ARC was provided by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date(March 2, 2021)
This was absolutely precious! With the way 2020 has been going, this is the book to make things just a little bit brighter. Truly, this is so precious and there’s some really hilarious moments. Let me be the first to say that everyone needs to check this graphic novel out as soon as it releases.
From really cute panels to friendships that will warm you heart, this is a graphic novel that will steal your heart. The characters are super cute and the dedication page was so wholesome. This is one of those graphic novels that poke you right in your heart and make you cherish the the friendships you have. Also, I know many readers will probably get this graphic novel for the children in their lives, but let another adult tell you that you need this book as much as children do. It’s just a precious gem of a book that many book lovers are going to fall in love with.
The only thing I think readers might have an issue with is thinking this is going to be a graphic novel with a continuous story. That’s not the case at all with this book. This is a graphic novel that’s designed to make you feel good, feel happy, and pick up the phone and call your friends. That’s the kind of book this is. For me, this wasn’t an issue because this was something I needed. I needed a feel good book to come into my life and wrap me in love, and that’s exactly what this book does.
Overall, I loved this graphic novel so gosh darn much! It’s so wholesome, the feel good book we all need, and just a fantastic pick me up. I highly recommend this to everyone, literally everyone! I think we all need a feel-good book that washes us in warm, fuzzy feelings. And if I could put this in everyone’s hand right now, I would.
“I must find a way to still choose myself despite holding on to you.”
I’m a firm believer that poetry, literature, and a plethora of other things can come into our lives when we need them the most. If I’m being honest, if this didn’t come into my life right now, I probably wouldn’t have given this as high of a rating as I have. Modern poetry and prose is something I have to be in a particular mind set or in a certain part of my life where I feel like it’ll be helpful to read. And reading this book right now, it has been a blessing.
This was such a well written collection that’s beautiful, and at times very heart breaking. I loved how every thing flowed and nothing seemed out of place. Everything was connected to one another whether it was a poem or prose. I think that’s one of the hardest parts modern poetry face, making everything flow together, but this author did a wonderful job of accomplishing that. And really loved that despite some of the hard themes throughout this book, there’s an optimistic feeling at the end. It was such a great way to end the book.
My most favorite thing of this whole book was the content and trigger warnings at the very start of this. I say this every time, authors should include these in their books and when the do, damn it’s the best feeling. Seeing an author take the time to add these at the beginning of their book, it’s like a little pat from the author saying, “I see you and I acknowledge your mental health.” It’s just a really great way for authors to show they care about their readers.
“I grew wings, but sometimes in between, I think I left my heart where you’ve been.”
Overall, I think this was a well-written book that many readers are going to connect with. I think many readers will find validation in their feelings or find a way to heal with this book. For me, with my whole chest, I believe this book came into my life when I needed it the most and that left a big impression with me.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
ARC was provided by NetGalley and Random House Children’s in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published on the release date(December 8th, 2020, Happy Release Day!)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Brief desecration of the dead (A Universe of Wishes), death and talk of death (A Universe of Wishes, The Coldest Spot in the Universe & Habibi), loss of a loved one (A Universe of Wishes, The Takeback Tango, The Weight, The Coldest Spot in the Universe, & Longer Than the Threads of Time), grief (A Universe of Wishes, Liberia, The Takeback Tango, & Wish, The Weight) trauma/PTSD (A Universe of Wishes, Unmoor, & Longer Then the Threads of Time), physical violence (The Silk Blade & A Royal Affair), murder (The Scarlet Woman & The Takeback Tango), mentions of human sacrifice (The Scarlet Woman), homophobia (Cristal y Ceniza, A Royal Affair, & Dream and Dare), kidnapping/abduction (A Royal Affair), talk of colonization (The Takeback Tango & The Coldest Spot in the Universe), mentions of slavery (The Takeback Tango), mentions of genocide (The Takeback Tango), sexism (Dream and Dare), bullying (Dream and Dare), minor themes of misandry (Dream and Dare), chronic illness (Wish), brief mentions of infidelity (The Weight), mentions of cheating (The Weight & Unmoor), manipulation (Unmoor), depictions and talk of acrophobia (Longer Than the Threads of Time), talk of suicide (Habibi), mentions of physical abuse (Habibi)
I feel so blessed that I received an arc of this book. Truly, I fell in love with so many stories within these pages and I can’t wait to see other readers to fall in love with them as well. And can we take a moment to pause and praise the diverse cast of authors this anthology brought together to make this book happen? This line up is absolutely beautiful and there’s so much representation in that fact alone! There’s also a wide diversity within the stories from characters of color to characters not fitting the mold of society, all the way to the diverse relationships. Truly, a plethora of wonderful blessings within this book. This book itself is a blessing that so many readers have waited for. I really loved this book and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you a little more.
As usual, with any anthologies, bind-ups, etc… that find their way into my personal library, I like to do a break down with a mini review for each story that shares my thoughts and feelings! I hope you enjoy!
➵ A Universe of Wishes by Tara Sim ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I loved this story so much! If I could give this 4.5 stars then I would have. There were so many beautiful themes that were laced throughout this book and I think many reader are going to resonate with it. For myself, I was crying for the remainder on the story once I hit one-third of the way through. I also loved the way Thorn and Sage were falling for each other. It felt very slow burn, but with underlying themes of intensity. The only reason I didn’t give this a five star is due to wanting more. It felt short and I feel that if the author wanted to, they could turn this into a true novella or even a full book because there was so much that could be explored, the world sounds incredible and I want to know more about it, and I think readers are really going to want more backstory from both of the characters (though we do get brief backstories within this book).
“It’s sacred, what we do. The dead are to be respected.”
➵ The Silk Blade by Natalie C. Parker ⭐⭐⭐ I enjoyed this story. It’s very slow burn with themes of discovering ones sexuality/sexual interests underneath. And I love reading stories that have those two elements within it. Also, I loved how the romance between the two female competitors felt very unexpected especially due to the tournament that happens within this short story. However, though I loved these elements, I really wanted more details and the fact that this is a short story, some things felt rushed. The pacing felt quick and for my personal taste, I would have liked a little more world building. If this had been a bit longer, I think I would have enjoyed it more because it truly feels like there’s so much more that needed to be explored or details that needed to be given. However, I really hope this gets turned into it’s own novella because the way it ends makes you wonder what will happen next.
“Something has changed for both of us since crossing the Silk Bridge this morning.”
➵ The Scarlet Woman: A Gemma Doyle Story by Libba Bray ⭐⭐ I know there are some of you who are pulling your pitchforks out right now, but hear me out first. I have never read anything by Libba Bray before. I know, I know! Truly, I loved the writing and I loved what pieces of the world building we received in this book. However, this short story feels like it’s part of a bigger series, a bigger world, or a continuation of a story that has already been created. And that doesn’t sit well with me especially when I read an anthology. Personally, I’m not a fan of novellas or short stories from series that get added into an anthology because it feels like it doesn’t belong, depending on the details more details may need to be added because of a lack of context, characters are harder to connect with if there’s backstories already established, but not included in the story, etc… There were a lot of things that influenced my choice on rating this so low and I will honestly say, that in my opinion, many readers will rate this story low if they’ve never read anything by this author before. I think those who have read works by this author will love this short story, but unfortunately for me, this wasn’t my cup of tea. I think this would have done better if it had it’s own physical novella.
“Like a cat, I am insatiably curious. And, probably, like a cat, my curiosity will be the death of me one day. I do not intend for that day to be today.”
➵ Cristal y Ceniza by Anna-Marie McLemore ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I love retelling and when I say this feels like a Cinderella retelling, you will know what I mean once you read it. I loved this a lot. If I’m being honest, I would rate this 4.5 stars because I really loved so much about this short story. I loved how the story is about a daughter who’s trying to save her mothers and her family, as a whole, from being torn apart. I love that the love interest is transgender and the way they connect with our main character. I just loved it so much. I wish this would have been longer and I wish we would have received the name of our main character for this story. Aside from those two things, I loved this short story so much!
➵ Liberia by Kwame Mbalia ⭐⭐⭐ I loved a lot about this short story. I love the way the main character is so connected to their family and the way grief is represented in this short story. And I love that I was surprised to find our story follows a research officer for agriculture. I really loved that about this whole story. However, what I didn’t love was how often the main character was treated poorly or seen a lesser, because of their job title, not only by some crew members, but also by their leader. It’s never challenged except for one scene where the main character is pushed to a break point and risks their own life to same something that should of had a higher priority to the crew as a whole. I really wanted our main character to challenge others more on how they were treated, but we never really see that. Aside from that, I would have liked to have seen more of this story because this ends on such a heavy note. I didn’t feel good after this story ended and I think for many readers, it’s going to be a heavy for them as well especially since grief is a theme that’s heavily tied in with the story and main character.
➵ A Royal Affair by V.E. Schwab ⭐⭐ Once again, I loved the writing in this short story and this is my first time reading anything written by this author. However, this feels like another short story or novella that should’ve had it’s own physical book and shouldn’t have been included in this anthology. As I mentioned with a previous short story, I feel like many readers who haven’t read anything by this author are going to give this a low rating because it’s obvious this is a short story/backstory from a series and if they’re not familiar with the characters, the backstories, the world, etc… then this can lead to a poor reading experience. For me personally, I had so many questions that I wasn’t getting answers to that it felt almost impossible to focus on the story and it wasn’t the best reading experience for me. I think those who are familiar with the characters, world, series etc… this author created, they will fall in love with it or enjoy this a lot more than someone who hasn’t read the series this comes from.
➵ The Takeback Tango by Rebecca Roanhorse ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This short story had me in my feelings the whole dang time I was reading it. There are a lot of themes of grief woven through this short story, but what I love most is the theme of reclaiming oneself in the mist of that grief and finding a place for oneself again. This short story reminds me of a mission from Mass Effect 2 with Kasumi Gato and I love everything about this. I think the author did a beautiful job with this short story, the world building, the bits of backstory, and I’m really hoping this gets turned into it’s own novella because I’d love to see more. I would really love to know what happens with Vi and Valerian. It was an all around great short story to read. Definitely wanted it to be longer.
➵ Dream and Dare by Nic Stone ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I think this will be a story that resonates with a lot of readers. I know it made me feel a certain kind of way. The writing was so beautiful and the story line is very captivating, but what I loved most was the love that blooms between the main character and the love interest. I really wish this had been a bit longer because I loved these characters so much and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye when this ended. There’s also a lot of themes of how some women get looked down upon or treated poorly by their friends, family, other women, just for enjoying or wearing more masculine couture. And I think many readers are going to appreciate how this story addresses it and I love how the main character addresses it as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this, but I wish it was a tad longer.
“Dream knows Dare doesn’t need to be rescued. Not in the least. The monster does.”
➵ Wish by Jenni Balch ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Every person with a chronic illness is going to be hit in the feels when they read this short story and I say that confidently, with my whole damn chest. If I could, this story would have gotten 4.5 or even 5 stars because any story that can pull emotions out of me, right from the gate, deserves all my love and appreciation. I loved this, I loved it so much. Oh, I wish I could go into details with this one, but I truly think going in with very little detail is the best way to read this short story. However, I will say that I can’t speak on the chronic illness (immune thrombocytopenic purpura or ITP) representation in this short story. But, if you’re reading my review and you have an ownvoice review or you know someone with an ownvoice review for ITP, then please link it so I can direct others to that review.
“I can do things; I can’t change people. Because Wishing another person different is never the right answer. Even if you figured out some way to make it happen, it doesn’t end well.”
➵ The Weight by Dhonielle Clayton ⭐⭐⭐ This is an interesting short story. I had a bit of a mixed bag about how I originally felt about this short story, but decided that genuinely I enjoyed the majority of this story. I have to admit, the opening of this short story made me think of something similar to Bioshock or something that felt very steampunk and I loved that. I loved that from the first impression, I was able to feel an atmosphere that was different compared to a lot of the other short stories in this anthology. Also, I thought the concept of how hearts were read was very unique. This is the first time I’ve ever read a book that takes the heart and uses it with a unique concept like the way it tells if you relationship is meant to last or not. It’s incredibly unique. However, my biggest issue with this short story was being unable to connect with either of the characters. Nothing drew my attention to their personalities, Grace’s character felt like it was too much while Marcus faded to the background , and despite the details of both characters’ pasts, I simply didn’t care what would happen to them. As a whole, this short story was enjoyable. I would love to see this world explored further and I would love to know what’s going to happen next because the ending left me curious.
➵ Unmoor by Mark Oshiro ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ This short story is truly a gem and the only short story that resonated with me so much, had me crying the entire time, that there was no way I couldn’t give this story five stars. Mark Oshiro has been an author that has snuck up on me and has recently become a new favorite author of mine. So I might be a little bias with giving this short story five stars, but Oshiro has such a powerful way of drawing the emotions out of a reader with their writing. I remember a lot of details from a lot of the short stories in this anthology, but I remember everything that happened this is particular story the most. Truly, this short story is a treasure and this has me eager to read more books by this author.
➵ The Coldest Spot in the Universe by Samira Ahmed ⭐⭐⭐⭐ If this short story doesn’t make you appreciate your life or make you want to live it to the fullest, I don’t know what will. When I finished this short story, I had to take a huge pause from continuing my reading of this anthology because this short story left an impact with me. I think the author did an amazing job with the writing of this story because you can feel the encouragement radiating throughout this entire thing. It also has a unique way at looking at humanity and history, and I really loved that about this story. And, the way this short story is written is in voice log form. I have no doubt, that if this were an audiobook novella, it would sound beautiful because it’s one thing to be able to convey hope and encouragement, but it’s another to hear it from someone’s lips. My only complaint is I wish this was longer because I wanted more, so much more and I wasn’t ready for this story to end.
“Somewhere along the way, we decided telling lies to ourselves was the easiest way to live.”
➵ The Beginning of Monsters by Tessa Gratton ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Tessa Gratton has such a unique way of writing. Even this short story is so unique, but it’s something you can picture this author writing. There’s very much an essence of the author in throughout this story and I thought it was absolutely beautiful. Not only the writing, but the world building is so beautifully crafted. Though this is a short story, the author really conveys the image of this world very well. And the amount of diversity we read throughout this story is absolutely perfection. Truly, another fantastic short story, but it only needed to be longer!
➵ Longer Than the Threads of Time by Zoraida Cordova ⭐⭐⭐⭐ When I said I wanted retellings, Zoraida Cordova said, “Let me show you a retelling!” and put this beautifully written, gut wrenching Rapunzel retelling smack dab in this anthology. This was absolutely everything I wanted in a Rapunzel retelling and I’m a bit upset that this doesn’t have it’s own book. I have always loved the concept of a magical world living alongside the mundane world and I wanted so much more of this world. I want to know what our main character did to get locked up in the tower, I want to know what will happen to this beautiful romance, I have so many questions and not enough answers! Also, this is my first time reading anything by this author and I’m impressed. I really want to read more and experience this writing more. My only complaint is this felt too short and I wanted at least five more pages because it was too good.
➵ Habibi by Tochi Onyebuchi ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This is another one of those short stories that I would have given 4.5 to because it so well written and I have no doubt that this will bring out strong emotions with many readers. I loved the way that this short story is written in letters between two inmates. Not only is this written between two inmates, this short story brings out so many emotions, shows the importance of having a connection with another person, and how people can save one another whether they realize it or not. Personally, I just wanted a few more pages because I needed to know if these two character got the happy ending they deserved. Truly, this author has a very powerful, moving way of writing and I’m so glad this anthology concluded with this short story.
“If I closed my eyes, I could imagine myself as the main character. And I was the hero who did not destroy things but saved them.”
Overall, I gave A Universe of Wishes four stars because out of a possible 75 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 15 stories) this collection accumulated 54 stars (72%)! Technically this should be a three star rating (3.5 stars actually, if half stars were a thing), but I decided that since I really enjoyed reading this book that I would give it four stars because I truly feel this is a wonderful book to read especially during this time of year.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Greetings readers! I hope you all have been doing well, staying healthy, and enjoying the little things! I’m so excited because I’m finally typing up an article I have been dying to create and share with all of you. While in the book community many readers know me for fantasy reading and books that don’t often get the attention they deserve, things are a bit different outside of the book community. In my personal life especially among my friends, I’m known for the manga, graphic novels/comics, and zoology books I tend to pick up.
Often, I don’t share the personal side of myself too much. Manga, I’ve been more open about that since coming into the book community, but the others… well I tend to keep that under lock and key. So, I wanted to be more unapologetically myself around all of you and in this community. So I thought to myself, what better way to do that than share all the web comics I’ve been falling in love with?! And today is the day! So I hope you all enjoy and check these web comics out, support the creators, and maybe fall in love with them too!
I think that covers all the web comics I’ve been reading a lot recently! I know I didn’t list the synopsis for all of them, but I want that to encourage you to go check out these web comics for yourself and decide if you want to read them or not. I hope you enjoyed this article, as well! I had a lot of fun putting this together and I’m so happy to finally be sharing it with all of you. Do you have a favorite web comic? Please, oh please let me know! I love discovering new web comics! Until next time, I hope your month is filled with love and good reading! I love you! 💙
Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of harassment, talk of sexual harassment, talk of cyber bullying, talk of misogyn, themes of misandry
I’ll be honest, I’ve been dreading writing this review and have been putting this off for far too long. I really wanted to love this book and there were some things that I found really helpful, informative even, especially because I’ve been in various nerdy communities for such a long time, but I find that my opinion is going to be of the minority when it comes to this book. So take my review with a grain of salt. However, if you’re a reader who’s looking for some opposing thoughts on a lot of the content that’s talked about in this book then I can’t recommend enough checking out these following videos: HERE, HERE, and if you’re looking for statics about online harassment then I recommend checking this article out!
Let me take a moment to talk about the good of this book. This book is true to what it is; a guide book, a self-help book, however you want to view it. I really loved how this book talked about the different types of conventions, navigating the conventions, budgeting and expenses, and even things to pack. Despite the fact that I’ve gone to various conventions, events, etc… for almost fourteen years, I still find this kind of information helpful and good for referencing. There’s even an ‘after the convention’ list that I would’ve loved to have had after all of these years. There’s also interviews in this book with various women in the industry who have worked on a plethora of nerdy, geeky things such as anime, DC and Marvel, etc… that I enjoyed reading, despite the repetitiveness and the awkwardness of some of the interviews. Also, this is a super quick read and most sections are very brief, easy to fly through.
Despite the few good things I found within this book, they weren’t enough to prevent the issues I had with a lot of the content within this book. One of the biggest things being the continued theme of misandry throughout this book. This is a huge issue for me especially when no one wants to talk about how this book is set up to convince you men are terrible and do nothing but terrible things. Throughout this book, the author continuously references how we’re all in this community together, how we’re supposed to be supportive of one another, no matter the gender, for about one to two pages, and then will spend the next three or four pages talking about how horrible men are and how their actions are always terrible towards women in nerdy communities. There’s actually a whole entire section based around ‘internet trolls’ that’s based in the context of assuming they’re all male. Even when the author talks about sexual harassment and assault in the cosplaying community, it’s always in the context of a man doing these actions. I can’t speak for everyone in the community, but basing my opinion on my own experiences and things I have witnessed as a cosplayer and LARPer, I’ve experienced and witnessed more female/female and male/male harassment and sexual assault than I have any situations that are male/female related. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but what I’m saying is we need to make sure we’re accurately talking about what really happens instead of assuming/creating a certain narrative to fit our own views. And when you continuously place these narratives of one side being innocent/good and the other being guilty/evil, then you’re continuing to cause rifts and issues within communities instead of helping it grow and make it a more positive community to be in.
Overall, this book was exhausting to read and writing this review has been something I’ve been dreading for a long time now, for a plethora of reasons. I don’t have the energy or time to list the multiple references to a lot of the things that were inaccurately talked about throughout this book (do your own research, listen to those who talk about the facts), point out every little thing that was wrong with this book, or even try to continuously explain to people how misandry is just as bad as misogyny no matter what community it is. If you can’t see the problematic issues within this book then I don’t know what else to say expect to check out the links I provided up above if you want to hear opposing opinions about a lot of the things that were talked about in this book. I wish so many things would have been handled in a different light especially since this is an introductory book, a guide/self help book and I know there are going to be young readers who will pick this book up and be influenced by this book. With the knowledge and experience I have, I can’t recommend this book because of the narrative this book takes on and I can’t support a book that inaccurately talks about a plethora of things.
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, 2021)
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.”