ARC was provided by NetGalley and Kodansha Comics in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published after the release date(October 20th, 2020)
What a supper cute, humorous manga! Typically I don’t read a lot of fluffy manga, but in some case it really works well and this is one of those books. I adored the characters, their personalities are so memorable and easy to fall in love with. Even the side characters fit the perfect story. I’m truly surprised I haven’t heard of this manga series sooner, but I’m super excited to continue this series and watch these characters fall in love with one another.
🎶 Himari Kino – Is a cheerful, very loving first-year in high school, who ends up falling in love at first sight on her first day at school, during the open live performance from SSGirls. With her best friend Miki-chan besides her and being in the front row, when she’s suppose to check out Miki’s sister, Himari can’t help being swept off her feet by the cool singer of the band.
🎶 Yori Asanagi – Is a cool, lone wolf third-year high schooler, who loves to sing and write their own in their personal time, ends up filling in for the singer of SSGirls. With the members of SSGirls begging Yori to write them songs and join their band, Yori refuses due to severe stage fright, until they meet Himari. Soon, their world changes and be a little head over heels.
Though these two are new to love, we follow their story after they confessed their feelings to one another, as they get to know each other, chat about their love for cats, and become more entranced with one another. There’s just one problem… They both have a hard time believing the other is really in love with them and keep misunderstanding one another’s words.
“I’m going to make you fall in love so hard. So you better brace yourself.”
I really loved the personality of both main characters. Yori is calm and collected, but easily gets embarrassed and has a deep love for cats. Himari is very energetic and has a very bubbly personality. When the two come together, they balanced each other out really well and have great chemistry. I also love how Yori never gets over-shadowed by Himari’s personality, as well. Himari is very much the instigator, Yori always speaks for herself, allowing both of them to be on equal footing. The process in which they grow closer is also super adorable and they have an amazing supporting cast with the side characters. I would have loved to see more of Miki-chan have a role in helping out, but the band is really fun and supportive of Yori.
This is very much a feel good story. It’s meant to be light, fluffy, and the music angle was such a good hook to make Yori stand out. There’s a lot of really cute moments throughout this book and the way Himari is so encouraging is refreshing. The way this manga leaves off, there’s bound to be drama on the horizon especially from the trope that’s being used in this book. However, I think the one issue many readers will have with this book is the clashing of two elements. You have the ‘love at first sight’ trope and then you have the ‘two people not being on the same page’ element added in. Sometimes it can feel like a bit much and I think many readers may struggle with that balance.
Overall, this was really enjoyable. I was chuckling and smiling the whole time reading this. I think the manga does an excellent job at being a feel good read. I think if readers are looking for something fluffy, charming, and just a read that’s going to leave you happy. Plus, the way this manga ends will leave you wanting to know what’s about to happen next with these characters!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
ARC was provided by NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published after the release date(October 20th, 2020)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of pandemic (covid-19), grief, anxiety (The Rules of Comedy), talk of homophobia (Socially Distant Dog-Walking & Stuck with Her), mentions of death, brief allusions to racism (The Boy Next Door), depictions of panic attacks (Stuck with Her)
An anthology that normalizes feelings and social situations during the current pandemic of 2020? I think this is brilliant! If I’m being honest, when I got approved for this arc, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t read the synopsis because I like to go into some anthologies without knowing too much. I’m pleasantly surprised! I really enjoyed this and a lot of pre-reading thoughts I had were cast away immediately (like thinking I was going to be overwhelmed).
This wasn’t exactly a perfect read though. I think one of my biggest issues with anthologies, in general, is some of the stories are too short when I really want more. That’s been on of the biggest, most consistent factors when I read any anthology. And that was definitely the case while reading this anthology. There were some stories in this anthology that I really wanted more details or just one or two more pages. To be honest, I think this anthology could have been a bit longer than it was. Despite that, there were some real gems in this book that I loved and felt my heart swell with warmth.
I will also say that this book is very diverse. Not only are the authors diverse, but a lot of the stories in this book are diverse. There’s ownvoices stories such as queer rep, Asian rep, Indian rep, Black rep, etc… all the way to showing different situations during the pandemic, different family dynamics and living situations, and how we never truly know what’s happening in someone’s life. I really loved and appreciated all of this representation in this book, and I think there’s going to be many readers who are going to pick this book up and see themselves within these pages. I know I sure did and the amount of validation for a lot of the feelings I’ve been feeling since this pandemic started, all found within these pages. Truly, this book is going help many readers.
Of course, with all anthologies, bind-ups, etc… that find their way into my library, I like to do a break down with a mini review for each story that shares my thoughts and feelings!
➸ Love, Delivered by Erin A. Craig ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I won’t lie, this one probably hit the closest to my heart out of all the stories in this anthology. For starters, this is short story is by Erin A Craig, who’s writing I absolutely fell in love with right around this time last year. Erin just has a way of writing that hooks my attention and makes me feel all of the feelings. And it was no surprise that I her short story left me feeling super soft and sappy. Our main character of this short story is trying to navigate life, not just from the pandemic, but from moving into a new house and having two parents who are barely around, but also doctors working the frontlines during the pandemic. With her parents constantly gone and with everyone still trying to get everything set up from the move, Millie orders pizza and soon meets the cute pizza delivery boy, Luke, and suddenly, Millie doesn’t feel so alone in the world. My heart! This hit me in all the soft spots of my soul. Family is everything to me and seeing another person who has parents on the frontline during the pandemic, it was a critical hit. And adding the family own pizza business into this story? *chef’s kiss* Truly, this story kicked this book off in an amazing direction and just stole my heart immediately.
➸ The Socially Distant Dog-Walking Brigade by Bill Konigsberg ⭐⭐⭐ This is one of those stories that I wish we would have gotten a page or two more. I thought I was going to love this more than I did (mostly due to the dogs), but I definitely didn’t enjoy it as much. I think the reason for this is due to wanting just a little more details or having that extra page or two. We follow two dog walkers, Kaz and Daxton, as they walk their dogs every day together and the conversations they have together. Among this short story is the bigger discussion of homophobia and how sometimes the people we care about most, can be the ones who hurt us the most painful way. Along with this story being so short, I also wanted to see a little more from these characters. I think this would have really hit the nail on the head if we saw them have a conversation about how one of them stood up to their parents to correct them on their homophobic ways. Despite the shortness and some missing details, I did enjoy this. I just wanted to see a little more from these two quirky, queer boys!
“I felt the slightest jolt of joy, imagining more conversations with the cute, queer boy who said not Normal things.”
➸ One Day by Sajni Patel ⭐⭐⭐ I debated about my feelings for this short story for so long and I think my biggest want for this story was to laugh a little more or feel a swoon towards these characters. And though my heart strings weren’t pulled too much, this is a very cute short story that many readers will love. When Bobby is looking for an escape for some peace and quiet, and crawls out onto her balcony, that quiet becomes disrupted when the boy across the way won’t stop playing his guitar. Before Bobby knows it, she’s throwing her shoe and soon becomes sucked into a mission of reclaiming their shoe. As I said, this is very cute, but I really wanted to laugh a little more or feel connected to the characters just a little bit more. But I loved the writing of this short story and the story line was the cutest. I was pleasantly surprised and overall enjoyed this short story.
““One day” couldn’t come soon enough, but it would come. I couldn’t wait for our “one day.””
➸ The Rules of Comedy by Auriane Desombre ⭐⭐⭐ Harper is starting a new high school and has social anxiety, but the biggest thing Harper is dealing with is a crush on her classmate, Alyssa. But things change when Harper watches Alyssa’s coming out TikTok and soon she realizes she might have a chance at dating her. This is probably one of the weaker short stories throughout this anthology. While I enjoyed the social anxiety rep and queer rep, it felt like the romance was pushed off to the side to focus on the sibling relationship more. And while I love sibling relationships, it felt like that relationship and the conflict that happens within that bond draws most of the reader’s attention. Also, the romance in this story felt… off. I don’t know if it was from the romance being instant love or if it was from a lack of bond/connection between the two characters, but I just had no interest in the main character and love interest.
➸ The New Boy Next Door by Natasha Preston ⭐⭐⭐ Quinn has been given a mission: talk to the new boy, Archer, who just moved into her neighborhood. As this pair begin to talk to one another, a friendship begins to bloom and maybe into something a little more. For starters, I love when extrovert personalities bring out the socialness in an introvert and we see plenty of that in this short story. However, this is the other weakest story in this entire book. The biggest flaw, the countless Twilight references. I’m not the biggest fan of Twilight, I try to avoid it whenever I can when reading and this short story killed a lot of the mood for me with those references. This is a cute story, it just would have been a better reading experience if there weren’t so many Twilight references.
➸ Love with a Side of Fortune by Jennifer Yen ⭐⭐⭐⭐ When her superstitious mother drags her off to have her fortune told on her birthday, Michelle just wants it to be done and over with especially since she doesn’t believe in any of it. However, when Evan Kwon walks into her family’s restaurant, Michelle can’t help feeling the sparks fly. I absolutely loved this short story! Another gem within this anthology. I laughed, I swooned, and just really enjoyed my time reading this short story. I also love how Michelle’s best friend helped her sneak out of the house so she could go on a date with Evan. This was just a really fantastic read! However, I do think many readers will end up being annoyed by the mother in this story and if I’m being honest, the mother was definitely a bit much at times for me too.
➸ The Green Thumb War by Brittney Morris ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. I definitely think this story is going to be overlooked and if I’m being honest, this is a true gem of a short story. This short story is about two people becoming friends with one another and I was living my best life reading this book. We need books with more platonic friendships! I also want to point out that this book normalizes therapy. Often times when I’m reading books, there’s a stigma around therapy and I’m really glad the author included the talk of therapy in this book. With the pandemic happening, I don’t think many people have considered therapy and I think this was an excellent way to say, “Hey! It’s okay to seek help in these hard times.” I just really appreciated this book.
➸ Stuck with Her by Rachel Lippincott ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This is another one of my favorite stories. It might be my most favorite of this whole collection of short stories. We follow Allie who stayed in the dorms instead of going home when quarantine hit. Unfortunately for Allie, every night her roommate, Mia blasts music and can be found snacking on Allie’s pop tarts. I loved this one so, so much. I do have to warn there are anxiety and panic attack depictions in this short story, but I loved the way the author had the roommate instantly be right there, willing to do anything to help Allie. There’s also the hard discussion of homophobia and how not all families are accepting of those who are lgbtqiap+. Also, even though this is a roommates to lovers kind of story, I loved how the sound speaker was used as such an important device on bringing the two main characters together. Truly, this is the cutest and I love it! This was just an all around great short story and truly, I wish we had just a little bit more because I flew through this one too quickly.
“And… the second thought is, as her arms tighten around me, my eyelids slowly closing, that… I don’t hate it. I don’t hate sitting here, my face pressed into Mia’s warm, sandalwood-smelling shoulder. I don’t hate the way her hand feels in mine, and the way she always knows, good or bad, exactly what to say. I don’t hate her.”
➸ Masked by Erin Hahn ⭐⭐⭐ Out of all the stories, this one seems like the most unlikely thing to happen. While most of the stories have been more realistic, this one definitely feels like a one and billion chance of happening. Our story follows Gray, who decided if she can’t attend prom then she’s going to put her dress to good use by making masks from her dress. That’s where Jude comes in. Jude’s uncle needs masks at his store and Gray is happy to help out. Thus, the friendship between Gray and Jude sparks, but Jude has a pretty big secret and Gray is determined to find out the truth. Honestly, I wanted this story to be a little more realistic. I’m not saying this situation couldn’t happen, but it definitely through me off compared to the rest of the short stories. However, there were some really cute moments in this story and I really enjoyed Gray’s determination. Also, the Romeo and Juliet reference was so, so good!
Overall, I gave Together, Apart three stars because out of a possible 45 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 9 stories) this collection accumulated 31 stars (69%)! But, if half stars were a thing, I would totally give this 3.5 stars, because it is almost exactly that when you tally all the stars up!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
ARC was provided by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date(February 2nd, 2020)
Oh, this was just the sweetest and filled my heart with so much warmth! Times are really hectic and hard right now, and I’m not going to lie, I’ve been looking for things that keep me happy and make me laugh. This is the first book I ever read by Catana and I’m so pleasantly surprised! My heart is bursting with warmth, love, and just bright sparkles of joy. And this book reminds me of my own marriage to my spouse. The whole time I was reading this I couldn’t stop saying, “It’s us!” It’s such a sweet book, truly!
This book is a collection of comics that shows it’s okay to accept how perfect and imperfect your partner really is. What may seem odd or ridiculous to others, may work for other couples and this collection is the perfect example of this. With characters that are clingy, funny, and in their own unique way of charming, many readers will find themselves connected to this adorable couple.
I can’t remember the last time a book made me laugh out loud (so dang much), swoon, and get so soft and sappy that I went to look back through all the photos I have of my spouse and I. Even the little things in the collection reminds me of the little things that happen in our every day especially the parts where our female character is short and asking for help. That’s literally us, every single day! Or the parts with the naps, we’re always together for those. It’s just the little things and this book filled my heart with all the feels. I really loved it.
Overall, this is a fantastic book that you should pick up (even though it doesn’t come out till 2021)! This is such a relatable book and I can’t think of a better present to give to your partner for Valentine’s Day or an anniversary. Also, it’s a really quick read and perfect for readathons and any reading goals you’re hoping to accomplish. I can honestly say, I’m eager to pick up more work from this author and I can’t wait to see what’s waiting around the corner for us!
Content/Trigger Warnings:Incest, attempted rape, gore/body horror, child sacrifice, human sacrifice, murder, death, racism, fetishisation, eugenics, mentions of loss of parent (in the past), mentions of stroke (in the past), talk of colonization, mentions of epidemics (in the past), mentions of homocide (in the past), sexism, physical assault, scene of seizures, mentions of miscarriages (in the past), mentions of divorce (in the past), child abuse (in the past, beatings with a cane), attempted murder, cannibalism, trauma, sexual assault, gaslighting
Yes, it’s true, this is the first book I’m not giving a rating to. I know, it’s a big shocker because I usually rate every book, no matter how good or bad they are. Yet, this is the first book that’s caused a stir within me that I should state that I’m not the target audience for this book. I’m typically not a horror or thriller reader and so I feel that if I give this book a rating, it’s unfair to the author and the book itself. In truth, this isn’t a bad book, it’s definitely a book that’s not for everyone, but this book does an excellent job in the genre it was published for.
This story is about Noemí Taboada, a twenty-something young woman from a wealthy family from Mexico City, who upon receiving a frantic and disturbing letter from her cousin, departs for High Place, where she’s to investigate what’s really happening and determine if her cousin needs to be brought home. Upon arrival, Noemí will find countless rules thrust upon her by her cousin’s husband’s family. But the longer Noemí stays at High Place, the stranger things become and soon, Noemí might find it impossible to leave.
“The future, she thought, could not be predicted, and the shape of things could not be divined. To think otherwise was absurd. But they were young that morning, and they could cling to hope. Hope that the world could be remade, kinder and sweeter.”
The writing of this book is unique and the story-line is a slow burn kind of horror. It’s been a month since I read this book and I still can’t forget the contents of this book. This isn’t just a slow build, this book doesn’t hold back from building up an atmosphere and as you read, things become more disturbing. However, it gets very graphic, very gory, and if you’re not someone who typically reads horror (like myself) then this book may be a shock to the system.
However, if you’re someone who’s looking for a ownvoices read, that’s set in the 1950’s, reads similarly to dark academy books, and is sure to send chills down your spine, then I can’t recommend picking this book up during fall and spooky season. With the beautifully unique and atmospheric writing of the author, I have no doubt that this book will be making it on to many top books for 2020.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, death of animal, murder, torture, human sacrifice, loss of a loved one, grief, trauma/PTSD, abandonment, allusions to child abuse and child neglect, forced gender roles, transphobia, mentions of alcoholism, verbal abuse, manipulation, body horror
I had a lot of feelings about this book, shed some tears, and held my breath for so much. Truly, I think I love this book with every fiber of my heart and can still feel the life this book breathed into me. This is probably one of the best fall/spooky seasons reads I have ever encountered. From the world itself to our three main characters, I don’t know how I went so long without reading this book.
Set in Three Graces, a town that never encounters plagues or misfortune, a deal with the devil is what keeps this town bound from every having to face those hardships. But everything comes with a price especially when it concerns the devil. Every seven years, with the dawn of the blood moon, a saint is sent into the woods without any hope of survival. The woods itself? No one knows what dark, twisted things lurk within it’s depths nor do they know the things that take place within. For those who do manage to survive, haunted by the events that took place, leave Three Graces when given the chance. Our story follows an unlikely trio, united by an unwavering love for one another, who will all play a role when the blood moon comes too soon and the devil demands a heart.
“The sun rises and she approaches the edge. A forest devil, a witch, a young woman, with eyes like a starry night and teeth like cats, and thorny, flowering brambles tangled in her hair, littering white petals behind her. They’re waiting for her. Two of the hearts: one burning, one perfectly in tune. She smiles, lips parted over sharp but not too-sharp teeth. Instead of slowing, she leaps forward. She dives at them, throwing arms around both together. One hisses as some sharp piece of her body slices at his skin, and the other grunts because he catches most of her weight. Neither of them lets go.”
This book was everything I wanted for my fall reading. An atmospheric read that has you on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next. The setting is rich with details that chills your skin, the writing is absolutely beautiful, and main characters who aren’t perfect, but shine so brightly you can’t help falling in love with them. And side characters you can’t help secretly loving (I’m looking at you Haf and Devil). There’s also some amazing underlying themes of this book that touched my heart in ways I wasn’t expecting. Ultimately, just everything I wanted and more. However, I think some readers will want a little more and will hope Gratton takes things an extra mile that would shock or stun the reader. Personally, this wasn’t an issue for me, but I think it might be something other readers might not like.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Graphic injuries, death, murder, loss of a loved one, grief, drug use, overdosing, drug abuse, gore, mentions of drug dealing, trauma/PTSD, anxiety, blood depictions, brief mentions of menstruation, child (12) rape (very, very graphic), brief mentions of child molestation, bullying, brief mentions of conversion therapy, assault, physical abuse, violence, scene and talk of victim blaming, talk of suicide, mental abuse (in the past), scene of drowning, abandonment, child neglect (in the past), manipulation, a magical date rape drug (pg 249 & pg 250), brief details of date rape scenes, sexual assault, forced sexual assault (on video), blackmail, forced eating of human waste (to a rapist), and racism
“But the trouble had begun on a night in the full dark of winter, when Tara Hutchins died and Alex still thought she might get away with everything.”
This is probably my most requested review since I finished reading this book. Everyone has been asking, “When is your review going up?” Well, I’m finally sitting down to write it all out. This is probably my most polarizing book that I’ve read, thus far. My first book by this author that I haven’t picked up in a hot minute. And I’m pretty sure this is the first book I’ve read all year that’s really made me question some of my reading choices. I have many thoughts, many feelings, but despite that, I feel like I have to make the statement that I did like this book and there were plenty of things I did enjoy. So before you raise your pitch forks because I gave this book three stars, take a seat because we need to have a little chat about Ninth House and then you can judge me.
Let me start by saying Ninth House is a very, very dark book and I say that in the sense that you need to practice self-care. This author didn’t add content and trigger warnings at the beginning of this book (which should have been). So please take care of yourself because there are many heavy scenes and topics throughout this book.
Ninth House is about a girl named Alex (Galaxy) Stern, who’s originally from L.A., but is now living on the east coast, studying and majoring in art at Yale. But Alex isn’t just there to study art, Alex is at Yale for another reason and was given an opportunity too good to pass up. This book flash between Late Spring and Winter, where we see two different timelines link to one another, where we see the events of what happened in the past and how those events impact Alex in present day.
Winter shows us Alex at Yale, meeting her mentor, a man named Darlington, where he teaches her about the nine secret societies of Yale. With secret, magical rituals and the many tasks they’re assigned to do, Darlington helps teach Alex to perform them, but to also defend and protect herself. The House of Lethe recruits one new freshmen every three years, where they gain the knowledge of the occult. And despite all the candidates from this year, all eyes have been pegged on Alex, for a very long time because she has a highly sought after ability. And as the ninth house, it’s Lethe House’s responsibility to keep all the other houses in order and prevent them from doing terrible things.
In Spring, things are a lot different and Alex carries a heavy weights on her shoulders. Darlington is missing, ghosts who are paying her too much attention and getting way to close, and now a girl has turned up murdered and Alex is starting to think one of the other secret societies is behind it. But when Alex keeps hitting brick wall after brick wall, and sometimes the only way to get results is to do everything except following the rules. Even if that means you make a pact with a ghost you’re technically supposed to be ignoring.
But most importantly, Ninth House is a book designed and written for those who have survived unspeakable abuse and trauma, for those who are still living with it, and for the ones who feel haunted by the abuse and trauma of their past. This book is layered with pages about trauma and PTSD, and the slow process of healing. This book is for the victims, who feel like a piece of them has been taken away, a piece they may never get back from someone who took it by force. A book for those who will do anything to survive, to keep fighting, to feel empowered after something horrible occurred. This book is for the ones who walked straight into Hell and made the journey back. This book is dark and light, painful and healing, and on these pages you’ll find the phases of the in-between where humans go when they’re trying to find their voice again. This is truly my favorite part of this whole entire book and the most seen I have ever felt by a book.
“He needed her and she needed him. That was how most disasters began.”
Truly, this book is really great especially for those rainy fall days or just for sitting around a camp fire. It’s so atmospheric and it really has a way to pull you into the story. And truly, I had to open up a word document to fit all the quotes I was pulling from this book.
And I want to briefly mention the conversation of privilege and power dynamics that’s happening throughout this book (and it’ll tie in a little bit with another piece in the review). The author doesn’t hold back from showing the privilege of what rich families especially their children can get away with. How they feel entitled to anything and everything. The scariest part is we see this happen all the time in our world where you have rich and privileged people doing terrible things and no one steps in to punish them, and if they do get punished then it’s a slap on the wrist situation. Unchecked privilege is very scary, I’ve encountered it many times in my life and I’ve seen how it’s impacted victims (how it impacted myself), and bless the author because she’s not afraid to drive the point home. From the terrible acts and cycles of abuse to the horrifying ends they deserve, the author really delivers.
“There were always excuses for why girls died.”
So you’re probably wondering, why did I rate this three stars if I enjoyed so much of the content? Let me be brutally honest for a second, a plethora of things bothered me. From the pacing, to the whiplash, to the privilege that this author can write about Native/Indigenous trauma and no one, I mean not a soul is talking about how this author handled it. In my opinion, this book didn’t spend enough time in the editing process and it should have before it was released because there’s parts that should have never been included and completely removed from the book. As much as I loved the atmosphere, the way this book accurately portrays trauma and abuse, and the many side discussions happening, these weren’t enough to make me give this book a higher rating.
And before I dive into my issues with this book, let me address the elephant in the room. Yes, I dnf’d this book 80% of the way through. Why? Because at some point, when you’re reading a book that has content and trigger warning for days and you feel like you’re trying to run in quick sand, you have to ask yourself if a book is doing you more harm than good. And so I did, I dnf’d, and I still gave it a rating. Simple as that.
“You couldn’t keep sidling up to death and dipping your toe in. Eventually it grabbed your ankle and tried to pull you under.”
I want to start with my biggest issue because no one is talking about it, I’ve read plenty of reviews and not a single soul wants to speak about it. I talked about this in my October wrap up too. Remember earlier in this review, how I talked about privilege and how unchecked privilege can be scary. Guess what, we’re here to talk about how this author took two events that impacted Native/Indigenous communities, one in which the author tried to make it seem like the event didn’t happen, brushed it off and down played it, and the other, well, it’s not good, let’s just leave it at that. A non-Indigenous author inaccurately writes Native/Indigenous trauma and no one bats an eye, but when a Native/Indigenous author accurately writes about that trauma, everyone loses their marbles. Let that sink in and sit with it a while.
As an Apache woman, let me just say, please do your research. I’m not going to go into really long details, but I want to encourage you to do your own research. If you are not Apache, you do not get say in the first event that I’m starting with. So starting off, page 50 and page 51 the author decided to bring up an event that concerns the crime and traumatic event concerning Geronimo’s remains and the desecration of his grave. For those who aren’t fully familiar with Geronimo, you can learn more about him here. The author wrote this event off like it never happened and I’m here to correct you. This event did happen, we know the names of the people who committed this crime because one of their own confessed about this horrible act and someone witnessed the whole violation, there are videos out there of people who have infiltrated the secret societies of Yale and they discuss what they learned about this horrible act and how it’s praised in those secret societies, there are plenty of articles out there for you to read (go research it, I’m not going into all the details). Ultimately to summarize, it was a very traumatic event that resulted in nothing except pain, trauma, and grief for a lot of Apache especially the remaining family of Geronimo. Then there’s page 165 and I quote, “He didn’t want to spend the evening fielding judgmental snipes from the Manuscript because Alex had felt the urge to dress as sexy Pocahontas.” Do you really need me to tell you what’s wrong with this sentence and how it’s harmful to Indigenous communities?
My issue with these two moments in this book ties in with an opinion that I have always strongly stood by. If you are a non-Indigenous author and you choose to write about Native/Indigenous trauma and history, you need to write it accurately and you need to feel the whole weight of what you’re about to write because the continuous erasure of that suffrage and history is still happening today. And depending on how you write it, especially if you are a popular, non-Indigenous author, can have a positive or negative impact towards the Native/Indigenous communities. As for you fellow reader, do your research and if you still don’t know why that sentence was so harmful, then you need to go learn about MMIW and relearn your history about Matoaka.
As for the rest of my issues with this book, the pacing of this book felt incredibly off. Some chapters flew by where others seem to be more sluggish. One chapter, something high-stakes would happen, full of shock value and then the next chapter barely anything would happen, maybe one or two action scenes and that’ll be it. At times it gave me whiplash or it would feel like large pockets of information dumping. There were also times where traumatic things felt thrown in to add to shock value. Not always, but some of the time it felt like the author was just putting it in there for the shock of it all and that doesn’t sit right with me because trauma shouldn’t be used as a tool or a way to push a story forward.
Overall, I kind of expected this to be the outcome. Going in, I already knew this was a polarizing book and I wanted to go into this book to find where I stood with this book. I’ll be honest, I’m a little disappointed, but I’m still glad I read this because there was so much I truly loved about this book. I didn’t talk about it, but I did enjoy the characters and as I said, the atmosphere is so, so good. I’m not sure if I’ll pick up the next installment, but if I do then I’ll probably read the end of this book just to get an idea of the kind of setting the next installment is set up for. And if I do pick it up, hopefully I’ll love it a little bit more than I did with this book.
“That was what magic did. It revealed the heart of who you’d been before life took away your belief in the possible. It gave back the world all lonely children longed for.”
ARC was provided by NetGalley and DC Entertainment in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published after the release date(November 3rd, 2020)
Content/Trigger Warnings:Talk of death, talk of suicide and suicidal thoughts, scene of attempted suicide, loss of a loved one (in the past), loss of a parent (in the past), grief, PTSD/trauma, terminal illness
“So. Fire. Ice. Both hold the power to snuff out life. But love. Stronger than fire, more powerful than ice. Where love surrounds, life abounds.”
I don’t talk about it often, my love and appreciation for one of the saddest love stories in all of the Gotham Universe. While there are many love stories, many ships and pairings that happen, none of them quite compare to the love story of Victor and Nora. Victor Fries/Mister Freeze is probably one of my most favorite Gotham “villains” and truly, he’s just a man on a mission to save the one he loves. Being able to read this graphic novel in advance and see a whole new take on Victor and Nora makes me fall in love with this couple all the more. Also, I now have a deeper appreciation doe these characters and their younger side
Our story follows Victor, a cryogenicist, who’s headed to Gotham Cemetery to visit his brother’s grave, as his grief and trauma weigh heavy on his shoulders. Nora and her family have just moved to a new house in Saint Agnes, to be closer to where her mother is buried. Upon their arrival at the new house, Nora decides to go visit her mother’s grave. Thus, these two characters cross paths and spark a very unusual conversation between one another. From here on out, these two will be pulled two one another and a romance will slowly bloom between them.
When I say I loved these two characters and how they come together, I mean I really loved these two characters come together. Victor isn’t like your typical love interest. He’s very soft spoken, brilliant, and so compacted with love and passion. And Nora, she’s one hell of a firecracker. She’s whimsical, sarcastic, and she brings people out of their shell. These two balance each other out incredibly well. The chemistry shared between them is apparent from the very beginning, despite the unusual conversation. I don’t talk about it enough because it’s such a fifty-fifty chance, but I like to believe there are the cases where two broken people can heal one another, love each other so fiercely and deeply, and make the world seem a little brighter. And I truly believe with my whole and soul that Victor and Nora are one of those relationships.
What I truly love most about Victor and Nora’s relationship is their love. Out of all the love and relationship pairings, none shine quite as bright as this particular relationship. These characters love one another so beautifully, so deeply, and I don’t think here has ever been a relationship in the Gotham Universe that had a more devoted partner than Victor when it comes to Nora. For those who aren’t familiar with the DC Universe or the Gotham Universe, Victor gave up everything for Nora. His love for Nora basically consumed him to the point of the only thing that has ever mattered has been finding a cure for Nora. Victor never cared if he came off as villain or how his actions impacted the those around him, his whole world revolves around Nora and finding the cure. And seeing how Nora and Victor come to love one another in this book, despite knowing everything they both carry on their shoulders, their love for each other grounds them in those difficult times. I really loved that the author included those moments of grounding because it’s so important to show how powerful love truly can be.
“Just, for years I’ve reached out to no one. And if anyone reached out to me… Well, I made sure to keep my heart protected. And then this girl comes along. And… and… She melts me.”
Of course the story itself is very well done. I’m not sure if the author actually researched the story of Victor and Nora, but reading this graphic novel felt like author did. I loved how the author alternated the story between Nora and Victor’s perspective. Most of the graphic novels out there only has Victor’s perspective of everything. So it’s a nice breath of fresh air to see Nora’s side of things. It’s also a nice change to see these this couple in their youth. Before Victor became Mister Freeze and before Nora became frozen. It’s nice to see these two characters in love and being in their relationship with one another. And just the mundane things like hanging out with friends and arguing with family. We also see the harder, more difficult side of things concerning their mental health and Victor who’s coping with his trauma and PTSD. I really appreciated see those sides of Nora and Victor. It’s just nice to see that side of these characters before everything became intense in their story.
And I have to talk about the art because as always, Isaac Goodhart has such a beautiful art style. I really loved seeing the Tim Burton type of twist in the beginning. That was such a pleasant surprise and I think that was my particular favorite. However, the artist has a fantastic way of highlighting these scenes that are softer, kinder and the scenes that are intense like the panels where Nora is seeing the crow. The way those panels were designed with the shading and lighting really made for a great reading experience.
My only real issue with this graphic novel has to be the one key detail that’s always remained true to Victor and Nora’s story line. Victor and Nora were and always have been married when Victor froze Nora. While I’m not sure if this was an intentional change for the story, given the audience this graphic novel is trying to target, but this is one key element that should have been included especially since this could have impacted the way this graphic novel concluded. Even more so, it seems the scene of attempted suicide was included (which has never be a part of Victor and Nora’s story) to replace the fact that Victor and Nora have been married. If you were to really look at the context of the graphic novel, we already see Nora and Victor fight over Victor suggesting he cryogenically freeze Nora until he can find a cure. Then the whole scene of attempted suicide comes in to play. In a way, depending on what you take away from this, all of these events lead to painting Victor in a negative light and making it seem like he was giving Nora no other choice than to be frozen. For my reading experience, personally, I would have preferred if we saw them elope or actually have a wedding ceremony compared to this one tweak of their story line. It comes off as hopeless, very negative way to lead into an ending for this graphic novel and I think it would have really benefitted this graphic novel to have a little more good scenes than fully wrap this graphic novel up on such a heavy note.
“But I don’t care. I’m just happy to be alive. Happy to be in love.”
Overall, I really enjoyed myself reading this graphic novel. I definitely think the marriage panel could have been added in to help balance the heaviness of the ending and to also stay semi-true to Victor and Nora’s original story. Also, I think this graphic novel shouldn’t have been so heavy with the death and suicide elements. If this graphic novel is targeting a younger audience, I’m not sure if going the darker route was the best path to take especially when it concerns those who are typically reading middle grade level books. However, I really liked this. It was so refreshing to see these characters outside of their usual setting, you know, Victor being a villain and Nora being fully frozen. And if you couldn’t tell, I just really love and appreciate the love story that is Nora and Victor’s. My heart felt so full reading this. And I have to mention the mental health and trauma/PTSD representation was very well done. I really liked how we got see those pieces throughout the book. I definitely recommend this to those who enjoy the DC Universe or even the Gotham Universe. I especially recommend this to those who love Victor and Nora’s relationship like I do. And of course, if you need a quick read or you’re look for a new graphic novel to pick up then I have to recommend this graphic novel!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Salutations friends! I hope you’re doing well, staying hydrated, and fully prepared for spooky season! I know I took the majority of last week off and only gave a few small allusions to what’s been happening via social media. To be as open as I can be, there’s a lot of medical emergencies happening within my family. So that’s been consuming a lot of my attention right now. If you’ve been here a while then you know family is everything to me and no matter what it is, I would drop everything to be there for them. Truly, I would move earth and sky to be there for my family.
Anyway, I wanted to return to my blog with something positive and to just talk about some of the things I’ve been enjoying while in self-isolation. I think back in the late spring, early summer I posted my first article with just a few small things. However, I wanted this one to be a little bit different than that article. I wanted to break this article down into bookish things and non-bookish things. There have been quite the few things that have been making isolation a little better and bright. So with any further delay, here are some of the things I’ve been enjoying!
🍂 Bookish 🍂
🍂 Notion If you haven’t heard about Notion by now then I don’t know where you’ve been hiding. Notion has been taking the book community by storm. I recently talked about how helpful Notion has been in my note taking article, where I mention how helpful it’s been with getting organized. Even more so when it comes to arcs. Notion has really been helping me organize and prioritize my arcs. I also created a template that helps with tracking upcoming releases as well. I’ve really been having fun with it and exploring the different templates, how to customize and personalize it to fit my own needs, and if you haven’t checked it out already, I definitely recommend giving this site a chance!
🍂 Wick and Jane Candles I feel like I don’t emphasize it enough of how important it is to shop small and support small businesses. Wick and Jane is a small candle business, run by Jane, who is the sweetest and one of the most delightful souls I’ve met in the book community. Ever since I placed me first order from Jane, they’re the only candles I ever buy anymore. These candles have amazing throw (I’m talking I can smell it on the other side of my home kind of throw), named after some of our favorite book characters, and the candles themselves are so beautiful. She also has other products such as lotion, roll on perfume, and I believe body spray now. So check out the shop and if you’re in need of some candles, maybe place an order!
🍂 Cook books Since being home and isolating, I’ve been doing a lot of home cooking and that means breaking out cook books, family recipes, and all things that contain deliciousness! One of the cook books I’m really enjoying has been the Overwatch The Official Cookbook. I did get to see my family over the weekend and they dropped off very belated birthday gifts for my spouse and I, and one of those presents was this cookbook. I’ve been wanting this cookbook for so long and I haven’t stopped looking over all the recipes in it. I’m currently planning to make two of the recipes and I’m eager to try some of the others like the Deadeye drink!
🍂 Non-Bookish 🍂
🍂 Squishables If you didn’t know, I very much love plushies. They are one of my greatest comforts and mental health helpers. In my current journey of healing and rediscovery of my love for many things, I realized how many things I was suppressing or trying to fit into such a small enough box due to convincing myself there wasn’t as much room in my life because of reading. So when a very dear, long life friend of mine sent me a package of Squishables, I was in tears. The ones I received reminded me of how much I love this company, loved the community, and reminded me how important they are to me.
🍂 Video Games I talk about video games all the time whether in reviews or just chit-chatting here on the blog. Recently I’ve been doing some late night gaming and have fallen into two spooky season events. One for Overwatch and the other for Killing Floor 2. I’ve also been really excited to try Phasmophobia, as well. A lot of gaming streamers I typically watch have been streaming this game and ever since I’ve been hooked, eagerly wanting to give it a try. Also, there’s my highly anticipated game, Monster Prom 2 Monster Camp coming out this month and I’m eagerly waiting to get my hands on it so I can start playing. And of course, I’m always lurking in the rabbit hole that is Animal Crossing. I’ve really been falling in love with gaming again and having a blast.
🍂 Davids Tea As much as I love coffee, I love tea just as much. After we drank so much of the tea we have, I had to place another order for tea. Usually I drink a lot of Harney & Sons, but I wanted to branch out and try other brands this time. A fellow member of the book community recommending trying Davids Tea and I’m pleasantly surprised with how much I’ve been loving the tea. I definitely wish I had branched out sooner, but I’m really glad to be drinking their tea now!
Okay, friends! Those are some of the things I’ve really been loving and enjoying in isolation right now. A lot of this has been a piece of my healing and rediscovering things about myself that I’ve missed, pieces of myself I loved, and being at peace with myself. I hope you all enjoyed this little post. Do you have some favorites you’ve been enjoying in self-isolation? Come chat with me in the comments below. Until next time, remember to be kind to yourself! I love you! 🧡
ARC was provided by NetGalley and Harlequin – Carina Press in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date(October 19th, 2020)
Content/Trigger Warnings:Loss of a loved one (in the past), sexism, mentions of divorce (in the past), abandonment, mentions of body shaming (in the past), sex
Oh, I loved this! I loved this so much, with my whole heart and soul. I’m a big softy for books that involve coffee shops, cafes, and bakeries. There’s something that reminds me of home when these elements are thrown in. Throw in the sibling bonds and the importance of family, *chef’s kiss* perfection! Truly, this is sure to make it onto so many reading lists as we approach closer to the holidays. It truly is an adorable read!
Set in the Philippines, Sweet On You follows two shop owners forming a rivalry between each other. When the empty store next to Sari’s cafe sells, Sari doesn’t like the thought of competition or change one bit. Then she meets the owner, Gab, the baker extraordinaire, and in that moment their rivalry is set in stone. Soon, the prank wars begin! But while these two are lost in the tide of pranks, everyone around them begins to question on whether or not this is actually a courtship. And that might be true! Even though they’re knees deep in pranks, they just can’t help themselves from flirting with one another.
🧁 Sari Tomas – The cafe owner of Tomas Coffee Co., who doesn’t like change and tries to avoid it at all cost. But over the next ten days leading up to Christmas, big changes throw her into a whirlwind. It started with Sunday Bakery opening next door, then her younger sister, Sam announced she’s moving out. With all these changes, Sari can’t help feeling everything is moving on with life, everyone except her.
“But the Laneaways had wriggled its way into his heart, and the person standing across from him was one of the biggest reasons why.”
🧁 Gabriel Capras – The owner of Sunday Bakery, who’s been trying to prove to his father that he can be professional and financially successful baker. With big dreams and goals keeping him motivated, Sunday Bakery is his first step to making those dreams come true. There’s just one problem, he never expected someone like Sari Tomas to wiggle their way into his heart.
Amidst all the pranks, these two rivals will start to find it impossible to spend their days without thinking of one another. Every thought with flash to some moment of the time these two have spent together, spicing up each others days. Even the hard days will be a little less hard. After all, baked goods and coffee speaks volumes to the soul!
I really loved our two main characters! Their personalities were absolutely fantastic and you could instantly tell the chemistry these two characters had. Both of these characters are like wizards in their own kitchens and the scenes we get of them making coffee or food were fantastic. Also, I really enjoyed the way these two characters talked about their siblings, how much love radiates from them throughout this book, and I loved seeing our main characters reconnecting with their siblings and family. It really warms my heart and I couldn’t help feeling soft, and a bit sappy about it.
“But most of all, I can’t imagine being here without you. You’re home to me now.”
And the way these characters fall in love with one another is hilarious yet so wholesome. They try so hard not to fall for each other and seeing them come together was so sweet. There’s something about a slow fall and then fast that really lures me in. The way the author wrote it, gave me everything I wanted from their romance. They had some hilarious moments, but they had some really endearing moments. The really steamy moments were perfect and there were some moments in those steamy scenes that got me a little choke up. I will say, if you’re not a fan of sexy times in books then this might not be the book for you. There are at least two major sexy moments in this book and if that impacts your reading, just know that those are in this book.
Of course, there’s the food featured in this book. A book has never made me look up so many foods that quickly. If someone were to open my browser right now, they’d just find countless pages of all the Filipino food. The way food is talked about in this book is so heavenly, so deliciously, that I recommend you read this on a full stomach. Otherwise, you’re going to be sitting there wanting to take a bit out of your book. I also loved the way Gab named some of his baked goods after his siblings. I thought that was the sweetest thing and I’m not going to lie, a little swoon worthy.
Overall, I had such a great time reading this snuggly, cozy, holiday romance! I loved so much about this book and I think many readers are going to enjoy curling up with this book. I think this book will really make the reader want to travel and I know this makes me eager to pick more books up by this author. I really loved the culture throughout this book and I’m excited to see what her other books have in store especially if its romance! I definitely recommend picking this book up during this holiday season especially if you’re looking for a book to brighten you day up!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of bullying, talk of death, mentions of loss of a parent (in the past)
“Four basic rules for ghost hunting according to Babette… 1. Be prepared. 2. Don’t go alone. 3. Respect the dead. 4. Always have a cat.”
This is such a cute read that filled my heart with so much warmth. Truly, I’ve been in the mood for cozy yet spooky family reads and this middle grade was perfect. This was book truly is a treat and it’s so wholesome. I think many readers are going to adore curling up with a cup of tea and reading this book!
Lucely is happily living with her father and the ghosts of her family. However, when Lucely over hears a conversation her father has, Lucely realizes that money is tight and they might have to move. Given only one chance with one of their ghost tours, Lucely father hopes to gather the funds necessary to save their home. But things go wrong and things continue to go wrong as her family’s ghosts start to act strange, losing their light. Teaming up with her best friend Syd, they’ll work together to come up with a solution to not only save Lucely’s ghost, but prevent her from moving, but they’ll soon learn there are darker forces at work and they might be in over their heads.
You know, one of my favorite things is family, family bonds, found family, etc… So naturally I loved everything in this book that involved family. First, can we take a moment to appreciate the dynamic of Lucely and her father! I have such a soft spot for single parent homes and I loved how close Lucely is with her father. Single father homes don’t get the spotlight they deserve in literature, often. So seeing this family dynamic really warmed my heart and those close bonds just make it extra special. We also have the found family element with Lucely and Syd’s family. When Lucely talks about how she feels close to Syd, it melted my heart. That kind of love and bond is something fierce, something special, and I just melted into a puddle when that conversation popped up.
“Maybe family is more than who you’re related to. It’s also the people you find and love along the way.”
I also want to talk about the ghosts. The family ghosts were so individual, you could easily tell who was who, and I was pleasantly surprised. Normally when you add so many side characters like that, characters can sometimes get muddled together or easily forgotten, but the author made sure to make each one unique. Not to mention the support system Lucely has with them. It was so heartwarming, but it’s also sad when we learn Lucely’s father can no longer see them. It’s an all around unique dynamic and I really loved it.
This book has such an incredible atmosphere, as well. I’m not kidding when I say this is cozy yet spooky. There were a lot of times where I had chills running up my spine or my hairs were standing on end. The author did a fantastic job on creating a story line that pulls the reader in, but also created a spooky energy that’s the kind of subtle that sneaks up on you. I really enjoyed it and I wish it would’ve been raining when I was reading this.
Overall, I think this is a perfect spooky season read. If the family dynamics and bonds don’t lure you in, I hope the spooky atmosphere does. It was so hard to put this book down and I’ve heard really good things about the audiobook. If you’re looking for something that’s cozy, spooky but not too spooky then I definitely recommend picking this book up. It’s super cute and sure to make your autumnal reading even better!
ARC was provided by NetGalley and Vertical Comics in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published after the release date(September 22nd, 2020)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Homelessness, physical assault, gun violence, mentions loss of loved ones
Did I request this manga because I loved Your Name? Yes. Did I completely fall down a rabbit hole reading this manga and therefore need to know what’s going to happen next? Also, yes! I really loved Your Name. It was a very emotional, whimsical series and movie. So naturally my interest was at an all high when I saw this was available for request. And this book didn’t disappoint! It fully captured my heart and I think many manga readers are going to fall in love with this series, if they haven’t already!
We follow a boy named Hodaka, who’s run away from the island he grew up on, fleeing to the Kabukichō neighborhood of Tokyo to start a new beginning. However, Hodaka finds himself struggling to adjust to the new city and all the gloomy weather. Until he comes across a girl named Hina, who has a the special ability to bring out the sun, also known as a sunshine girl. Together they’ll turn Hina’s ability into a means of helping Hina gather funds to support herself and younger sibling, but Hodaka is keeping secrets and Hina is keeping her own.
“All this time, I think… I was chasing the light that you bring, Miss Hina.”
I loved these characters so much. They’re not your typical main characters who are fierce warriors or magical beings. They’re just two kids who come from rough backgrounds, trying to survive in the big world. I love when characters are just like everyone else, but we get to see their hardships, they’re struggles. It makes those characters feel more realistic and easier to connect to. And of course, the story line that pulls these two characters together is so beautifully woven. I loved seeing the small pieces of Japanese myths and legends tie in to the events happening and the characters.
Just like Your Name, Weathering with You has underlying themes to it. Looking at Hina’s character in this book, he character is designed to show the weight that women often carry. Women are often expected to provide warmth, comfort, and happiness, more time than most being the caregiver of the household. Now, I don’t want to spoil too much (especially for the anime), but the author does a brilliant job of showing this and how if affects women, how much energy the deplete from themselves, and the toll it begins to take on their bodies. I thought it was so beautifully done and I think this book shows the beginning of that process really well.
And of course, I have to talk about how stunning the art style is because it is gorgeous! The beginning of this arc we have one to two pages of colored art and it is everything. That alone had me gasping for breath. It so beautiful and I wish more manga had more little glimpses into colored panels. Even the black and white panels just really had an extra emphasis on the events happening throughout the book. The illustrator of this book is truly talented and I can’t wait to see what they’ll do next!
Overall, I really enjoyed this manga with my whole heart. I think the story line does a fantastic job hooking the attention of the reader, pricking the curiosity of those who want to know more. It truly is a beautiful story and I can’t recommend this graphic novel enough. I hope my fellow manga readers will be picking this series up and if you haven’t checked out this series yet, please do. It truly is wonderful!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.