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Shine Your Icy Crown (You Are Your Own Fairy Tale, #2) by Amanda Lovelace

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ARC was given by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (January 26th, 2021)

Break Your Glass Slippers

Content/Trigger Warnings: Child abuse, sexual assault, toxic relationships, eating disorders, mental illness, anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide, trauma, bullying, sexism

“If I’m with you, it’s because I think you let in more stardust than storm clouds.”

Friends, I love Lovelace’s work and you all know how much I loved the Things That Haunt duology. However, I’m starting to notice a pattern with a lot of these duologies, these trilogies. I always end up loving the first and/or second book, but then the final book seems… lack luster, to say the least. Maybe this wasn’t the right time for this to come into my reading life or maybe it was from the lack of emotions this book didn’t stir. Whatever the reason, I just didn’t love this book the way I thought I would.

Starting with the positives, I’ve always loved the way the author writes. Out of all the modern poetry I read, Lovelace is the one I can connect with the most. I know a lot of readers struggle with this writing style especially since everything is lower case, but I find that it’s smooth read for my own experience. The other thing I really loved about this book was the artwork. The art in these books is always so beautiful and if I’m remembering correctly, Lovelace does all the art. There are these gorgeous forest and crystal panels in this book and they were probably a big highlight for me. And lastly, I couldn’t stop pulling quotes. I’m a lover for a good quote and I was able to pull some many from this book. So that made me really happy.

“Embody the heroine you needed when you were a child, but don’t forget to embody the heroine you need now, too.”

Despite the things I loved, there were a few things that just prevented me from loving this book. My first issue with this book was the lack of the theme. From the beginning this book states that this is going to be centered around sisters or sister relationships, and I just didn’t get that feeling from this book. It started off strong, but then that theme kind of disappeared for me. Tying in with that, there was this vibe of negatively charged vibes while reading this book. When I finished reading this book, I didn’t feel good at all. Most of the time when I read the books by this author, there’s a big shift from the negative to the positive, and that just wasn’t here in this book. The negativity seemed to dragged throughout the majority of the book for me. The other issue I had with this book was the repetitiveness. I haven’t seen many people talk about it, but for me there were sections that felt repetitive to the author’s past work. I was really hoping for something fresh, I was excited for the sibling theme (as I’m very partial to mine) and this just wasn’t it.

Overall, there were some things I loved and then other things I really didn’t like. I think the execution could have been done better and I wish the author would have focused on the actual theme just a little bit more. There’s also a big imbalance between the poetry and prose. There was a lot more prose than I was expecting. I’m hoping for future works we see the balance return. And I still recommend giving this book a chance. Even though this book didn’t work out well for me, it doesn’t mean that will be your experience.

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

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When Dogs Heal: Powerful Stories of People Living with HIV and the Dogs That Saved Them by Jesse Freidin, Robert Garofolo, Zach Stafford, & Christina Garofolo

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

This review is being published before the release date (March 2, 2021)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mental health, homophobia, toxic relationships, addiction (drug abuse & alcoholism), depression, grief, mentions of suicidal ideation, trauam/PTSD, mentions of terminal illness (cancer), death, loss of a loved one, microaggressions, mentions of rape, mentions of assault, mentions of a forced outing

“What I’ve learned throughout my life is that while I struggle to feel loved and supported by the people around me, I can always rely on my dogs, no matter what.”

With my whole chest, I love this book so damn much! I’m a firm believer that there are some books that everyone needs to read at least once in their life. This is one of those books. All too often society doesn’t talk about mental health or certain illnesses because of the stigma around them. And all too often, that stigma can cause a one-sided perspective of them and the person who has to face these challenges every day. HIV and those who have HIV are no exception to these type of circumstances, but this book is so fantastic because it offers so many different perspectives, from a plethora of people who share their own stories. I can’t express the importance this book holds and how much I wish I could put this book in everyone’s hands.

This book is a collection of stories with a photo of a person(s) and their dog(s), and their story. Each story is centered around their story with HIV and how their canine companions help them heal, and improving their life despite the challenges happening to them. Throughout the book you’ll meet a plethora of diverse people who are trans, do drag, queer, BIPOC, and so much more. You’ll learn about their background and the most common theme is the rejection of one’s family and loved ones, addiction, and facing the struggles of mental health from all the stigma surrounding HIV.

This is probably the most emotional book I’ve read in a very long time. You know I love my books that make me cry and steal my soul away, and this book succeeds at that. This book is so heart breakingly beautiful and it shines a light on the importance of fighting back against the stigmatism surrounding HIV. As someone who faces stigmatism around certain mental health challenges, this book hit so close to home on how hard it is to keep going despite the stigma, despite feeling like you don’t have the support you need, and this book melted me into a puddle. And while I don’t have HIV, one of my good friends passed away from having HIV and seeing the hardships they faced, reading this book just hit so close to home in so many ways. I think that’s why I loved it so much because I love books that touch that part of my soul.

“I am not a bad person – you don’t get HIV because you’re a bad person. You can be a good person, an educated person, and get HIV. We have to get past the stigma – that is the reason people don’t get tested and are not honest about their status.”

I think the thing I love most about this whole book is the hopefulness and the reflection on the benefits, emotional and physical, that pets have on people. I loved that despite the hardships all these people face, there’s always a feeling of hopefulness, of love, and seeing the silver-lining. And I think with everything combined, the good and the bad, readers will be able to connect with the people within this book.

Overall, I don’t want to say too much about this book because I want to encourage you to go pick this book up and read it. I believe with my whole heart that everyone needs to read this book at least once in their life because this book is too important not to. Even though I read and finished this in 2020, this is book has made it onto my top books of 2021 because it truly is a master piece and I just love it so, so much!

“I know that without him I wouldn’t be alive, and without me he wouldn’t either. We saved each other.”

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

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When Sharks Attack with Kindness by Andres J. Colmenares

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (March 2, 2021)

This was absolutely precious! With the way 2020 has been going, this is the book to make things just a little bit brighter. Truly, this is so precious and there’s some really hilarious moments. Let me be the first to say that everyone needs to check this graphic novel out as soon as it releases.

From really cute panels to friendships that will warm you heart, this is a graphic novel that will steal your heart. The characters are super cute and the dedication page was so wholesome. This is one of those graphic novels that poke you right in your heart and make you cherish the the friendships you have. Also, I know many readers will probably get this graphic novel for the children in their lives, but let another adult tell you that you need this book as much as children do. It’s just a precious gem of a book that many book lovers are going to fall in love with.

The only thing I think readers might have an issue with is thinking this is going to be a graphic novel with a continuous story. That’s not the case at all with this book. This is a graphic novel that’s designed to make you feel good, feel happy, and pick up the phone and call your friends. That’s the kind of book this is. For me, this wasn’t an issue because this was something I needed. I needed a feel good book to come into my life and wrap me in love, and that’s exactly what this book does.

Overall, I loved this graphic novel so gosh darn much! It’s so wholesome, the feel good book we all need, and just a fantastic pick me up. I highly recommend this to everyone, literally everyone! I think we all need a feel-good book that washes us in warm, fuzzy feelings. And if I could put this in everyone’s hand right now, I would.

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I Must Belong Somewhere by Dawn Lanuza

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (January 5th, 2021)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, suicide ideation, violence, bullying, graphic injuries, self-harm, body shaming, sexism, mental health/illness, toxic relationships, abandonment, depression, anxiety

“I must find a way to still choose myself despite holding on to you.”

I’m a firm believer that poetry, literature, and a plethora of other things can come into our lives when we need them the most. If I’m being honest, if this didn’t come into my life right now, I probably wouldn’t have given this as high of a rating as I have. Modern poetry and prose is something I have to be in a particular mind set or in a certain part of my life where I feel like it’ll be helpful to read. And reading this book right now, it has been a blessing.

This was such a well written collection that’s beautiful, and at times very heart breaking. I loved how every thing flowed and nothing seemed out of place. Everything was connected to one another whether it was a poem or prose. I think that’s one of the hardest parts modern poetry face, making everything flow together, but this author did a wonderful job of accomplishing that. And really loved that despite some of the hard themes throughout this book, there’s an optimistic feeling at the end. It was such a great way to end the book.

My most favorite thing of this whole book was the content and trigger warnings at the very start of this. I say this every time, authors should include these in their books and when the do, damn it’s the best feeling. Seeing an author take the time to add these at the beginning of their book, it’s like a little pat from the author saying, “I see you and I acknowledge your mental health.” It’s just a really great way for authors to show they care about their readers.

“I grew wings, but sometimes in between, I think I left my heart where you’ve been.”

Overall, I think this was a well-written book that many readers are going to connect with. I think many readers will find validation in their feelings or find a way to heal with this book. For me, with my whole chest, I believe this book came into my life when I needed it the most and that left a big impression with me.

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

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The Fangirl’s Guide to the Universe by Sam Maggs

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

This review is being published after the release date (October 27th, 2020)

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of harassment, talk of sexual harassment, talk of cyber bullying, talk of misogyn, themes of misandry

I’ll be honest, I’ve been dreading writing this review and have been putting this off for far too long. I really wanted to love this book and there were some things that I found really helpful, informative even, especially because I’ve been in various nerdy communities for such a long time, but I find that my opinion is going to be of the minority when it comes to this book. So take my review with a grain of salt. However, if you’re a reader who’s looking for some opposing thoughts on a lot of the content that’s talked about in this book then I can’t recommend enough checking out these following videos: HERE, HERE, and if you’re looking for statics about online harassment then I recommend checking this article out!

Let me take a moment to talk about the good of this book. This book is true to what it is; a guide book, a self-help book, however you want to view it. I really loved how this book talked about the different types of conventions, navigating the conventions, budgeting and expenses, and even things to pack. Despite the fact that I’ve gone to various conventions, events, etc… for almost fourteen years, I still find this kind of information helpful and good for referencing. There’s even an ‘after the convention’ list that I would’ve loved to have had after all of these years. There’s also interviews in this book with various women in the industry who have worked on a plethora of nerdy, geeky things such as anime, DC and Marvel, etc… that I enjoyed reading, despite the repetitiveness and the awkwardness of some of the interviews. Also, this is a super quick read and most sections are very brief, easy to fly through.

Despite the few good things I found within this book, they weren’t enough to prevent the issues I had with a lot of the content within this book. One of the biggest things being the continued theme of misandry throughout this book. This is a huge issue for me especially when no one wants to talk about how this book is set up to convince you men are terrible and do nothing but terrible things. Throughout this book, the author continuously references how we’re all in this community together, how we’re supposed to be supportive of one another, no matter the gender, for about one to two pages, and then will spend the next three or four pages talking about how horrible men are and how their actions are always terrible towards women in nerdy communities. There’s actually a whole entire section based around ‘internet trolls’ that’s based in the context of assuming they’re all male. Even when the author talks about sexual harassment and assault in the cosplaying community, it’s always in the context of a man doing these actions. I can’t speak for everyone in the community, but basing my opinion on my own experiences and things I have witnessed as a cosplayer and LARPer, I’ve experienced and witnessed more female/female and male/male harassment and sexual assault than I have any situations that are male/female related. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but what I’m saying is we need to make sure we’re accurately talking about what really happens instead of assuming/creating a certain narrative to fit our own views. And when you continuously place these narratives of one side being innocent/good and the other being guilty/evil, then you’re continuing to cause rifts and issues within communities instead of helping it grow and make it a more positive community to be in.

Overall, this book was exhausting to read and writing this review has been something I’ve been dreading for a long time now, for a plethora of reasons. I don’t have the energy or time to list the multiple references to a lot of the things that were inaccurately talked about throughout this book (do your own research, listen to those who talk about the facts), point out every little thing that was wrong with this book, or even try to continuously explain to people how misandry is just as bad as misogyny no matter what community it is. If you can’t see the problematic issues within this book then I don’t know what else to say expect to check out the links I provided up above if you want to hear opposing opinions about a lot of the things that were talked about in this book. I wish so many things would have been handled in a different light especially since this is an introductory book, a guide/self help book and I know there are going to be young readers who will pick this book up and be influenced by this book. With the knowledge and experience I have, I can’t recommend this book because of the narrative this book takes on and I can’t support a book that inaccurately talks about a plethora of things.

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Whisper Me A Love Song (Whisper Me A Love Song #1) by Eku Takeshima

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

This review is being published after the release date (October 20th, 2020)

What a supper cute, humorous manga! Typically I don’t read a lot of fluffy manga, but in some case it really works well and this is one of those books. I adored the characters, their personalities are so memorable and easy to fall in love with. Even the side characters fit the perfect story. I’m truly surprised I haven’t heard of this manga series sooner, but I’m super excited to continue this series and watch these characters fall in love with one another.

🎶 Himari Kino – Is a cheerful, very loving first-year in high school, who ends up falling in love at first sight on her first day at school, during the open live performance from SSGirls. With her best friend Miki-chan besides her and being in the front row, when she’s suppose to check out Miki’s sister, Himari can’t help being swept off her feet by the cool singer of the band.

🎶 Yori Asanagi – Is a cool, lone wolf third-year high schooler, who loves to sing and write their own in their personal time, ends up filling in for the singer of SSGirls. With the members of SSGirls begging Yori to write them songs and join their band, Yori refuses due to severe stage fright, until they meet Himari. Soon, their world changes and be a little head over heels.

Though these two are new to love, we follow their story after they confessed their feelings to one another, as they get to know each other, chat about their love for cats, and become more entranced with one another. There’s just one problem… They both have a hard time believing the other is really in love with them and keep misunderstanding one another’s words.

“I’m going to make you fall in love so hard. So you better brace yourself.”

I really loved the personality of both main characters. Yori is calm and collected, but easily gets embarrassed and has a deep love for cats. Himari is very energetic and has a very bubbly personality. When the two come together, they balanced each other out really well and have great chemistry. I also love how Yori never gets over-shadowed by Himari’s personality, as well. Himari is very much the instigator, Yori always speaks for herself, allowing both of them to be on equal footing. The process in which they grow closer is also super adorable and they have an amazing supporting cast with the side characters. I would have loved to see more of Miki-chan have a role in helping out, but the band is really fun and supportive of Yori.

This is very much a feel good story. It’s meant to be light, fluffy, and the music angle was such a good hook to make Yori stand out. There’s a lot of really cute moments throughout this book and the way Himari is so encouraging is refreshing. The way this manga leaves off, there’s bound to be drama on the horizon especially from the trope that’s being used in this book. However, I think the one issue many readers will have with this book is the clashing of two elements. You have the ‘love at first sight’ trope and then you have the ‘two people not being on the same page’ element added in. Sometimes it can feel like a bit much and I think many readers may struggle with that balance.

Overall, this was really enjoyable. I was chuckling and smiling the whole time reading this. I think the manga does an excellent job at being a feel good read. I think if readers are looking for something fluffy, charming, and just a read that’s going to leave you happy. Plus, the way this manga ends will leave you wanting to know what’s about to happen next with these characters!

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

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Together, Apart by Erin A. Craig

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

This review is being published after the release date (October 20th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of pandemic (covid-19), grief, anxiety (The Rules of Comedy), talk of homophobia (Socially Distant Dog-Walking & Stuck with Her), mentions of death, brief allusions to racism (The Boy Next Door), depictions of panic attacks (Stuck with Her)

An anthology that normalizes feelings and social situations during the current pandemic of 2020? I think this is brilliant! If I’m being honest, when I got approved for this arc, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t read the synopsis because I like to go into some anthologies without knowing too much. I’m pleasantly surprised! I really enjoyed this and a lot of pre-reading thoughts I had were cast away immediately (like thinking I was going to be overwhelmed).

This wasn’t exactly a perfect read though. I think one of my biggest issues with anthologies, in general, is some of the stories are too short when I really want more. That’s been on of the biggest, most consistent factors when I read any anthology. And that was definitely the case while reading this anthology. There were some stories in this anthology that I really wanted more details or just one or two more pages. To be honest, I think this anthology could have been a bit longer than it was. Despite that, there were some real gems in this book that I loved and felt my heart swell with warmth.

I will also say that this book is very diverse. Not only are the authors diverse, but a lot of the stories in this book are diverse. There’s ownvoices stories such as queer rep, Asian rep, Indian rep, Black rep, etc… all the way to showing different situations during the pandemic, different family dynamics and living situations, and how we never truly know what’s happening in someone’s life. I really loved and appreciated all of this representation in this book, and I think there’s going to be many readers who are going to pick this book up and see themselves within these pages. I know I sure did and the amount of validation for a lot of the feelings I’ve been feeling since this pandemic started, all found within these pages. Truly, this book is going help many readers.

Of course, with all anthologies, bind-ups, etc… that find their way into my library, I like to do a break down with a mini review for each story that shares my thoughts and feelings!

Love, Delivered by Erin A. Craig ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I won’t lie, this one probably hit the closest to my heart out of all the stories in this anthology. For starters, this is short story is by Erin A Craig, who’s writing I absolutely fell in love with right around this time last year. Erin just has a way of writing that hooks my attention and makes me feel all of the feelings. And it was no surprise that I her short story left me feeling super soft and sappy. Our main character of this short story is trying to navigate life, not just from the pandemic, but from moving into a new house and having two parents who are barely around, but also doctors working the frontlines during the pandemic. With her parents constantly gone and with everyone still trying to get everything set up from the move, Millie orders pizza and soon meets the cute pizza delivery boy, Luke, and suddenly, Millie doesn’t feel so alone in the world. My heart! This hit me in all the soft spots of my soul. Family is everything to me and seeing another person who has parents on the frontline during the pandemic, it was a critical hit. And adding the family own pizza business into this story? *chef’s kiss* Truly, this story kicked this book off in an amazing direction and just stole my heart immediately.


The Socially Distant Dog-Walking Brigade by Bill Konigsberg ⭐⭐⭐
This is one of those stories that I wish we would have gotten a page or two more. I thought I was going to love this more than I did (mostly due to the dogs), but I definitely didn’t enjoy it as much. I think the reason for this is due to wanting just a little more details or having that extra page or two. We follow two dog walkers, Kaz and Daxton, as they walk their dogs every day together and the conversations they have together. Among this short story is the bigger discussion of homophobia and how sometimes the people we care about most, can be the ones who hurt us the most painful way. Along with this story being so short, I also wanted to see a little more from these characters. I think this would have really hit the nail on the head if we saw them have a conversation about how one of them stood up to their parents to correct them on their homophobic ways. Despite the shortness and some missing details, I did enjoy this. I just wanted to see a little more from these two quirky, queer boys!

“I felt the slightest jolt of joy, imagining more conversations with the cute, queer boy who said not Normal things.”


One Day by Sajni Patel ⭐⭐⭐
I debated about my feelings for this short story for so long and I think my biggest want for this story was to laugh a little more or feel a swoon towards these characters. And though my heart strings weren’t pulled too much, this is a very cute short story that many readers will love. When Bobby is looking for an escape for some peace and quiet, and crawls out onto her balcony, that quiet becomes disrupted when the boy across the way won’t stop playing his guitar. Before Bobby knows it, she’s throwing her shoe and soon becomes sucked into a mission of reclaiming their shoe. As I said, this is very cute, but I really wanted to laugh a little more or feel connected to the characters just a little bit more. But I loved the writing of this short story and the story line was the cutest. I was pleasantly surprised and overall enjoyed this short story.

““One day” couldn’t come soon enough, but it would come.
I couldn’t wait for our “one day.””


The Rules of Comedy by Auriane Desombre ⭐⭐⭐
Harper is starting a new high school and has social anxiety, but the biggest thing Harper is dealing with is a crush on her classmate, Alyssa. But things change when Harper watches Alyssa’s coming out TikTok and soon she realizes she might have a chance at dating her. This is probably one of the weaker short stories throughout this anthology. While I enjoyed the social anxiety rep and queer rep, it felt like the romance was pushed off to the side to focus on the sibling relationship more. And while I love sibling relationships, it felt like that relationship and the conflict that happens within that bond draws most of the reader’s attention. Also, the romance in this story felt… off. I don’t know if it was from the romance being instant love or if it was from a lack of bond/connection between the two characters, but I just had no interest in the main character and love interest.


The New Boy Next Door by Natasha Preston ⭐⭐⭐
Quinn has been given a mission: talk to the new boy, Archer, who just moved into her neighborhood. As this pair begin to talk to one another, a friendship begins to bloom and maybe into something a little more. For starters, I love when extrovert personalities bring out the socialness in an introvert and we see plenty of that in this short story. However, this is the other weakest story in this entire book. The biggest flaw, the countless Twilight references. I’m not the biggest fan of Twilight, I try to avoid it whenever I can when reading and this short story killed a lot of the mood for me with those references. This is a cute story, it just would have been a better reading experience if there weren’t so many Twilight references.


Love with a Side of Fortune by Jennifer Yen ⭐⭐⭐⭐
When her superstitious mother drags her off to have her fortune told on her birthday, Michelle just wants it to be done and over with especially since she doesn’t believe in any of it. However, when Evan Kwon walks into her family’s restaurant, Michelle can’t help feeling the sparks fly. I absolutely loved this short story! Another gem within this anthology. I laughed, I swooned, and just really enjoyed my time reading this short story. I also love how Michelle’s best friend helped her sneak out of the house so she could go on a date with Evan. This was just a really fantastic read! However, I do think many readers will end up being annoyed by the mother in this story and if I’m being honest, the mother was definitely a bit much at times for me too.


The Green Thumb War by Brittney Morris ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. I definitely think this story is going to be overlooked and if I’m being honest, this is a true gem of a short story. This short story is about two people becoming friends with one another and I was living my best life reading this book. We need books with more platonic friendships! I also want to point out that this book normalizes therapy. Often times when I’m reading books, there’s a stigma around therapy and I’m really glad the author included the talk of therapy in this book. With the pandemic happening, I don’t think many people have considered therapy and I think this was an excellent way to say, “Hey! It’s okay to seek help in these hard times.” I just really appreciated this book.


Stuck with Her by Rachel Lippincott ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is another one of my favorite stories. It might be my most favorite of this whole collection of short stories. We follow Allie who stayed in the dorms instead of going home when quarantine hit. Unfortunately for Allie, every night her roommate, Mia blasts music and can be found snacking on Allie’s pop tarts. I loved this one so, so much. I do have to warn there are anxiety and panic attack depictions in this short story, but I loved the way the author had the roommate instantly be right there, willing to do anything to help Allie. There’s also the hard discussion of homophobia and how not all families are accepting of those who are lgbtqiap+. Also, even though this is a roommates to lovers kind of story, I loved how the sound speaker was used as such an important device on bringing the two main characters together. Truly, this is the cutest and I love it! This was just an all around great short story and truly, I wish we had just a little bit more because I flew through this one too quickly.

“And… the second thought is, as her arms tighten around me, my eyelids slowly closing, that… I don’t hate it. I don’t hate sitting here, my face pressed into Mia’s warm, sandalwood-smelling shoulder. I don’t hate the way her hand feels in mine, and the way she always knows, good or bad, exactly what to say. I don’t hate her.”


Masked by Erin Hahn ⭐⭐⭐
Out of all the stories, this one seems like the most unlikely thing to happen. While most of the stories have been more realistic, this one definitely feels like a one and billion chance of happening. Our story follows Gray, who decided if she can’t attend prom then she’s going to put her dress to good use by making masks from her dress. That’s where Jude comes in. Jude’s uncle needs masks at his store and Gray is happy to help out. Thus, the friendship between Gray and Jude sparks, but Jude has a pretty big secret and Gray is determined to find out the truth. Honestly, I wanted this story to be a little more realistic. I’m not saying this situation couldn’t happen, but it definitely through me off compared to the rest of the short stories. However, there were some really cute moments in this story and I really enjoyed Gray’s determination. Also, the Romeo and Juliet reference was so, so good!

Overall, I gave Together, Apart three stars because out of a possible 45 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 9 stories) this collection accumulated 31 stars (69%)! But, if half stars were a thing, I would totally give this 3.5 stars, because it is almost exactly that when you tally all the stars up!

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

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

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (February 2nd, 2021)

Oh, this was just the sweetest and filled my heart with so much warmth! Times are really hectic and hard right now, and I’m not going to lie, I’ve been looking for things that keep me happy and make me laugh. This is the first book I ever read by Catana and I’m so pleasantly surprised! My heart is bursting with warmth, love, and just bright sparkles of joy. And this book reminds me of my own marriage to my spouse. The whole time I was reading this I couldn’t stop saying, “It’s us!” It’s such a sweet book, truly!

This book is a collection of comics that shows it’s okay to accept how perfect and imperfect your partner really is. What may seem odd or ridiculous to others, may work for other couples and this collection is the perfect example of this. With characters that are clingy, funny, and in their own unique way of charming, many readers will find themselves connected to this adorable couple.

I can’t remember the last time a book made me laugh out loud (so dang much), swoon, and get so soft and sappy that I went to look back through all the photos I have of my spouse and I. Even the little things in the collection reminds me of the little things that happen in our every day especially the parts where our female character is short and asking for help. That’s literally us, every single day! Or the parts with the naps, we’re always together for those. It’s just the little things and this book filled my heart with all the feels. I really loved it.

Overall, this is a fantastic book that you should pick up (even though it doesn’t come out till 2021)! This is such a relatable book and I can’t think of a better present to give to your partner for Valentine’s Day or an anniversary. Also, it’s a really quick read and perfect for readathons and any reading goals you’re hoping to accomplish. I can honestly say, I’m eager to pick up more work from this author and I can’t wait to see what’s waiting around the corner for us!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Blue Period, Vol 1 by Tsubasa Yamaguchi

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

This review is being published before the release date (October 13th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Underage drinking and side remarks directed at a side character who crossdresses

“Here are a few tips to ensure a smooth relationship: Tell people what they want to hear. Don’t focus on yourself, make sure they are having fun in the conversation. At least that the only way I know how to communicate.”

I can’t believe how much I loved this manga and I still can’t believe I didn’t know about this series sooner! This might be a new favorite manga series I need to invest in because this story line, these characters, oh be still my fluttering soul. Going into this book, not realizing how centered around art it was, and then being blown away by so much within these pages was truly an experience. And I just really enjoyed this manga so much, with my whole heart!

Our story follows second year student, Yatora Yaguchi, who’s always gone with the flow and making sure to be practical, to stay on the path his family expects of him. He’s spent most of his time pleasing those around him, never really talking about his passions or interests because to choose those would cause trouble for those around him, or so he believes. When one day he returns to the art room, he comes across a painting that stirs something within his soul and shortly after, his thoughts begin to be consumed by art.

I really loved Yatora as our main character. Yatora’s character is such a breath of fresh air especially in the manga world. Yatora is classified or labeled as a “delinquent”, but despite the bleached hair and the terrible smoking habit, Yatora is actually an honors student and has really high marks on their grade card. And like any coming of age story, we see a light shined upon some of the inner thoughts almost every high schooler has, thoughts such as passion vs. money, hobby vs. career, follow expectations vs. make your own path, peer pressure, parents support and disappointment, etc… We see a lot of that inner monologue with Yatora and I think many readers will be able to connect with a lot of those thoughts. There’s a moment where Yatora receives praise for a class assignment and how it touched him, how good it felt, and I truly believe that scene alone will resonate with so many readers.

“And those who are true to themselves make truly great art. Because art is a language without words.”

I think the progression of the story is the biggest factor that impacted my reading of this manga. The progression of this book is very much geared towards providing information about art and the various art school in Japan. Setting that aside, I couldn’t help becoming swept up in all the hard work, the dedication, and the way Yatora’s skills were developing. Even meeting the side characters and learning about their own skills was really enjoyable. I’ve never been an artist, but this book reminded me of how much I love to draw and sketch. However, I do think some readers will feel bogged down with the amount of information that’s scattered throughout this book.

I do want to say that there were a few minor things that caused me to reread the passages to make sure I was reading them correctly. Yatora’s friends are really disrespectful and there were times where it caught me off guard or it would throw off the entire vibe of a scene. There were also one or two moments where side remarks were made towards the side character Yuka, who cross dresses. For most readers, I think this will get overlooked or no one will talk about it. However, when I caught it and then noticed it was never challenged, it didn’t quite sit right with me. And that might be my own reaction especially due to cross dressing in the past myself, but it was hard to tell what the intentions were with those remarks and hopefully in future issues this will be challenged more.

“Liking something and saying so is scary.”

Overall, I had a pleasant experience and as I said, this might be a new series I’ll end up investing in. I’m eager to see how things will play out, I’m dying to know if Yatora will tell his parents, and most importantly, I want to see more of the side characters in the art club. There’s just a really soothing and enjoyable mood when all the art club students are together. Plus, the teacher is a a true gem and she’s one of those teachers who really cares for her students. If you’re looking for a new manga series to fall in love with, I definitely recommend give this series a chance. I think many readers will enjoy the progression of this manga and be eager to find out what will happen next!

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

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