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Delicates (Sheets, #2) by Brenna Thummler

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Oni Press in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (March 16, 2021)

👻 Sheets ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, toxic friendships, manipulations, talk of death, mentions of racism, loss of a parent (in the past), loss of a loved one (in the past), allusions to depression, grief, depictions of suicidal ideation

“Except there’s nothing more delicate than a life.”

Friends, this graphic novel knocked my socks off! I really liked Sheets, but this Delicates was a whole other level for me. This graphic novel hit home in so many ways and I ended up in my feels. Brenna Thummler always has an important message in their books and the one in this graphic novel is so damn important. I just really loved this graphic novel so, so much and if you haven’t started this series yet, please do!

Following the events that took place in Sheets, Marjorie, our laundromat girl who looks after the ghosts who live there, is back in an all new story about navigating friendships and what it to be a middle schooler who feels out of place. Also, we’re introduced to a new character, Eliza Duncan, an avid photographer who spends most of her time in the school’s dark room and ghost hunting for her next photograph. Eliza doesn’t have any friends and through that loneliness (as well as Wendall), we see Eliza’s story truly unfold.

I love the characters in this graphic novel. When Eliza’s character was introduced, I instantly wanted to know more about her, about the backstory, and why Eliza likes to ghost hunt. I think many readers are going to enjoy Eliza’s character and the way her storyline plays out. Of course, I love Wendall and Marjorie, and the friendship they share with one another. I love how it’s not a perfect friendship, that there’s bumps along the way, but I love how everything comes together with them. Also, I really enjoyed the intersecting storylines of Eliza and Marjorie. They have a really rough path, but the conclusion with them was really wonderful.

“Humans are delicate too. The teeniest mistake can ruin them, even if you do everything else right. Just because mistakes seem small and insignificant, doesn’t mean they are.”

Of course, I have to talk family dynamics. I feel that this is one aspect of this graphic novel series no one talks about a lot. Marjorie comes from a single parent household, a widowed father of two. In the first book we saw him struggle with grief and depression. Now in book two, we see the hardships of what it means to be a single parent and trying to start you life again after the loss of your partner. There’s also Eliza’s family, who’s far from perfect. We see Eliza’s parents struggle to find balance within their home life. From schedule struggles to trying to co-parent the best they can of three children, these two are tackling the hardships the best they can even if it does stir up some disagreements. I love family dynamics and I love family dynamics that show the more realistic side of what families go through instead of the typical “rainbows and sunshine” family trope.

As I mentioned above, this graphic novel deals a lot with mental health. I think many of us can remember a time in school where we experienced peer pressure, bullying, or maybe some of us felt like outcasts. And Thummler doesn’t hold back from when we’re going through those hardships. This opens up to the bigger discussion of suicide and how during this point in many teenagers lives, they feel like they’ve hit a rock bottom and find it impossible to get back up once they reach that point. For myself, reading this was really emotional because of the friends I’ve lost to suicide and from the low points I’ve reached in my past. And I truly believe this graphic novel is going to resonate with so many readers like it did with myself. Truly, this graphic novel is going to touch the hearts of so many readers.

“Life is a precious thing, dearie. It has skin that feels. And feet that can dance. And hearts that can love and be loved.”

Overall, I loved this graphic novel so much. I love how there’s so many important themes laced throughout this graphic novel, how many important discussions this will spark. Truly, this hits like a ton of bricks and so many readers will resonate with the messages in this book. And I just wanted to say that if you do feel like you’re in a dark place, please reach out to loved ones or reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Please know that I see you, that you are loved, and that I’m so glad that you’re here.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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When Sharks Attack with Kindness by Andres J. Colmenares

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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.

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In Love & Pajamas: A Collection of Comics about Being Yourself Together by Catana Chetwynd

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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!

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Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story by Lauren Myracle & Isaac Goodhart

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and DC Entertainment in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (November 3rd, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of death, talk of suicide and suicidal thoughts, scene of attempted suicide, loss of a loved one (in the past), loss of a parent (in the past), grief, PTSD/trauma, terminal illness

“So. Fire. Ice. Both hold the power to snuff out life. But love. Stronger than fire, more powerful than ice. Where love surrounds, life abounds.”

I don’t talk about it often, my love and appreciation for one of the saddest love stories in all of the Gotham Universe. While there are many love stories, many ships and pairings that happen, none of them quite compare to the love story of Victor and Nora. Victor Fries/Mister Freeze is probably one of my most favorite Gotham “villains” and truly, he’s just a man on a mission to save the one he loves. Being able to read this graphic novel in advance and see a whole new take on Victor and Nora makes me fall in love with this couple all the more. Also, I now have a deeper appreciation doe these characters and their younger side

Our story follows Victor, a cryogenicist, who’s headed to Gotham Cemetery to visit his brother’s grave, as his grief and trauma weigh heavy on his shoulders. Nora and her family have just moved to a new house in Saint Agnes, to be closer to where her mother is buried. Upon their arrival at the new house, Nora decides to go visit her mother’s grave. Thus, these two characters cross paths and spark a very unusual conversation between one another. From here on out, these two will be pulled two one another and a romance will slowly bloom between them.

When I say I loved these two characters and how they come together, I mean I really loved these two characters come together. Victor isn’t like your typical love interest. He’s very soft spoken, brilliant, and so compacted with love and passion. And Nora, she’s one hell of a firecracker. She’s whimsical, sarcastic, and she brings people out of their shell. These two balance each other out incredibly well. The chemistry shared between them is apparent from the very beginning, despite the unusual conversation. I don’t talk about it enough because it’s such a fifty-fifty chance, but I like to believe there are the cases where two broken people can heal one another, love each other so fiercely and deeply, and make the world seem a little brighter. And I truly believe with my whole and soul that Victor and Nora are one of those relationships.

What I truly love most about Victor and Nora’s relationship is their love. Out of all the love and relationship pairings, none shine quite as bright as this particular relationship. These characters love one another so beautifully, so deeply, and I don’t think here has ever been a relationship in the Gotham Universe that had a more devoted partner than Victor when it comes to Nora. For those who aren’t familiar with the DC Universe or the Gotham Universe, Victor gave up everything for Nora. His love for Nora basically consumed him to the point of the only thing that has ever mattered has been finding a cure for Nora. Victor never cared if he came off as villain or how his actions impacted the those around him, his whole world revolves around Nora and finding the cure. And seeing how Nora and Victor come to love one another in this book, despite knowing everything they both carry on their shoulders, their love for each other grounds them in those difficult times. I really loved that the author included those moments of grounding because it’s so important to show how powerful love truly can be.

“Just, for years I’ve reached out to no one. And if anyone reached out to me… Well, I made sure to keep my heart protected. And then this girl comes along. And… and… She melts me.”

Of course the story itself is very well done. I’m not sure if the author actually researched the story of Victor and Nora, but reading this graphic novel felt like author did. I loved how the author alternated the story between Nora and Victor’s perspective. Most of the graphic novels out there only has Victor’s perspective of everything. So it’s a nice breath of fresh air to see Nora’s side of things. It’s also a nice change to see these this couple in their youth. Before Victor became Mister Freeze and before Nora became frozen. It’s nice to see these two characters in love and being in their relationship with one another. And just the mundane things like hanging out with friends and arguing with family. We also see the harder, more difficult side of things concerning their mental health and Victor who’s coping with his trauma and PTSD. I really appreciated see those sides of Nora and Victor. It’s just nice to see that side of these characters before everything became intense in their story.

And I have to talk about the art because as always, Isaac Goodhart has such a beautiful art style. I really loved seeing the Tim Burton type of twist in the beginning. That was such a pleasant surprise and I think that was my particular favorite. However, the artist has a fantastic way of highlighting these scenes that are softer, kinder and the scenes that are intense like the panels where Nora is seeing the crow. The way those panels were designed with the shading and lighting really made for a great reading experience.

My only real issue with this graphic novel has to be the one key detail that’s always remained true to Victor and Nora’s story line. Victor and Nora were and always have been married when Victor froze Nora. While I’m not sure if this was an intentional change for the story, given the audience this graphic novel is trying to target, but this is one key element that should have been included especially since this could have impacted the way this graphic novel concluded. Even more so, it seems the scene of attempted suicide was included (which has never be a part of Victor and Nora’s story) to replace the fact that Victor and Nora have been married. If you were to really look at the context of the graphic novel, we already see Nora and Victor fight over Victor suggesting he cryogenically freeze Nora until he can find a cure. Then the whole scene of attempted suicide comes in to play. In a way, depending on what you take away from this, all of these events lead to painting Victor in a negative light and making it seem like he was giving Nora no other choice than to be frozen. For my reading experience, personally, I would have preferred if we saw them elope or actually have a wedding ceremony compared to this one tweak of their story line. It comes off as hopeless, very negative way to lead into an ending for this graphic novel and I think it would have really benefitted this graphic novel to have a little more good scenes than fully wrap this graphic novel up on such a heavy note.

“But I don’t care. I’m just happy to be alive. Happy to be in love.”

Overall, I really enjoyed myself reading this graphic novel. I definitely think the marriage panel could have been added in to help balance the heaviness of the ending and to also stay semi-true to Victor and Nora’s original story. Also, I think this graphic novel shouldn’t have been so heavy with the death and suicide elements. If this graphic novel is targeting a younger audience, I’m not sure if going the darker route was the best path to take especially when it concerns those who are typically reading middle grade level books. However, I really liked this. It was so refreshing to see these characters outside of their usual setting, you know, Victor being a villain and Nora being fully frozen. And if you couldn’t tell, I just really love and appreciate the love story that is Nora and Victor’s. My heart felt so full reading this. And I have to mention the mental health and trauma/PTSD representation was very well done. I really liked how we got see those pieces throughout the book. I definitely recommend this to those who enjoy the DC Universe or even the Gotham Universe. I especially recommend this to those who love Victor and Nora’s relationship like I do. And of course, if you need a quick read or you’re look for a new graphic novel to pick up then I have to recommend this graphic novel!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Space Battle Luchtime Vol. 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion (Space Battle Lunchtime #1) by Natalie Riess

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Oni Press in exchange for an honest review.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Scene of abduction, mentions of cannibalism, allusions to death

I’m not going to lie, when I saw that Carey Pietsch had a blurb for this graphic novel, I knew I had to read it. I’m so glad that I did! The synopsis alone will have you curious what lurks within the pages of this graphic novel. This was such a cute and creative read that combines space and cooking competitions in one. I have no doubt that many readers will enjoy this story and I’ll be over here, waiting for Space Battle Lunchtime Vol. 2 to float my way!

Our story follows Peony, who works in a small cafe, until one day a unique stranger strolls in asking if she’s ever dreamed of being a cooking competition. Suddenly, Peony is whisked away to the set of Space Battle Lunchtime, a competitive cooking competition, where each round in judged and whoever has the lowest score is dismissed. Peony not only gets to experience space, but encounters various alien species as she cooks against the galaxy’s top chefs. But among all of the hustle and bustle of the competition, something strange seems to be happening and Peony is going to find out first hand.

I really liked Peony as our main character. I think she’s very cute, sweet, and creative. I feel like she’s the type of character who makes friends really easily, connects with people through the food she makes, and has a positive energy about her. I also liked that Peony’s skills were put to the test. Even though she’s thrown into a situation where she doesn’t know how everything works, she’s able to think quick of her feet and we see her creative skills put to the test. And I just loved how that didn’t dissuade her from giving it her best effort.

I also have to put in here that I absolutely love Peony and Neptunia together. Neptunia is one of the contestant chefs on the show. Neptunia is very much a lone wolf, has that vibe of being very mysterious, but there are a few moments that kind of give it away that Neptunia is a cinnamon roll. I think they balance each other out really well and I think the slow burn of their connection is fantastic. And we already have a ship name, Petunia! I really hope the next volume will have more of them and maybe we’ll see a little development with them. Seeing them work together in the competition and the subtle way Peony asked Neptunia out to dinner filled my soul with so much warmth. I truly love them so, so much!

The art style is absolutely beautiful. The coloring is vibrant and there are particular moments where those vibrant colors really highlight and emphasize that moment. It reminds me of a few graphic novel series I read and I find that I really enjoy when there’s vibrant colors, but not to the point where it feels too busy. There was a good balance and I think many readers will enjoy the coloring as well.

Despite the things I loved in this graphic novel, I had a few issues. For starters, this graphic novel felt too short and the storyline felt like it rushed everything. I think this graphic novel would have benefited if it went into the 200 page mark. I say this a lot especially with graphic novels, graphic novels benefit really well from extra details. For example, Peony has never seen aliens before or knew they existed, Peony never has never heard of the show and it gets brushed off with a short response, and there’s also gaps of information where it concerns the chef Peony replaced. It that extra page or two with those type of details that can make a difference with the reading experience.

My other struggle with this graphic novel was the villain was made too obvious. I counted close to ten times it was made painfully obvious who the villain was and the connections to the shady things happening in the book. When I read a book that involves shady dealings, sabotage, and characters vanishing, I don’t like the answer to be shove into face right from the beginning. I think the storyline would have done better, not only with extra details, but if we saw more allusions and mystery around who was doing everything. This is incredibly important because there are four to five times stated throughout this book that everyone knows who is responsible for these things happening yet no repercussions happen.

Overall, I truly had a fun time reading this. I think it really would have benefited from extra details, extending the length of the book, and making certain things less obvious. I’m curious to see how volume two will play out. The ending of this graphic novel does end on a cliffhanger and I’m eager to know what Peony will do. I definitely recommend this for those who are just looking for a fun, quick read. This is a graphic novel that’s very much designed to be more entertainment and to be consumed in a short amount of time. So keep that in mind when picking this graphic novel up.

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Teen Titans: Beast Boy (Teen Titans #2) by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and DC Ink in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (September 1st, 2020)

👻 Teen Titans: Raven | Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Body shaming/insecurities, bullying, talk of animal euthanization, animal testing/experimenting, child experimentation (on MC), underage drinking

For starters, I’m so very honored to have received an arc of this graphic novel. After reading Teen Titans: Raven and how beautifully Kami Garcia captured her, I was even more excited when I heard Beast Boy was the next in the series! I love the Teen Titans and I have been a fan of DC Comics for a very long time. However, I never owned any Teen Titans comics (they’re just to hard to track down in unused, unopened). So this series has a special place in my heart and I’ll let you in on a little secret, Beast Boy is my favorite Teen Titan. Needless to say, I really loved this graphic novel.

17-year-old Garfield Logan has spent much of his time being ignored or overlooked. So when he can’t check anything off his bucketlist and the clock for senior year running short, Gar realizes he needs a way to get noticed. If he can’t impress the Chosen Ones at his school, Gar may never know what it’s like to matter. So when the opportunity arises for him to partake in a wild dare that no one before him has ever been able to accomplish, Gar can’t help seizing the chance to show he has what it takes to fit in with the Chosen Ones. But soon Garfield will realize, many things are starting to change and he’ll uncover the truth of what’s really happening with him.

I loved Beast Boy. Throughout everything; the shows, the comics, movies, videos games, etc… Beast Boy is still fantastic and amazing like he’s always been. And I truly believe many readers who are younger, who pick this graphic novel up, they’ll connect with Gar and the way he struggles with fitting in and wanting to be more. He’s just a really relatable character and I think that’s why I’ve always been a fan of Beast Boy. He’s just everything it means to find your place in the world and finding a place where you matter to people despite your flaws.

“There’s a lot more to me than pulling pranks and cracking jokes.”

We have to talk about Gar’s best friends. They were great characters to add into this book. Stella is a Black gamer and streamer, who just so happens to work at the local shelter. Daniel “The Tank” (possibly Asian-American) is on the school track team and later on we learn he has dyslexia. Both of these character were fantastic and even though they don’t understand why Gar wants to be part of the Chose Ones, they still love and support him. Ever time the three of them are all together, it melts my heart and they’re friendship is so pure.

Of course I have to talk about the art style! Gabriel Picolo is so talented and every time I read another book in this series, I swoon because the art work is truly beautiful. It has a way of setting the tone especially in those moments where Gar’s body was shifting to the skills of one of the animals. You can tell how much love Picolo poured into this novel and how they express their adoration for Beast Boy.

Overall, I really loved this graphic novel. I don’t want to talk about it too much because I don’t want to spoil this graphic novel for anyone especially if they’re just discovering Teen Titans. But this book gave me everything that I hoped fore. And of course, we also see Slade again in this graphic novel! It was just everything and I can’t wait for other fans to pick it up. If you haven’t read Teen Titans: Raven yet, definitely check that out because that was done so well and just really showed what you would expect of Raven in her younger years. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Kami and Gabriel continue doing this series together and I’m hoping, really hoping Cyborg is the next one in the series! Then I can have my three favorite all together!

Read for The Reading Rush 💚

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a parent, bullying, transphobia, medical examination difficultly, violence, oppression, abandonment

Friends, I have to say that I was really surprised by how much I fell in love with this graphic novel. I loved so much about this book from the the art style to the captivating story line, I really appreciate so many elements. This world is whimsical yet dangerous as a witch. You can also read this comic for free HERE!

Witchy is a graphic novel that takes place in the witch kingdom, Hyalin. Within this kingdom, the witches who live here are dependent on the length of their hair and depending on the length determines how powerful that witch may be. Thus, they take great pride in their hair length while those with shorter hair are often looked down upon. However, if a witch’s hair is too long, the government within the kingdom will hunt you down and burn you to your death. There’s also a school in this kingdom that teaches the youths to harness and develop their powers. These students are tested in their magical abilities, and if they complete all the tasks then they can be conscripted into the military guard to protect the kingdom. With this, many young witches and families see this as another great honor.

Yet our story doesn’t follow someone who loves their kingdom or desires to be part of the military guard, we follow a young witchling called Nyneve, who has a very different view of things. After she saw her father burned alive for being a powerful witch, Nyneve has come to resent the government of the kingdom and is forced into hiding her long hair. With the day of the conscription getting closer and closer, Nyneve begins to worry that someone might discover her secret.

During this whole book we follow Nyneve as she tries to survive the conscription at her school, following the ramifications of her actions, making friends in the unlikeliest places, and a new journey to discover the truth of this kingdom. The world itself is vast and beautiful, as we shift from scenes like the country side to the city, all the way out into the forest. There’s also some scenes inside an abandoned temple and you can tell just how much history the temple holds.

We also have a very diverse cast. For starters, the family dynamics with Nyneve and her mother. I’ve said this a few times in past reviews, but I have a super soft spot for books with a single mother household (I come from a single mother household). We also have many characters of color (I’m not fully sure, but I want to say most of them are South Asian), there’s a transgender character (I have no doubt they’re going to play a larger role), we also have multiple plus-sized characters featured throughout (but there are various body types featured throughout this book).

I also have to take a moment to appreciate a side character called Banana. They’re a talking raven who ends up finding Nyneve in the forest. Their banter together is hilarious and even though he’s a little ball of grumbles, all they want to do is help and protect Nyneve. It’s so precious and I can’t wait to see how they’re role comes into play later on!

“If others pull you from the darkness, it’s because they believe your life is worth living. Don’t push them away because you don’t feel you deserve it.”

Overall, I truly loved this graphic novel. I don’t want to reveal too much because I think any reader who picks this graphic novel up should go in without knowing too many details. I’m really curious to see what will happen next in this world. I want to know more and lowkey ship Nyneve and Prill together. And of course, I can’t wait to see more of the hilarious banter between Banana and Nyneve. I love reading books that have characters who take their own destiny into their own hands to choose their own path. I have high hopes for the next installment and I hope you all give this graphic novel a chance!

Read for The Reading Rush 💚

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The Tea Dragon Tapestry (Tea Dragon, #3) by Katie O’Neill

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and OniPress in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (September 1st, 2020)

🐉 The Tea Dragon Society | Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

🐉 The Tea Dragon Festival | Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

🐚 Aquicorn Cove | Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐

🐚 Dewdrop | Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Grief, depictions of depression, and loss of a loved one

“Every Dragon is different, too. And Ginseng Dragons are known to be very loyal.”

Friends, are you really surprised that I fell in love with another book by Katie O’Neill? I loved the first two books and have loved other works by Katie O’Neill. When I found out about The Tea Dragon Tapestry, I instantly knew I wanted to read it as soon as possible. The fact that this is supposed to be a conclusion to this series has me wanting even more from this world. Keeping those fingers crossed for more book featuring Tea Dragons and new characters to fall in love with!

Our story brings all the characters we’ve met from the first two books together, but also introduces us to a new character, a master blacksmith, who comes to seek the work of Greta. Our cast is so delightful, voice their challenges or personal struggles, and wonderfully diverse. And of course, so many important topics are discussed and addressed in this book.

“You feel like you’ve lost your path. It’s natural to be sad. It’s alright to let those feelings wash over you, and give them time to soak into the earth. That’s when things start to grow again.”

I really loved that we get to see more of Minette and her journey. If you remember from the last book, Minette seems to have some memory loss and also the new owner of Chamomile. We see how Minette handles feeling like she’s strayed off her path and how she finds her way back to feeling like herself. Speaking of which, I loved the moment she shared with Eric and gave a bit a wisdom that really had an impact with Minette. And that leads me to believe the first series topic that you can see so much of throughout this book is a feeling of being lost or missing something that was once something that sparked life in your soul.

Of course, I have to talk about grief and loss of a loved one. While it’s a more subtle theme, we see how grief and death impacts someone, and those around them. When Ginseng was first given to Greta in the last book, we learned that Ginseng previous owner had died. We knew Ginseng was grieving, but we never got more insight to it. However, this book shows Ginseng grieving and the depression that can come along with that. So we get to see both sides of the grief that’s taking place in this book. There’s a moment where Greta is trying to get Ginseng to eat something which leads to a moment of both parties feeling emotions of sadness and loss. When Greta’s Papa came into the picture, they spoke a truth that hit so deep within my soul. That very moment is so powerful, so important, and I think one of the best scenes in this entire book.

I also really loved the master blacksmith, Kleitos. I thought they were a fantastic character to introduce into this story. I liked how they’re a character who seems to be around the same age range as Erik and Hesekiel. And I loved how Kleitos talks about how losing the passion and inspiration for their blacksmithing. I loved those scenes where Kleitos is figuring things out and how sometimes you need to take a step back or to take a break from it all. Greta and Kleitos also shared a moment and I quote, “Looking at this work, I see that you have much to learn… but I also see that I do too.” When I read that, my heart filled with so much warmth. Even though Kleitos is a master blacksmith, felt like they lost their passion and love for their work, that single moment shows that you can still learn in your craft, there are still things that can surprise you, and rekindle that flame within you. A fantastic character to add into this book!

“My dear, that is something you cannot control. When someone is grieving, the best thing you can do is let them heal on their own, and show them that you’ll be there for them.”

Overall, this book is soft, filled with many important topics, of course wonderful family dynamics, but fills the soul with so much warmth and wholesomeness. Tea Dragons are probably my favorite dragons now, thanks to Katie O’Neill. And as I mentioned, I truly hope we see more of this series, these characters, and this world. I feel like there’s so much that hasn’t been explored yet. I can’t wait to see what O’Neill comes up with next and hopefully we’ll see more Tea Dragons soon! If you were thinking about picking any of these book, I highly recommend them. They’re soft books laced with important topics that everyone needs to read about. Plus, the illustrations are always stunning!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Mass Effect: Discovery by Jeremy Barlow

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Other creators involved in the making of this graphic novel include: John Dombrow, Gabriel Guzman, & Michael Atiyeh

Content/Trigger Warnings: Minor xenophobia/racism (directed from humans to Turians), death, violence, talk of assault

Okay, I can explain, but first you need to hear me out. I swear, I didn’t know this was a Mass Effect: Andromeda Initiative graphic novel. In fact, the first time I saw the cover I instantly thought of Garrus Vakarian. And of course, my love for Garrus was such an obvious, logical answer that my brain said it didn’t need to read the synopsis of this graphic novel before purchasing it. So that’s what happened. But seriously, this wasn’t that bad of a graphic novel and I’ll just throw it out there… Fellow gamers need to give Mass Effect Andromeda a break for a hot second.

Our story follows a turian solider, Tiran Kandros, to investigate the Andromeda Initiative after they suspect them of using illicit Geth technology. However, getting to the bottom of things won’t be that simple. He’ll have to team up with the intimidating Luna Shanks to hunt down a missing Quarian scientist, who happens to hold the secrets of the Andromeda Initiative. But one Salarian mercenary is about to shake their mission up and make things twice as difficult.

Honestly, this wasn’t a terrible story line. As you read, you can’t help wanting to know the answers as much as Tiran. For those who are aware of Mass Effect, we get to see some familiar faces too. We see Nyreen and Aria both make an appearance in this book, and let me just tell you, the way they interact in Mass Effect 3 is the same in the graphic novel. Not to mention the action in every scene is so eye catching that it’s almost impossible to turn away for the context. However, I wish this would have been a little bit longer. I felt like we could have gotten a lot more from the story if it had only been a couple pages longer.

“I don’t know what’s waiting for us on the other side of 600 years… But I can’t wait to find out.”

However, I really liked that this graphic novel took the opportunity to show and talk about having a well recognized family name. There’s this theme of how riding the coattails of your parents or your family name isn’t always easy, full of rainbows and sunshine. Sometimes you have conflicted feelings and you want to branch away from that and make your own name. And I really liked how at the end of this graphic novel, we see Tiran decide to branch away from his family, get a new start, and really begin the next chapters of his own story. So I really appreciated that part of this book and I think many readers will love that.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad graphic novel at all. I think many lovers of Mass Effect will enjoy this graphic novel even if it is the Andromeda Initiative. I know if this had been a little bit longer then I would have given this a full five stars, but it definitely felt like the ending was rushed a bit and it needed to be just a tad longer. Besides that, I really enjoyed my time reading this graphic novel.

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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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🗡️ 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

🚂 Griffin McElroy – Dugeon Master; podcasting, karaoke, weaving a rich tapestry of drama

🚂 Magnus Burnsides – Human Fighter; battle, carpentry, everything else…apparently

🚂 Taako – Elf Wizard; spell-casting, transmutation, gastronomy

🚂 Merle Highchurch – 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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