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The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited! by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, & Carey Pietsch

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πŸ—‘οΈ The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of death, murder, depiction of decapitation, swearing

Friends, if you thought I was just going to stop with the first book of this series then you thought wrong! My inner nerd is screeching at high levels because of this book, for so many reasons. My number one, favorite thing in adventure books is a good murder mystery. Needless to say, I was hooked from the very title and it just gets better the minute you open the page. I’m not kidding, if you have checked The Adventure Zone out yet, then you need to go look into it, immediately!

If you couldn’t guess by now, this book follows our main characters after they decided to join The Bureau of Balance, to help save the world and maintain, well, balance. Our heroes have been made reclaimers, they retrieve artifacts that could threaten the very existence of the world they live in. Upon receiving their new jobs, they are thrust into a new mission, to locate and retrieve a new artifact that’s more dangerous than the last they encountered. Now they’re on the Rockport Limited trying to locate the artifact only to be thrown into a murder mystery. Not only will they have to protect the world this time, but they’ll have to protect the innocent passengers of the train from a serial killer

πŸš‚ Griffin McElroy β€“ Dugeon Master; podcasting, karaoke, weaving a rich tapestry of drama

πŸš‚ Magnus Burnsides β€“ Human Fighter; battle, carpentry, everything else…apparently

πŸš‚ Taako β€“ Elf Wizard; spell-casting, transmutation, gastronomy

πŸš‚ Merle Highchurch β€“ Dwarf Cleric; healing…supposedly, now specializes in nature domain

From the dungeon master to our side characters, you will absolutely fall in love with each and every one of them. In the first book we were introduced to our main characters, Magnus, Taako, and Merle, but now we have an array of different characters. In the beginning of this book, not only do we get a recap of everything that happened, but we get reintroduced to The Director who is the head of The Bureau of Balance and Killian, the orc warrior we met in the first book. While they only play minor roles in this book, they’re both important characters to the overall story. Our side characters, however, are fantastic! Many readers are going to fall in love with Angus McDonald (the world’s greatest detective), Graham (a human wizard with an obsession of trains), and Jess the Beheader (prized fighter, weilds an axe that’s soul bound to her). They all great characters in their own way and I absolutely adored the various personalities they added into this adventure.

“Like I said, I am the world’s greatest detective and I am on the trail of a serial killer named… the Rockport Slayer.”

I think I say this all the time with any nerdy read, but this graphic novel was like coming home. This is a series filled with content that I’m more than familiar with. I play video games, I do LARPing, I do cosplay, I have also played plenty of D&D in my time, and reading The Adventure Zone reminds me of how much I love all of those things. So yes, every time I open the pages to these books, it’s like opening the front door and greeting my family, saying I love you to the person I am, and just acknowledging that these are things that I love, and I don’t want to lose that feeling, ever. So, I think for many readers who have a nerdy side to them, who love D&D, love a wild adventure that will hold your attention for days, I think readers will fall in love with The Adventure Zone as much as I have. Plus, dad jokes!

“Admittedly… This looks cool… But STILL! This is stupidly dangerous and he’s probably gonna die! That’s our boy!”

Of course, like the first book, this book is filled with so many things hilarious things and though book two has some serious elements, I still found myself wrapped up in giggles. There are so many great moments that are hilarious, awe striking, and moments that will twist your gut, but you can’t help loving it all. It’s the perfect balance of so many good elements and I think it’ll be easy for many readers to get wrapped up in this story.

And if you haven’t seen the stunning art for this series yet, then you really need to pick up a physical copy! The art style is absolutely stunning and constantly keeps my attention on the pages, lingering just a little longer before turning the page. I truly believe the art is one of my favorite things about this series and it’s so easy to feel a certain way on each panel. It’s perfect in every way and choosing one panel to love more than the other is so so difficult. It truly is enthralling.

Overall, I love this series and I’m patiently waiting for the third book to come out. Yes, that’s right, book three is coming out in July of this year! I’m so excited and I can’t wait for it to be here! We don’t have any details on what it’s about, but hopefully all the questions we had from this book will be answered in the next. Seriously, I can’t recommend this series enough. It’s a piece of my heart and I truly hope you’ll pick it up as soon as you can!

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Check Please!, Book 2: Sticks & Stones (Check, Please! #3-4) by Ngozi Ukazu

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πŸ’Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey | Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Hazing, underage drinking, homophobia, anxiety/panic attacks

“It’s about having each other’s back. Because they’ve taught me I can be strong just how I am. Exactly how I am.”

My heart is so bitter sweet right now! I can’t believe that this is it. This is the last book in the Check Please duology! My heart is full, but sad at the same time. I love all these characters, this story, and there’s a part of me that’s excited to see what Ngozi will come up with next! If you haven’t read this series yet, hop on it! It’s so wonderful and it’s a piece of my own heart. I think this duology has made into my top five favorite graphic novels and I’m not okay!

If you haven’t read the first book, well, you definitely need to change that asap! Book Two follows introduces us to Bitty’s junior year and with that, we follow up on how things ended in Book One. So you have to go read the first book before diving into the final book. However, I will keep this review as spoiler free as I possibly can!

Of course we’re following Bitty (Eric Bittle) in his junior and senior year, and boy have things changed! Bitty is now the captain of the Samwell hockey team and he’s facing all kinds of new challenges. Like how to manage the team and trying to be the best captain for the team that he can be. We also discover that Bitty is dating someone and we watch them navigate the struggles of being in a relationship with one another. And of course, Bitty is still his typical self with baking, cooking, and all the food goodness! I was living for all the food in this graphic novel!

That aside, I really loved this book a lot more than the first one. While the first book was more about Bitty coming to college and how he became part of the hockey team, book two deals with a lot harder topics. For example, Bitty and his boyfriend navigating their relationship, figuring out who they want to tell and how open they want to be about their relationship. We see the hardships and we also see how coming out can be hard, scary, painful, and being unable to find the words to tell the ones you love most. There’s even a scene where Bitty and his father end up in a very heavy topic. It really shows how being out in your sexuality can cause someone such internal turmoil and the emotional strain one may be enduring.

There’s also really great representation throughout this entire book as well. You have players from different nationalities, there are actual characters of color on page, and there’s so much lgbtqiap representation! Now can you understand why I love this graphic novel so much. It has everything a reader could want in a book and there is a bisexual character as well. So you know my heart is filled to the brim with happiness.

“God Bits, I wish I could kiss you.”

We also see a lot of our favorite from the first book as well! They’re there for all the important points and we even get updated on how they’re doing since they left Samwell. Even though they’re not around as much, they still remind us of why we love them so much. Plus, in the back of the second book, we find out Shitty’s real name! One of the biggest highlights of this whole book. And even though a lot of the original crew isn’t around too often, the new member we meet are just as entertaining, charming, and captivating as the first crew.

I just love this graphic novel series so much! And the ending of this book was absolute perfection! I don’t think I’ll ever be over this duology and any chance I get, I will probably be recommending it to anyone who’ll listen. This is such an enchanting book with great characters who you’ll fall in love with. Besides, I’m not much a sports reader, but this is one sports book that I will sing the praises of for all eternity. I hope you fall in love with this duology as much as I have, love these characters as much as I do, and just enjoy the ride of it all!

Read for the Stay Home Reading Rush πŸ“–

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Eat, and Love Yourself by Sweeney Boo, Lilian Klepakowsky

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ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchanged for an honest review.

This review is being published on the release date (April 21st, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Fat shaming/fat phobia, body dsymorphia, eating disorders, depression, anxiety

Dearest friends, let me start by saying that there will be many pieces in this review where I am speaking from my own experiences of eating disorders, body dsymorphia, and disordered eating, and that I strongly urge anyone who picks this graphic novel up to be in the right head space before reading. I will be addressing many things in this review and I think it’s important to state that everyone who reads this graphic novel will experience it differently than others will. I truly liked this graphic novel and I think many readers will like this graphic novel. However, this book did miss a few marks for me and I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little disappointed.

Our story follows our main character, Mindy who suffers from bulimia and body dsymorphia. One night when she goes grocery shopping, she discovers a candy bar she never heard of before and soon realizes this chocolate bar isn’t like all the others. This chocolate bar takes Mindy back to points in her life to teach her a lesson to hopefully bring her closer to loving herself and seeing the true value despite what others say.

For starters, the art work in this graphic novel is very beautiful and absolutely captivating. The coloring of each panels really helped set the tone and the experience for the readers. I also really enjoyed the way the chocolate bar was used as a way of flashing back to the past. I thought that was a really creative and unique way on the author’s part as well.

I also really appreciate the harsh reality of what eating disorders are like and the way various eating disorders were handled in this book. As someone who had bulimia nervosa from a very young age into pre-teens and is still dealing with disordered eating, the representation definitely landed all the hits. You can tell that the author truly understands eating disorders and is written by someone who lived it. I do have the content warnings listed above so please make sure you are practicing self-care when reading this graphic novel. There were some parts that definitely sparked some need for self-care with myself. So please make sure you’re in the right head space. I will say that this graphic novel is brutally honest at addressing fat shaming, fat phobia, and eating disorders especially due to a lot of scenes being from friend and family. However, even though these are people a person can care about, they can still find ways to hurt us by saying hurtful things and using “we only want what’s best for you” as a way of justifying their actions.

Despite these positive things, I definitely had some issues with this graphic novel. For starters, I felt very underwhelmed emotionally. I stated that I have lived with eating disorders almost my entire life now and it just didn’t pull on my heart strings the way it has for other readers. My experience with eating disorders has always been a very brutal relationship especially when it came to the loved ones around me and the things they would say. So when the scenes of conflict with the loved ones arose, it felt like things were swept under a rug and never truly explored in depth. I feel like an opportunity was missed on a proper conversation happening between Mindy and those loved ones. I would have loved to see her really sit down and have those conversations.

My other issue was the ending. By the time the ending rolled around, it should have felt like Mindy learned something. However, once again I felt very underwhelmed and feeling like Mindy learned nothing. It almost felt like the conclusion to the story was rushed. I also want to point out that there was never any true feeling of Mindy learning to love herself through this entire book. As we read through the book we see Mindy see how everything started to happen and she does acknowledge what is happening to her. However, we never get a true sense that Mindy fully understands what it means to love herself. All we have is the ending where she states that she’s going to do better by her body. That’s it, it’s no address in further detail or even concludes with bonus content with some time that has passed. We just have her saying she’s going to do right by her body. I really wish we would have gotten a couple more pages or even a more in depth look at how she’s going to start doing right by her body instead of the feeling that it did.

Overall, I did like this book and I think it’s a great message at addressing eating disorders in a more visual tone. However, I would have liked more from this graphic novel, in so many ways. I also would have liked bonus content ending on a more positive note of reclaiming her body and actually treating herself with more kindness. I think many readers will enjoy this book, connect with it, but for myself, I truly wish there had been more depth. The art work, however, is absolutely stunning and I think many will love it as much as I do.

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Happily Ever After & Everything In Between by Debbie Tung

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ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchanged for an honest review.

This review is being published on the release date (June 2nd, 2020)

Dearest friends, this was just the sweetest read and a great way to kick off the month of April. I absolutely loved this comic and in some ways, remind me very much of my own marriage with my partner. It’s funny, charming, and just the little things about married life. It also reminds you to take a moment to appreciate everything you have in these challenging times. The perfect read if you need that quick pick me up!

Our story follows two characters who are newly weds. This book shows their every day life and their interactions with one another. They share funny moments, the chaoticness that can come with being married, and even moments of awe. We even have moments where they spend time with their friends and it shows how things can change once you get married. The moving scenes are absolute hilarious perfection!

I really loved this book and I loved all the moments the couple shared. I think many newly weds and even married couples will be able to relate to this graphic novel very easily. The characters are easy to see oneself in and even if you’re not married, I think someone could related to the things happening in this graphic novel. The ending is probably the sweetest part though! It ends on such a feel good note and I would be lying if I didn’t say I ‘awe’d’ a few times before finally turning the page.

Overall, I think it’s easy to tell that I enjoyed this graphic novel and found that it brought a lot of sappy feelings into my heart. I think now is the perfect time to pick up all those feel good books and this is one you don’t want to miss out on. It’s super endearing, really precious, and just the book many readers need in their life right now! I highly recommend giving it a try and letting the wholesome goodness of this book make you a little warmer!

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Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Cheating/adultery, domestic abuse, toxic relationships/abusive relationships, sexual assault, rape, mental and emotional abuse, verbal abuse, manipulation, anxiety, forced marriage, scene of torture, trauma/PTSD, alcohol abuse, scene of drugging, and so much more!

“Even if by some miracle, she did consider me… The Underworld is no place for a Goddess like her.”

Readers, it’s high time I told you about my favorite webcomic…ever! I have been reading Lore Olympus for an extremely long time. I’m talking about before this webcomic made it onto Webtoons. I’m talking back when it first appeared on Tumblr. And I think it’s high time I talk about my love and passion for this webcomic again! I love and adore this webcomic with my whole soul, my whole being, and I can’t stop loving this series. It’s just a beautiful and captivating series.

If you haven’t heard of Lore Olympus by now, just know that you can read this webcomic for free here! It’s also getting produced into a television series and just know, that I’m eagerly anticipating more news on when this will be happening! The excitement and anticipation is real!

On a different note, this web series is a modern retelling of Greek mythology, more specifically the mythology around The Taking Persephone, which Persephone and Hades are the main focus of this graphic novel series. Along the way you will see many other gods, goddesses, and titans throughout mythology that get woven into the story along the way. For example, the story of Eros and Psyche is one of the many stories that get intertwined with the story of Persephone and Hades. It’s all beautifully woven together from flashbacks and memories to present time.

I really love how all the side gods and goddesses come into play with this graphic novel especially with the development of Hades and Persephone. They both have a wide variety of interactions with so many of the titans, the goddesses, and gods. We get to see how each one interacted with our two main characters of this web series. The best part is the interactions feel so humanized and the facial expressions really make them seem like every day mortals. I’m a big fan of facial expressions and seeing so much variety from curious to devastation really cemented how unique each and every character truly is with their experiences.

One of my most favorite aspects of this graphic novel series is the serious topics that it rises. As I mentioned above, there are a lot of content and trigger warnings for this web series and the way each topic is handled is with a lot of care, but accurate representation of what those situations can and are like. Even more so, Rachel has a way of using her color to really set the mood and put emphasis of the scene. Rachel also adds trigger and content warnings for her more heavy and serious issues. And you all know how I love and support authors who take the time to address that heavy content is coming! I just really appreciate the amount of time, effort, care, and emphasis Rachel used for this content. And I say this a lot, but I truly do wish authors took more time and care to address heavier content and trigger warnings for readers. This is just one of many things I love about this series!

Another thing I really love about this series is the artwork! I really loved and enjoyed watching Rachel develop and grow her color scheme as well as the manifestation between the lighter and darker tones. It has been a breathtaking experience and it’s one of those things that has really made me love this series on a deep level. The colors are so eye pleasing and just captivating. I’m attracted to the use of shades of a wide variety and Lore Olympus delivers on so many levels.

And if I still haven’t sold you on everything that goes on with this webcomic then let me say this, the story line and plot is just too good to ignore. I love mythology and I can openly say, anyone who isn’t overly familiar with Greek mythology will still be able to enjoy this series. I know a lot of readers stress about whether or not they need to have a strong knowledge of Greek mythology to be able to understand and enjoy this series and I truly believe anyone can read this webcomic. I have recommended this series to so many people, friends and family who aren’t even into mythology, and they enjoy it so much. Every Saturday and Sunday, I receive texts and messages from them saying, “It’s Lore Olympus Day!” And the conversations you can have with fellow readers of this comic just reaches above and beyond. Out of all the webcomics I read, I never run out of things to say about this series. This is one of very few webcomics that I still have on going conversations about and still have immense excitement about especially as it get’s closer to the drop of a new episode.

“Just like me. The same as me.”

Overall, I just really love this series with my whole heart and soul. This is one series that I feel deep within my soul and ache for every weekend. I’m obsessed with the stunning artwork and the tensity in the story line. If you’ve been sitting on whether or not you should start this graphic novel, then let this be the voice that convinces you to jump on board. These are characters you will fall in love with and Rachel is just an absolute lovely soul. I will support her and her work until the end of time because I love what she’s doing, I love the world she’s building, and the world seems a little brighter with Lore Olympus in it!

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

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

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

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

πŸŽƒ Characters πŸŽƒ

πŸŽƒ Jolene NguyenAbilities: Technopathic and emotional manipulation

πŸŽƒClaire BettanyAbilities: Psychic intuition, visions, reading the cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

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

“I always thought they were so sweet together.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, violence, swearing

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

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

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

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

πŸŽƒ The Characters πŸŽƒ

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

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

πŸŽƒ TaakoElf Wizard; spell-casting, transmutation, gastronomy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🌻 Fence Vol. 1 β€“ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Fence Vol. 2 – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sheets by Brenna Thummler

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of death, loss of a loved one, grief, depression, manipulation, bullying, depiction of abandonment

“Patience is the thread of healing.”

Marjorie Glatt is thirteen years old and has a lot going on. She’s the one keeping her family together and running the family laundry business, but it’s not only that. Her daily routine consists of dealing with unforgiving customers who want everything perfect, unbearable P.E. classes filled with backstabbing and bullying, and dealing with constant pestering of one Mr. Saubertuck who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
Wendall is a ghost… a ghost who was once a young boy who died far too soon. Not only that, he’s a ghost who doesn’t like living among his other ghosts. His daily routine consists of ineffective death therapy, a sheet-dependent identity, and a badgering need to seek life fulfillment and purpose in the forbidden realm of the living.
Our two main characters will collide as Marjorie’s world gets turned upside down and thrown into chaos. Wendall will uncover something dastardly brewing in the shadows. Together, they come together in a whirlwind of what should be the impossible and the struggles of just making it day to day.

Sheets follows two main characters named Marjorie Glatt, who has one too many struggles for a thirteen year old, and Wendall a ghost who is searching for purpose in the mortal world. Both of these character come together in a ball of chaos when on one night, Wendall slips into the Glatt laundry business and turns it into his own playground. Soon, Marjorie is trying to grasp at the life she’s been working so hard to keep from slipping through the cracks. And just when Marjorie is at her lowest, Wendall is the unlikeliest friend to rush in and save the day.

Friend, I have such mixed feelings, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say this graphic novel pulls at my heart strings. My heart was a empathetic mess with this graphic novel and I’m still sorting out my feelings. But I guess the best way to try to sort that out is try to write a review on it. The good, the bad, and all the goopy moop of my feelings that still haven’t stopped aching since finishing this graphic novel. So let’s give this a go and take a trip down this road!

For starters, this isn’t going to be a light heart telling of a tale. There’s some serious underlying messages that this graphic novel sheds some light on. There’s a heavy presence of grief and depression in this graphic novel. We see how Marjorie’s father is struggling with the loss of his with and we also see glimpses of Marjorie who still remembers her mother vividly in flashbacks. There’s even a part that I would say almost borderlines trauma for Marjorie as it flashbacks to the accident of her mother’s death. In all honesty, I’m grateful to see a graphic not only show the grief and depression, but also showing what it means to keep going forward even when everything hurts on the inside. I think anyone who has lost a loved one and has had to carry on with moving forward even when it feels like everything is in shambles. I really appreciated the author diving into that especially since this book is a middle grade read and in my opinion, it addresses grief, death/loss, and depression all in a really great way. And near the end, there was a moment where you could truly feel Marjorie breathe again and finally have the comfort she deserved after everything.

I do want to add a little footnote here. It’s something that I have been debating since finishing this comic and even now I’m still unsure if I should mention it. However, I’m going to mention it anyway! So here goes! Ever book will have a hero and a villain. So we get introduced to a character named Mr. Saubertuck pretty early on and having to read about his character was probably the most frustrating thing, more specifically his actions. Reading this graphic novel, a lot of his actions felt like harassment directed to Marjorie. And with his character acting so business aggressive, I just didn’t find it sitting well with me that this kind of behavior was being directed towards a thirteen year old girl and it definitely felt like he was backing Marjorie into a corner. While I understand he’s supposed to be the “bad guy” in this story, it definitely felt like his character could have been taken in a different direction instead of the way it was taken.

And if you want to talk about art, oh gosh it’s so beautiful. The color pallet is soft and easy on the eyes, but I find that it was really ascetically pleasing to the eye. For me, it feel so familiar and nostalgic; almost like I was being swept away in old photographs or classic movies that had first been released in color. I think my biggest issues was the art style stirred more of my soul than the actual story-line of this book (but we’ll get into that in just a minute). The art work is so captivating especially when the author singles out flashbacks or story-tellings and I find it’s a shame because the art is so moving and it makes you feel a thousand things while the story doesn’t quite match up.

Out of all the things this graphic novel offers, my biggest issue was the pacing. Rating it four stars wasn’t an easy choice, but the pacing is the one thing that definitely prevented me from giving this book five stars. In the beginning, the pace is absolutely delightful. I found myself really enjoying the pacing and how the story was taking the time to get us familiar with Marjorie’s situation. Even Wendall’s parts were more steady and gave off a slow build. However, in this graphic novel you hit a certain point and then it was like someone flipped a switch. The pacing completely changes and it feels like the end was rushed into a wrap up. It definitely threw me off while I was reading because one minute things are a nice steady pace and the next it was like everything escalated in a matter of minutes. It was very hard to get past that change and I definitely feel like this novel could have used a couple more pages to just wrap things up.

Overall, I think this graphic novel is really cute and it addresses some powerful things. I just recently learned that there might possibly be a sequel called Delicates. I might end up picking that up this fall just to see if Wendall and Marjorie’s story continues on. And speaking of fall, this will definitely be a cute graphic novel to read during the fall or more specially during the month of October. You just get so many fall vibes while you read this book and the setting inside the book definitely feels like fall. This was a really cute read and I definitely think many fans of graphic novels and comics should give this one a try!

“I guess any place can be okay if you choose to enjoy it.”

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