A Universe of Wishes, The Coldest Spot in the Universe & Habibi), loss of a loved one (A Universe of Wishes, The Takeback Tango, The Weight, The Coldest Spot in the Universe, & Longer Than the Threads of Time), grief (A Universe of Wishes, Liberia, The Takeback Tango, & Wish, The Weight) trauma/PTSD (A Universe of Wishes, Unmoor, & Longer Then the Threads of Time), physical violence (The Silk Blade & A Royal Affair), murder (The Scarlet Woman & The Takeback Tango), mentions of human sacrifice (The Scarlet Woman), homophobia (Cristal y Ceniza, A Royal Affair, & Dream and Dare), kidnapping/abduction (A Royal Affair), talk of colonization (The Takeback Tango & The Coldest Spot in the Universe), mentions of slavery (The Takeback Tango), mentions of genocide (The Takeback Tango), sexism (Dream and Dare), bullying (Dream and Dare), minor themes of misandry (Dream and Dare), chronic illness (Wish), brief mentions of infidelity (The Weight), mentions of cheating (The Weight & Unmoor), manipulation (Unmoor), depictions and talk of acrophobia (Longer Than the Threads of Time), talk of suicide (Habibi), mentions of physical abuse (Habibi)
I feel so blessed that I received an arc of this book. Truly, I fell in love with so many stories within these pages and I can’t wait to see other readers to fall in love with them as well. And can we take a moment to pause and praise the diverse cast of authors this anthology brought together to make this book happen? This line up is absolutely beautiful and there’s so much representation in that fact alone! There’s also a wide diversity within the stories from characters of color to characters not fitting the mold of society, all the way to the diverse relationships. Truly, a plethora of wonderful blessings within this book. This book itself is a blessing that so many readers have waited for. I really loved this book and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you a little more.
As usual, with any anthologies, bind-ups, etc… that find their way into my personal library, I like to do a break down with a mini review for each story that shares my thoughts and feelings! I hope you enjoy!
➵ A Universe of Wishes by Tara Sim ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I loved this story so much! If I could give this 4.5 stars then I would have. There were so many beautiful themes that were laced throughout this book and I think many reader are going to resonate with it. For myself, I was crying for the remainder on the story once I hit one-third of the way through. I also loved the way Thorn and Sage were falling for each other. It felt very slow burn, but with underlying themes of intensity. The only reason I didn’t give this a five star is due to wanting more. It felt short and I feel that if the author wanted to, they could turn this into a true novella or even a full book because there was so much that could be explored, the world sounds incredible and I want to know more about it, and I think readers are really going to want more backstory from both of the characters (though we do get brief backstories within this book).
“It’s sacred, what we do. The dead are to be respected.”
➵ The Silk Blade by Natalie C. Parker ⭐⭐⭐ I enjoyed this story. It’s very slow burn with themes of discovering ones sexuality/sexual interests underneath. And I love reading stories that have those two elements within it. Also, I loved how the romance between the two female competitors felt very unexpected especially due to the tournament that happens within this short story. However, though I loved these elements, I really wanted more details and the fact that this is a short story, some things felt rushed. The pacing felt quick and for my personal taste, I would have liked a little more world building. If this had been a bit longer, I think I would have enjoyed it more because it truly feels like there’s so much more that needed to be explored or details that needed to be given. However, I really hope this gets turned into it’s own novella because the way it ends makes you wonder what will happen next.
“Something has changed for both of us since crossing the Silk Bridge this morning.”
➵ The Scarlet Woman: A Gemma Doyle Story by Libba Bray ⭐⭐ I know there are some of you who are pulling your pitchforks out right now, but hear me out first. I have never read anything by Libba Bray before. I know, I know! Truly, I loved the writing and I loved what pieces of the world building we received in this book. However, this short story feels like it’s part of a bigger series, a bigger world, or a continuation of a story that has already been created. And that doesn’t sit well with me especially when I read an anthology. Personally, I’m not a fan of novellas or short stories from series that get added into an anthology because it feels like it doesn’t belong, depending on the details more details may need to be added because of a lack of context, characters are harder to connect with if there’s backstories already established, but not included in the story, etc… There were a lot of things that influenced my choice on rating this so low and I will honestly say, that in my opinion, many readers will rate this story low if they’ve never read anything by this author before. I think those who have read works by this author will love this short story, but unfortunately for me, this wasn’t my cup of tea. I think this would have done better if it had it’s own physical novella.
“Like a cat, I am insatiably curious. And, probably, like a cat, my curiosity will be the death of me one day. I do not intend for that day to be today.”
➵ Cristal y Ceniza by Anna-Marie McLemore ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I love retelling and when I say this feels like a Cinderella retelling, you will know what I mean once you read it. I loved this a lot. If I’m being honest, I would rate this 4.5 stars because I really loved so much about this short story. I loved how the story is about a daughter who’s trying to save her mothers and her family, as a whole, from being torn apart. I love that the love interest is transgender and the way they connect with our main character. I just loved it so much. I wish this would have been longer and I wish we would have received the name of our main character for this story. Aside from those two things, I loved this short story so much!
➵ Liberia by Kwame Mbalia ⭐⭐⭐ I loved a lot about this short story. I love the way the main character is so connected to their family and the way grief is represented in this short story. And I love that I was surprised to find our story follows a research officer for agriculture. I really loved that about this whole story. However, what I didn’t love was how often the main character was treated poorly or seen a lesser, because of their job title, not only by some crew members, but also by their leader. It’s never challenged except for one scene where the main character is pushed to a break point and risks their own life to same something that should of had a higher priority to the crew as a whole. I really wanted our main character to challenge others more on how they were treated, but we never really see that. Aside from that, I would have liked to have seen more of this story because this ends on such a heavy note. I didn’t feel good after this story ended and I think for many readers, it’s going to be a heavy for them as well especially since grief is a theme that’s heavily tied in with the story and main character.
➵ A Royal Affair by V.E. Schwab ⭐⭐ Once again, I loved the writing in this short story and this is my first time reading anything written by this author. However, this feels like another short story or novella that should’ve had it’s own physical book and shouldn’t have been included in this anthology. As I mentioned with a previous short story, I feel like many readers who haven’t read anything by this author are going to give this a low rating because it’s obvious this is a short story/backstory from a series and if they’re not familiar with the characters, the backstories, the world, etc… then this can lead to a poor reading experience. For me personally, I had so many questions that I wasn’t getting answers to that it felt almost impossible to focus on the story and it wasn’t the best reading experience for me. I think those who are familiar with the characters, world, series etc… this author created, they will fall in love with it or enjoy this a lot more than someone who hasn’t read the series this comes from.
➵ The Takeback Tango by Rebecca Roanhorse ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This short story had me in my feelings the whole dang time I was reading it. There are a lot of themes of grief woven through this short story, but what I love most is the theme of reclaiming oneself in the mist of that grief and finding a place for oneself again. This short story reminds me of a mission from Mass Effect 2 with Kasumi Gato and I love everything about this. I think the author did a beautiful job with this short story, the world building, the bits of backstory, and I’m really hoping this gets turned into it’s own novella because I’d love to see more. I would really love to know what happens with Vi and Valerian. It was an all around great short story to read. Definitely wanted it to be longer.
➵ Dream and Dare by Nic Stone ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I think this will be a story that resonates with a lot of readers. I know it made me feel a certain kind of way. The writing was so beautiful and the story line is very captivating, but what I loved most was the love that blooms between the main character and the love interest. I really wish this had been a bit longer because I loved these characters so much and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye when this ended. There’s also a lot of themes of how some women get looked down upon or treated poorly by their friends, family, other women, just for enjoying or wearing more masculine couture. And I think many readers are going to appreciate how this story addresses it and I love how the main character addresses it as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this, but I wish it was a tad longer.
“Dream knows Dare doesn’t need to be rescued. Not in the least. The monster does.”
➵ Wish by Jenni Balch ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Every person with a chronic illness is going to be hit in the feels when they read this short story and I say that confidently, with my whole damn chest. If I could, this story would have gotten 4.5 or even 5 stars because any story that can pull emotions out of me, right from the gate, deserves all my love and appreciation. I loved this, I loved it so much. Oh, I wish I could go into details with this one, but I truly think going in with very little detail is the best way to read this short story. However, I will say that I can’t speak on the chronic illness (immune thrombocytopenic purpura or ITP) representation in this short story. But, if you’re reading my review and you have an ownvoice review or you know someone with an ownvoice review for ITP, then please link it so I can direct others to that review.
“I can do things; I can’t change people. Because Wishing another person different is never the right answer. Even if you figured out some way to make it happen, it doesn’t end well.”
➵ The Weight by Dhonielle Clayton ⭐⭐⭐ This is an interesting short story. I had a bit of a mixed bag about how I originally felt about this short story, but decided that genuinely I enjoyed the majority of this story. I have to admit, the opening of this short story made me think of something similar to Bioshock or something that felt very steampunk and I loved that. I loved that from the first impression, I was able to feel an atmosphere that was different compared to a lot of the other short stories in this anthology. Also, I thought the concept of how hearts were read was very unique. This is the first time I’ve ever read a book that takes the heart and uses it with a unique concept like the way it tells if you relationship is meant to last or not. It’s incredibly unique. However, my biggest issue with this short story was being unable to connect with either of the characters. Nothing drew my attention to their personalities, Grace’s character felt like it was too much while Marcus faded to the background , and despite the details of both characters’ pasts, I simply didn’t care what would happen to them. As a whole, this short story was enjoyable. I would love to see this world explored further and I would love to know what’s going to happen next because the ending left me curious.
➵ Unmoor by Mark Oshiro ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ This short story is truly a gem and the only short story that resonated with me so much, had me crying the entire time, that there was no way I couldn’t give this story five stars. Mark Oshiro has been an author that has snuck up on me and has recently become a new favorite author of mine. So I might be a little bias with giving this short story five stars, but Oshiro has such a powerful way of drawing the emotions out of a reader with their writing. I remember a lot of details from a lot of the short stories in this anthology, but I remember everything that happened this is particular story the most. Truly, this short story is a treasure and this has me eager to read more books by this author.
➵ The Coldest Spot in the Universe by Samira Ahmed ⭐⭐⭐⭐ If this short story doesn’t make you appreciate your life or make you want to live it to the fullest, I don’t know what will. When I finished this short story, I had to take a huge pause from continuing my reading of this anthology because this short story left an impact with me. I think the author did an amazing job with the writing of this story because you can feel the encouragement radiating throughout this entire thing. It also has a unique way at looking at humanity and history, and I really loved that about this story. And, the way this short story is written is in voice log form. I have no doubt, that if this were an audiobook novella, it would sound beautiful because it’s one thing to be able to convey hope and encouragement, but it’s another to hear it from someone’s lips. My only complaint is I wish this was longer because I wanted more, so much more and I wasn’t ready for this story to end.
“Somewhere along the way, we decided telling lies to ourselves was the easiest way to live.”
➵ The Beginning of Monsters by Tessa Gratton ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Tessa Gratton has such a unique way of writing. Even this short story is so unique, but it’s something you can picture this author writing. There’s very much an essence of the author in throughout this story and I thought it was absolutely beautiful. Not only the writing, but the world building is so beautifully crafted. Though this is a short story, the author really conveys the image of this world very well. And the amount of diversity we read throughout this story is absolutely perfection. Truly, another fantastic short story, but it only needed to be longer!
➵ Longer Than the Threads of Time by Zoraida Cordova ⭐⭐⭐⭐ When I said I wanted retellings, Zoraida Cordova said, “Let me show you a retelling!” and put this beautifully written, gut wrenching Rapunzel retelling smack dab in this anthology. This was absolutely everything I wanted in a Rapunzel retelling and I’m a bit upset that this doesn’t have it’s own book. I have always loved the concept of a magical world living alongside the mundane world and I wanted so much more of this world. I want to know what our main character did to get locked up in the tower, I want to know what will happen to this beautiful romance, I have so many questions and not enough answers! Also, this is my first time reading anything by this author and I’m impressed. I really want to read more and experience this writing more. My only complaint is this felt too short and I wanted at least five more pages because it was too good.
➵ Habibi by Tochi Onyebuchi ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This is another one of those short stories that I would have given 4.5 to because it so well written and I have no doubt that this will bring out strong emotions with many readers. I loved the way that this short story is written in letters between two inmates. Not only is this written between two inmates, this short story brings out so many emotions, shows the importance of having a connection with another person, and how people can save one another whether they realize it or not. Personally, I just wanted a few more pages because I needed to know if these two character got the happy ending they deserved. Truly, this author has a very powerful, moving way of writing and I’m so glad this anthology concluded with this short story.
“If I closed my eyes, I could imagine myself as the main character. And I was the hero who did not destroy things but saved them.”
Overall, I gave A Universe of Wishes four stars because out of a possible 75 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 15 stories) this collection accumulated 54 stars (72%)! Technically this should be a three star rating (3.5 stars actually, if half stars were a thing), but I decided that since I really enjoyed reading this book that I would give it four stars because I truly feel this is a wonderful book to read especially during this time of year.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Greetings readers! I hope you all have been doing well, staying healthy, and enjoying the little things! I’m so excited because I’m finally typing up an article I have been dying to create and share with all of you. While in the book community many readers know me for fantasy reading and books that don’t often get the attention they deserve, things are a bit different outside of the book community. In my personal life especially among my friends, I’m known for the manga, graphic novels/comics, and zoology books I tend to pick up.
Often, I don’t share the personal side of myself too much. Manga, I’ve been more open about that since coming into the book community, but the others… well I tend to keep that under lock and key. So, I wanted to be more unapologetically myself around all of you and in this community. So I thought to myself, what better way to do that than share all the web comics I’ve been falling in love with?! And today is the day! So I hope you all enjoy and check these web comics out, support the creators, and maybe fall in love with them too!
I think that covers all the web comics I’ve been reading a lot recently! I know I didn’t list the synopsis for all of them, but I want that to encourage you to go check out these web comics for yourself and decide if you want to read them or not. I hope you enjoyed this article, as well! I had a lot of fun putting this together and I’m so happy to finally be sharing it with all of you. Do you have a favorite web comic? Please, oh please let me know! I love discovering new web comics! Until next time, I hope your month is filled with love and good reading! I love you! 💙