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.
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
🚂 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!
Content/Trigger Warnings:Toxic relationships, talk of mental and emotional abuse, talk of cheating, scene of grief, sexism
When three witches have their home broken into and some valuable, ancient, magical items are stolen, these three witches are about to saddle up on a road trip along the East Coast. On this road trip they’ll retrieve their stolen belongings, fight for one another and strengthen their friendships, help others, and track down the thief before any damage can be done.
Readers, what isn’t more perfect during the fall and spooky season than a book filled with butt-kicking ladies who are also legacy witches?! It too perfect! Plus, add in a road trip element and I’m sold! This was such a great graphic novel to read this fall and I truly enjoyed so many wonderful elements this book offers. If you need a great comic packed with action, female friendships, and magical elements that pair well with some hot apple cider, then look no further!
🎃 Characters 🎃
🎃 Jolene Nguyen – Abilities: Technopathic and emotional manipulation
🎃Claire Bettany – Abilities: Psychic intuition, visions, reading the cards
🎃 Andy Highsmith – Abilities: Mastery in spells, charms, and potions
In this five-issue, graphic novel bind up we follow three twenty-something legacy witches, Claire, Andy, and Jolene, as they take a road trip to reclaim their stolen belongings and prevent utter chaos from happening. On their adventure they’ll encounter many obstacles and become closer than ever with one another. There will be magical happenings, side characters that will capture you attention, and moments that will have you falling in love with our main heroines.
And if all of that hasn’t sold you on this graphic novel yet then let’s talk about how diverse this book is! We have a diverse cast from our main characters to our side characters. There’s also a f/f relationship between two middle aged women who both come from different martial situations and it gave me so much life! There’s also a strong support and theme of positive female friendships and I can’t get over it, we need more of this in books! I challenge you to pick this book up and not finding something to love about all of this!
As always, whenever I pick up graphic novels that are a bind up of multiple issues, I like to do a spoiler free breakdown of each chapter in my review. This graphic novel is a bind up of all five issues of the Spell on Wheels series and so this calls for a break down! I will keep this as spoiler free as possible and will only try to give enough details to intrigue your interest.
🎃 Chapter One – We’re introduced to our main characters and we also follow the perspective of the thief who broke into the home of our main characters. This also causes the start of our main heroines deciding to take a road trip to recover all of their stolen belongings.
🎃 Chapter Two – Our witches have set out on their road trip and have arrived at their first destination to recover the first object on their stolen belongings list. We get a glimpse at what Jolene’s powers can do. We also see a moment of Claire and Andy have a disagreement during a party. As well our heroines’ challenges of finding the orb.
🎃 Chapter Three – Our main characters are still trying to find the identity of the thief while making their way to their second destination to reclaim a planchette. We’re introduced to our queer couple in this chapter and the struggles they’ve been having with a ghost. Also, something dark and evil intentions become revealed.
🎃 Chapter Four – Onward to three third destination, our ladies meet Paul or otherwise known as The Goat Man! If you’re a fan of Beast before he turns back into a prince then this is going to be the chapter for you! We see Andy’s abilities come to life when she discovers some rare herbs the Goat Man has. We also get a lot of information regarding the thief and the challenges our main heroines were having.
🎃 Chapter Five – The final destination and the final obstacle for our witches. Claire will face down the thief that has caused her so much pain and grief, Andy will be thrown for a loop when the darkness finally reveals it’s true self, and Jolene will be the wall of support and unconditional love Clair and Andy need.
While I loved the majority of this book, there were two things that really prevented me from giving this graphic novel five stars and I think for many other readers it will be the same. My first issue is Claire. Out of all three main characters, Claire is probably my least favorite of the three. There were a lot of moments where I thought she was being reckless or over-reacted too much. There were two incidents that really did it for me where I just knew I was never going to to like her. The first incident was during the party where she came off as having a bad attitude the whole entire time and it almost felt like she instigated a fight with Andy. As much as I tried to give her a pass or chalk it up as “she’s not a drinker, so she’s probably not into party scenes,” that whole entire scene left a really bad taste in my mouth. The second incident was near the end when they finally caught up to the thief. Claire handles the whole entire situation with violence and high levels of aggression. I understand what the author was trying to do in this scene, but for my reading experience, it wasn’t executed very well and in the end it paint Claire in a really negative light for me. And my final issue with this graphic novel is the way it ended. This graphic novel ended in a way that it can make readers believe there are more to come in this series or there will be another volume. From the time I heard about this graphic novel to current time of writing this review, there have been no announcements of plans to continue the series or any plans in the future for more issues to come. I think the way this all wraps up and hints that there’s more to come is really going to impact the reading experience for how readers feel about this graphic novel.
Overall, this was a really fun book to read for the spooky season! So many witchy vibes and magical elements thrown into this graphic novel. Along with so many great elements that really set the mood! If you’re looking for a quick read to set the mood for the eerie, spooky goodness of October then this is a comic book you’re not going to want to miss!
“It’s dangerous as hell out there. You three better cowboy up.”
Welcome to The Adventure Zone! Join Magnus the human fighter, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Taako on an adventure that they can barely handle and are poorly equipped for. Joined by the snarky and witty Dungeon Master, Griffn who will guide them and decide their fates. Prepare for an adventure that will leave you giggling and smirking, face-palming to know end, and tugging on every heart string you have!
I’ll be honest reader, my inner geeky nerd has been screeching at the top of her lungs since I picked up this graphic novel. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I’m a gamer, cosplayer, and LARPer so my excitement is at an all time high. And honestly, this comic was hilarious and everything I wanted and needed right now. These characters will have you laughing your pants off and choking on your soda. I’m so glad that I picked up a copy and I’m so glad I put it on my fall reading list!
The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins follows three lovable characters who end up with the worst luck. Set on an adventure to get a job done for Merle’s cousin, Bogard, everything slowly starts going wrong. Bogard is missing, his business partner is missing, and there’s a big ambush! Soon our adventurers will find themselves at the mercy of their Dungeon Master and caught up in something that’s a lot bigger than they are.
🎃 The Characters 🎃
🎃 Griffin McElroy – Dugeon Master; podcasting, karaoke, weaving a rich tapestry of drama
🎃 Magnus Burnsides – Human Fighter; battle, carpentry, everything else…apparently
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!
“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.
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 Nine – This 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 Ten – All 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 Eleven – The 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 Twelve – Everything 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.
Content/Trigger Warnings:Bullying, harassment, minor racism, scene of parental abuse/child abuse, talk of death
Magic is harder than it looks and it always comes with a price. Moth Hush is a thirteen year old who loves all things witchy and is just trying to survive school. She’s about to learn witches aren’t like how they are in fairy tales and movies, they’re more complex. When the bullies at her school take things too far, strange things begin to happen. Now Moth’s world will open up to things she never even knew about before. That is if her mother doesn’t stop her first. From talking cats, to family secrets, all the way to flying brooms… Moth’s life will never be the same again.
Readers, this was the perfect book to put me in the mood for the spooky season! Black cats, magic, and witches, oh my! I have been eager for all things witchy and spooky. And this graphic novel was the perfect way to fall into the mood. From the fall setting to all the magical witchy things happening, this is a super cute graphic novel to get anyone ready for Halloween.
This was such a cute and precious middle grade book to read! From the bond between Moth and her mother to the talking cat, all the way to Moth making a friend who’s just as quirky as she is, I loved every piece of this book. This graphic novel has so much to offer and I think many readers will enjoy this book. Plus, what better way to bring in the fall season then to curl up with a graphic novel packed with witches and magic with a gorgeous fall setting?! There’s also some really great representation in this graphic novel. We get main characters who visibly brown skin and we also get two different family dynamics! Be still my beating heart!
I truly loved Moth’s character in this book. While this graphic novel does take place close to Halloween, you can tell that Moth wears her uniqueness on her sleeve. She doesn’t bend to what the world wants her to be like and it really shows her uniqueness. And when she reveals her room, I couldn’t helping being in awe. She really devotes herself to the things that she loves and it was so nice to have that little glimpse. I also really love the bond Moth shares with her mother. Even though throughout this book Moth’s mother tries to prevent Moth from learning and magic, there’s a lot of love and a strong bond there between the two of them. That bond really shows at the beginning and end of this graphic novel. The way Moth and her mother feel about each other so strongly is so wholesome and touching.
And can I take a moment to gush about the artwork? The artwork is simply stunning and there’s so many pages where the mood it really set thanks to the artwork on the pages. It’s extremely easy to get wrapped up in the story and the artwork because of the way they flow together. I think it’s some of my most favorite art style for a graphic novel that I’ve seen so far and it definitely left an imprint on my memory.
However, my only true issue with this graphic novel and why I feel like I can’t commit to giving it five stars is due to a lot of history. This graphic novel has a way of reading like a history lesson and the readers are in class. There’s a lot of talk about the witch trials and colonization that gets focused on heavily throughout this book. Often times, this graphic novel felt like you really had to pay attention otherwise you would miss a lot of this that happen later on in the book. It all felt very school-y and homework-y for my tastes. It truly felt like I was sitting in history class all over again and I was about to get a pop quiz on witches and colonization. Also, I’m even sure how accurate the witch trials and colonization were represented in this book. I can definitely testify that the witch trials did originally start in the UK and Europe, which later on expanded over into North America, but past that I can’t speak for how accurate things were.
Overall, I truly did enjoy this graphic novel. It was a great way to kick off the fall season and get in the mood for all the spooky things to come. If you’ve been here a while, you know I love different family dynamics and this graphic novel offers so much of that in that diverse family department. It truly warmed my heart o see a single mother and her daughter in this book, but also see the dysfunctional family side of things as well. It was a breath of fresh air. But in all honesty, if you’re looking for a book to put you in the mood for fall, Halloween, and everything that comes along for the ride then this is the book for you! There’s so much representation and the main character is absolutely precious! Plus, there’s a talking cat!
“There’s no reason you can’t start being a guardian now, even if it’s a little later than you intended.”
Dearest friends, if you thought I was going to miss this book then you are mistaken. I have eagerly been waiting for this book to drop ever since I finished The Tea Dragon Society. I loved the first book so much that I constantly go back and reread it just for something light and sweet. Now I can finally say that I will be rereading both of these books for comfort and happiness! And friends, I love this book, I love it with my whole heart. I love it as much as the first one and I truly hope we’ll be seeing plenty more in this series. If you haven’t thought about picking up either of these books, let me be the one to recommend both of these books to you with my whole heart and soul. If you love dragons as much as I do, you need these books.
This graphic novel starts off by showing us some very familiar faces. Erik and Hesekiel are back again, and it feels so good to see their pleasant, adventuring faces once more. They’re back to give us some good banter, but also as bounty hunters back to track down something ancient that’s causing people to fall asleep for years. But this story isn’t just about them. Our true star of this book is Rinn, who wants to become a great chef/cook. And one day while Rinn is out gathering some supplies for the village, she stumbles upon a sleeping dragon named Aedhan. After finding out their story, Rinn invites Aedhan to the festival.
What I love most about O’Neill’s work is she always makes them so diverse and this book delivers so much. There is a strong presence of Sign Language being used and taught throughout village in this book. O’Neill also included a section in the back of the book for more information on Sign Language for readers to learn more. Also, our main character Rinn is nonbinary/genderfluid. There’s also a conversation between Rinn and Aedhan about dragons being genderfluid and how dragons like to choose between the two genders, as well. And remember Erik and Hesekiel? Well they’re in an m/m relationship and they’re the cutest! Plus, the cast of characters is visible with brown skin.
“Just because something comes easily to you, does not mean it has no value. You find it effortless because you love it, and that is why it is your gift.”
Something I truly appreciated in this book was that moment between Rinn and Aedhan where Aedhan was teaching Rinn about how dragons can shift between genders. It was so beautiful and it made me feel very soft. As someone who used cross-dress and go by a gender neutral name; it was such an emotional moment and it made a huge impact with my reading experience of this book. I wish I had books like this growing up to say, “This is a thing, it’s normal, and there’s other out their like you.” Not only was that moment so movie, but seeing Aedhan tell Rinn how they’re worthy, they have value, and they shouldn’t feel lesser for the enjoyment and pride they get out of doing what they love… my soul left my body. Even more so because reading that moment shared between them, it came when I really needed to here those words the most. So now this book is completely imprinted on me!
Another thing I truly loved was how much emphasis was put on cooking in this book. Food and cooking is such a universal thing no matter where you come from. And I truly appreciated that this book really showed how you can cook with love, how cooking and learning from your elders is so important, that preparing the food and gathering supplies can be an intimate moment shared between two people. It’s something that can be done by anyone and at the end you can see the joy and the unconditional love shared between everyone who is partaking in the meal. In my family, cook is a very special thing. We’re taught to always cook and bake when you’re in a peaceful mood, a joyous mood, when you feel enlightened, or truly happy because those emotions will be poured into the food you prepare. Even now, I still like to uphold those traditions. So seeing how much the author put a focus and emphasis on the power of cooking, how it can bring people together, the intimacy, and the true beauty of cooking… I’m still very soft and caught up in my emotions.
Overall, I loved this book and I truly, deeply believe it’s a masterpiece that I hope more readers will read! I said it in the first book, but I’ll say it again here, I love the artwork and how captivating it is, how much emotion radiates from a panel. Both books have filled me with so much comfort, happiness, and joy, I truly hope Katie O’Neill will give us more from the Tea Dragon universe. Each book has such meaningful focuses and messages and I want everyone to read her books. Plus, I’m truly grateful for the reminder of you’re always worthy, you’re always needed, and you deserve love.
This review is being published before the release date ( September 10, 2019)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, guilt, minor violence/fighting, medical issues, stereotypical prejudice
Moon is everything Christine feels like she’s not. She’s confident, outgoing, makes friends easily, and they both live in the same Chinese-American community. Unlike like everyone else, Moon is different from everyone else Christine has ever met. After some struggles brew, Moon’s family ends up moving into the spare unit behind Christine’s family home and soon a friendship starts to bloom between the two. But nothing is ever perfect… When a catastrophe strikes and Moon is soon thrown into a whirlwind of struggles, it’s up to Christine to find her courage and be the friend Moon has always been for her.
Stargazing is a graphic novel that follows our two main characters, Christine and Moon. Christine comes from a strict family and constant stress of wanting to be good enough, being perfect enough. Moon comes from a single parent household and is everything Christine isn’t. Carefree, impulsive, and confidence constantly radiates from Moon and Christine can’t help being drawn to her like a moth to a flame. What seems like an unlikely friendship blooms into the best of friends, if not the perfect friends. Both girls end up sharing secrets, painting toe nails, and even plan to attend the school’s talent show together. However, their friendship gets put to the test when the unimaginable happens.
Friends, this was such a cute read! I couldn’t help feeling connected to both main characters and understanding their individual struggles. I’m just sad that this wasn’t longer and that it ended so quickly! I really wanted to read more about Moon and Christine’s friendship! I think anyone who reads this story is going to understand or fall in love with at least one of these characters and their own tale.
“You actually want her to change. You want everything to be perfect! Especially me!”
Seriously though, the family dynamic in this book made me feel so noticed. Moon comes from a single parent household and Christine comes from a strict family, never have I felt like a book understood my childhood. I find that in a lot of books, we never see the strict family dynamic or see the single parent household too often. So seeing a book have both of those dynamics, it made me feel a little soft. I grew up in a strict household until my mother branched out on her own and I just felt a little mushy seeing my two family dynamics represented. It’s not often where I can say ‘I feel represented from a family aspect’ and I love that I can say that with this graphic novel.
I also need to take a moment to appreciate the fact that both main characters felt like real kids. We all had struggles growing up and I think the author does a really amazing job depicting what it truly means to struggle as a child. There’s so many moments that feel so real that I felt like I was reliving my own childhood. For example, there’s a moment where Christine and her dad go out for dessert and Christine ends up confessing how she feels like there’s a pressure on her to be perfect. That moment had me choking back sobs. It’s a really great moment and there’s so many in this graphic novel that so many readers will be able to relate to. I truly think this is going to be a book that is going to let younger readers know, “Hey, you’re not alone!”
Not to mention there’s parts of this story that tie back to the own author’s experience! When the tragedy in this story comes to light, it’s also something that’s happened to the author. And I can’t express how grateful I am that the author mentions this in the back of the book. I love a book that has a personal touch and you can definitely feel that touch with Stargazing.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book! I already read The Prince and the Dressmaker and fell in love with that graphic novel. So I went in hoping that I would feel the same way with Stargazing and I’m so glad that I did. I definitely think if you’re a lover of Jen Wang’s work then this is going to be another graphic novel you’re going to want in your library. It’s super cute, very precious, and I think many readers should pick this up on release day. Also, the book tour is posted below!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
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.”
Content/Trigger Warnings: Alcoholism, overdosing, suicide, trauma/PTSD depiction, violence, death, murder, abuse, depiction of depression, grief depiction, forced hospitalization/institutionalization, abandonment, loss of a loved one
“I could never save all of them on my own.”
Save Me (The Most Beautiful Moment in Life 0) is a graphic work story that’s takes a dive into the BTS’s BU (Bangtan Universe), which is a universe where BTS was never formed, even though all of them went to the same school together and they all became really close and good friends with one another. Yet, our story begins where all seven members are split from one another and haven’t talked to one another in quite a long time. You can find and read this comic for free HERE!
On a quick side tangent, if you’ve never seen the music videos I NEED U, RUN, Epilogue: Young Forever, then I definitely recommend watching and listening to these before or after reading this comic. The contents of this comic will come to life before your eyes in all three of these videos. So make sure you watch them in order. And personally, I think these are the most important videos you can watch before diving into this comic. And even though I have listed a lot of the trigger and content warnings above, please keep in mind that this story is very dark, has some graphic content, and can impact you mental health. So please practice self care and make sure you’re in the right head space when reading this webcomic!
Jin is our main star of this webcomic because he has the ability to travel back in time and hoping he can change everyone’s fate, set things right. Jin loses touch with all of his friends after he travels to go study abroad. Now he’s back and he can’t help thinking about all his friends and what happened to them, but that’s not the only thing. Jin keeps having this strange dream that keeps haunting him, with all of his dear friends at the bottom of the ocean. Now, he’s waking up everyday on April 11th, trying his best to remember what’s been reoccurring and trying to find the best way to save all six of his friends from the tragic fates that await them.
🌻 Seokjin (석진) – Wakes up, missing his six best friends and wondering how their lives have turned out, when he slowly finds out the terrible and tragic things that have been happening to all of them. He may have the power to go back in time, but he’s going to need all six of his friends to help keep one another safe.
🌻 Namjoon (남준) – Works at a gas station, but is being detained for assaulting a driver.
🌻 Yoongi (윤기) – Is trying to commit suicide after his mother died in a fire.
🌻 Hoseok (호석) – Abandoned by his his mother for a very long time now and is now hospitalized with a diagnosis of Munchausen syndrome.
🌻 Jimin (지민) – Also living at the same hospital with Hoseok, feeling abandoned by his family, and suffering from very serious depression and suicidal thoughts.
🌻 Taehyung (태형) – Is being jailed by the police after murdering his father, who was abusing him and his sister.
🌻 Jungkook (정국) – Looks like he’s attempting suicide by walking into traffic.
Everything about this webcomic is absolutely beautiful, heartbreaking, and something I didn’t know I needed in my life until I had finished reading. If you want art work that flows beautifully together and captures the eye, then this is comic you’re not going to want to miss! Not to mention, this story was crafted so well and even though I’m not a big fan of the “Groundhogs Day” storyline, I was fully invested in the storyline and what all seven boys were going through. This has probably been one of the most captivating graphic comics I have read all year (and I’ve read a good chunk of graphic novels this year)!
And can I just take a moment to say that this comic will shatter you to pieces in the best way?! This is such a hard webcomic to read in one of the best possibly ways. ARMY loves BTS with their hearts and souls, that reading these dark themed, alternative timelines is so challenging. But BTS is so aware of the platform, the power, and how much of a difference they can truly make, I think they’re doing incredible work by shining light onto really hard topics and bringing some strong awareness.
I think this was such a hard comic to read, not only because of the hard topics, but I can’t imagine a world without BTS. I don’t want to know it and I don’t even want to think of it. BTS is just a bright beacon of light in a world that’s on fire. They bring so many people together and spreading so much positive energy all over the world. Thinking about the many generations that are just discovering BTS and the message they’re spreading, it’s a lifetime of happiness and love that can’t be measured. BTS is a blessing to the world and I’m forever grateful that I get to live in the time where I can experience it all, watch it bloom, and make a difference to so many lives.
And the true heart of this story? Friendship, unconditional love, and what it means to find that and what you’d be willing to do to preserve that. The answer? It’s anything. BTS has such an unconditional love for one another and they value their friendship more than anything and that always shines through in everything they do. I have no doubt that they wouldn’t move mountains for one another. To find a friendship and a love like this is a once in a lifetime kind of deal and doing anything for that love and friendship…it’s everything!
Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a more breathtaking comic to come into my life. This webcomic means so, so much to me and has touched my heart in all the soft spots. I fell in love with BTS back in early spring, right after a bad car accident, and my co-worker had introduced them to me. I always loved K-Pop, but I have a special place in my heart for BTS and what they have done for me since their music came into my life. I’m so eternally grateful for the amazing content BTS (and BigHit) gives us, and this webcomic was just one of the many pieces that have touched a soft spot in my heart. This alternative universe story, it’s heart-wrenching and soul shattering, as it is. I will probably forever scream into the void my recommendation of this story especially to anyone who loves BTS or is a BTS fan. And as always, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be in the right head space while reading this story and to use caution because of the dark materials and all the content/trigger warnings.
“Each and every one of you makes me want to give it all up… And when I think I can’t possibly fall any lower, you pull me back on my feet.”