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

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🏒Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey | Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“God Bits, I wish I could kiss you.”

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

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

Read for the Stay Home Reading Rush 📖

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Always Human by Ari North

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Eating disorder, discussion of body image, anxiety

“When I see you, the universe comes into focus”

Friends, I absolutely adored this webcomic! Everything about this comic was so beautiful, so endearing, and everything I never knew I needed until I had it. My soul is so filled with warmth, happiness, and all the best vibes. I don’t think I can recommend this enough and you can read it for free on Webtoons!

☄️ Sunati – 22 year-old Asian-Australian, has anxiety and loves mods, works for a company on VR environment design, dreams of being an astronaut and loves space.

☄️ Austen – 18 year-old Chilean-Australian, can’t use mods due to an autoimmune disorder, struggles with an ED, also a college student.

Our story follows Sunati and Austen, our main characters who fall in love with one another. They’ll navigate their relationship, the struggles they’ll face, and learning what it means to be truly human with one another. Oh yeah, there’s also a lot of topics addressed like living with an autoimmune disorder and how that impacts your relationships, subtle talks of gender fluidity, addressing the struggles and pressure of college, and oh yeah, navigating the complexities of feelings in the relationships around us.

Let me start by saying the representation in this graphic novel is fantastic! Not only are our two main characters in a sapphic relationship, but there’s many side characters who are agender or asexual. We even have a polyamorous relationship with Sunati’s parents. We also have the representation for autoimmune disorders and eating disorders in this webcomic as well. Not to mention, there are many people of color throughout this story. It’s just a wonderful way to represent so much diversity.

Speaking of side characters, I absolutely adored Rae. Not only is she absolutely gorgeous, but she truly is a magnificent friend to Sunati. I wish we saw more of her through this comic and I’m secretly hoping the author will give her a spin-off series. I can’t get over her and I adore her, so much!

I also need to go off on a side tangent on how beautiful the art style is. I absolutely adored the colors and the music the author paired with this webcomic was fantastic. When I say I fell in love with this webcomic, I mean I really fell in love with how stunning it all is. My heart has never felt so at peace and at home with a comic the way I did with this one because that’s how alluring and captivating the art is.

I also really enjoyed Sunati and Austen’s relationship. Despite how hard they struggled and the challenges they faced, they always found a way to work it out, talk it out. I liked how the author really showed the complexities of a relationship and how things in a relationship aren’t always easy. Seeing that, I think many couples who have walked into hell and have come back will be able to appreciate this relationship. I know for myself, there were many parts of their relationship that hit close to home and it makes a person pause to appreciate walking through the fire, and coming out on the other side.

“And even though she’s leaving, and even though I’m staying behind, I have to believe distance won’t matter. I have to believe we’ll always find each other.”

One thing I wish we had more of was Austen. The reason I say that is because Austen felt like the weaker of the two main characters. Suntai felt like a stronger force for me and had a way of capturing my attention over Austen. Even when we had panels of just Austen, I found myself wanting more from her and wanting to know so much more about her. I’m hoping we’ll see these characters again and I refuse to believe that this is the end of the story for these two.

Overall, I really enjoyed this comic. It was the perfect read, the perfect pick me up, and something I really needed to lift my spirits. I think many readers are going to fall in love with this comic, with these characters, and everything it has to offer. I wish I could sit here and gush about every little thing, but I think you need to find out for yourselves what I’m talking about. After all, you can read this graphic novel for free!

Read for the Dragons and Tea Book Club 🐉

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Happily Ever After & Everything In Between by Debbie Tung

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

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Friends, this was absolutely stunning and so beautiful! Though this was a fast read, I loved the way the story was woven and how everything concluded at the end. Even if you normally don’t read books like this, I can promise that there is something in this book you will fall in love with.

We follow a main character named fox who is friends with a star. It highlights their friendship until one day star disappears. Now fox must decide if he’ll hide until star returns or take matters into his own paws and track down his friend.

“He knew somewhere out there was a star that was once his.”

Aside from the story being absolutely heart warming, the artwork is absolutely stunning. If you couldn’t tell from the photos included in this review, there’s many pages that are truly beautiful and captivating. This is probably one of my favorite books with artwork in it. The color tones really help set the mood of each page and it just pulls you in.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. The artwork is marvelous, the story holds so many lessons, and I think many readers will want to pick this up for future readathons. Plus, if you need something lighthearted to read or help pull you out of reading slump then this book would be perfect!

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An Incurable Case of Love, Vol. 2 (An Incurable Case of Love #2) by Maki Enjoji

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💙 An Incurable Case of Love, Vol. 1

Content/Trigger Warnings: Stalking, alcoholism

Nanase chose to become a nurse to chase after Dr. Tendo, but he’s not as he appears. Although very handsome on the outside, but he kisses her and calls it a medical treatment, he’s good at his job yet he’s incredibly strict. Despite it all, Nanase can’t stop herself from loving him or choosing him.

If you saw my review for the first volume in this series then you already know I have waited for this volume for far too long! I should have known by now that I breeze through manga, but I just couldn’t help myself. So I was left waiting until the 2020 release of the second volume in this series. And it didn’t disappoint! I flew through this volume just as quickly as the first and if you haven’t checked this series out by now, go check out my review for the first volume for a better idea of the series!

“I can’t tell him, but his smile is what attracted me to him five years ago.”

Like the first volume, I loved the tension and banter between Nanase and Dr. Tendo. I love it even more in this book because so much comes to light in this volume to their fellow coworkers. It was fantastic to watch everything begin to slowly uncoil and then there were so many moments that just leave you breathless or dying of laughter. One thing I really loved seeing between these two was Dr. Tendo becoming more reliant on Nanase because of falling ill with a high fever. In the first volume we saw Dr. Tendo take care of Nanase and make sure she was okay, but now the role is reversed in this volume. I really loved that and I loved that we got to see these characters be vulnerable with one another again.

I also really love how the importance of a smile gets emphasized throughout this entire series. In the first volume there’s an emphasis of Nanase just wanting to see Dr. Tendo smile again, but this volume really takes a smile to a deeper level that I truly appreciated. We get introduced to a new doctor and Nanase talks about how his smile makes her feel very uneasy, and how she doesn’t understand why she feels odd when he smiles compared to others when she’s had a positive reaction with them. I also love how she react when Dr. Tendo smiles for her and each reaction makes my heart flutter. Enjoji does an amazing job with showing the importance in a smile in this volume and I hope the author continues with showing the importance in future volumes.

Aside from the good, there were also some things that really bothered me that I felt needed to be addressed. For starters, there was a scene in this volume where Nanase and the new doctor were at his welcome party, and things took a turn for the cringey for me. The doctor kept pouring Nanase drink after drink and even after she told him she was trying to cut back on her drinking, he continued to pour drinks for her and her coworkers were even chanting for her to allow it, there was some cringey joke about how if she passed out or went unconscious that everyone in the room was a doctor, and after all of that it caused the main character to try to force herself to drink and made a quick excuse to leave immediately. It was a very cringey scene and you could feel the main character forcing herself to be there. It also felt a like it could have turned into a date rape situation really quickly. Needless to say, I was not a fan of this scene at all.

The other thing that really bothered me was the stalking element in this volume. Nanase doesn’t tell anyone except one person about her stalker. In my personal opinion, one should be more open especially with their friends, family, work place managers, and even neighbors if you have a stalker. That way you have a network of people who know the situation that’s happening and they can look out for you. What also bothered me was Nanase’s coworkers knew about the guy who has been stalking her and only told her about it until she mentioned something. A stalker is a threat to a person’s safety and well being, if someone is showing signs of being a stalker then the victim and management should be notified immediately. Not to mention, Dr. Tendo takes Nanse out in public and leaves her alone with the knowledge that she has a stalker. With all of this compiled together, I was immensely frustrated with the whole stalker/stalking element. It felt poorly executed and it felt like it was giving all the wrong signals especially as someone who has been stalked, this felt very triggering and frustrating to read about.

Overall, I gave this manga four stars because I truly do enjoy these characters and I love a good hate to love romance. If I had to pick between the first and second volume on which I liked more, I would probably have to say the first one. Mainly due to the first one causing less frustration than this volume. However, I really loved seeing Dr. Tendo being vulnerable and I loved that we got to see more emphasis and importance of the smile in this volume. Of course, I truly wish we had more scenes with Ryuko because she is a delight and she’s such a positive energy in this series! So if you’re looking for a manga series that has a slow burn, hate to love romance and love characters that will hook your attention from the beginning then you have to give this series a try!

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In/Spectre, Vol. 1 (In/Spectre #1) by Chashiba Katase

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Terminal illness, hospitalization, graphic injuries, minor stalking

Dearest readers, I can’t believe I never knew about this manga series! To think it’s been flying under my radar all this time is ridiculous! However, I’m super grateful that my best friend recommended we buddy read this because I loved every second of it! Even if you’re not a fan a manga, I truly believe with my heart and soul that this will be one you want to check out, if not for the synopsis alone!

Our tale follows 17-year-old Kotoko who hasn’t had an easy life and how found herself under unique circumstances. Kotoko was taken as a child by spirits called yokai who made her their their negotiator of the mortal world, but in return they took one of here eyes and one of her legs. Now Kotoko is able to communicate with other worldly forces and keep the balance, but it’s not as easy as it seems. Since then, Kotoko has been the only one with her power until one fateful day she discovers her crush, Kur, has a secret or two up his sleeve. Together, Kotoko and Kur form a partnership that will make them stronger than ever, but for a girl who has so many gifts, love is going to be one tough quest to navigate!

I loved this book so much! I loved that this was a great way to introduce the series. The thing I loved most of all is the play of the yokai. If you’re familiar with Japanese mythology and folklore then these creatures are no strangers to you. However, if you’ve never heard of them before, yokai are a specific class of creatures, spirits, and demons; they’re known to be bewitching, attractive, calamity, and spectre in Japanese folklore. You may have also heard them be called ayakashi or mononoke. I love anything that takes Japanese folklore and myths to weave an interesting story or add a unique element into the book. It’s one of those things that will make me pick up a book instantly.

Another thing I really loved about this manga was the disability representation. Even more so for the fact that we get a very high action scene with our main character who’s disabled and showing that disabled people can be active and do many things even if they’re not like they’re old selves. I find that it’s not often we get the chance to read about a main character who can kick some series butt, but is also disabled and I just really loved every second of it. I think we need to have more disabled representation in books and I truly think this will be one book many readers will love for the disability representation.

Aside from the good elements, there was one thing that really bothered me and that was the way this book concluded. Near the end it sets things up for s weird love triangle and those can be a bit of a hit or miss for me. Honestly, this is a bit of a miss with me. I also don’t like how in the ending it was painting Kotoko is a childish light either. The whole thing just didn’t impress and I don’t think Kotoko owed Kur’s ex-girlfriend a full explanation of who she is.

Overall, I truly did enjoy this manga! I loved the pace of it all, the mysterious elements, the craving need to know more, and the way Kotoko takes on the world. Even though the ending was a bit of a miss with me, I still have plans to pick up volume two and continue on with the series. I’m always here for a good series that has some of my favorite elements in it. Plus, I really want to know what’s going to happen between Kotoko and Kur. I have my fingers crossed that this will be a bit of a slow burn romance and I love a good slow burn romance!

Buddy read with Kayla from Books and Blends | Her Review ❤️

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An Incurable Case of Love Vol. 1 (An Incurable Case of Love #1) by Maki Enjoji

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexual assault, talk of death, death of a patient, terminal illness, guilt, scene of attempted suicide, intoxication

After a lady collapses and a charming young doctor comes to the rescue five years ago, Nanase Sakura decides to train and become a nurse. But when they two finally reunite, working together as doctor and nurse, he’s nothing like the kind and charming prince she believed Kairi Tendo to be. Now they’re at each other’s throats and Sakura is determined to prove him wrong that she can be a helpful nurse!

Readers, I ate this manga up! It was so good, so captivating, and I need 2020 to be here now so I can get Volume Two! I also got a little soft and sappy because I do have family members and a few friends who are nurses. Not to mention the vibes of the whole romance in this manga is something I can’t get enough of in relationships. This was everything I needed to pull me out of a slump, everything I wanted with a romance, and I just love this series a whole lot!

“I wanted to see that smile again.”

In this story we follow Nanase Sakura who decided that she was going to become a nurse after meeting a handsome young doctor five years ago when she was trying to save a woman’s life. She ends up landing at the same hospital as the young doctor, but when she reunites with the doctor things don’t go quite as she imagined. He’s very harsh, majority of the nurses usually transfer from his department, and there’s rumors of him being loose with women. Now Nanase is in for a world of shock and has to work with Kairi Tendo who is anything, but easy-going on her.

I love the dynamic of our two main characters. So we have Nanase Sakura who has a very bright, sensitive, and easy-going personality that completely clashes with the personality of Dr. Kairi Tendo. Kairi Tendo on the other hand is abrasive, harsh, and takes everything very seriously. When you put these two personalities together it’s a recipe for a good hate to love trope to happen. Not to mention their work environment just becomes a tense battle ground of banter. It’s so good and there’s so much humor in the little moments. There’s also so really great moments when they aren’t bantering or being stubborn with one another. It’s a really great dynamic and the chemistry between these two characters is something I truly enjoyed reading.

We also get some really great side characters who make things really interesting. We get introduced to Nana which is Kairi’s sister. She’s a really bright, caring, positive energy of a character who delivers a great foundations for a friendship with Nanase. I really wish we had more scenes with her because I loved the scenes with her coming into the picture and I loved the way she introduced herself in this manga. Fingers crossed for more scenes with her! We also get introduced to a character by the name of Nishi. Compared to Dr. Tendo, Nishi is loved by all the nurses and patients, has a caring personality, and is really warm and welcoming. I have a feeling he’s going to play a bigger role in later issues because there’s just too many hints that he might be playing a bigger part than what we realize. There’s so many great characters and they truly help build the scene and the work environment for our two main characters.

Unfortunately, this book did have some issues that didn’t sit too well with me. However, out of all the little minor things in this book, my biggest issue was with the sexual assault situation. My biggest issue with this scene in particular is the fact that Nanase feels the need to convince herself that what’s happening is normal, that it’s okay, that this is all part of her job as a nurse and that she sees this as something she needs to overcome or get used to. I also don’t like the fact that Nanase went searching for help and guidance and she wasn’t met with any answers that she needed for her particular situation. Then there’s the matter of Dr. Tendo coming into the picture. I don’t like how once Dr. Tendo became involved the scene of sexual assault became set up as a “knight in shining armor to save the princess” type of situation. I understand why it was setup the way it was, but the whole scene in general just didn’t sit well with me, personally.

Overall, I really enjoyed this manga and still had a great time reading it even though there were some scenes that bothered me. This is one of my favorite tropes and I’m really excited for the next issues to come out. 2020 can’t get here soon enough! This is also one of my favorite authors. Maki Enjoji is also the author of the Happy Marriage?! series and that’s probably my standing favorite this author has written so far. So if you end up liking this manga series then you will probably enjoy some of her other work as well. She’s just a really great author and she has given me some of my favorite tropes. I highly recommend her books!

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