Friends, it no secret that I’m a devourer of fantasy. So when I was approached to receive a copy of Chronicles of a Spell Caster I, how could I possibly refuse? What I will say, it’s been a hot minute since I touched a fantasy book; So it was nice to finally jump back in the saddle with a fantasy read by a self-published author. It felt really good to get consumed by curiosity and a good fantasy storyline once again. I did have some issues with a few things, but overall I really enjoyed my time reading this book.
Jet has just started freshman year at Welwerth University and things are anything but easy. If you thought freshman year OF college was stressful, try being a student who wields magical power. Jet and his fellow students are put to the test with intense entrance exams, some landing students in the infirmary, which will place them in classes and with scholarships that will secure their future. However, that’s not the only issue Jet faces. With uncontrollable power and family history laced with mystery, Jet is facing a tough freshman year. Did I mention that trying to make friends is a challenge? In revealing some of his abilities, Jet has made his freshman year ten times more difficult by making enemies and causing everyone to either fear him or want something from him. Needless to say, it should be a very interesting year ahead.
Let me start by saying I fell madly in love with the world building. Any fantasy reader who enjoys detailed world building, you’re going to really enjoy the world in this book. It’s unique in it’s own way. Gives a lot of vibes similar to the world building in HP series, the Percy Jackson series, and I would even say even some vibes of The Mortal Instruments series. However, it remains uniquely it’s own world with it’s own rules and magic system. The author put a lot of thought and effort into the way the world was built and doesn’t shy away from the details. Even when writing the main character, we get to see, experience, and learn about the world and the way the magic system works through Jet’s eyes. I also enjoyed the history of this world. It was very easy to get drawn in with that.
Shifting to the topic of the types of powers and abilities, I thought the author did a fantastic job being able to make them incredibly interesting and making the reader want to know more. When Jet starts talking about the Casters, those who are descendants of the ancients, I was hooked. I wanted to know more and it really motivated me to keep reading on. With that being said, every battle scene was packed with action. I always felt like I was hanging on by my seat during these scenes, wondering how the battle would conclude.
“If they are afraid of what magic can do, wait till next year. I will give them something to be afraid of.”
With all of these good things that a thoroughly enjoyed, there were a lot of things that made it hard to read this book at times. One of these things were the large amount of side characters to keep track of and who was who. There were a lot of times where certain characters didn’t stick out enough that I didn’t even remember meeting them. When compared to other characters like Kyle, Kyle will stand out more due to his bully nature and his attitude towards anything that threatens his position in university. There were times where the amount of characters we meet in such a short amount of time felt overwhelming and we got small pockets of information dumps about those characters.
My biggest issue would have to be the repetition of things. There were a lot of times where the repetitions of things bogged the pace of the story down. There were times it felt like there were pockets of information dumping. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you need the details to understand certain things, but other times the extra details aren’t necessary. If there was more chopping and polishing, I think the pace wouldn’t have been impacted so much.
Overall, I truly enjoyed reading this book. The ending was probably one of my favorite parts of this book and I’m eager to see how things will unfold in the second book. I think this series has a lot of potential and I’m really excited to see it bloom. I would recommend this to any of my fellow fantasy lovers. And let me just say, reading this book on a stormy, rainy day is absolute perfection!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Salutations friends! I know I haven’t been posting many reviews or reading a lot of major new releases lately. However, I wanted to share some of the amazing webcomics I’ve been obsessed with lately! These are just a few of the webcomics I’ve been falling in love with and no where near the actual number of webcomics I’ve fallen head-over-heels for. I hope you enjoy this quick little article and give these webcomics a chance!
FC was given by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date(February 2nd, 2021)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Racism, themes of displacement, terminally ill loved one (cancer), loss of a loved one, grief
Friends, this book put me in all the feels. As someone who walks the line of two worlds, the themes of this book had me quaking. And the fact that it’s told in verse was the cherry on top! Truly, this book is so beautifully written and there’s not a single doubt within me, this book will touch so many people. I feel truly honored that I could be given a final copy to read and share with all of you my love for this story!
Our story follows Reha, an Indian American, who loves K-Pop, dreams of becoming a doctor (despite being woozy at the sight of blood), and yearns to find a balance as she navigates the between her two worlds. One world where she’s the only Indian American student and the other, a world filled with her family and community’s culture. As Reha tries to navigate her teenage years, at terrible kind of news will cause Reha to face new challenges. Challenges she never expected to experience.
I can’t say it enough, I love the themes within this book and I think they’re tremendously important. One of the biggest themes about this book is the feeling of displacement and trying to find the place where you fit in. For me, this theme hit so close to home. As someone who grew up with their culture and having to learn my dialect from the beginning, but also growing up going to a regular public school and being the only half Native student, being white-passing, there was never a time where I didn’t feel like I was walking a line between those two worlds. So reading this book and how the main character struggles to find their place between both of those worlds, it really struck a cord with me. And I think that theme alone is going to make so many biracial readers feel seen. I find in literature it’s hard to find books that accurately represent what it means to be biracial and how big of a role displacement can play. Truly, the author did a wonderful job at bringing those feelings and thoughts to life with this book, and I really appreciated seeing everything come together they way they did.
“You belong to both, and they both belong to you. You will find your way in making those two streams one. You will write your own story, and it will be beautiful, because it is yours.”
The other major theme of this book is navigating life with a terminally ill loved one and more specifically, when the loved one is a parent. Not only does the author have a beautiful way with words, but the way the author brings Reha’s feelings and thoughts to life as she experiences this tragedy is so well written. The author doesn’t shy away from showing a wide variety of feelings, thoughts, and actions. I think anyone who has had a terminally ill loved one or has had to face losing someone they care about will feel an instant connection with Reha. I couldn’t stop crying (for a plethora of reasons), but this really hit home. I think the author did a fantastic job at writing about this theme in a very respectful way and you can tell that the author was writing from a personal experience.
There’s so much that I fell in love with throughout this book and if you were it ask if there was anything I didn’t like, I’d say you’re being ludicrous. I loved the K-Pop references and how some of the titles were references to popular songs of the 80’s. Reha, our main character, was such a wonderful character to follow throughout this book. Her perspective was filled with layers of constant changing feelings and thoughts especially as she was navigating this time in her life. What I truly loved most was the author’s not at the end. I loved reading about the author’s experiences and how they were able to take those experiences, and bring them to life with this novel. Truly, I loved this book with my whole chest.
Overall, this was such a delightful book to read and I’m so glad I was sent a final copy! Thinking about this book even now, I still feel a deep stir of emotions this book left with me. I laugh and I cried, I cried so much, but I think this book will touch the hearts of many readers. And I think this book is going to leave a huge impact with an biracial reader. It left a huge imprint on my own heart and I have no doubt it won’t do the same for someone else. I’m happy to say that this is my first favorite book of 2021 and I think that Red, White, and Whole is going to make it onto a lot of ‘favorites’ this year.
ARC was given by NetGalley and LOVE x LOVE in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date(February 23rd, 2021)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Suicidal ideation and mentions of attempted suicide
“That day… I took a story by the hand.”
It’s very easy for me to fall in love with a manga and The Cat Proposed is no exception! I fell head over heels in love with the manga. Despite the dark themes of this book, I really enjoyed my time reading it. I really wish we would see more of this book or see it turned into a series. I’ve always loved the lore and mythology of the bakeneko of Japanese culture and knowing this manga exists, ugh, it filled my heart with so much warmth and excitement.
“We may be completely different, but I still want you.”
Our story follows Souta Matoi, a company worker, who’s contemplating suicide because nothing has changed, his life seems to be stuck in a terrible loop. Living the same routine day in and day out, overworked by his company, a deep exhaustion has set into his bones and he desperately wants to make a change. Then one fateful night Souta decides to change the routine by going to akōdan storytelling. And that’s when his whole world begins to change. Starting with meeting Kihachi, the kōdan storyteller.
I really loved the way the author portrayed Souta and Kihachi. Though they seem like absolute polar opposites of one another, the chemistry between them is perfection. Souta is very timid and bashful, has a hard time expressing how they feel, declaring what they want. Whereas Kihachi is the opposite. Not only is Kahachi a bakeneko, but he’s very upfront about what he wants and direct with how things will work between one another. Also, they’re both sensitive beings who care very deeply for others. They’re both the type of people who puts everyone before their needs. And they just balance each other out so well. There’s some really hilarious side characters we get to meet as well. Yamabuki is absolutely hilarious and I enjoyed the little pokes of fun he has with Kihachi. Also, he’s a lover of stories like Kihachi is and somehow, between all their banter, you can tell they’re long-time friends!
“The light in the darkness is twinkling beautifully.”
If you haven’t guessed already, this manga involves Japanese mythology and folklore. Bakeneko appear a lot throughout Japanese history and culture. From works of literature and landmarks all the way to famous legends, bakeneko have played a role in Japan’s mythology and folklore. Most commonly found within the Endo period, but don’t quote me on that since there’s a chance they appeared during the Kamakura period with the nekomata, since they’re so similar. But I really loved how the author took that mythology and knowledge to weave their own tale. I think the author did a fantastic job of bringing to life the world of bakeneko and finding a way to encourage the reader to learn more about this mythology.
While I know it’s a dark turn of things, I want to take a moment to pause and appreciate the way the author wrote about suicide in this book. I think the author did really well at talking about what it means to be suicidal, to have suicidal thoughts, and to feel such a bone deep exhaustion that’s almost suffocating. And on top of that, I love how the author made sure to show how one person can save us from and how important little acts of kindness, endearment can truly make a difference. I thought it was beautifully and respectfully written.
Overall, I just really loved this manga. I truly wish the author would consider turning this into a series because I have no doubt that I would purchase the whole series for my manga collection. I loved it so, so much! I adored the characters, I really wanted to see more of the bakeneko community and their world. There’s so much untapped potential with this one book and honestly, I want more. I’m excited to see what this author will do next and I’m so glad I got to read an arc of this manga early.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Body shaming, fat phobia, mentions of adultry
Oh boy, friends, this just wasn’t the book for me. To be fair, this isn’t the worst romance book with plus-size representation I’ve read, but this definitely wasn’t the best either. I wanted so much more from this book. Hell, I expected a lot more from this book! Maybe that’s why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. As a plus-size reader, there were moments where I was cringing, annoyed, or even getting second-hand embarrassment. After so many friends recommended this to me, saying how much fun they had reading it, I went into this books expecting a fun time, but that’s not what I got.
Our story follow Cece (Cecelia Harper), who’s on her way to her parent’s lake house, but when she starts having car troubles, Cece finds herself at the mercy of Aiden’s help. Aiden Perry is Cecelia’s father’s best friend and business partner. When Cecelia calls him up about his car troubles, how is he to deny helping out his best friend’s daughter. However, when these two come together, sparks seem to fly and secrets that have been kept hidden for years seem to surface. Will these two ever communicate their feelings or will they remain just friends?
Let’s chat about the things I really loved about this book. One of the biggest things I loved about this book was the sexual experience between the two main characters. Cece is still a virgin while Aiden has more experience with dating and bedroom experience. I really appreciate seeing those partner dynamics in books especially since we don’t often see that type of partner ship often. My second favorite thing about this book was the plus-size representation. As a plus-size reader, I find it harder to find books that have plus-size characters in them, let alone heroines who are plus-size. So that piece of information alone was enough for me to pick this book up.
However, despite these good things, this really wasn’t a fun time. I wanted a steamy, sexy, fun time and it felt like all the steamy times got overshadowed by everything else happening within this novella. For starters, despite that this is plus-size representation, the main heroine isn’t confident in her body, her curves, and even uses her fatness or “fattitude” as a reason to give attitude and make people do what she wants. I’m fine if a character has body issues or low self-esteem in the way they look (no matter what size, everyone feels like this at some point in their life). However, when it’s one of the main focuses of the main character and the whole character is centered around the size of their body, and that’s the reason why they do or don’t do certain things, despite being told they are loved and appreciated for who they are… I can’t. As a plus-size reader, that boils my blood. Give me a morally grey character who can be confident, but still have doubts in her body size. Give me a character who owns the curves of their body, but still questions if they’ll face rejection by the character they love. Give me anything else than what this novella did. Now that’s my two cents on the matter. I can’t speak for other plus-size readers because their opinions will be different. For me, this wasn’t the kind of plus-size representation I didn’t expect to see.
My second major issue with this book is how Aiden’s character handles every little thing. Aiden finds out Cece is a virgin, it comes as a huge shock and then later on he basically rejects her only tell her to go date around, build more experience, and only come back to him if she figures out what she wants (despite Cece telling him exactly what she wants). It’s very clear from the very beginning just how deep into his mind Aiden goes because there are key moments in this novella where he ignores what Cece says and tells her what was wrong about the whole situation or will do something that miscommunicates his intentions to Cecelia.
Speaking of miscommunication, that’s another huge issue throughout this book. Both, Cece and Aiden, are adults and despite them being adults, they handle things like they’re childish games. They don’t have good communication between one another and the author throws in unnecessary drama that forces them to finally communicate with one another near the end of the novella. I wasn’t a fan of this and there were a lot of moments because of miscommunication that I got second-hand embarrassment or cringed by the result.
Overall, this just wasn’t a fun time for me. I can understand why other readers may have enjoy this novella, but for me, this wasn’t it. It hurts even more to say that because this is a revised copy of this book and I can only imagine what this book was like before the revisions. Truly, I wish many things would have been handled better or done differently. However, this does make for a quick read and could be good for any readathons or achieving any reading goals one may have.
Salutations friends! I know it’s been a hot minute since we sat down like this and chatted. I know I’ve been a bit of a ghost and if I’m being honest, I wanted to get this posted so much sooner. However, life has been hectic and a lot has been impacting the content I’ve been putting out, but that’s for another time. We’re here to talk about books!
2021 has some really exciting titles coming out and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can read all the books I want to rad this year! Let me be honest, making this list was so hard because of all the titles coming out. However, these are just a few of the ones I want to read. I hope you enjoy! 💕
I was incredibly lucky to acquire a sampler of this book and oh my gosh, my soul is screaming! It hasn’t been confirmed on if this is a Medusa retelling yet, but the few chapters that were provided, in addition to the cover, has me full of hope that this is a Medusa retelling. And I’m here for it! I love retellings, I love Greek mythology, and the release for this book is right around the corner. Seriously, I can’t wait to find out what will happen next!
I absolutely fell in love with Where Dreams Descend this year and even made it one of my favorite books of 2020 because I loved it so much. When Janella announced the cover for the second book, it stole my breath. I mean, look at that cover! It’s stunning! Most importantly, I need to know what’s going to happen next. The first book left off on a cliffhanger and honestly, I really want to see the main character get the happy ending that she deserves. I’m so excited for release, but the wait is killing me!
For those who don’t know or haven’t been here that long, I have a very strong love affair for Hades. I love Greek mythology in general, but Hades is definitely my all time favorite Greek god, next to Hera and Persephone. So naturally when I heard this book was coming out, a giant happy screech escaped my body. The synopsis of this sounds fantastic and let me just call it, this is going to be five stars and one of my favorite books of 2021!
Let me start by saying how excited I am to read this book! Not only did I smash buttons incredibly fast to add this to my anticipated 2021 release, but I preordered this so quickly, it would make heads spin. I love books that are queer and have found family elements in it. Those were probably the biggest selling points for me when it came to this book. Plus, this is a local author for me and that encouraged me even more to preorder this book! So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that in the future they’ll have a couple a indie bookstore signings I can attend.
There are a plethora of reasons why I can’t wait for this book to be released, so I can read it sooner rather than later. The biggest selling point for me was that fact that the main character is biracial and that hits me in the most sacred, most softest part of my core because I, myself, am biracial. I’m half Native and I’m half Caucasian. Growing up, there has never been a lot of books that featured main characters who were half Native. And so for me, the fact that this character is biracial was enough for me to preorder this book, follow the author, the very few reviews I’ve seen of this book all fuel my anticipation for this book’s release. So I’m really excited and haven’t shut up about this book to a lot of my family because I have no doubt that this book is going to mean so, so much to me.
The shortest answer I can give to this: I’m trash for Maas and will probably auto-buy anything she releases. I love this series and I love Nesta even more. I know, I know! I can hear it now, “How can you like Nesta?! She’s horrible!” Well, the simple answer to that: I connect and resonate with Nesta more than any other character (except the Suriel) on multiple levels. I can through her hissing and venom or how heavy the trauma weighs on her, how hard it is for her to find normalcy after all the trauma, and if I’m being honest, Nesta is a breath of fresh air compared to Feyre’s personality and how everyone sees Feyre, and I really appreciate that. So yeah, very excited for this to come out. I’m guessing this is a two-three day read!
I feel like I’ve been waiting a lifetime for this graphic novel to release. Truly, I can’t wait for this to come out so I can read it in one sitting. Rereading the past volumes hasn’t been enough because I’m ready for the next installment. I think these characters are absolutely precious, that the author addresses some really important topics throughout this series, and the diversity is really wonderful to see. Very excited and I hope fans of this series have their calendars marked!
I really, really wanted to read this book in 2020. So many of my friends were gushing about it, the trusted reviewers I follow were raving about it, and I caved tremendously. However, the odds weren’t in my favor and no matter how fast I was reading or trying to make room, I couldn’t find a way to fit this in. With 2021 right around the corner, I really want to try to read this book sometime in the new year. I’m going to make time for it, even if that means taking a whole week or month to read just this book.
This is another auto-buy author for me. I read Cemetery Boys this year and fell head over heels for. Truly, I love Aiden’s writing and the characters Aiden brings to life. When Aiden announced they were doing a Neverland/Peter Pan retelling, I was absolutely thrilled. I feel that Peter Pan is one of those retellings not many authors try, but I’m so excited that after all this time, we’re finally getting one. So of course, I will throw all my money at this book and will get this read, hopefully in 2021!
I’m not going to lie, I absolutely fell in love with the synopsis of this book! It sounds like such a cute, fun read, and I’m here for it. Though I’ve been hearing mixed reviews, I’m still excited to pick it up and find out what’s hiding within these pages. Hoping I can read this around Valentine’s Day for the ultimate romance vibes!
Okay, when I say this synopsis spoke to me, what I really mean is this synopsis took my soul and ran with it. This is a middle grade novel that I’m highly anticipating in 2021. It sounds like it’ll be an emotional read and you know I’m here for books that pull all the emotions from me. This book is also by an Indigenous author I’ve never read anything from. So I’m really excited to dive into this author’s writing and connect with a new middle grade read.
If you have been here a hot minute, then you know Amanda Lovelace is one of my favorite poetry writers. I absolutely love this author’s writing and it’s been incredibly easy to fall in love with her books. Earlier this year I read the first book, Break Your Glass Slippers, and now I’ve been given the chance to read the second book. I’m really excited to read this. I know I’m absolutely going to love this book as much as I did the first one.
This was one of my anticipated releases of 2020 and sadly, I didn’t get the chance to read it. However, I want to make sure I set time aside so I can read this book. Of course, when the word of this book hit my ears and friends told me this is possibly a Sleeping Beauty retelling, naturally I wanted to read it immediately. And if the retelling wasn’t going to sell me, the cover alone was an auto-buy and must read for me.
This is one of those books that I’ve been putting off for far too long! I wanted to get the read back in May for the Asian Readathon, but things didn’t pan out. Life was taking all kinds of twists and turns for me, and unfortunately my read took a huge hit during end of spring-early summer. However, I really want to try to get this read in 2021 so I can finally finish this trilogy and then gush about it to all of you.
K. Ancrum has become one of my all time favorite authors. Truly, Ancrum is a blessing and I don’t know what we did to deserve her, but I’m so thankful. I have officially read all of her books and when I heard she had a new one coming out in 2021, I was ecstatic! So I’m super excited for this to come out. I want to read it as soon as possible and I’m counting down the days time I can have this book in my hand!
Breaks out the bottle of wine. Listen, I keep asking myself why I keep putting myself through this and I have two answers… One, I’m trying to be better about finishing series and two, the power the final book has over has been driving me to keep pushing through this series. Look, I really want to meet Death and see how their story will unfold in this series, and to do that I need to read the fourth book. So this is happening and it’s happening once I buy a bottle of wine to go with it.
Talia Hibbert knocked me out of the park with Get A Life Chloe Brown! I love that book so, so much! Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and read the second book in this trilogy. I’ve been hearing all the good things about this book and I’m really excited to continue on with the series. Dare I say, I’m hyped? Yeah, I’m really hyped for this book and I can’t wait to finally pick this book up!
This is such a wonderful series and I’m really excited to keep reading on. I know there’s a new book in the series coming out in January 2021. So I really want to read the next book in the series before I pick up the new release. Now, I’ve heard some mixed things about this book and if I’m being honest, that’s kind of why I haven’t picked it up yet. However, I really want to get it read in 2021 and hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later.
Not only is this cover stunning, but the synopsis full captured my attention when it released. On top of that, everyone I know and trust has nothing but the highest praises for this book. And since I’m such a bigger lover of mythology, I’m ready to dive into this book. So I’m really hoping in 2021 I can pick this book up and find out what everyone has been buzzing about. Plus, I have a feeling I’m really going to love this book with my whole heart.
Stephen Graham Jones has become another favorite and auto-buy author for me. After I interviewed him, he’s truly a wonderful soul that has a fantastic way of storytelling. And after reading The Only Good Indians, I really enjoy the writing style that Stephen brings to his literature. I have been wanting to pick this book up, but horror hasn’t been the kindest genre lately. So I haven’t been picking up a lot of horror at all. However, I really want to try to pick this up in the fall of 2021 especially more towards spooky season. I have a feeling this book is going to be a fantastic read and I’m excited!
Whew, that was a really long list, but I’m so happy I made it. I wanted to do something like this for a while and I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it. However, I had a lot of fun and I hope you enjoyed it as well. If you have a book you really want to read in 2021, please tell me about it! I love putting new books on my radar to look into! Until next time, I hope you’re staying safe and healthy. I love you! 💙
“If I’m with you, it’s because I think you let in more stardust than storm clouds.”
Friends, I love Lovelace’s work and you all know how much I loved the Things That Haunt duology. However, I’m starting to notice a pattern with a lot of these duologies, these trilogies. I always end up loving the first and/or second book, but then the final book seems… lack luster, to say the least. Maybe this wasn’t the right time for this to come into my reading life or maybe it was from the lack of emotions this book didn’t stir. Whatever the reason, I just didn’t love this book the way I thought I would.
Starting with the positives, I’ve always loved the way the author writes. Out of all the modern poetry I read, Lovelace is the one I can connect with the most. I know a lot of readers struggle with this writing style especially since everything is lower case, but I find that it’s smooth read for my own experience. The other thing I really loved about this book was the artwork. The art in these books is always so beautiful and if I’m remembering correctly, Lovelace does all the art. There are these gorgeous forest and crystal panels in this book and they were probably a big highlight for me. And lastly, I couldn’t stop pulling quotes. I’m a lover for a good quote and I was able to pull some many from this book. So that made me really happy.
“Embody the heroine you needed when you were a child, but don’t forget to embody the heroine you need now, too.”
Despite the things I loved, there were a few things that just prevented me from loving this book. My first issue with this book was the lack of the theme. From the beginning this book states that this is going to be centered around sisters or sister relationships, and I just didn’t get that feeling from this book. It started off strong, but then that theme kind of disappeared for me. Tying in with that, there was this vibe of negatively charged vibes while reading this book. When I finished reading this book, I didn’t feel good at all. Most of the time when I read the books by this author, there’s a big shift from the negative to the positive, and that just wasn’t here in this book. The negativity seemed to dragged throughout the majority of the book for me. The other issue I had with this book was the repetitiveness. I haven’t seen many people talk about it, but for me there were sections that felt repetitive to the author’s past work. I was really hoping for something fresh, I was excited for the sibling theme (as I’m very partial to mine) and this just wasn’t it.
Overall, there were some things I loved and then other things I really didn’t like. I think the execution could have been done better and I wish the author would have focused on the actual theme just a little bit more. There’s also a big imbalance between the poetry and prose. There was a lot more prose than I was expecting. I’m hoping for future works we see the balance return. And I still recommend giving this book a chance. Even though this book didn’t work out well for me, it doesn’t mean that will be your experience.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Content/Trigger Warnings:Toxic relationships, anger issues (from a side character), manipulation anxiety depictions, depression, trauma
I truly wish I would have loved this graphic novel. I truly do, but it wasn’t in my cards when I first started this series and it’s still not looking good now. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why many readers love this series. The world is fascinating, the characters are interesting, and there’s still so much we don’t know. However, there’s a lot of details that I just couldn’t over look. Maybe I’m too much of a critical reader, but one thing is for sure, this didn’t improve my feelings about a lot of things in this series.
Spring break is on the horizon for the town of Blitheton and with spring break comes the highly anticipated mermaid festival. Julie, our werewolf barista, and her girlfriend, Selena are ready to have a wonderful day together! There’s just one catch, actually, make that several. With the new introduction of an uninvited friend, a mysterious force that keeps randomly appearing, and Julie’s friend appearing to pass along an omen, what could possibly go wrong? Everything.
Let’s start with some of the good things I loved about this graphic novel. As usual, I love a lot of the side characters. Cass is probably my ride or die for this entire series. Not to mention, I love that we get new characters introduced into this series. Of course the artwork is absolutely stunning. The cover and the art has been one of the biggest things for me about this series. Also, we have a lot of diversity within this series. From f/f relationship between our two main characters, a side m/m romance, on page plus-size characters and BIPOC characters, to the recently added disability representation, this graphic novel does a fantastic job at delivering diversity.
“Sometimes it’s better in the long run for things to turn out differently than you expected.”
Despite the good things I have to say about this graphic novel, there are still some lasting issues that haven’t been resolved since the first volume. When this series first started, I love the concept of Julie and Selena being the couple of focus for this graphic novel. I loved that they weren’t perfect and I loved how the relationship wasn’t perfect. However, now that we’re on volume three, I feel like there should have been some form of growth, some learning, or something. Instead, we’re still given a toxic relationship that is fueled by lack of communication, anger, and jealousy. The fact that in the first two volumes we’re given scenes of physical fights between the two main characters and now in volume three they’re still fighting, and refusing to work through their problems isn’t something I want to be reading about. This is the third volume in the series and this is the kind of relationship that can make an impressions on young readers. It’s not my cup of tea and the author should have done something to improve the relationship instead continuing to portray an unhealthy relationship between two young adults.
My second issue with this graphic novel is the fact one of the side characters hasn’t seen any personal growth either. They suffer from really bad aggression/anger issues and they’re constantly starting/picking fights with everyone. On top of that, my biggest issue with this character is how it impacts another side character. This kind of toxic relationship is so powerful that another side character literally tells our main character they want to become that horrible themselves. Now this wouldn’t be a problem except the author is continuing to promote toxic relationships and trying to normalize this as a positive thing. This is a continuous theme since the first volume of this series and I don’t see anyone talking about this.
To further solidify these statements and how the author wants to normalize toxic, and abusive relationships, I present one of the new characters introduced into the series. We get introduced to a new side character who’s a kitsune. This character’s entire purpose of being introduced into this graphic novel is to stir up chaos, drama, and negatively charged areas for other characters for no reason. We don’t know why she’s there, we don’t know her back story, all we know is she’s there to cause trouble. This character causes so many issues for those around her especially the main character. So much so that the outcome caused by this new character leads the main character to make a very rash decision that’s going to change a lot about this series.
It really wasn’t a fun time reading this book. And I’m not going to lie, I almost regret preordering this book. But I truly thought there would be improvements, we would get the answers we deserved. We really didn’t though.
Overall, this just wasn’t the book I expected it to be. I don’t know if my hopes were too high. Maybe my critical reading got in the way. Honestly, I’m not sure anymore. I went into this book thinking we would get some resolution or personal growth from our main character especially after the first two volumes because of all the fighting and arguing, but this wasn’t it. I was cringing so much throughout this book and I had a lot of second hand embarrassment from reading this. And that’s one of the things I can’t stand when I read a book, the second hand embarrassment. And the fact that no one is talking about how the author constantly promotes toxic and abusive relationships without ever trying to have a positive resolution, any form of communication, or even anyone stepping in to say, “knock it off right now” or “this is not okay, stop” absolutely blows my mind. This just wasn’t it folks and I can’t recommend this book or series especially knowing that there will be some youths who see the relationships in this book, and think that’s the kind of treatment they deserve in their relationship.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, toxic friendships, manipulations, talk of death, mentions of racism, loss of a parent (in the past), loss of a loved one (in the past), allusions to depression, grief, depictions of suicidal ideation
“Except there’s nothing more delicate than a life.”
Friends, this graphic novel knocked my socks off! I really liked Sheets, but this Delicates was a whole other level for me. This graphic novel hit home in so many ways and I ended up in my feels. Brenna Thummler always has an important message in their books and the one in this graphic novel is so damn important. I just really loved this graphic novel so, so much and if you haven’t started this series yet, please do!
Following the events that took place in Sheets, Marjorie, our laundromat girl who looks after the ghosts who live there, is back in an all new story about navigating friendships and what it to be a middle schooler who feels out of place. Also, we’re introduced to a new character, Eliza Duncan, an avid photographer who spends most of her time in the school’s dark room and ghost hunting for her next photograph. Eliza doesn’t have any friends and through that loneliness (as well as Wendall), we see Eliza’s story truly unfold.
I love the characters in this graphic novel. When Eliza’s character was introduced, I instantly wanted to know more about her, about the backstory, and why Eliza likes to ghost hunt. I think many readers are going to enjoy Eliza’s character and the way her storyline plays out. Of course, I love Wendall and Marjorie, and the friendship they share with one another. I love how it’s not a perfect friendship, that there’s bumps along the way, but I love how everything comes together with them. Also, I really enjoyed the intersecting storylines of Eliza and Marjorie. They have a really rough path, but the conclusion with them was really wonderful.
“Humans are delicate too. The teeniest mistake can ruin them, even if you do everything else right. Just because mistakes seem small and insignificant, doesn’t mean they are.”
Of course, I have to talk family dynamics. I feel that this is one aspect of this graphic novel series no one talks about a lot. Marjorie comes from a single parent household, a widowed father of two. In the first book we saw him struggle with grief and depression. Now in book two, we see the hardships of what it means to be a single parent and trying to start you life again after the loss of your partner. There’s also Eliza’s family, who’s far from perfect. We see Eliza’s parents struggle to find balance within their home life. From schedule struggles to trying to co-parent the best they can of three children, these two are tackling the hardships the best they can even if it does stir up some disagreements. I love family dynamics and I love family dynamics that show the more realistic side of what families go through instead of the typical “rainbows and sunshine” family trope.
As I mentioned above, this graphic novel deals a lot with mental health. I think many of us can remember a time in school where we experienced peer pressure, bullying, or maybe some of us felt like outcasts. And Thummler doesn’t hold back from when we’re going through those hardships. This opens up to the bigger discussion of suicide and how during this point in many teenagers lives, they feel like they’ve hit a rock bottom and find it impossible to get back up once they reach that point. For myself, reading this was really emotional because of the friends I’ve lost to suicide and from the low points I’ve reached in my past. And I truly believe this graphic novel is going to resonate with so many readers like it did with myself. Truly, this graphic novel is going to touch the hearts of so many readers.
“Life is a precious thing, dearie. It has skin that feels. And feet that can dance. And hearts that can love and be loved.”
Overall, I loved this graphic novel so much. I love how there’s so many important themes laced throughout this graphic novel, how many important discussions this will spark. Truly, this hits like a ton of bricks and so many readers will resonate with the messages in this book. And I just wanted to say that if you do feel like you’re in a dark place, please reach out to loved ones or reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Please know that I see you, that you are loved, and that I’m so glad that you’re here.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
ARC was provided by NetGalley and Zest Books in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date(March 2, 2021)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Mental health, homophobia, toxic relationships, addiction (drug abuse & alcoholism), depression, grief, mentions of suicidal ideation, trauam/PTSD, mentions of terminal illness (cancer), death, loss of a loved one, microaggressions, mentions of rape, mentions of assault, mentions of a forced outing
“What I’ve learned throughout my life is that while I struggle to feel loved and supported by the people around me, I can always rely on my dogs, no matter what.”
With my whole chest, I love this book so damn much! I’m a firm believer that there are some books that everyone needs to read at least once in their life. This is one of those books. All too often society doesn’t talk about mental health or certain illnesses because of the stigma around them. And all too often, that stigma can cause a one-sided perspective of them and the person who has to face these challenges every day. HIV and those who have HIV are no exception to these type of circumstances, but this book is so fantastic because it offers so many different perspectives, from a plethora of people who share their own stories. I can’t express the importance this book holds and how much I wish I could put this book in everyone’s hands.
This book is a collection of stories with a photo of a person(s) and their dog(s), and their story. Each story is centered around their story with HIV and how their canine companions help them heal, and improving their life despite the challenges happening to them. Throughout the book you’ll meet a plethora of diverse people who are trans, do drag, queer, BIPOC, and so much more. You’ll learn about their background and the most common theme is the rejection of one’s family and loved ones, addiction, and facing the struggles of mental health from all the stigma surrounding HIV.
This is probably the most emotional book I’ve read in a very long time. You know I love my books that make me cry and steal my soul away, and this book succeeds at that. This book is so heart breakingly beautiful and it shines a light on the importance of fighting back against the stigmatism surrounding HIV. As someone who faces stigmatism around certain mental health challenges, this book hit so close to home on how hard it is to keep going despite the stigma, despite feeling like you don’t have the support you need, and this book melted me into a puddle. And while I don’t have HIV, one of my good friends passed away from having HIV and seeing the hardships they faced, reading this book just hit so close to home in so many ways. I think that’s why I loved it so much because I love books that touch that part of my soul.
“I am not a bad person – you don’t get HIV because you’re a bad person. You can be a good person, an educated person, and get HIV. We have to get past the stigma – that is the reason people don’t get tested and are not honest about their status.”
I think the thing I love most about this whole book is the hopefulness and the reflection on the benefits, emotional and physical, that pets have on people. I loved that despite the hardships all these people face, there’s always a feeling of hopefulness, of love, and seeing the silver-lining. And I think with everything combined, the good and the bad, readers will be able to connect with the people within this book.
Overall, I don’t want to say too much about this book because I want to encourage you to go pick this book up and read it. I believe with my whole heart that everyone needs to read this book at least once in their life because this book is too important not to. Even though I read and finished this in 2020, this is book has made it onto my top books of 2021 because it truly is a master piece and I just love it so, so much!
“I know that without him I wouldn’t be alive, and without me he wouldn’t either. We saved each other.”
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.