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House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Graphic deaths, graphic violence, grief, talk of suicide, talk of cheating, scene and talk of domestic abuse/violence.

“It shouldn’t matter what your parents did, just what you do as a person.”

Once there were twelve lovely sisters, sheltered and raised in the manor of Highmoor, but was once a home filled with love and chatter is now filled with loneliness as four of the sister have had their lives cut short. One death is more tragic than the last and there’s whispers that a curse has fallen upon the family of Highmoor. When some ghostly vision are soon brought to life, Annaleigh starts to suspect that her sisters haven’t died by accident. With the help of the mysterious Cassius, Annaleigh will uncover the truth behind the deaths of her beloved sisters.

Oh my gosh readers, I’m absolutely in love with this book in so many ways! I was really nervous on where I would fall with this book due to all the hype, but I’m happy to say that this book is worth all the hype you’ve been hearing. There’s so many wonderful elements, true sibling bonds, curses, and talk of gods and demi-gods! What more could you want in a book?! I’m just so head over heels for this book and I can easily say that it has made it’s way onto my top books for 2019!

We follow a main character named Annaleigh who becomes disturbed by the ghostly visions that are come to her youngest sister. Soon, Annaleigh is trying to uncover the secrets that are lying within the house and the people among it, and possibly the curse that looms over Highmoor. I loved Annaleigh as a main character! She was such a breath of fresh air when it comes to so many things. Throughout this book she never let anyone tell her how to feel and she stood her ground in what she believes. And the way she loves her siblings, regardless of how unreasonable they are or how they treat her, it was something I resonated with so much. I truly lived for Annaleigh’s character in this book.

“All the dreamers are castle-bound. At midnight’s stroke, we will unwind, Revealing fantasies soft or unkind. Show me debauched nightmares or sunniest daydreams. Come not as you are but as you wish to be seen.”

Speaking of characters, Cassius was a pleasant surprise! I never thought a character like him would be introduced into the picture, but I loved the way his personality and Annaleigh’s personality meshed so well with one another. They had such a great amount of chemistry. Whether they were interacting at Highmoor or they were interacting on the mainland, they really clicked for me. The way the two of them interacted was so good and their little moments together was such a highlight especially as the reading pace begins to pick up. He really becomes an anchor for Annaleigh and his presence was just a calming experience through the eerie and darkness of this book. I think he is definitely my favorite character out of this whole book.

And if I haven’t sold you on this book yet, with Annaleigh being her true self and the mysterious Cassius, then the atmosphere is definitely one you’re not going to want to miss. The deaths are terrible and tragic, the funerals are just as unnerving, and if that isn’t enough to send a chill down your spine then the thought of ghosts haunting a manor and the general history of the manor will. I constantly had a chill slithering up my spine as a read this book. There are so many parts throughout this book that are dark and twisted that will have you gaping as scenes unfold before your eyes. The atmosphere was rich with paranormal events, secrets and lies, and a creepy setting you won’t forget.

My only true issue with this book was one of the side characters by the name of Camille. Camille is currently the oldest living sister to Annaleigh and she’s to inherit Highmoor when their father dies. At first, I didn’t mind Camille’s character and I kind of shrugged her behavior off, but then her behavior and her actions became very repetitive. Camille is a very selfish, entitled character who constantly wants to go to the ball to find a man. She also never takes the times to listen to her sister and brushes it off as her being crazy or wrapped up in all the grief. Her behavior would happen at such inappropriate times that it almost became a distraction from the main story line. I think many readers will be furious or annoyed with her character and I definitely think her character has the potential to cause a person to stop reading this book altogether.

“Nights like this were meant to be shared, remembered, and talked about for years. Skies like this were meant to be kissed under.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I was constantly on my toes trying to figure out who was behind everything or was it all some strange dream. I was fully engulfed in the story line and plot of this book. Plus that romance, it was subtle, but I was living for every moment between Annaleigh and Cassius! I really wanted to go into far more details than I have with this review, but I whole-heartedly believe this is a book you should know very little about. And besides, if you’re looking for a book to read during the autumnal season then I highly recommend this book.

Buddy read with Robin from Paperbacks and Planners

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No Tricks, Just Treats by Tijan, J. Daniels, Helena Hunting, and Tara Sivec

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Toxic relationships, cheating, stalking, manipulation, mental abuse, drug addiction/drug abuse, alcohol abuse, talk of infertility, death/murder, graphic violence, implications of an eating disorder, body shaming.

Four love stories all wrapped up and bound in a deliciously fall book. Full of sweet moments, thrills, chills, and will leave you screaming.

Dearest readers, I truly wish I had loved this book as much as I did when I first picked it up. When I saw this book, my heart flew right out of my chest with the thought of some fall romance, let alone in a bind-up of four stories. Sadly, I’m disappointed, un-amused, and quiet frankly, I never want to pick this book up ever again. I wish I could have loved this bind-up, but this book just wasn’t for me.

Like with every bind-up, whether for graphic novels or books, I like to do a spoiler free breakdown (to the best of my ability). This breakdown will include all four stories, a brief description of the short story, my thoughts and rating of each story.

🍁 Fallen Crest Nightmare by TIJAN – ⭐⭐

Sam, Mason, and the rest of their gang enter a fun Halloween-themed weekend with pumpkin carving, a girls’ night out, and a haunted house―until things take a turn into something far more sinister than they could have expected…
Description from GoodReads

If you like a spin-off on the movies Scream, Sorority Row, and The Nightmare on Elm Street all mashed together, then this is a story you’re going to want to read! Sadly, this wasn’t quite my cup on tea. The biggest issue I had with this story was the “date rape” scene in this story. It was horribly cringey because all the girls were too drunk, drinks kept appearing at their table, and the main character of this story definitely had indications of being drugged, and the theme of the main character being drugged was a common theme throughout the rest of the story from that point. This story just didn’t sit right with me. I would have been fine if this story just stuck with the stalking element, but I was cringing by the end of this story.

🍁 So Much More by J. DANIELS – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Four couples from Alabama reunite on Halloween for an evening of thrills and chills. Between haunted mazes, sexy stolen moments, and good old-fashioned trick-or-treating, this Halloween promises surprises, shocks, and maybe even love for all.
Description from GoodReads

Out of all the stories in this book, this is probably my favorite of them all. I loved seeing all the diverse couples and reading about how each couple interacts with their lovers. I also loved how there was infertility representation in this story. I especially loved the way the character with infertility expressed her feelings and you really got a feel for the emotions she was having. The only thing I didn’t like was how the news was broken to the character with fertility struggles. I feel like it was a round-bout way of telling her and for myself, I would want to be told directly by my friend or in-law and not through someone else. That’s just my own two cents and with my own personal fertility issues. Overall, I really loved this story and it ended on such an endearing note!

🍁 Getting Down by Helena Hunting – ⭐⭐⭐

Ruby Scott wants to have a party! With the help of her best friend Amalie―and Amalie’s fiancé’s budget―the two of them throw a Halloween-inspired fund-raiser. But no event goes off without a couple of hitches.…
Description from GoodReads

This has two perspectives, one from Ruby and the other from Amalie. Out of all the stories, this story has the most intimate and sexy scenes in it. It’s a real good time and there’s some really hilarious moments in here. My biggest issue with this series is mostly with Amalie and her fiance. Amalie comes off as easily manipulated and in honesty, her whole engagement comes off as a toxic relationship of abuse. There’s a lot of moments of Amalie being body shamed, there’s a few scenes where you could consider that she has an eating disorder, there’s scenes of the fiance being overly possessive of Amalie where he actually starts to hurt her or causes her discomfort, and so forth. It’s just wasn’t a good time. However, Ruby and Bane’s relationship was a joy ride! All I have to say is Catwoman, Batman, and the supply closet. And this amazing quote!

I’ve shared the size of Bane’s cock with her. I’ve mentioned my new religion: the Church of Bane Cock. I’ve written sonnets about how beautiful it is. Not really, but I’ve made up a couple of limericks.

🍁 The Pumpkin Was Stuffed by Tara Sivec – ⭐⭐

The Holiday family is coming together for Halloween. As Sam and Noel prepare for their upcoming life with a new baby, their crazy family and friends pull out all the tricks and treats and jack-o’-lanterns to make sure this ghostly holiday is one to remember…or, will it turn out to be one they’d rather forget?
Description from GoodReads

Okay, let me grab my glass of wine for this. Let me start off by saying this, clowns. Clowns galore. If that’s you’re thing then you’re going to love this story, but as someone who has a bad association with clowns, this is not something I wanted to read about. My second issue was with the aunt. At first, I had no problem with this character until the scene where everyone was putting together the wedding goody bags. The fact that the drug addiction and abuse is so bad with this character that drugs got put in all the goody bags including the bags for the children just blew my mind. That was the point where I wanted to put this book down and never pick it up again. I don’t mind stories with a crazy and chaotic family, but the aunt diverts all attention away from the story. The only saving grace this story had for me was the ending. I think the ending brought a little happiness back into this story.

As an overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who isn’t familiar with these authors. Mostly due to the fact that this whole book feels like you’ve had to read other series that lead into this book. If you’re someone who is going into this book and you’ve never read anything by any of these authors, it’s really easy to tell that these characters have been established in past series. And just to clarify, it’s not that this book was bad or anything, I just don’t think this was the right book for me to read. I personally struggled with trying to get into this book, to find reasons to care about the characters, and there was just so many moments I couldn’t stop cringing at. But please, take my opinion with a grain of salt because this is my first time ever reading something by any of these authors.

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Spell on Wheels (Spell on Wheels #1-5) by Kate Leth & Megan Levens

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Toxic relationships, talk of mental and emotional abuse, talk of cheating, scene of grief, sexism

When three witches have their home broken into and some valuable, ancient, magical items are stolen, these three witches are about to saddle up on a road trip along the East Coast. On this road trip they’ll retrieve their stolen belongings, fight for one another and strengthen their friendships, help others, and track down the thief before any damage can be done.

Readers, what isn’t more perfect during the fall and spooky season than a book filled with butt-kicking ladies who are also legacy witches?! It too perfect! Plus, add in a road trip element and I’m sold! This was such a great graphic novel to read this fall and I truly enjoyed so many wonderful elements this book offers. If you need a great comic packed with action, female friendships, and magical elements that pair well with some hot apple cider, then look no further!

🎃 Characters 🎃

🎃 Jolene NguyenAbilities: Technopathic and emotional manipulation

🎃Claire BettanyAbilities: Psychic intuition, visions, reading the cards

🎃 Andy HighsmithAbilities: Mastery in spells, charms, and potions

In this five-issue, graphic novel bind up we follow three twenty-something legacy witches, Claire, Andy, and Jolene, as they take a road trip to reclaim their stolen belongings and prevent utter chaos from happening. On their adventure they’ll encounter many obstacles and become closer than ever with one another. There will be magical happenings, side characters that will capture you attention, and moments that will have you falling in love with our main heroines.

And if all of that hasn’t sold you on this graphic novel yet then let’s talk about how diverse this book is! We have a diverse cast from our main characters to our side characters. There’s also a f/f relationship between two middle aged women who both come from different martial situations and it gave me so much life! There’s also a strong support and theme of positive female friendships and I can’t get over it, we need more of this in books! I challenge you to pick this book up and not finding something to love about all of this!

As always, whenever I pick up graphic novels that are a bind up of multiple issues, I like to do a spoiler free breakdown of each chapter in my review. This graphic novel is a bind up of all five issues of the Spell on Wheels series and so this calls for a break down! I will keep this as spoiler free as possible and will only try to give enough details to intrigue your interest.

🎃 Chapter OneWe’re introduced to our main characters and we also follow the perspective of the thief who broke into the home of our main characters. This also causes the start of our main heroines deciding to take a road trip to recover all of their stolen belongings.

🎃 Chapter Two – Our witches have set out on their road trip and have arrived at their first destination to recover the first object on their stolen belongings list. We get a glimpse at what Jolene’s powers can do. We also see a moment of Claire and Andy have a disagreement during a party. As well our heroines’ challenges of finding the orb.

🎃 Chapter Three – Our main characters are still trying to find the identity of the thief while making their way to their second destination to reclaim a planchette. We’re introduced to our queer couple in this chapter and the struggles they’ve been having with a ghost. Also, something dark and evil intentions become revealed.

🎃 Chapter Four – Onward to three third destination, our ladies meet Paul or otherwise known as The Goat Man! If you’re a fan of Beast before he turns back into a prince then this is going to be the chapter for you! We see Andy’s abilities come to life when she discovers some rare herbs the Goat Man has. We also get a lot of information regarding the thief and the challenges our main heroines were having.

🎃 Chapter Five – The final destination and the final obstacle for our witches. Claire will face down the thief that has caused her so much pain and grief, Andy will be thrown for a loop when the darkness finally reveals it’s true self, and Jolene will be the wall of support and unconditional love Clair and Andy need.

While I loved the majority of this book, there were two things that really prevented me from giving this graphic novel five stars and I think for many other readers it will be the same. My first issue is Claire. Out of all three main characters, Claire is probably my least favorite of the three. There were a lot of moments where I thought she was being reckless or over-reacted too much. There were two incidents that really did it for me where I just knew I was never going to to like her. The first incident was during the party where she came off as having a bad attitude the whole entire time and it almost felt like she instigated a fight with Andy. As much as I tried to give her a pass or chalk it up as “she’s not a drinker, so she’s probably not into party scenes,” that whole entire scene left a really bad taste in my mouth. The second incident was near the end when they finally caught up to the thief. Claire handles the whole entire situation with violence and high levels of aggression. I understand what the author was trying to do in this scene, but for my reading experience, it wasn’t executed very well and in the end it paint Claire in a really negative light for me. And my final issue with this graphic novel is the way it ended. This graphic novel ended in a way that it can make readers believe there are more to come in this series or there will be another volume. From the time I heard about this graphic novel to current time of writing this review, there have been no announcements of plans to continue the series or any plans in the future for more issues to come. I think the way this all wraps up and hints that there’s more to come is really going to impact the reading experience for how readers feel about this graphic novel.

Overall, this was a really fun book to read for the spooky season! So many witchy vibes and magical elements thrown into this graphic novel. Along with so many great elements that really set the mood! If you’re looking for a quick read to set the mood for the eerie, spooky goodness of October then this is a comic book you’re not going to want to miss!

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Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of abusive parent figures, captivity, grief, loss of loved ones in the past

“I always thought they were so sweet together.”

Dearest reader, I completely fell head over heels for Mooncakes! From the black cats to the witchy magic, to unconditional family love and found family love, to the struggles of becoming the person who you want to be and on your own time, to wise butt-kicking grannies, to the cutest F/NB relationship I have been waiting for, my heart is so full and I’m so in love with this graphic novel! My heart is so full!

When news of strange activity happening in the woods reaches Nova, she ends up following a white wolf into the forest. Not knowing what to expect, she certainly wasn’t expecting a demon horse to appear out of nowhere fighting her childhood best friend and crush. Teaming up together (and some witch-tastic grandmas), Tam and Nova will help one another, but find each other all over again. And soon, they’ll uncover the dark intentions lurking in their own town and real power of werewolf magic.

Aside from all the paranormal and magical goodness happening in this book, the characters will have you falling in love. Our first main character is Nova who’s Chinese-American who’s still coping with the death of her parents, while also living with her two grandmothers (they are seriously the cutest), and is also hearing impaired. And our second main character is Tam who’s also Chinese-American, is nonbinary and a werewolf who grew up with Nova, but recently left their family for mistreatment and for unkindness.

If you still haven’t fallen in love yet then let me add on with both of our main characters are young adults who are still learning and discovering things about themselves, both together and separately. Both Tam and Nova are dealing with hurt from their parents and even though they’re both two different kinds of hurt, they’re both supporting one another through their struggles and challenges with unconditional love. Unconditional love is one of the most powerful forces and it’s so beautiful to watch these two characters connect with one another is so many ways. It’s beautiful, powerful, and my heart is still melting and sobbing from how this graphic novel concludes.

Overall, I’m always here for a queer book with magical elements and paranormal activity, sprinkled with lots of family bonds and unconditional love. This was everything I wanted for the fall season and I’m so glad that I picked this book up! The representation was fantastic, the artwork is absolutely stunning, and magical/paranormal elements are so good. If you’re looking for some cute, full of meaning and underlying messages, and something quick to pull you out of a reading slump then you need to read this book before the fall season is over with!

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Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, & Carey Pietsch

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, violence, swearing

“It’s dangerous as hell out there. You three better cowboy up.”

Welcome to The Adventure Zone! Join Magnus the human fighter, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Taako on an adventure that they can barely handle and are poorly equipped for. Joined by the snarky and witty Dungeon Master, Griffn who will guide them and decide their fates. Prepare for an adventure that will leave you giggling and smirking, face-palming to know end, and tugging on every heart string you have!

I’ll be honest reader, my inner geeky nerd has been screeching at the top of her lungs since I picked up this graphic novel. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I’m a gamer, cosplayer, and LARPer so my excitement is at an all time high. And honestly, this comic was hilarious and everything I wanted and needed right now. These characters will have you laughing your pants off and choking on your soda. I’m so glad that I picked up a copy and I’m so glad I put it on my fall reading list!

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins follows three lovable characters who end up with the worst luck. Set on an adventure to get a job done for Merle’s cousin, Bogard, everything slowly starts going wrong. Bogard is missing, his business partner is missing, and there’s a big ambush! Soon our adventurers will find themselves at the mercy of their Dungeon Master and caught up in something that’s a lot bigger than they are.

🎃 The Characters 🎃

🎃 Griffin McElroyDugeon Master; podcasting, karaoke, weaving a rich tapestry of drama

🎃 Magnus BurnsidesHuman Fighter; battle, carpentry, everything else…apparently

🎃 TaakoElf Wizard; spell-casting, transmutation, gastronomy

🎃 Merle HighchurchDwarf Cleric; healing…supposedly, religion stuff, bleeding

This graphic novel was like going to your parents home and smelling all the smells you’ve missed. Drinking that first cup of coffee in the morning. Plus, taking the first dive into an untouched pool. The feeling of goosebumps rising on your skin. Okay, okay! I’m getting a bit carried away there, but you get what I’m trying to say. This is a graphic novel that’s filled with content that I’m no stranger to. While I am very late to the McElroy game, discovering this graphic novel and reading it has been such a wonderful experience. This makes me want to go listen to their podcasts which this graphic novel series is based off of. And if I’m being honest, this is the first time I’ve seen a D&D podcast or campaign turned in a graphic novel series and I’m over the moon with excitement for upcoming volumes!

This graphic novel was absolutely hilarious! There’s so much snarky banter and witty remarks, I loved every moment! You also get funny moments with the DM (Dungeon Master) and our three heroes. Not to mention that it blends well with some of the serious tones within the comic. And can I just take this moment to say how whimsical the art design is?! Carey Pietsch did an amazing job illustrating this graphic novel and bringing these characters to life. Each page is a work of art and some of the battle scenes are so captivating. Seriously, the blessing for this masterpiece!

Also, the story telling for this entire graphic novel was absolutely outstanding! I was fully aware how invested I had become in the characters and how the story would start developing. When I say these characters are so easy to love, I truly mean it. I found it was so easy to sink into the story and find myself rooting for our heroes. And of course, we have a cleric in this volume, so you know I was extra soft and bias for Merle, but my elf playing self was all in the background squeaking, “Taako, you got this!” Not to mention it was really easy to follow the story plot and everything made sense.

The only thing I think some readers might have trouble with is how often curse words are used in this graphic novel. While I don’t have a problem with this and it doesn’t really impact my reading experience too harshly, I know this is something that can bother or impact other readers. If you do decide to pick this graphic novel up, just be aware that there is a lot of use of curse words.

Overall, I really enjoyed this graphic novel! I think this series could be for a wide variety of readers and I think it’s going to be a great way to introduce D&D to so many people. A great way to allow others to branch out of their comfort zone. I, for one, am very excited to read the next volume in this series and I can’t wait to see what will happen next to our heroes. Will someone die an get resurrected? Will a mountain nearly fall on them? How will they level up next? So many questions and I’m so ready to find out! If you haven’t picked up this graphic novel yet, just do it! It’s whitty, hilarious, and there’s so many characters in this graphic novel you’ll fall in love with!

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The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, loss of a loved one, grief, death of an animal

“The living had a tendency to make promises they could not keep.”

Nothing stays buried forever.

Ryn only cares about two things: her family and her family’s graveyard. And both seem to be hanging by thin strings. The existence of a gravedigger is slowly being pushed aside and Ryn’s family is barely scraping by in their small village. There’s just one catch…the dead don’t always stay buried. Some say an ancient curse is the cause of the bone houses rising, but when a mapmaker by the name of Ellis arrives in town, things will never be the same again. The bone houses are becoming more aggressive and only Ryn can put a stop to their terror. Teaming up with Ellis, Ryn sets out on a journey to put an end to this curse and stop the bone houses, once and for all.

Readers, I loved this book immensely. I devoured this book and I never wanted to put this book down. Anything that has any for of necromancy, I am always here for it and this book is no exception. There’s necromancy, a subtle romance, and a hilarious goat that can’t stop, won’t stop! I’m hear for all of it and now I’m convinced I need to read more work by this author. I never anticipated this to become one of my favorites of 2019, but here we are and so excited to tell you about it.

Our story is split between two perspectives. We have the perspective of seventeen-year-old Ryn who’s a gravedigger and loves her family with her whole heart. She’s a strong-headed lady who would do anything to protect her family and their graveyard from falling into the wrong hands even if that means bargaining and taking jobs to guide weary travelers through all kinds of danger. There’s also the perspective of Ellis, a simple mapmaker who has found his way into Colbren. Unfortunately for him, his first night arriving to the village ends up with him being attacked by a bone house. Fortunately for Ellis, he meets our daring heroine Ryn. Ellis has a mysterious past and there’s more to him that meets the eye. With Ryn being backed into a corner from the bone houses venturing out of the forest to trying to prevent her family from losing their home, Ryn quickly accepts the offer of being Ellis’s guide for his map making the minute he mentions it. Thus our unlikely pair being their journey.

“Pain doesn’t make a person weak or strong, pain just – is. It’s not a purifier, it’s a part of living.”

This book was everything my heart needed for the month of October. There is a main theme of family means everything in this book. Ryn is very family focused from protecting her siblings to waiting for her father to return one day, Ryn would do anything for them. I also really loved how open Ryn was about her fear of losing the ones she loved and cared about. I definitely saw myself a lot in Ryn’s character. Ellis has no idea who his parents are. On this journey he’s trying to track down his parents and where he came from. We also have a goat who rose from the dead as a bone goat to follow Ryn and protect her from any harm that may find them on their journey. There’s just a strong sense of family throughout this book and it made me so soft, sappy, and a little weepy. I’m a very family oriented type of person and I would do anything for my own family. So reading this book was like a piece of my soul imprinted on the pages.

We also get amazing chronic pain representation in this book. Our main character, Ellis, has an old injury that he has to cope with. When the pain from this old wound flares up, he has to use willow bark to help. Ellis also talks about all the various treatments he had to undergo while under the care of his prince. My heart ached so much for Ellis. As someone who suffers from chronic pain and has family members who also suffer from chronic pain, Ellis was so relatable and a lot of the details that are talked about are very accurate. Chronic pain is one of the more lesser medical conditions that get talked about especially in books. The fact that we get so many moments of Ellis battling the pain, taking into account his medical supply, and the scene of him trying to tell Ryn about his injury and his pain, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

I also have to take a moment to talk about the goat in this book. I swear, this goat was a hilarious highlight of this whole book. This goat follows Ryn and Ellis on their journey to protect them from anything that may want to cause them harm. This goat pops up at the most ridiculous times, but at some of the most important moments as well. This goat scales a wall in the mine sideways, but acts like a guard dog while Ellis was in immense pain. I loved this goat and is was a great little bit to keep the mood light at times. I’ll admit, I was really rooting for that goat to be magic!

I am going to add a little breakdown right here, spoiler free. This book is broken up into three parts and this breakdown will help you get an idea of what each section holds.

💀 The LivingThis sets the scene. We’re introduced to Ryn and her siblings, their financial situation, and details of the town. We also learn about the bone houses. We also met Ellis in this section. Ryn offers him guidance throughout the this section and eventually offers to be his guide into the mountains.

💀 The DeadThis is where the journey begins. Everything that happens to Ryn and Ellis on their journey happens in this section. Ryn and Ellis also begin to reveal more about themselves to each other. We learn about Ryn’s Uncle and Ellis reveals his chronic pain and injury. Also, a lot of battle along the way and some subtle romance brewing!

💀 The AfterThis is Ryn and Ellis after the bone houses have been stopped and the curse has been lifted. Both of our main characters are figuring out what the future holds and what it means to keep on living.

“I grew up thinking monsters could be slain.”
“And I grew up thinking people were the monsters.”

There are only two things to this book that I think many readers will have issues with. The first issue is the dialect. There’s a very “olden time” dialect that gets spoken throughout this book and if you’re not used to seeing or hearing dialect like that then I think it will be challenging for any reader. The other issue is the ending of this book. Without going into spoilers, I’ve talked about this with my buddy reader and a few other readers who have also finished the book, who felt that the ending was very predictable or hinted to far too soon in the book. Now, this wasn’t the case for my reading experience. I was so fully caught up in the moment, the action, and how everything was unfolding that it didn’t really register with my reading experience. However, that is something to be aware of if that’s something that might impact your reading experience.

Overall, I loved this book with my whole heart and soul! It was the perfect book for me to read right now and I’m so glad I didn’t put this book off or set it aside. It truly is a wonderful book to read for the spooky season and even in the fall in general. There’s so many wonderful, hidden messages in this book and it will truly warm the heart. Plus necromancy! Who can refuse a book with necromancy happenings taking place?! What a read for this spooky season!

Buddy read with Donna from Moms Book Collection

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Fence Vol. 3 (Fence #3) by C.S. Pacat & Johanna the Mad

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Other creators involved in the making of this comic bind-up include: Colors by Joana LaFuente, Lettering by Jim Campbell

🌻 Fence Vol. 1 – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Fence Vol. 2 – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I believe in all of you. As a team, I believe we can win the state championships.”

Readers, this is probably my favorite volume thus far in the Fence series! This volume completely took me by storm and while I love the first two volumes, volume three is on a whole other level. From the diversities to the high tension, my breath was hitching this whole entire time. Everything this volume delivers is perfection and I’m so upset that it’s over already. I’m ready for that next volume, stat! I really want more because these characters are absolutely wonderful and the atmosphere is so easily to get caught up in. I could literally talk your ear off about how much I loved this volume. Okay, enough of me gushing and let’s talk details.

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With volume one and two, we had many levels. Think of this series as a giant onion and we, as the reader, are slowly peeling back the layers to this series, these characters, and Fence as a whole. This volume was very emotional focused. The stakes are higher, some of the characters are right at the tip of losing everything, and we get some really intimate moments between characters and family members. We truly see so much diversity in this series and the moment the word family was dropped in this book, I was all over it! We even get more tension building between Nicholas and Seiji, which I almost died. But my favorite so far has been the truly intimate moment shared between Tanner and Kally. They are my OTP and I was living for their little moment. And we do get scenes with Bobby, but we really could have used more scenes with Bobby!

My truly favorite part about this volume was the various family dynamics. I’m a complete sucker for any book with diverse family dynamics. I come from various family dynamics and seeing so many family dynamics had me feeling some kind of soft and sappy. We don’t see a lot of diverse families in books and for a graphic novel to come out and throw so many into the mix, it’s a win for those of us who come from different family structures. If I had to pick one of the best moments in this book, the families all coming together under one roof and seeing all the fencers interact with their families would be at the top of my list.

As with every graphic novel that turns into a bind up, I like to do a spoiler free breakdown (to the best of my ability). I did this for the first and second volume and now I’m going to do it for this volume as well. If you haven’t read Fence Vol. 1 yet, then please go do so or at least read my review for the first volume. The next portion may contain spoilers, but I will do my best to keep it as spoiler free as I possibly can.

🌻 Chapter NineThis chapter kicks off with Nicholas vs. Kally. The stakes are high this time for both fencers. If either of them loses this match, they won’t make the team. Nicholas shows his speed and Kally shares the memories they had since they made it onto the fencing team. It’s a bitter-sweet kind of chapter. However, Seiji ends up finding himself watching Nicholas’s match. The ending of this chapter left me holding my breath and if it wasn’t a spoiler, I’d tell you what it is.

🌻 Chapter TenAll the families are introduced. They’ve all come to see their fencers and wish them luck at making the team. Even though it’s an emotional time for all the fencers, Nicholas and Seiji have unfinished business with one another. It all boils down to this match, Nicholas vs. Seiji, but when they come together something remarkable happens that no one except Coach has noticed before. This chapter is full of high tension and emotions, but the ending between Seiji and Nicholas is completely precious.

🌻 Chapter ElevenThe beginning of this chapter starts with Seiji and Nicholas in awkwardness. However, the tides soon get turned when Eugene’s family comes to stand with them. We begin to learn more about Eugene and why fencing is some important to him and his family. We also learn about how hard Eugene’s mother works so she can send Eugene to school to fence and I’m not going to lie, I got really soft and sappy at this. We also see Aiden vs. Jay in this chapter. This match is super important for Nicholas and Eugene because this is the match that will determine whether or not they make the fencing team. The stakes are high and there’s a sense of doom looming in the air. There’s also a lot of glimpses of Jay’s feelings and what happened between him and Aiden. The ending of this chapter ends on a bittersweet note with Seiji giving Eugene some tips and Nicholas walking out.

🌻 Chapter TwelveEverything boils down to this chapter. All of the fencers find out who will make the spots on the fencing team. Eugene and Nicholas are both up for the reservation spot, but neither of them wants to let on about how they’re really feeling. And after all of this time, Seiji finally calls Nicholas by his name! My two precious cinnamon rolls are making slow strides and I’m living for each moment! Also, Coach’s reactions are absolutely perfect for each circumstance that happens, she deserves more credit! Bobby and Dante make a brief appearance, it’s a bittersweet moment. And soon enough, Harvard is breaking everyone out of their classes and taking the fencing team on a little adventure. This whole chapter concludes with Aiden and Jay talking things out.

“But when they’re together – something extraordinary happens.”

Overall, I don’t want this series to end. I’m not ready for it to be over and I need the next volume right now! The complete wrap up of this graphic novel was just perfect and I can’t get enough of these characters. I’m eager to see Nicholas and Seiji’s relationship bloom and grow. I’m super excited just not excited about the waiting. If you haven’t picked this series up yet then please give it the chance it deserves. It’s such a good series and these characters will make you fall in love with them.

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