ARC Reviews

Cryptid Club by Sarah Andersen

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This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

ARC was given by NetGalley & Andrews McMeel Publishingm in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (September 20th, 2022)

Oh my spooky heart is so full from reading this graphic novel and I can’t wait to pick up a physical copy of this to read whenever I want! I had such a wonderful time taking my time reading each section, enjoying the art, and the little cryptids we get to meet. I think all my spooky lover friends are going to have such a joyous time checking this graphic novel out. And if you’re like me, who’s new to this author’s work, I think this is a great place to start because it certain has me wanting to read more of Andersen’s other books.

Cryptid Club is a bind up of short comics about various cryptids and their unknown life, and why they tend to avoid humans. Some of these cryptids you might be familiar with such as Bigfoot or Mothman, while others aren’t as often addressed or talked about socially. We get to take an inside peek at the struggles these monsters have and while also seeing a lot of cute, humorous moments that will have you giggling in delight.

I really loved so many sections of this bind up. I think my favorite pieces had to be ones featuring Mothman and the Loch Ness Monster. I have a particular soft spot for those cryptids and being able to chuckle to their little moments was such a pleasure. Although, the moments with the ghosts were absolutely precious and just little treat moments. Plus, we have a little ‘release the kraken’ moment and it was so wholesome and precious that my heart was so full. There were so many wonderful moments and delightful moments that I think many readers are going to enjoy and adore.

Overall, this was a really wonderful, cute, and delightful read especially as a cryptid and spooky lover! I can’t recommend this book enough to all my fellow cryptid lovers out there who may be looking for some cryptid goodness with a big dash of joy and humor thrown in. I think there will be some readers out there who may feel this graphic novel is on the more weak side of humor, but I found it had just the right amount and enjoyed my time reading it. And of course, if you’re looking for a book that you can fly through, whether it be for reading goals or readathon, this is sure to be a winner for those and spooky season!

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ARC Reviews

The Woman in the Woods and Other North American Stories edited by Kate Ashwin

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ARC was given by NetGalley & Iron Circus Comics in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (April 5th, 2022)

My heart, my freaking heart is so damn full right now! There aren’t enough words to convey how happy I am to have an arc of this graphic novel anthology right now. I ended up missing out on requesting an arc for this anthology and had it wish-listed, and as fate would have it, while on vacation I was surprised with this sliding into my library. If you haven’t heard me talk about how emotional I get every time I get a book by a Native/Indigenous author/s then here it is right here. I’m so emotional, so so grateful, and very privileged to have this right now.

As an Apache reader, book blogger, this anthology means the world to me just as all literature I receive by Native/Indigenous authors. If you would have told a very young, child Malli that I would be able to see more Indigenous people in literature that isn’t from a stereotypical lens and actually by Indigenous authors, I probably would have laughed and then broke down into sobs. Growing up as an urban Native and as someone who has spent years reconnecting with one’s heritage; you end up missing a lot of things, you can’t always go to PowWow, your elders aren’t always available to teach you, you have to devote large portions of time to learning your dialect (in my case, Eastern and Western Apache), and so on. So receiving this anthology, seeing stories I recognize, having heard these stories from my elders or others of my own age, it just means everything to me. It is everything.

As always for my anthology reviews, I have mini reviews for all the short stories where I talk about my thoughts, feelings, and include content/trigger warnings.

As It Was Told To Me by Elijah Forbes (Odawa) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a story about creation and The Creator, and about life. This story had me super emotional because I couldn’t help thinking about a similar story I was told from my Auntie. It got me really emotional and soft thinking about her and when she told me about how creation was a sort of awakening, how Creator created other gods/deities, and the way everything came into being. Reading this story, I just felt instant connection and just reminded that even if the story is slightly different, all tribes are connected to each other because of a story like this one.

“They were the most sacred being, feminine and masculine. Not in parts, but both at the same time.”

Chokfi by Jordaan Arledge & Mekala Nava (Chickasaw) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This story is about how animals became vain because of their coats. Chokfi being a very proud rabbit, became curious after hearing about Otter’s coat being the most beautiful and his plot to make Otter’s coat his. I think the Trickster stories are always my favorite stories to hear from my elders because each story is different depending on the tribe. For example, a lot of Apache trickster stories revolve around coyote (which I feel in modern day is used, along with foxes, as trickster icons). Look, I’m not saying I’m biased, but this was one of my favorite stories from this anthology.

White Horse Plains by Rhael McGregor (Métis/Cree) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Brief mentions of starvation, brief scenes/mentions of violence, and brief scene of implied death

Honestly, this was the story that held my attention the most. This story revolves around the growing conflict between the Sioux & Assiniboine and the Cree. I find that so many stories in literature (in general) constantly revolve around the colonization and the wars that constantly broke out during that whole time period, but we never see the struggles and conflicts between different tribes very often. And for me, this story was the main reason this anthology caught my attention in the first place. I had only heard faint whispers about the White Horse Plains, but never had a chance to ask anyone about it or get the chance to research into the story itself to learn more. And this was both sad, tragic, but understandable and beautiful in some ways.

“It’s believed the spirit of the bride resides within him, helping steer those who are lost or misguided onto the right path so that they do not fall into a tragic fate.”

The Rougarou Maija Ambrose Plamondon & Milo Applejohn (Métis) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of killing animals, mentions loss of loved one (in the past), grief

I think this one surprised me the most out of all these stories. The stories of the Rougarou are something that I’m very partial too and I guess in a way, I connected with this particular story on a very deep, emotional and personal level. This story is about a young child to encounters a Rougarou and befriends the Rougarou, and the story behind this child’s Rougarou friend. This story, though short, has beautiful themes and I cried reading this whole story. I think this is going to be my most loved and preferred story of the Rougarou thus far.

“You put yourself in potential danger because you could sense help was needed. Facing your fear is a great sign of bravery.”

Agonjin In The Water by Alice RL (Ojibwe) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If there was ever a story to remind you of how sacred water is, let this one story be it. If you don’t know, water is very sacred to Native/Indigenous people especially the plains tribes because droughts can be intensely rough to get through. This story does a fantastic job of emphasizing the importance of water and also the importance of story telling. And the artwork really helped paint a vivid picture for the reader.

“I cherished these stories and would love to share them with others as I grew older. And as I grew older, the water, our source of life, began to change.”

The Woman In The Woods by Mercedes Acosta (Taino) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Honestly, my breath hitched reading this story. For starters, this was my first time reading any story from the Indigenous people of the Caribbean. However, everything about this story was just so beautiful and the artwork really added to the beauty of this story. I wanted a few more pages of this story because I was just fully enthralled by everything, but I’ll settle for the few in this anthology. It was just so good and so breath-taking.

“Be careful of what you accept from spirits. Accepting their gifts binds you to them. Though some of us were never meant to be with anyone else.”

Into The Darkness by Izzy Roberts & Aubrie Warner (Navajo) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If there was one story I wasn’t expecting to encounter, it was this short story right here. And I should have known from the synopsis of the book, too! However, I ignored my gut feeling and thought, “No, it wouldn’t possibly be…” and then it was. I bamboozled myself! But in all honesty, just the fact that I know what this story is about and how vividly remember my aunties and uncle telling me about this… Shivers and chills, down my spine. If you know, you know, and if you don’t then count your blessings.

By The Light Of The Moon by Jeffrey Veregge & Alina Pete (S’Kallam) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Again, this seems like an obvious story I’d love, but any stories that revolve around the moon and I just immediately swoon. This story is about how the Moon fell in love with the Octopus Queen, and how some marine life became bioluminescence. I loved this story, from start to finish. I think starting the story from the perspective of two divers and concluding the way it did was chef’s kiss. This is definitely another favorite that now lives in my brain, rent free.

“Her movements were a ballet that spoke directly to the Moon’s soul.”


I gave The Woman in the Woods and Other North American Stories five stars overall, because out of the possible 40 stars (5 stars being possible for all 8 stories) this anthology accumulated 40 stars (100%)!

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

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ARC Reviews

Taproot by Keezy Young

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ARC was given by NetGalley & Oni Press in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (July 5th, 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk and themes of death

“I’m just a gardener.”

What a cute and wholesome read! I’m always a sucker for a graphic novel that feels light, but also can make me feel a certain kind of emotional and this graphic novel does exactly that for me. And honestly, I’m kind of keeping my fingers crossed that maybe this will turn into a series because I’d love to continue following these characters. It was a very lovely and whimsical experience.

Hamal is just a gardener, who works at a little florist shop. The only thing is he can see and talk to ghosts, and he has no idea how he’s able to. Blue is a ghost, but he’s not just any ghost, he’s Hamal’s best friend and in love with him. With Hamal being able see ghosts, more keep flocking to him and his talents as a gardener continue to grow. Until strange things begin to start happening and a Reaper has suddenly turned up, looking for a necromancer.

I really adored these characters and I’m really glad we got to see a little backstory of how Blue and Hamal came to meet. Both of these characters are such soft, cinnamon roll characters that you can’t help rooting for, that you want to see come together in the best way. And speaking of characters, I absolutely fell head over heels for the Reaper. I adored their snarky, sarcastic tone, but also they way we find out they have a mushy heart and are a secret mushy hearted being. It was fantastic! The Reaper also gave me Suriel vibes and if you know then you know what I mean.

“Think of it as a favor you owe me. I’m a sucker for cheesey romance novels, and you two are terrible.”

The artwork was really stunning and captivating. The shades take on a soft tone, but when you move into those scenes of importance and seriousness, the coloring really emphasizes that to the reader. It feels very easy to get lost in the little details of the artwork, as well. I kept searching for any hidden secrets or little details that may hint to where the story was heading next. It was really enjoyable to get lost in the pages.

I think if I had to say anything negative about this book, it would be two things. The first thing is the romance in this story. It’s very insta-love and if you’re not a big fan of insta-love then this might be a bit of a miss for you. I find that for me, insta-love is very hit or miss and never anything in-between. The other thing, I feel like I say this with every graphic novel, is it felt very short and that some parts felt rushed. I think the author could have gotten away with adding more pages, a little more detail, and I think that really would have added more to the story as a whole.

Overall, this was a really fun read. I had a very delightful time reading this graphic novel and I really want to see it turn into a series. There’s so many characters in this one book that deserve the spotlight (like the Reaper, cough cough). If you’re looking for a fast read with wholesome cinnamon roll characters then I definitely recommend giving this graphic novel a chance!

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

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ARC Reviews

Zatanna: The Jewel of Gravesend by Alys Arden & Jacquelin De Leon

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This post contains affiliate links; if you use these links to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

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

This review is being published before the release date (July 26th, 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Near death experiences, death, loss of loved ones, grief

Oh my glob, friends! Receiving an arc of this comic came out of left field and I am shook! I was graciously blessed by the arc gods and oh, thank you because this was a wonderful experience. I don’t really talk about my favorite DC universe heroes too often and Zatanna has always been one of my favorites. She’s also a hero that we don’t know much about. Zatanna doesn’t have a huge backstory and she doesn’t get the spotlight that often in shows or comics, and it feels so good to see Zatanna getting the spotlight compared to a lot of other DC heroes.

Zatanna is the daughter of famous illusionists, Ezra and Lola Starr. In Coney Island, New York, Zatanna only wants to get away from everything and lead a normal life. A life that doesn’t involve being in the constant spotlight or even the center of her father’s stunts. When one night Zatanna it out with her boyfriend and friends, strange things begin to happen and she decides to confront the one person who may have answers. Soon, secrets and mysteries surround Zatanna begins to pop up, friends and foes lurk in the shadows to see what with become of this magician.

Again, Zatanna is one of my favorite DC heroes. I’m pretty much a lover of the kind of heroes that don’t often get the spotlight like Martian Manhunter, Huntress, Hawkgirl, etc… So seeing a comic come out with more of Zatanna’s childhood/teenage years was a big excited time for me. However, I’ve been hesitant due to these comics being written in middle grade style, but also they tend to feel hit or miss to how the characters have already been established from the get-go of DC Comics. And I’m happy to say that this is one where I really fell in love with it.

The artwork is absolutely breath taking and the colors of the cover instantly drew me in. Not only is the art style something that really captures me attention and really shows off the mood in ever panel, but the color pallet is one that speaks to me and feels very much like my own personality at times. Plus, I have to talk about the rabbit, Flop. The way the rabbit was given expressions had me on the floor dying because I loved it so much.

Overall, I had a great time reading this comic. I think my only real issue or downside I had was the lack of information we have around the foe/foes of this book. I think I would have liked to have seen a little more information about that, but still a fantastic read. Like with all comics, I recommend then for readathons and those quick reads for travel. And I can’t recommend this one enough. It’s a true whimsical time!

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ARC Reviews

Cat’s Cradle: The Golden Twine by Jo Riox

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Arc was given by First Second Books & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (June 21st, 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexism/sexist remarks, abandonment, displacement

Friends, this was such a delightful, whimsical read with stunning artwork! I know I usually talk up a lot of the graphic novels that I read, but I really enjoyed this one. It has monsters, a main character who is beautifully layered, an art style that pulls you in, just so many goods wrapped up in this graphic novel. Honestly, I wish I knew about this sooner because I would have talked about it sooner.

Our story follows Suri, a young girl who wants to be a monster tamer, but for right now she’s telling stories/legends of monsters, while travelling with her monster camp. However, things start to take a turn for the ominous when Suri discovers a ball of golden twine. Soon Suri finds her world being turned upside down and setting out on an adventure with an Imp and a giant-sized dog named Byron.

Suri was such a wonderful main character to follow. As a reader, I feel that I’m always drawn to characters who have a very headstrong, warm, but also lighthearted kind of presence, who wants to seize their opportunities throughout this story. Also, Suri is that kind of character you can’t help rooting for, you want to see her succeed and have the happy ending she deserves. And there’s a whole mystery around Suri about how she ended up with this traveling monster camp, why is this person of authority chasing after her and want her gone, and more so related to the end of the book, what will happen to Suri now that she’s on her own.

The artwork of this book is probably one of the most stand out elements. Though, all graphic novels usually have drop gorgeous artwork, but the color tones of this graphic novel really stuck out to me. It really resonated with aesthetics that I’m really drawn to. The design of the monsters really stands out as well. There’s a very eerie, spooky, almost ominous vibe expressed through the art style for these creatures. Though I do want to point out, this art style isn’t of a horror aesthetic. This is a graphic novel that’s directed more to younger audiences though I say anyone would enjoy reading this graphic novel especially in the fall/winter season.

Despite these wonderful elements, I still had questions that I doubt I’ll get answers to. Mostly, I had questions surrounding the backstory of our main character and the traveling camp. It feels like there’s missing details surrounding these two elements. This is also a fast paced read and with that being said, I felt like this could have been a longer graphic novel. I’m still holding out hope we may get some more details or more backstory about those two things and fingers crossed the next book with be a tad longer.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this graphic novel. It’s such a fast paced, whimsical read that I think many readers are going to fall in love with. It has such an amazing, magical feel to it and I’m really excited to see where this story goes in the next book, The Mole King’s Lair. I’m even more excited to check more books by Jo Rioux and I think this will spark many readers to look into more of this author’s work.

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Garlic and the Vampire by Bree Paulsen

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This post contains affiliate links; if you use the Amazon link to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

Content/Trigger Warnings: Depictions of anxiety and panic attacks

“You are much braver than you think.”

Friends, this is probably the most wholesome read that I’ve had the pleasure of reading all year, thus far! Can I just have all the graphic novels that consist of witches, vampire, adorable creatures, and wonderfully stunning art? Please? Pretty please with a cherry on top? I just loved this graphic novel a lot and the wait for the next book to release feels like forever even though it comes out this fall! Yes, Fall 2022 friends! Plus, the author did a cover reveal for the second book and it’s GORGEOUS!

Our story follows Garlic, an anxious vegetable who just wants to do their very best. Though they struggle sometimes, with the encouragement of their friend Carrot and the love they hold in their heart, Garlic always strives for happiness and to keep trying even if things feel hard. However, when one day some of the fellow vegetables see smoke coming out of the abandoned castle and there’s rumors it might be a vampire, panic sets it and Garlic’s neighbor Celery nominates them to go to the castle to ward off the vampire. Though Garlic is anxious, they’ll set out on a brand new adventure and maybe make a friend or two along the way!

Let’s take a moment to address the precious friendship between Carrot and Garlic! Too freaking precious and it makes me feel all the things! The way their friendship is so evident and the way Carrot always tries their best to look out for Garlic just fills my heart with so much warmth. Not to mention, Carrot never tries to change Garlic due to their anxiety, but instead constantly encourages Garlic to do their best and keep trying. What a freaking wholesome friendship! Also, Carrot casually uses they/them pronouns and seeing some nonbinary rep always fills my heart with so much warmth and joy.

Speaking of rep, let’s talk about the anxiety and panic attack representation in this graphic novel. Seriously, it feels so spot on. If you’re someone who has anxiety or panic attacks, I think this graphic novel will speak volumes to you. The way the author put so much love into the depictions of the anxiety and anxiety feels very authentic and almost like they’re pulling from their own experiences/knowledge. It made me really soft and as someone who constantly battles their anxiety, I felt very seen by Garlic’s character.

And I would be doing this graphic novel a huge disservice if I didn’t talk about the vampire. Oh my glob, the freaking vampire stole my heart! Most wholesome bean and I just want to hug them, and learn all the things from them! Truly, I adored them and then seeing the way he interacts with the witch just made my entire existence melt. And he loves gardening! Be still my beating heart! I would fight for all the characters in the graphic novel, but I would fight tooth and nail for the vampire. And there’s this whole theme surrounding the vampire about how we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover or allow our prejudices to convince us that someone is one way when they’re really not.

Overall, I really loved this graphic novel and I’m making big grabby hands for the second book. Seriously, fall can’t get here soon enough because I want to know what’s going to happening next to our little Garlic friend and what their new adventure will be. Also, you just need this in your life because it’s literally warmth and sunshine packaged in a graphic novel. I’m not emotional over fictional characters, you’re emotional over fictional characters!

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ARC Reviews

Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez

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Arc was given by Oni Press & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published before the release date (March 1st 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Stress about unemployment, depictions of aggression, pressure and guilt trips from overbearing parents, manipulation attempts from overbearing parents, subtle homophobia

Oh my goodness, I didn’t think I would push this review out right away, but oh, sweet friends, I adore this graphic novel and I had to come shout about it from the roof tops! I adore this graphic novel so, so much. It’s charming, pure, and will leave you on the edge of your seat, waiting for what’s about to happen next. There’s so much good in this book and honestly, this is probably my favorite graphic novel that hasn’t been released yet. Hands down, a new favorite of mine.

Chef’s Kiss follows our main character, Ben Cook, who’s recently graduated college, moved in with his best friends, and now finds himself struggling to find a job. With overbearing parents breathing down his neck, Ben is feeling the claws of defeat, frustration, but mostly, unemployment scraping at his walls. When his eighteenth interview doesn’t go as plan, Ben stumbles upon a hiring sign for a restaurant and suddenly, the future is looking a lot brighter… and conflicting.

“It’s a tale as old as time. You’re falling in love for your mentor!”

Truly, with my whole chest, I can’t say enough how I loved the cast of characters (except you, Ben’s parents). The cast of main and the side characters are so diverse with BIPOC characters, different professions, and a plethora of personalities. And despite his aggressive tendencies, I actually like Chef Davis with his banter and his love for the taste testing pig, Watson. Yes, you heard me correctly, taste-testing pig. And the fact that Watson has his own personality and a mischievous side to him just fills my heart with so much euphoria.

I think one of the things I truly loved the most about this graphic novel is the friendship Ben has with all of his roommates. What made me love these friendships the most was how the author displayed how messy friendships can be, but also the healthy side of friendships, where you address the issues that have happened or where someone was being a not so good friend and work through it. Every time I see healthy friendships in a any kind of book, I get all soft and mushy inside. And I really loved the support this group of friends have one another despite the hard moments that happen.

This graphic novel addresses what it means to be someone fresh out of college, looking for work and not having experience. How frustrating, tiring, and stressful it can be especially when you’re trying to carve your own path as an adult. It’s also about doing what’s best for you and asking yourself “what do you want” instead of constantly catering to what everyone else wants especially when it comes to our own personal happiness. I really appreciated how beautifully and realistically the author wove these themes into the story. It felt so real and I know for my case, these themes were something that weighted heavy on me. So seeing that being represented in a graphic novel was such a big thing especially you don’t see them shown in literature that often.

Of course, I have to gush about the art and the illustrations. If the cover of this book hasn’t sunk it’s claws into yet, wait till you actually open this graphic novel. It’s simply stunning. At times it reminded me of other graphic novels I’ve read. I think that’s why I was so easily captured by the art because every time I see this art style, I know I’m going to fall in love.

Overall, I’m just really in love with this graphic novel. I don’t think I could make it any more simple. I truly, most ardently, love this graphic novel. I wasn’t kidding when I said this was going to be one of my favorite reads. 2022 never looked brighter and I can’t wait for more readers to pick this graphic novel up.

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

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ARC Reviews

Beneath the Trees: Winter Chills by Dev

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Arc was given by Magnetic Press & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This review is being published before the release date (December 14th 2021)

Friends, this was such a cute and precious graphic novel to read. You all know I’m a sucker for books that are wholesome and make me want to tell all of those I care for, how much I love them. And this book does just that. I had warm little fuzzies bloom throughout me as I read this short graphic novel. Yes, I said short, but we’ll get to that later in this review. Truly, though, if you’re looking for a short, wholesome story about a fox finding love then look no further.

Our story is about Mr. Fox who’s struggling with this long red scarf. He keeps tripping and face planting in the snow, and many on lookers wonder if he may need help. But that’s not the only struggle Mr. Fox finds himself having. Enter Ms. Fox who’s chilly and just passing through this small, woodland hometown. It’s then that our main star, Mr. Fox discovers her in a clearing and is instantly swooned.

I loved this graphic novel. Though this graphic novel is short, there’s so many wholesome elements. The first being how adorable the interaction between Mr. Fox and Ms. Fox. Both of these characters are adorable in their little actions and even when they come together. It’s truly precious and it reminds you that love can be found even in the most unlikeliest places and in the most simplest of ways.

I also want to point out the symbolism of the red scarf. I don’t know about anyone else, but I instantly thought of The Red String of Fate Theory. For those who are unfamiliar with this theory; The Red String of Fate Theory or Red Thread of Fate, refers to an ancient Asian myth of love. According to myth, the gods tie an invisible string around the ankles of those who are destined to meet on another, in a certain situation or to help each other in a certain way. This myth is reference in Chinese myth around love, but in Japanese legend this is slightly different. In Japanese legend, red strings are tied to the pinky of one person and the pointer finger of another person. All of this is also incredibly similar to Western legend/concept of soulmates or twin flames. And honestly, if the author was doing their version of this with the red scarf, I’m here for it ten-fold! This would probably be my second time seeing The Red String of Fate being shown in literature, outside of myths and legends.

Now, I truly love this graphic novel, but the only thing I wished was different was the length. I wish this graphic novel was a bit longer or we got to see Mr. Fox and Ms. Fox get to know one another. However, despite the length, I still gave this graphic novel five stars because I truly enjoyed it so much. And honestly, the length didn’t bother me that much especially when I was flying through this book, wanting to know what was going to happen with Mr. Fox and his red scarf.

Overall, I really enjoyed this graphic novel. I think many readers are going to fall in love with the wholesomeness and the cuteness of this book. I’d even go as far to say that many parents will read or show their kids this book. However, I think the length will be bothersome for some readers or there will be readers who don’t appreciate the story itself because from the outside, this looks to just be a story about a fox who has scarf issues. I, however, really enjoyed this book and I’m really glad I got the chance to point out the potential Red String of Fate Theory of this book. I’m eager to see if the author will mention what inspired this story and whether or not that myth had any play in the story. But friends, if you want a wholesome quick read, I can’t recommend this little graphic novel enough. Truly, I enjoyed it and all the warm fuzzies it gave me. Plus, if you need a short break from those chonky fantasy reads, this is the perfect read for that short break!

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2 Mini Reviews | Horrid & The Whale Library

Salutations everyone! I have missed you all, I have missed writing reviews, and just miss bookish things in general! I know it’s been a while. Actually, it’s been more than that, it’s been a darn hot minute since I’ve posted a review here. I hope everyone has been doing well, reading lots of things. I actually have quite the stock pile of reviews that haven’t been typed, drafted, etc… and I thought I’d quickly throw two of them together while I sort some of the other reviews out, in the meantime. 💚


Horrid by Katrina Leno

Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, loss of a parent, loss of loved ones, loss of a child, pica (xylophagia; books/paper, but mentions of hair and flowers), mentions of heart attack, grief, mentions on self-harm, mentions of hospitalization, mentions of suicide (of a minor character), intense scenes and depictions of anger issues, blood depictions, panic attacks, depictions of situations that could make one feel claustrophobic brief scene/mention of animal torture and death, murder, and a scene of under age drinking, child abuse in the past

“You be careful up there, in Bells Hollow. These old towns all have histories. Some darker than others.”

I’ll be honest, I’ve never read a Katrina Leno book before, but I’ve heard good things. However, I’d have to say I’m in the minority when it comes to how this book left me feeling after the book was closed and the dust had time to settle. What I will say, if you’re looking for a spooky book to chill you to the bones and perfect for the fall/winter season, then look no further.

After losing her father to a heart attack and finding themselves in a sticky situation, with no other options, Ruth and Jane find themselves starting life anew. Leaving California behind, Jane and Ruth find themselves relocating to Ruth’s hometown, in northern Maine, Bell’s Hollow. With the ache from the loss of a father/husband, Jane and Ruth will pick up the pieces of their life at North Manor. After leaving everything she knew behind, now Jane is faced with a family mystery and the big manor she now calls home.

I think the thing I fell in love with the most when it comes to this book is the amount of grief we see in this book. Wee not only see Jane’s side of grief, but we glimpses of Ruth and how much everything weighs on her shoulders. I love that we see both sides to grief. Truly, I wish books showed this kind of dynamic when grief is going to be laced into a storyline. Not only that, but we see people grieving about their pasts, about the unknown, about grief being the loudest thing in the room that it echoes for hours. it’s truly the strongest element in this entire book and at times it feels so intense. And truly, grief is an emotion that manifests in various ways and I love, with my whole chest, the way the author emphasized all elements that is grief. Grief isn’t just sadness and weeping, it’s violent and anger, coldness and at times, bitterness.

“Grief is different for everyone. There’s no right or wrong answer.”

While I loved the grief in this story, I really enjoyed how the narration from Jane felt… real. Though Jane isn’t the best of narrators or perspectives to get a story from, the way this book is written and through the perspective of Jane, everything thing almost feels real. You can practically feel the heaviness, the confusion, anger, and sadness that radiates off of Jane in waves. However, Jane doesn’t handle her triggers in the healthiest of ways. We also see mass flashbacks of things suppressed in Jane’s memory and even get moments of blacking out. With all of this into consideration, these are the things that make her an unreliable narrator. Yet, let me ask you this, how often do you get to read a book where the narrator is dealing with (or suffering) from mental health struggles? Not to often, I bet. Which is another reason why I liked have Jane as our narrator.

Speaking of Jane, every since Jane was a young girl, she’s struggled with her feelings especially anger. When she’d feel overwhelmed by these feelings, Jane would would seek out the comfort of eating pages from her books. She’d then replace the hollowed books with fresh, crisp pages that she could journal in. This is called Pica. Pica is a disorder where a person will consume items/objects that have no nutritional value. A person may due this for a number of reasons, and there are many layers to this disorder such as (sharp objects even poisonous things), this disorder can also overlap with other health conditions (OCD, anemia, or even schizophrenia), but in this story the main component for our main character is books. If you’re like me, this might be the first time you’ve every read a book that has Pica. And while I can only speak about my own personal experiences when I had Pica as a child, I can’t fully express how accurate other readers who have/had experienced Pica may feel about this representation.

“No, she couldn’t remember the first book she’d eaten, but she could remember the first book she’d eaten purposefully. And that was maybe more important.”

Though I feel this goes without saying, there’s a lot of discussion happening around mental health within this book especially when it comes to passing on mental health struggles, genetically. And how important it is for parents to recognize the signs and acknowledge their own mental health, to provide the help their children should they need it. I would be lying if I said this was an easy book to read because there were times where I felt like pieces of me were splitting from how much I felt seen, but also times where I had to set the book down due to it feeling hard, just really hard to read through. And I think anyone who reads this book, the feelings will expand over a vast amount of various emotions when it comes to a lot of the things addresses in this book. But I want to say as someone who has felt seen by this book, I want to say the relationship between Jane and Ruth feels very real and something that deserves to be talked about, from a plethora of perspectives. Depression, anger issues, loss and spiraling grief are a wild storm, a hell of a combination… but this is a reality for so many families, many people out there in the world and it deserves to be talked about, to be voiced.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering, “Malli, if you loved all of these things then why wasn’t this a five star read?” Well, to put it simply, the ending. I docked the ending two stars for two different reasons. The first reason, it felt unfinished. It’s done in a style that’s more open-ended, that allows the reader to decide how things truly ended. Personally, I’m not a fan of that styled ending. Things tend to feel more unfinished for me, where I’d prefer something that was more straightforward and clear as crystal. The other reason was Ruth. Things with Ruth felt so unfinished, so inconclusive and personally, I would have loved to have seen a little more of her. I think the other reason this book left me feeling so conflicted was the lack of a prologue. With the way it ended, I had hoped there would have been something to follow up, but… to my disappointment there wasn’t any. So the ending really left something to be desired, in my opinion. I think many readers will either love it or strongly dislike the ending.

“Something had happened in this house. She wasn’t sure where the thought came from, when exactly it had been born, but it arrived now like a force, like a storm.”

Overall, I truly stand by my statement that this is the perfect read for the fall/winter season. There’s many parts that chilled me, where it felt impossible to regain the warmth back into my body. But maybe that’s from my feeling that felt rattled by this book. Though this book has important themes, this book is beautifully written and spooky, nonetheless. Though this wasn’t a five star read for me, I still recommend it to those who are looking for a chilling thriller that will leave them feeling a little starstuck, a little breathless, and sparking discussions over a cup of hot cider!

Buddy read with Destiny from Howling Libraries 💜


The Whale Library by Zidrou

Arc was given by Europe Comics & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Content/Trigger Warnings: Nudity, animal death, imagery of blood

“The sea, like the human heart, is full of secrets.”

This was a beautifully written, heart-breaking story to read. The writing style is so delicately and wondrously woven together that makes your heart weep for the characters and story. Not to mention, I almost cry so many times while reading this book. Though, I whole heartedly fell in love with everything that this book encompasses.

Though this book is laced with simplicity, this book truly is a master piece in itself. I couldn’t recommend a better book that holds a powerful, silent thunder that will stir your emotions and cause you to pause in your reading. As well as having imagery that compliments the dialogue quiet well. Truly, this is a graphic novel to add to your list of stories to read.

“We learn to tell stories for the same reason we learn to swim. To keep from drowning.”

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


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Delicates (Sheets, #2) by Brenna Thummler

GoodReads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|BookDepository|IndieBound

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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