Posted in ARC, Book Reviews, General Books, Graphic Novel, LGBTQ+, Romance, Young Adult

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, Wendy Xu – #ARC #GraphicNovel #Review

Goodreads: Mooncakes
Publish date: 15 October 2019
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, LGBTQIA+, Fantasy
Rating:

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town. One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods.

As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home. Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

How cute can a graphic novel be?! I’ve seen Mooncakes making the rounds on a few blogs and it sounded so cute I just had to pick it up asap. It’s a very quick and enjoyable read that is full of representation and diversity. We have queer grandmas, a queer young witch that wears hearing-aids, and a nonbinary young werewolf. We also have lots of magic, books and cute little forest creatures! Not to mention a demon and a cult… This fantasy graphic novel really has it all! The artwork was rich and full of vibrant autumn colors that leant a cozy but also a darker mood to the story. The art style reminded me of the late 90s-early 00s comics that I’d always read.

Tam and Nova are lovely main characters and the relationship that blossomed between them was sweet. The grandmas were also great and extremely supportive–I loved the little grandma jokes and banter! I do wish that we got more backstory to the characters. Nova and Tam got together pretty early on and while they were ‘picking up where they left off’ as the reader, I found their chemistry lacking at that point and I would’ve liked to know more about their history together as kids and how their friendship grew, and had the potential for romance. I still enjoyed their relationship and how they learned to grow together and as individuals. Everyone was heartwarmingly supportive in this comic!

Another issue I had was that it initially felt like we were jumping into the middle of a story that was already almost finished because there was very little backstory and world building. I wanted to know more about the place and the history! I also found it a little unbelievable that they could get away with carting a demon in a floating magical cage and there were still zero people around? Where were the townspeople that they’d occasionally mention? Unless they actually live in seclusion but that wasn’t the impression I got!

Overall, a quick, witchy and heartwarming read. I can’t wait to see the finished product and the bonus material that will be included. I would definitely recommend it to those who love cute, magical, and queer comics!

Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. Have you read Mooncakes or is it on your TBR?
This is out in October 2019 so be on the look out!

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Posted in ARC, Book Reviews, General Books, Graphic Novel, Humor, Non Fiction

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do… But You Could’ve Done Better by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell – #ARC #GraphicNovel #BookReview

Goodreads: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do… But You Could’ve Done Better
Publish Date: 10 January 2017
Publisher: Animal Media Group LLC
Genre: Nonfiction, Humor, Graphic Novel
Panda Rating:

Anonymous break up stories from men and women, old and young, serious and silly and the cartoons that inspired them. Author and artist Hilary Campbell turns the painful into the hilarious, validating emotions from forgotten middle school tragedies to relationships that ended only hours ago.
Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and cartoonist. Her films have won top prizes at Slamdance, SF IndieFest, and more. She was the co-illustrator of Jessica Bennett’s critically acclaimed Feminist Fight Club.Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, But You Could’ve Done Better is her first book of cartoons.

As the author states repeatedly in her introduction (and also at the end) of the book, people can be pretty terrible. Some of these had me cracking up (mostly in shock) at how awkward and terrible a break up went. Some had me exclaiming out loud at how awful people could be. I’ve had my fair share of awful relationships and break ups and so many of these instances and feelings were absolutely relatable (as cringeworthy as many of them are). Reading these stories and having that peek into other peoples’ lives brings me a weird kind of satisfaction. Lol not that I take pleasure in other people’s unfortunate situations, but it’s honestly comforting to know that you’re not the only one who goes through some crazy heartbreaking things, and also crazy awful things you never want to repeat. Some people are seriously twisted though. Yikes!

I enjoyed most of the graphics that illustrated and complemented all the stories but I also thought that they weren’t anything spectacular. Some did make me chuckle. I guess I misunderstood the blurb and thought that the stories would be illustrated in comic format, but it was still enjoyable the way it was. Needless to say, this was a very fast, mostly fun read! The author ends the book with a note saying that she’s still accepting these break up stories over on her website, but as I just realized this book was published two years ago, I don’t know if she’s still taking any. If she is, I might go ahead and share some stories myself! Lol

Thanks to NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! Have you read Breaking Up Is Hard…But You Could’ve Done Better? What did you think?

Posted in Book Reviews, General Books, Graphic Novel, LGBTQ+, Romance, Young Adult

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks (Illustrator)

Goodreads: Pumpkinheads
Genre: Graphic Novels, Young Adult, Romance
Rating:

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.
Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.
But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.
Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years… What if their last shift was an adventure?

PUMPKINHEADS WAS JUST SOOO CUTE. If you’re excited for fall, you’ll love this book! I just want more of Deja & Josie. I loved their friendship and their chemistry–they were so sweet! I also need to go to this pumpkin patch ASAP. I’ve never wanted four seasons more than after this!

I did not want Pumpkinheads to end. Ever since stumbling across the title earlier this year, I knew that I’d need to get my hands on it ASAP! So when I walked into the bookstore on Friday evening, I was shocked but super happy to see it on the shelves. I didn’t expect it to be available here already, especially since it wasn’t that long ago since it was released. You can bet your ass that I scooped it up without a second thought!

The Artwork

I adored the artwork in Pumpkinheads and it’s safe to say that I’m a big fan of Faith’s work. The colors were so vibrant and perfectly suited to the fall vibes of the story. The art style is exactly the kind that I love to find in graphic novels and I felt that the illustrations really brought the whole pumpkin patch to life. I felt as if I could taste the food (omg it just looked so good!), feel the fire and smell the changing weather in the air. I also loved how Faith illustrated the expressions of the characters in the story! Josie’s expressions always had me cracking up and the longing and sadness in Deja’s face really felt like a punch to the gut sometimes. It was honestly all so perfectly done. Since finishing the book, I’ve been flipping through it again and again just to look at the art.

The Storyline

Deja and Josiah have been best friends ever since they met at the pumpkin patch three years ago. They’re opposites in so many ways, but they complement each other well. Deja is beautiful and outgoing. She talks to and knows everyone and is loved by pretty much all. She’s also dated a few of the guys and girls while she’s worked there. On the other hand, Josie is a bit of a shy nerd and has had a huge crush on ‘The Fudge’ girl for the last three years, despite never speaking to her in all that time. But that changes tonight because Deja has made it her mission to make sure they both enjoy their last night to the full and to have a ‘last adventure’ at the pumpkin patch that they’ll never forget!

Oh my goodness, I don’t even know what I DIDN’T love about this story! Pumpkinheads is the perfect read to transition into the autumn season! It is fall all over and I want to immerse myself in it repeatedly. Deja & Josie were great characters and their experience dealing with the big changes coming their way was very relatable and so very real. They were both loveable characters and it was nostalgic to watch them reminisce about their days working at the patch, and about their worries for the things to come now that high school is over. It’s something that we’ve all been through and it made me think about myself all those (very many) years ago! While there were plenty of serious and heartfelt conversations, there was also a lot of fun and adventure as their mission took them all over the park, with its fun games and very delicious foods. While the story might not have been something completely new or life changing, I loved it for its simplicity, and that it was still able to evoke a range of emotions from me. It’s about dealing with change and taking hold of those simple moments and living for it. It was sweet, nostalgic and relatable. It was a heartwarming story and the ending is the kind that leaves me with good, happy feels all around!

Have you read Pumpkinheads? What’d you think?
Let me know in the comments below and let’s chat!

Posted in ARC, Book Reviews, General Books, Graphic Novel, LGBTQ+, Romance, Young Adult

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin, Noah Hayes – #ARC #GraphicNovel #Review

Goodreads: The Avant-Guards
Publish date: 03 September 2019
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Sports, LGBTQIA+
Rating: ★★★★★

When Charlie transfers to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, she struggles to find her feet, but winds up exactly where she belongs…in the school’s (terrible) basketball team. As a transfer student to the Georgia O’Keeffe College for Arts and Subtle Dramatics, former sports star Charlie is struggling to find her classes, her dorm, and her place amongst a student body full of artists who seem to know exactly where they’re going. When the school’s barely-a-basketball-team unexpectedly attempts to recruit her, Charlie’s adamant that she’s left that life behind…until she’s won over by the charming team captain, Liv, and the ragtag crew she’s managed to assemble. And while Charlie may have left cut-throat competition in in the dust, sinking these hoops may be exactly what she needs to see the person she truly wants to be.

I LOVED this one! Oh my goodness, I want more issues/volumes now! This was a super fun and inclusive graphic novel about females playing college basketball. It’s a simple premise, and there’s a love story that’s quickly involved, but it’s all sweet. I really enjoyed the characters, how they’re all queer and how their personalities and ethnicities were all mixed. The friendship group reminded me a lot about my own friendship group from uni and how we were always together and sticking by each other’s side. Although Charlie’s character is a bit sullen at first, I love seeing glimpses of her happy side but also about her past–it seems like something big and bad happened to her that badly affected her trust, and I really can’t wait to find out what her reason was for moving schools (I don’t believe it’s only because of no longer playing basketball?)! Liv’s character, while mildly annoying, was also sweet and I loved seeing her vulnerable sides. She’s such an exuberant, high energy character that seems confident 100% of the time but it’s nice to read from her perspective as well.

I really enjoyed the artwork. The work gave me old(ish) school Archie Comic vibes, also with the text/speech bubbles. I loved the colors that are used in the comic, it lends the story an even happier vibe. I liked that there were some moments with a lot of text, but not too often, and that the text wasn’t so squished into speech bubbles that they were illegible. Also, did I mention how much I love the name of the comic and the basketball team? Super cool! There were four issues in this volume but I just want more now. I can’t wait for people to read this one because it is funny, quirky and a little bit romantic!

Thanks to NetGalley and BOOM! Studios for the free copy in exchange for an honest review! This graphic novel is out 03 September 2019.

Posted in ARC, Book Reviews, General Books, Graphic Novel, Kid Fiction, Middle Grade

Elma: A Bear’s Life: The Great Journey (Vol 1) by Ingrid Chabbert – #ARC #GraphicNovel #Review

Goodreads: Elma: A Bear’s Life: The Great Journey (Vol. 1)
Publish date: 17 July 2019
Publisher: Europe Comics
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Comic, Graphic Novel
Rating:

Elma is a joyful, free-spirited child who is being raised by her father. But Papa Bear is hiding a secret, and the close-knit duo must make a long and perilous journey to begin a mysterious new life beyond the forest. Adventure and danger are in store as they discover the secrets of Elma’s past and future.

Um, OKAY. How dare this graphic novel end on such a cliffhanger!? Nooo… I want to know what happens to Elma and Papa Bear! Do they make it?! Where are they going? Is he bringing her back home? Why is the fores seemingly conspiring to take Elma away from Papa Bear? SO MANY QUESTIONS! I kind of feel a little bit like Elma right now because the curiosity and need for answers is strong!

I adored this graphic novel. First of all, that cover is a wonderful representation of the stunning art work that you’ll find inside the pages. The colours are autumnal, so they’re warm and very comforting. I could seriously just look at the pages all day because the work is beautiful, and I enjoyed that there was limited dialogue so it didn’t detract from the art. This is targeted at children, however, at one point Elma does lose all her clothes and her full body (including genitalia) can be seen. It’s one scene and then she’s covered up again in the next. I don’t think it was done distastefully, but I just thought I’d leave a warning anyway.

I found the start of the storyline just as enjoyable as the art. It obviously has “Jungle Book” vibes (of course, abandoned child in forest raised by an animal that’s meant to be a predator) and although I admittedly am not the biggest fan of that story (don’t hate me), I really enjoyed this one! I’m a little sad this was only the first volume/chapter, as reading the blurb led me to think it might be the full story. Still, I’m glad I stumbled across it because so far it’s a sweet story, although it does raise many questions I hope will be answered in the next volume!

The relationship between Elma and Papa Bear was very sweet, and you can feel through their dialogue, interactions and the art that they really care for and love each other like father/daughter. Elma is full of life and so much sass and Papa Bear is this big calming force looking out for her. I love a story where animals can talk and this was definitely no exception! I thought their story really fit with the art work because it effused the same warmth the colours in the art work gave me. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on more of this graphic novel and I would 100% add this to my physical shelf because it’s beautiful book and the story is shaping up to be too!

Thanks to NetGalley and Europe Comics for providing the e-ARC for an honest review. This book is out now! Have you read Elma: A Bear’s Life? What’d you think? Let me know in the comments below and let’s chat!

Posted in ARC, Book Reviews, Fantasy, General Books, Graphic Novel, LGBTQ+, Middle Grade

Sparrowhawk #1 by Delilah S. Dawson – #ARC #GraphicNovel #Review

Goodreads: Sparrowhawk #1
Publish date: 20 August 2019
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Comic
Rating:

Teen Victorian fairy fight club! As the illegitimate daughter of a Naval Captain, Artemesia has never fit in with her father’s family, nor the high class world to which they belong. However, when she is targeted by the Faerie Queen and pulled into another realm, she has no choice but to try and save the world that has always hated her. Writer Delilah S. Dawson (Hellboy: An Assortment of Horror, Star Wars: Forces of Destiny) and artist Matias Basla (The Claw and Fang) present a beautiful, gripping tale perfect for fans of Labyrinth and Princeless. 

Sparrowhawk is a fast paced, well drawn comic. The artwork is full of bold colors although the style itself is not one that I’m usually drawn to or prefer. That said, I thought it suited the strangeness of this story. I liked the artwork on the chapter/title pages more than I did the artwork throughout the comic, but I loved the contrast of the colorful against the brutal, gruesome and dark faerie world story. The plot itself reminded me of elements of Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland, which the author also mentioned as her inspiration in the afterword.

I found the story interesting. Artemesia is the daughter of a colonizer and a slave woman who grew up in a family that was cruel and didn’t want her. After being forced into a situation she doesn’t want to be in, Art finds herself being pulled into the faerie realm, having been replaced by the Faerie Queen in her world. In faerie, Art meets a demonic bunny (reminiscent of the cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland) who makes a pact to help her get back home, in exchange for one of Art’s memories. Art must go through faerie slaying monstrosities in order to get back home, and along the way she encounters both the good and evil creatures of faerie, including the gentle faerie prince, whom she falls in love with. How far will she go to get back home?

Art was a strong willed character who was fiercely determined to go home. Her transformation from a thoughtful human, to a monster who enjoys killing as much as any unseelie, was disturbing. It begs the question: how far would you go to do what you think is right, even if it turns you into someone who you don’t like. The side characters were all very interesting as well and although he was an evil, twisted thing I really enjoyed the demonic bunny’s character.

I liked the sinister vibes of the ending and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next and how Art will deal with the repercussions of her actions.

Thanks to NetGalley and BOOM! Studios for providing the e-ARC for an honest review.
Have you read Sparrowhawk? Loved it? Hated it? Meh about it? Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

Posted in ARC, Book Reviews, Crime-Thriller-Mystery, General Books, Graphic Novel

The Magicians: Alice’s Story by Lilah Sturges and Lev Grossman – #ARC #GraphicNovel #Review

Goodreads: The Magicians: Alice’s Story
Publish date: 16 July 2019
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Rating:

Alice Quinn is manifestly brilliant, and she’s always known that magic is real. During her years at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, she rises to the top of her class, falls in love with Quentin Coldwater, and witnesses a horrifically magical creature invade their dimension. It’s not soon after graduation when Alice, Quentin, and their friends set their sights on the idyllic setting of Fillory: a place thought to only live in the pages of their favorite children’s books. A land where magic flows like rivers . . . But in this magical realm nothing is what it seems to be, and something darker lies behind the spellbinding facade. It is in the darkness where Alice will discover her true calling and her life, and those friends, forever changed. 

Having read the first book in The Magicians series, I was able to follow along with the story pretty well. It’s very much to the book, which I appreciated. I thought the artwork was well done, a little dark coloring, with darker and imperfect lines to fit the tone of the story. One of the things I liked most was that the characters in the graphic novel were true to the descriptions in the book (unlike in the TV show). I liked them better this way.

I always found myself having a love/hate relationship with Alice so I thought it’d be interesting to learn more about her and to experience things through her eyes. That said I wish that the story covered more than just following along with exactly what happened in the novel. I thought this would cover more of her at home life, her odd relationship with her parents (which was really a sticking point for her in the book) and how the loss of her brother affected her. That loss really turned her life upside down and I wish that more of the effect it had on her was explored. I also felt the ending was a little rushed. While the graphic novel does stay true to the original book, I thought it really lagged at times. It honestly gave me the same feeling I had when reading the original novel, which I admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of because it felt a bit dull. I thought reading it in graphic novel form would make it better, and it was but only slightly.

I’m glad that I read this though. I am curious to know what happened to Alice after the ending. She does make a reappearance in the TV series but I’m not sure about the book (because I stopped reading it). That said, it would be interesting to know if there’s anything sentient left. This was not a quick graphic novel read, but it was still enjoyable.

Thanks to NetGalley for sending me the e-ARC for an honest review.
Have you read Alice’s story? Loved it? Hated it? Meh about it? Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!